PHIL90022 Thinking and Acting Ethically

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 9 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2017:

April, Parkville - Taught on campus.Show/hide details
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period 28-Apr-2017 to 26-May-2017
Assessment Period End 30-Jun-2017
Last date to Self-Enrol 03-May-2017
Census Date 12-May-2017
Last date to Withdraw without fail 09-Jun-2017

This intensive subject will be taught weekly over five weeks, beginning in April.

Timetable can be viewed here.
For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: Total 24 hours: 1 x 4 hour seminar and 4 x 5 hour seminars, taught intensively over five weeks.
Total Time Commitment:

170 hours

Prerequisites: None
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Student Support and Engagement Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Overview, Learning Outcomes, Assessment and Generic Skills sections of this entry.

It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the University's programs. Students who feel their disability may impact on meeting the requirements of this subject are encouraged to discuss this matter with a Faculty Student Adviser and Student Equity and Disability Support: http://services.unimelb.edu.au/disability


Mr Andrew Alexandra


Email: a.alexandra@unimelb.edu.au

Subject Overview:

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.

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.

  • An assignment, 1,500 words (30%), due at the end of the second week of the teaching period.
  • An essay, 3,500 words (70%), due four weeks after the end of the teaching period.
  • Hurdle: Students are required to attend a minimum of 80% of classes in order to pass this subject.

Prescribed Texts:

All required readings will be available in a subject reader, which will be available on the LMS.

Indicative Readings:

  • Andrew Alexandra and Seumas Miller, Ethics in Practice: Moral Theory and the Professions. Sydney: University of New South Wales Press, 2009.
  • Andrew Alexandra and Seumas Miller, Integrity Systems for Occupational Groups. Farnham: Ashgate, 2009.
  • Margaret Coady and Sidney Bloch, Codes of Ethics and the Professions. Melbourne: MUP,1996.
  • Neil Levy, Moral Relativism: A Short Introduction. Oxford: Oneworld, 2002.
  • Mike Martin, Meaningful Work: Rethinking Professional Ethics. New York: OUP, 2000.
  • Larry May, The Socially Responsive Self: Social Theory and Professional Ethics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press,1996.
  • Justin Oakley and Dean Cocking, Virtue ethics and professional roles. Melbourne: Cambridge University Press, 2002.
  • William Shaw and Vincent Barry, Moral Issues in Business (8th ed.). Florence, KY: Wadsworth, 2001.
  • Dennis Thompson, Restoring Responsibility: Ethics in Government, Business, and Healthcare. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.
  • Bernard Williams, Morality: An Introduction to Ethics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993.
Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
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.
Links to further information: http://graduate.arts.unimelb.edu.au/
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: EMA 100 point program - full time over 1 year
EMA 150 point program - full time over 1.5 years
EMA 200 point program - full time over 1.5 years
EMA 200 point program - full time over 2 years

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