This course introduces students to some of the most influential ethical theories to date and, with a critical eye, studies the source and ground of their influence. Among the theories we discuss are classical and contemporary utilitarianism, perfectionism, ethical egoism, and Kantian ethics. In the course of studying these theories, we discuss questions such as the following. How do we avoid the conclusion that ethical standards are just a matter of cultural or individual opinion? Is it always morally preferable to perform whatever action produces the best consequences? What reason can anybody have for being moral rather than just giving the appearance of being moral when that serves one's own purposes? Readings are from historically prominent philosophers, such as Bentham, Mill, Nietzsche, and Kant, as well as contemporary authors. Offered jointly with B H 402.
TEXT: All readings are available online. There are no required textbooks.