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Introduction to Ethics
ETHICS
CLASS CODE: PHIL 313 CREDITS:  3
DIVISION: LANGUAGE & LETTERS
DEPARTMENT: HUMANITIES & PHILOSOPHY
GENERAL EDUCATION: This course fulfills a General Education - Letters requirement.

DESCRIPTION: Introduction to and evaluation of major ethical theories and their application to contemporary moral issues. Emphasizes practice in moral reasoning.
TAUGHT: Winter
CONTENT AND TOPICS: Why do you believe that using animals for food is a perfectly moral thing to do? Why do you believe that slavery is morally reprehensible? If you are like most people, you’ve adopted your moral beliefs unreflectively from your society, your family, and your peers, often catching them as you would catch the common cold, without even knowing where they came from or why you believe them.

The trouble is that adopting moral beliefs unreflectively is positively dangerous, both to your own soul and to other people. Consider slavery. There was a time, not so long ago, when large numbers of Americans believed quite sincerely that owning another human being was perfectly moral. They were brought up owning slaves, and so never questioned the practice; just as we were brought up eating meat, and so never questioned the practice.

When we begin to question our practices and moral beliefs we are doing ethics. Ethics, loosely speaking, is the branch of philosophy that tries to sort out which moral beliefs are rationally justified and which are not. Ethics came about because people had questions about the morality of their actions (Is it right for me to own slaves?) and about the principles upon which they acted (What makes an act right?). These questions are what we call ethical issues.

The purpose of this course is to help you to improve your thinking about ethical issues. You will learn to articulate and evaluate the ethical principles upon which your judgments are based. And you will learn to apply principles to specific issues, from your immediate personal issues, like honesty or chastity, to global issues like world hunger.
May include any or all of the following: ethical egoism, ethical subjectivism and relativism, pluralism, emotivism, divine command theory, Utilitarianism, Kantian ethics and duty, theory of rights, theory of justice, virtue ethics, the ethics of caring; business ethics, bio-ethics, medical ethics.
GOALS AND OBJECTIVES: This course is intended to introduce students to the practice of moral reasoning and various moral theories that have been propounded. Students will be able to elucidate and evaluate these theories and to articulate and rationally defend their own best judgments regarding questions of morality in everyday life.
REQUIREMENTS: Textbook reading assignments
Objective Exams and quizzes
Writing assignments
Scholarly Paper
PREREQUISITES:
OTHER:
EFFECTIVE DATE: August 2002