PHIL 236
Contemporary Ethical Theory Fall 2009
Division II Writing Skills
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Class Details

Is sacrificing an individual’s welfare for the sake of the community ever justified, or does each individual have an inviolable status that must be respected? Should moral considerations always take priority over personal projects and intimate relationships, or are there some spheres in which we should be free to pursue our goals without concern for morality? We will explore these and related questions by systematically comparing the two dominant ethical theories of the 20th century, consequentialism and deontology. While both theories find their roots in earlier thinkers–consequentialism in Mill and Sidgwick, deontology in Kant–our focus will be on contemporary developments of these views. After examining these approaches in depth, we’ll turn our attention to recent theories that attempt to transcend the distinctions that divide consequentialist and deontological views. Readings include works by Bentham, Mill, Nozick, Railton, Brink, Williams, Wolf, Taurek, Rawls, Smart, Scheffler, Nagel, Kant, Kamm, Quinn, Kagan, Ross, and Scanlon.
The Class: Format: lecture/discussion
Limit: 19
Expected: 10-15
Class#: 1055
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: several short response papers; an 8- to 10-page midterm paper; a 10- to 12-page final paper
Prerequisites: Philosophy 101, Philosophy 102, or permission of the instructor
Enrollment Preferences: Philosophy majors
Distributions: Division II Writing Skills
Attributes: LGST Interdepartmental Electives

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