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  3. The Metaphysics of Ethics

The Metaphysics of Ethics (PHIL30054)

Undergraduate level 3Points: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2019
Subject levelUndergraduate Level 3
Subject codePHIL30054
Semester 2
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

Our central question in this subject will be the extent to which our ethical views and theories are related to, or underpinned by, our metaphysical views and theories. In Topic 1, Objects, Events, Persistence & The Ethical Views Influenced by Them, we'll discuss what metaphysics tells us about the nature of objects, events, and persistence over time, and how this impacts various ethical theories we might endorse. In Topic 2, Mereology & Its Influence on Ethics, we'll discuss metaphysical theories of mereology (i.e. part/whole relations) such as how is a corporation (whole) related to its employees (parts), how is a university (whole) related to the students, instructors, buildings, etc. (parts) that compose it? We'll then look at how mereology impacts how we should think about various ethical and political cases. In Topic 3, Causation & Ethics, we'll look at various metaphysical views of causation and how this impacts ethics, particular with regard to moral responsibility.

Intended learning outcomes

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

  • Demonstrate a thorough understanding of the philosophical intersection of ethics and metaphysics, as well as of the metaphysical underpinnings of central ethical views.
  • Critical engagement with contemporary philosophical research concerning the scope of metaphysics and ethics and, in particular, the role metaphysical facts play in the evaluation of ethical theories.
  • Demonstration of high-level skills of communication and collaboration skills, including oral and written presentation of arguments and effective work in small and large groups.
  • Ability to critically evaluate one's own presuppositions and biases concerning ethics and metaphysics.

Generic skills

Students will develop their skills in:

  • reasoning critically,
  • interpreting arguments and
  • writing analytic essays.

Last updated: 28 May 2019