PHIL 236
Contemporary Ethical Theory Spring 2017
Division II Writing Skills
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This course will be an in-depth exploration of central questions in normative ethics, including the following: Which features of actions are morally important and why (e.g., their motive, their intrinsic nature, or their consequences)? When should we give morality priority over our personal commitments and relationships, and why? Are there universal moral principles that apply to all cultures? Are we capable of disinterested altruism, or are we motivated solely by self-interest? By which methods can we answer these questions? We will examine these and related issues by looking closely at two influential moral theories: consequentialism and deontology. While both have important historical roots — consequentialism in Mill and Sidgwick, deontology in Kant — we will focus on contemporary developments of these views. In the last few weeks, we’ll examine contractualism, which outlines a different approach to these questions.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 19
Expected: 10-15
Class#: 3800
Grading: no pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: short response papers; an 8- to 10-page midterm paper; a 10- to 12-page final paper
Extra Info: may not be taken on a pass/fail basis
Prerequisites: at least one PHIL course or permission of instructor
Enrollment Preferences: Philosophy majors
Distributions: Division II Writing Skills
Attributes: ENVP SC-B Group Electives
PHIL Contemporary Value Theory Courses

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