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 strangers; 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 for answering these and other ethical questions. We’ll begin with questions about 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 end the class by considering topics from applied ethics. (In the past, we’ve explored topics like abortion, animal rights, climate change ethics, the moral responsibilities of scientists, and/or ethical consumerism.)
TEXT: Ethics: History, Theory and Contemporary Issues (6th ed.), Steven M. Cahn and Peter Markie.