The course will employ a variety of instructional methods to accomplish its objectives, including some of the following:
Any combination of lecture and seminar. Parts and/or entire classes may be devoted to formal lectures or to informal discussions. Usually some combination of both is employed to ensure that assigned readings are discussed.
The course may consider several of the following theories: the approach taken may be historical (through consideration of specific philosophers) or analytical (through consideration of specific theories).
- An introduction to ethics, including: the distinction between normative and critical ethics; the scope and nature of morality; basic concepts in ethics; the distinction between judgments of moral obligation, judgments of moral value, and nonmoral judgments.
- Altruism, Egoism and Hedonism: consideration of ideas such as compassion, beneficence, self-sacrifice, self-love, selfishness, enlightened self-interest, pleasure, means and ends, intrinsic and extrinsic worth.
- Deontology: consideration of ideas such as duty, motive and intention, rule and action, universalizability, obligation, rational freedom, conscience, autonomy and heteronomy, principle, ideals, rights.
- Utilitarianism: consideration of ideas such as public welfare, happiness, consequences, maximization, equality, paternalism, responsibility, samaritanism, rational preference, moral agency, moral point of view, the good/right distinction.
- Virtue Ethics: consideration of ideas such as moral education, community, well-being, character, moral and intellectual virtues, dispositions, the mean, rational choice, weakness of will, reward and punishment, justice.
- Social Contract Ethics: consideration of ideas such as contract, laws of nature/natural law, justice, desert, the discover/decide morality distinction, fairness
- Subjectivism, Relativism and Emotivism: consideration of ideas such as objectivity, personal conviction, scepticism, ethnocentrism, social conformity, custom, cultural pluralism, irrationality, situation ethics, noncognitivism.
- Ethics of Care: consideration of ideas such as relationships, reciprocity, empathy, commitment, intersubjectivity, gender, objectification, hegemony, exploitation, sexism, oppression, patriarchy, impartiality, abstraction.
- Intuitionism: consideration of ideas such as ethical properties, compatibility, conflicting obligations, prima facie duty, syllogism, inference, immediate and mediate, recognition, application.
- Critical/Meta-ethical Theories of Justification: consideration of ideas such as value, axiology, meaning and justification, is/ought distinction, non-naturalism, non-moral, the moral point of view.
At the conclusion of the course the successful student should be able to:
- Explain and in other ways demonstrate an understanding of the main ethical theories that are covered within the course.
- Critically analyse essays that pertain to ethical theory and to issues pertaining to morality, including the ability to demarcate objective criteria employed in the justification of ethical decisions.
- Apply basic reasoning skills to the topics covered within the course, including the ability to reason from general ethical principles to their application in specific, concrete situations.
- Develop some philosophical appreciation of the significance of a coherent ethical worldview, as well as the importance of morality in both public and private life, including the role of ethics in social institutions.
- Demonstrate an understanding of the competing ethical principles that are derived from the different ethical theories, and especially the ways in which such competing principles result in dissimilar notions about what is right, good or obligatory.
- Formulate their own thinking with respect to the main topics covered within the course.
Evaluation will be based on course objectives and will be carried out in accordance with Douglas College policy. The instructor will provide a written course outline with specific criteria for assessment during the first week of classes.
Any possible combination of the following which equals 100%:
|In-class tests, quizzes, short written assignments||20% - 50%|
|Written class presentations, essays, final exam||30% - 100%|
|Instructor's general evaluation
(May include attendance, class participation,
group work, homework, etc.)
|0% - 20%|
Textbooks and Materials to be Purchased by Students
Texts will be updated periodically. Similar texts may be used with Department approval. Examples are:
Barcalow, Emmett. Moral Philosophy: Theories and Issues. CA: Wadsworth , 1998.
Beauchamp, Tom, ed. Philosophical Ethics. NY: McGraw-Hill., 1991.
Boyan, Michael. Basic Ethics. NJ: Prentice Hall, 2000.
Foot, Philippa. Theories of Ethics. London: Oxford University Press, 1970.
Frankena, William. Ethics. NJ: Prentice Hall, 1973.
Hinman, Lawrence. Ethics: a Pluralistic Approach. FL: Harcourt Brace, 1998.
Johnson, Oliver, ed. Ethics: Selections from Classical and Contemporary Writers. FL: Harcourt
Liszka, James. Moral Competence. NJ: Prentice Hall, 1999.
Mackie, J.L. Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong. London: Penguin Books, 1997.
Pojman, Louis. Ethics: Discovering Right and Wrong. CA: Wadsworth, 1995.
Porter, Burton. Reasons for Living: a Basic Ethics. NY: Macmillan, 1988.
Solomon, Robert and Greene, Jennifer, eds. Morality and the Good Life. NY: McGraw-Hill, 1999.
Sterba, James, ed. Contemporary Ethics: Selected Readings. NJ: Prentice Hall, 1998.
Zeuschner, Robert, ed. Classical Ethics: East and West. NY: McGraw-Hill., 2001.
NONE (Recommended: Any of PHIL 1101, 1102, 1121, 1122, 1123, 1151)