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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Nancy A.S. Jecker
PHIL 342
Seattle Campus

History of Modern Ethics

Development of moral thought from Hobbes through Nietzsche, with particular emphasis on the ethical writings of Hume, Kant, and John Stuart Mill.

Class description

This course aims to introduce students to some of the most influential ethical theories to date and, with a critical eye, study the source and ground of their influence. Among the theories to be discussed are classical and contemporary utilitarianism, perfectionism, and Kantian ethics. In the course of studying these theories, we will raise and critically discuss the following questions. How do we avoid the conclusion the ethical standards are just a matter of cultural or individual opinion? Is it always morally preferable to perform whatever action produces the best consequences? What reason can anybody have for being moral rather than just giving the appearance of being moral when that serves one's own purposes? Readings will be from historically prominent philosophers, such as Bentham, Mill, Nietzsche, and Kant, as well as contemporary authors.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

The course has no formal prerequisites; however, prior course work in Philosophy or Ethics is strongly recommended.

Class assignments and grading


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Isha Zubeidi
Date: 06/01/2006