Ethical questions encompass a wide variety of moral concerns. What sorts of things really matter in life: pleasure, family, money, all or none of these? Suppose you could get away with stealing something you really wanted without anyone noticing. Are there good reasons for not stealing it? Do we owe any sort of moral consideration to animals; and if we do, then how should we treat them? Would it be okay for us to sacrifice the happiness, rights, or lives of a few people, if that sacrifice meant that many, many more people would be happy?
In this class, we’ll look at ethical theories that provide a philosophical framework from which to answer these and other types of ethical questions. We’ll begin with questions about the prerequisites for living a good, flourishing life. From there, we’ll consider questions about the nature of right and wrong and the sources of moral worth and value. Finally, we’ll the end the class by considering some topics from applied ethics including, but not limited to animal rights and abortion.
TEXT: Ethics: History, Theory and Contemporary Issues (5th ed.), Steven M. Cahn and Peter Markie.