|Year of offer||2019|
|Subject level||Undergraduate Level 2|
|Fees||Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date|
How should one live? What makes an action right or wrong and how can we tell which actions are which? Can critically engaging with what philosophers say about these questions make you a better person, or a moral expert?
This subject is divided into three parts, with a part devoted to each of the three main families of ethical theories. We start by looking at John Stuart Mill’s utilitarianism, or the view that actions are “right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness” and go on to consider the views of contemporary heirs to this tradition. Some object that utilitarianism delivers counter-intuitive verdicts and can, if the calculations turn out right, support seemingly repugnant actions. This worry leads naturally to an investigation of Kantian ethics, which puts good will rather than good consequences at the heart of its analysis of right action, and argues that reason is key to moral judgment and action. Some object that Kantianism does not acknowledge the centrality of emotion in our moral lives. The virtue ethics tradition, a tradition with roots in both Ancient Greece and China, seems well equipped to address these concerns. But can it provide sufficient guidance about what to do when we are in moral quandaries? As we examine each of these main approaches, we ask ourselves what we want from an ethical theory. Are we hoping to find a decision procedure that would simplify moral choice, a framework for identifying considerations that matter in making moral decisions, or do we want something more ambitious but more elusive, such as a conception of what it is to live a good life?
Intended learning outcomes
Students who successfully complete this subject will:
- understand the main approaches to the nature of morality, including understanding the historical antecedents to important contemporary approaches to the nature of morality;
- be able to charitably reconstruct arguments from classic philosophical texts and evalutate their strengths and weaknesses;
- become more able to defend, and not just coherently state, one's own position with regard to controversial questions in normative ethics;
- have acquired a background for one'w own further philosophical reflection on morality;
- work individually, and in groups, to create and test arguments.
Eligibility and requirements
Recommended background knowledge
|Code||Name||Teaching period||Credit Points|
|PHIL10002||Philosophy: The Big Questions||
|PHIL10003||Philosophy: The Great Thinkers||
Core participation requirements
The University of Melbourne is committed to providing students with reasonable adjustments to assessment and participation under the Disability Standards for Education (2005), and the Assessment and Results Policy (MPF1326). Students are expected to meet the core participation requirements for their course. These can be viewed under Entry and Participation Requirements for the course outlines in the Handbook.
Further details on how to seek academic adjustments can be found on the Student Equity and Disability Support website: http://services.unimelb.edu.au/student-equity/home
|During examination period||50%|
|Throughout the semester||N/A|
Dates & times
- Semester 1
Coordinator Karen Jones Mode of delivery On Campus — Parkville Contact hours 18 hours - 1 x 90 minute workshop and 90 minutes of online material each week Total time commitment 170 hours Teaching period 4 March 2019 to 2 June 2019 Last self-enrol date 15 March 2019 Census date 31 March 2019 Last date to withdraw without fail 10 May 2019 Assessment period ends 28 June 2019
Semester 1 contact information
Time commitment details
Additional delivery details
it is recommended that students enrolling in this subject have completed a first year philosophy subject, however this is not a requirement.
Sahfer-Landau (ed) Ethical Theory: An Anthology (Blackwell 2007). This book will be available from the University bookshop at the start of semester.
- Related Handbook entries
- Breadth options
- Available through the Community Access Program
About the Community Access Program (CAP)
This subject is available through the Community Access Program (also called Single Subject Studies) which allows you to enrol in single subjects offered by the University of Melbourne, without the commitment required to complete a whole degree.
Entry requirements including prerequisites may apply. Please refer to the CAP applications page for further information.
- Available to Study Abroad and/or Study Exchange Students
This subject is available to students studying at the University from eligible overseas institutions on exchange and study abroad. Students are required to satisfy any listed requirements, such as pre- and co-requisites, for enrolment in the subject.