Ethics, Knowledge & Reality (PHIL*1050)
Code and section: PHIL*1050*01
Term: Winter 2019
Instructor: Hannah Schell
This course introduces students to some of the questions that arise within moral philosophy, and secondarily to some of the basic questions of epistemology, metaphysics and the philosophy of religion. The selected materials and class activities are designed to introduce students to the discipline of philosophy: the types of questions asked, the habits of mind, and the necessary skills of close reading, thoughtful dialogue, and the careful treatment of the material through writing papers.
The majority of the term will be devoted to Ethics. In the first few sessions, students will be introduced to moral reasoning as well as meta-ethical questions about the status of moral claims, skepticism about morality and the subjectivity of values. We then turn our attention to the major theoretical approaches, including consequentialism, Kantian ethics, social contract theory, natural law, prima facieduties, virtue ethics and the ethics of care. Students will learn some of the basic ideas that attend each of these approaches and be encouraged to compare and evaluate them as we move through the material. We will then apply these theoretical approaches by examining selected moral issues (e.g. abortion, animal rights, euthanasia, the environment, economic inequality, etc.), to be determined by the class. During the last few weeks, we turn out attention to other basic issues in philosophy, “The Nature of Reality,” “The Search for Truth” and “Proofs for the Existence of God.” The required reading draws primarily from introductory textbooks but will also include some short primary texts, including readings by Aristotle, Aquinas, Hobbes, Kant, J.S. Mill, W.D. Ross and Hilde Lindemann.