Whatever our cultural and socio-economic backgrounds, all of us seek to achieve a good life. The purpose of this course is to examine and clarify the moral component of the good life through philosophy, social science, and narrative. Students will broadly consider the following two questions: What should I do? and How should I be? In other words, students will reflect on the ethics of conduct and the ethics of character. The course will discuss moral issues of the sort that people are likely to come across in their everyday lives, as well as social and political issues. The course will begin with a general introduction to the subject of ethics. Students will learn what it means to reflect on the moral life through philosophy and storytelling, and discover how to think critically about moral issues. Students will then examine foundational moral theories in the ethics of conduct, including relativism, ethical egoism, utilitarianism, duty ethics, rights theory, and theories of justice. Next, students will consider different accounts of the ethics of character, or virtue ethics.
The last part of the course will focus on applied ethics in the realm of social and political affairs. Students will survey a number of contemporary ethical issues, such as abortion, euthanasia, media ethics, business ethics, warfare, animal rights, environmental ethics, and capital punishment. Throughout the course, students will read both the textbook material and primary sources from philosophy and literature. Students who have taken PHIL 403 Ethics and Moral Theory cannot take this course.