Philosophy 1300                                   Fall 2016

Michael Thompson
1028D CL
(412) 445 7433
Office Hours: TuTh 11-12

Ethical Theory

This course is an elementary introduction to contemporary ethical theory. Our principal topic, normative ethics, seeks out the principles upon which we ought to act. That is, it aims to discover what things are actually right and wrong, and to make sound judgments about the matter. The principal question we will consider here is whether to accept the sort of view philosophers call "utilitarianism" or, more broadly, "consequentialism." We will consider some topics under the heading of the rationality of morality, and other meta-ethical topics as they arise and according to student interest.

The readings for the course will be a series of essays and short extracts from books.

The requirements for the course will be two seven page papers, each counting equally. Class participation will count for about 20% the calculation of the final grade.

September 7 Double effect, killing & letting die

September 14 Numbers

September 21 Self defense

October 5 - 12 The coherence of consequentialism

October 19 The Morality Concept vs Narrower Practical Concepts

October 26 Objections to so-called realism about morality and value

November 2 Contractualist arguments: Gauthier and Scanlon


Assorted other readings to be discussed later

November 9

November 16

November 23 (Thanksgiving)

November 30

December 7