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.

Class Notes

Mon, Jan 25
Wed, Jan 27
Singer on Famine
Mon, Feb 1
Shared Responsibility
Wed, Feb 3
Bentham’s Utilitarianism
Mon, Feb 8
Mill’s Hedonism
Wed, Feb 10
Mill’s Moral Theory
Mon, Feb 15
Utilitarianism and Integrity
Wed, Feb 20
Making No Difference
Mon, Feb 22
The Repugnant Conclusion
Wed, Feb 24
How Do Rights Work?
Mon, Feb 29
Thomson’s Argument