Current Debates in Ethics (PHIL*4340) | College of Arts

Current Debates in Ethics (PHIL*4340)

Code and section: PHIL*4340*01

Term: Fall 2018

Instructor: John Hacker-Wright


Since the late 1950s, some ethicists have been advocating a revival of an Aristotelian approach to ethics, an approach called ‘neo-Aristotelian virtue ethics.’ This course will consist of an examination of themes in Aristotle’s ethics in light of the contemporary revival of virtue ethics.  We will get up to speed with Aristotle through reading (parts of) the Nicomachean Ethics, and, for each book, we will look at contemporary literature that explicates and debates issues in contemporary ethics related to that book.  Some issues addressed will include: can we ground ethics in a conception of human happiness or well-being? Can we revive an Aristotelian approach to ethics given that contemporary biology seems to contradict the possibility of the appeal to human nature that appears to ground Aristotle’s ethics? In addition to Aristotle, we will read contemporary works by Rosalind Hursthouse, John McDowell, Bernard Williams, Martha Nussbaum, and many others.

Course Outline