Jason D. Benchimol
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.
The aim of this course is to sharpen your understanding of some important issues about morality. We will read classic works and contemporary writings in considering such questions as: Is pleasure the only ultimate good? Are individuals' preferences the only basis for assessing the quality of their lives? What makes right acts right? What is the role of character in ethical behavior? We will look at a number of influential ethical theories, including Utilitarianism, Kantianism, Contractualism, and Virtue Ethics, and assess their competing answers to these and other questions. 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.
Course Objectives: By the end of the term, students should be able to
* Understand and critically assess the major philosophical theories in normative ethics, including Utilitarianism, Kantianism, Contractualism, and Virtue Ethics. * Critically evaluate philosophical texts. In particular, students should be able to identify and reconstruct arguments embedded in philosophical texts, and evaluate them for validity and soundness. * Develop and write tightly focused papers analyzing and defending positions on specific philosophical issues. * Engage in respectful yet rigorous philosophical dialogue.
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
Class assignments and grading