Nancy A.S. Jecker
Development of moral thought from Hobbes through Nietzsche, with particular emphasis on the ethical writings of Hume, Kant, and John Stuart Mill.
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
The course has no formal prerequisites; however, prior course work in Philosophy or Ethics is strongly recommended.
Class assignments and grading