PHIL 2010: Introduction to Ethics

Course Description: Ethics is concerned with how we should live our lives and with what separates right from wrong action.  In these inquiries, we can focus on overarching normative theories, or else on particular topics to which these theories can be applied; we will spend roughly half the course in each regard.  Starting with normative theories, we will consider:  the virtue ethics of Plato and Aristotle, the social contract theories of Thomas Hobbes and John Locke, John Stuart Mill’s utilitarianism, and Immanuel Kant’s deontology.  After our survey of normative theories, we will consider a range of topics in applied ethics:  abortion, cloning, euthanasia, animal rights, capital punishment, terrorism, and torture.  Our study of ethics will be complemented by movies that develop moral themes; a principal focus will be on integrating our abstract inquiries with popular media in the hopes of augmenting the ways in which we think about ethics.

Course Syllabus (Spring 2011, Fall 2011)