PHIL 115-02: Intro to Ethics, Spring 2013

PHIL 115-02: Intro to Ethics, Spring 2013

TuTh 1:00-2:15 p.m.
Instructor: Catherine Homan

Course Description: 
What does it mean to be moral? What is the good life? How do we distinguish between right and wrong? What duties or responsibilities do we have to ourselves, other people, other creatures, or the environment? Are there foundations for our ethical beliefs? In this course we will address these questions by examining historical philosophical approaches to ethics, including virtue ethics, deontology, utilitarianism, and moral relativism. We will also look at contemporary adaptations of these approaches as well as their present-day relevance. Students should expect to develop their abilities and reasoning skills to analyze texts critically, engage in thoughtful discussions, and to evaluate the application of these positions in everyday situations.

Course objectives:

At the end of the course, students should be able to

  • identify, explain, and pose thoughtful questions of several philosophical theories of ethics,
  • articulate and argue well for a position on a topic in class and written assignments, and
  • demonstrate an understanding of theoretical content through oral presentations.

Required Textbooks, Articles, and Resources:

  • Plato. Five Dialogues, trans. G.M.A. Grube. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., 2002. ISBN 978-0872206335
  • Aristotle. Nicomachean Ethics, trans. Terrence Irwin. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company Inc., 1999. ISBN 978-0872204645
  • Kant, Immanuel. Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals: With on a Supposed Right to Lie Because of Philanthropic Concerns, trans. James W. Ellington. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., 1993. ISBN 978-0872201668
  • Mill, John Stewart. Utilitarianism, 2nd ed, ed. George Sher. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company Inc., 2002. ISBN 978-0872206052
  • Dostoevsy, Fyodor. The Grand Inquisitor: with related chapters from The Brothers Karamazov, ed. Charles B. Guingnon, trans. Constance Garrett. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company Inc., 1993. ISBN 978-0872201934
  • Coetzee, J.M. The Lives of Animals. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001. ISBN 978-0691070896

All other texts will be posted on ReservesDirect. Since laptops will not be permitted in class, you must print and bring these texts to class.

Course Blog