Advanced Ethics (PHIL*4340) | College of Arts

Advanced Ethics (PHIL*4340)

Term: Winter 2013


We will read three major texts in ethical theory from 18th and 19th century
Germany: Immanuel Kant’s Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals, Arthur
Schopenhauer’s On the Basis of Ethics, and Friedrich Nietzsche’s Daybreak.
One of the central themes of all three texts is moral motivation: what are we
aiming at when we act rightly or act well? We get three very different answers to
this question in these texts, and Schopenhauer and Nietzsche both disagree with
Kant vehemently, and Nietzsche vehemently disagrees with Schopenhauer.
What emerges, then, is a debate with interesting implications for how we
conceive the psychological of right action. In connection with these themes from
these historical texts, we will look at some contemporary psychological literature
on altruism.


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