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Thinking and Acting Ethically (PHIL90022)

Graduate courseworkPoints: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2019
Subject levelGraduate coursework
Subject codePHIL90022
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

Moral decision-making is a practical skill which we exercise many times a day, confidently and accurately. Sometimes, however, we face situations of moral complexity or novelty, where it is not obvious what we should do. In this subject, we look at the ways in which moral theory can assist us to think about such situations, particularly as they arise in our working and organisational life. We begin by examining the nature of moral reasoning, and then see how it can be applied to a number of ethical issues which we are likely to encounter in our professional lives. These issues may include, autonomy and paternalism, role morality and its relationship with personal morality, whistle-blowing, free speech in the workplace, personal and professional relationships, corruption and bribery, conflicts of interest, and privacy and confidentiality. We focus on the factors that help or hinder ethical action in organizational settings, including both structural elements (such as role clarity, avoidance of perverse incentives, accountability mechanisms) and personal traits (such as cognitive biases and moral (dis)engagement). Case studies will provide a focus for reflective work: students will be encouraged to develop case studies from their own experience, and pursue their own interests.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this subject, students should be able to:

  • be familiar with key concepts and theoretical tools in ethics;
  • apply these to the understanding of morally complex situations, including in their own working life; and
  • contribute in an informed and reasoned way to ethical debate about such situations.

Generic skills

At the completion of this subject, students should gain the following generic skills:

  • ability to engage critically with academic theorising;
  • high-level argument analysis and presentation;
  • research and analysis capacities that will enable them to undertake further independent research work of greater length and originality; and
  • capacity for independent study.

Last updated: 27 June 2019