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Course Description

Philosophical ethics is the attempt to systematize, explain, and justify the standards by which we evaluate our conduct as persons. The course may include treatment of controversial ethical issues such as abortion, euthanasia, war, and the treatment of animals and will cover many of the following questions: can we expect to find a single, universal code of ethics that applies to all human beings, or do such codes vary for each society or even for each individual? What are the roles of reason and emotion in ethics? Is morality grounded on a principle, and if so, what is it? Are there any traits of character that one must have to be a good person? Given that traditional ethical codes have been almost universally sexist, how must ethics be refashioned in order for women to achieve equal recognition?

Note: This course may be taken individually or as a part of a certificate program.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course, the learner should be able to:

  • Identify the premises and conclusion of an ethical argument;
  • Critically evaluate an ethical argument;
  • Identify at least eight distinct viewpoints of what is “right” or “good” or “just” in the tradition of Western philosophical thought;
  • Describe, for each of these views, how they address the imbalance between personal desire – self-interest – and the needs of society;
  • Analyze a moral dilemma in terms of one of the theories and be able to resolve the dilemma;
  • Analyze and critically evaluate the arguments made in the text; and
  • Accurately summarize the argument made in each of the readings.

Course Topics

  • Plato
  • Aristotle
  • Epictetus
  • Hobbes
  • Hume
  • Kant
  • Mill
  • Rawls
  • Kierkegaard and Sarte
  • Noddings
  • Leopold
  • Singer

Additional Requirements

Prerequisite(s): 2.00 credits or (1 of PHIL*1000, PHIL*10110, PHIL*1030, PHIL*1050)


Assessment Item Weight
Quizzes (2 x 10%) 20%
Short Paper 25%
Discussion Participation 20%
On Campus Final Exam 35%
Total 100%


Applies Towards the Following Certificates

Technical Requirements

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*Course details are subject to change.


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