Department of Philosophy

Ethics

Major in Philosophy: Ethics 

The department offers a large selection of courses for philosophy majors interested in ethics. 

1222 Ethics for Modern Life
6 credit hours

The course examines competing moral perspectives on topics such as capital punishment, suicide, euthanasia, abortion, genetic engineering, friendship, marriage, parenthood, discrimination, inequality, poverty, foreign aid, and the environment. The aim is to help the student to develop a coherent set of principles to deal with these and other topics.

 1248 Killing and Letting Die
3 credit hours

When, if ever, is it morally permissible to kill another human being, or yourself? What is morally problematic about killing? Is killing morally worse than letting die? Are we morally obligated to prevent as many deaths as we can? This course explores these questions and others through a discussion of classical and contemporary philosophical readings. 

2302 Ethics
6 credit hours

An introduction to moral philosophy designed to lead the student to examine the foundations of their moral positions. To this end historical and contemporary answers by philosophers to questions such as the following will be examined: What ought I to do morally and ultimately why I ought to do it? Are ethical positions simply relative: (a) to a person? (b) to a society? What is the relation between science and morality? Why be moral? 

2303 Right and Wrong
3 credit hours

Students examine theories of right and wrong. Some of the questions students will discuss include: do the ends justify the means? Is right and wrong relative to a culture? Can we justify a particular set of moral rules? Is deception always morally wrong? When, if ever, is killing morally permissible? 

2304 Evil
3 credit hours

This course is about the nature and significance of evil events, actions, characters, and institutions. Topics include historical accounts of evil, suffering, skepticism about evil, evil and mental illness, terrorism, torture, and genocide. 

2305 Environmental Ethics
3 credit hours

The nature of the ecological crisis will be examined. Philosophical responses to it will be presented which will involve analysis of the concepts of animal rights, of the intrinsic value of nature, and of obligations to future generations. A portion of the course will be spent on the application of the theoretical concepts to specific ecological issues including population and world hunger, pollution, and the sustainable society. Part of the objective of the applied section will be to raise issues of public policy within a philosophical framework. 

2331 Business Ethics
3 credit hours

An examination of the extent to which business objectives can, must, or do conflict with moral objectives, and of the extent to which business organizations can be brought into harmony with moral objectives. This will involve treatment of the relevant aspects of ethical theory. 

2332 Ethics and the Law
3 credit hours

This course will be concerned with topics such as punishment, the legislation of morality, the notion of mitigating circumstances, and the role of the victim in legal proceedings. 

2368 Bioethics
3 credit hours

Medical technology has created moral issues that cannot be settled simply on the basis of medical facts. Both the medical profession and society as a whole must make value decisions before life and death issues such as abortion, euthanasia, and treatment of the insane can be settled. This course is intended to help the student reach reasoned conclusions on these issues through clarification and appraisal of arguments. 

3405 Ethics of Belief

3 credit hours

We commonly evaluate beliefs as rational or irrational; justified or unjustified; responsible or irresponsible. But what do these terms mean and when are they correctly applied? Can beliefs be ethical? These and related questions are debated by contemporary epistemologists. This course seeks to interpret and assess the main competing views. 

3470 Normative Ethical Theories
3 credit hours

This course is a critical investigation of normative ethical theories, such as theories about what makes right actions right, good states of affairs good, and virtuous people virtuous. The theories discussed may include: those that evaluate the morality of actions based on their consequences, those that evaluate the morality of actions based on intrinsic features such as whether they respect autonomy, and those that evaluate the morality of actions based on the sorts of people who characteristically perform such actions.  

3471 Meta-Ethics
3 credit hours

The course investigates the moral concepts that are used in the formulation and evaluation of ethical theories, including: ‘morality’, ‘moral value’, ‘virtue’, ‘vice’, ‘moral right’, ‘moral obligation’, ‘justice’, and ‘good’. 

3472 Foundation of Ethics
3 credit hours

The course will involve the study of the nature of moral judgments and the logic of moral reasoning. 

3474 Moral Responsibility
3 credit hours

Students consider questions such as: When are we morally responsible for what we do? When do we share responsibility for a harm that has been brought about by a collective? Should we hold organizations morally responsible for wrongfully causing harm? Can the moral responsibility of organizations always be reduced to the moral responsibility of individual members?  

3475 Moral Psychology
3 credit hours

Moral psychology is an interdisciplinary study that draws on empirical research into psychology & behaviour and conceptual work in philosophical ethics. 

4525 International Justice
3 credit hours

This course will consider how major theories of justice such as Kantian constructivism, economic contractarianism, and utilitarianism deal with important issues in international justice such as the law of peoples, distributive justice, human rights, and democratization.