Benjamin V. Hole
Critical introduction to various philosophical views of the basis and presuppositions of morality and moral knowledge. Critical introduction to various types of normative ethical theory, including utilitarian, deontological, and virtue theories.
This course is an introductory overview of some themes in ethical theory. We will read classic and contemporary writings in considering such questions as: Why be moral? Is pleasure the only ultimate good? What makes right acts right? Does moral value provide a basis for right action, or does right action provide a basis for moral value? What is the role of character in ethical behavior? We will look at a number of influential ethical theories, including Utilitarianism, Kantianism, and Virtue Ethics, and assess their competing answers to these and other questions. We will also look at criticisms of their answers. The aim is to help you to understand the arguments put forward by defenders of these views and, by examining them, to refine your own understanding of the questions. The format of the course is a combination of lecture and discussion activities. This course has three main goals: 1) To provide you with an introduction to the concepts and skills used in both classical and contemporary ethical theory; 2) To demonstrate what arguments philosophers have used in their attempts to answer the major questions in both classical and contemporary ethical theory; 3) To give you a chance to apply the tools of philosophy to these questions yourself.
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