PHIL 210 Ethics
Siena College, Spring 2016
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, as well as contemporary adaptations of these approaches through texts, a novel, and film. In the first part of the course, we will look at theories of happiness and the good life. We will then examine considerations of freedom and responsibility before turning to questions of who or what deserves moral consideration. 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 requirements include weekly short argument summaries, group seminars, two essays, and a final paper.
Course Goals & Objectives At the end of the course, students will be able to
- identify, explain, and pose thoughtful questions of several philosophical theories of ethics,
- articulate and argue well for a position in class, online, and in written assignments, and
- demonstrate an understanding of theoretical content through oral presentations.
- Aristotle. Nicomachean Ethics, trans. Terrence Irwin. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company Inc., 1999. ISBN 978-0872204645
- Coetzee, J.M. The Lives of Animals. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001. ISBN 978-0691070896
- 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
- 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
- Nietzsche, Friedrich. On the Genealogy of Morals and Ecce Homo, trans. Walter Kaufmann. New York: Vintage Books, 1989. ISBN 978-0679724629
All other texts will be on Blackboard. Hard copies of readings are required for every class meeting.