About This Course

Ethical theories attempt to give a general, abstract account of ethics. We will discuss three kinds of theories: consequentialist theories, deontological theories, and metaethical theories. The first two are theories about morality. They are concerned with what makes actions right or wrong and what makes people morally good or bad. Metaethical theories are theories about ethical theories, such as consequentialist and deontological theories. Metaethical theories are concerned with whether or not there are objective truths about ethics.

The materials in the class are analytical. That means we will try to learn about ethics through arguments. Students taking the class will have extensive opportunities to develop analytical skills, both in speaking and in writing.

The syllabus has a schedule of topics for discussion, readings, and assignments; it also describes the standards for grades and other policies for the class. Registered students can find all other materials on Sakai.

Ethical Philosophers

Class picture
Kenny, Hutch, Zane, Zach, Chris
Simon, Jacob, Cardeliz, Michael Green
Zoë, Camille, Cassy, Emma, Ariel
Missing: Derick, Iglal
Class picture

Class Notes

Wed, Jan 23
Mon, Jan 28
Singer on Famine
Wed, Jan 30
Shared Responsibility
Mon, Feb 4
Bentham’s Utilitarianism
Wed, Feb 6
Mill’s Hedonism
Mon, Feb 11
Mill’s Moral Theory
Wed, Feb 13
Utilitarianism and Justice
Mon, Feb 18
Utilitarianism and Integrity
Wed, Feb 20
Making No Difference
Mon, Feb 25
The Repugnant Conclusion
Wed, Feb 27
How Do Rights Work?
Mon, Mar 4
Thomson’s Argument
Wed, Mar 6
Do Numbers Count?
Mon, Mar 11
Guest Lecture
Wed, Mar 13
Yes Numbers Count
Mon, Mar 25
Gewirth’s Ethical Rationalism
Wed, Mar 27
Discussion of Gewirth
Mon, Apr 1
Scanlon on Intentions
Wed, Apr 3
Herman on Intentions
Mon, Apr 8
Moral Luck
Wed, Apr 10
Mon, Apr 15
Cognitivist Error Theory
Wed, Apr 17
A Realist Reply
Mon, Apr 22
Relativism and Tolerance
Wed, Apr 24
Williams on Relativism
Mon, Apr 29
Defusing Subjectivism
Wed, May 1
An Objectivist Account of Moral Knowledge
Mon, May 6
Review and Picture
Wed, May 8
Morality and Self-Interest