PHIL 412 B: Ethical Theory

Meeting Time: 
TTh 2:30pm - 4:20pm
HSE E216
Joint Sections: 
B H 402 B, B H 502 A
Nancy S. Jecker

Syllabus Description:

For the complete syllabus, including the most up-to-date daily schedule,click here.

Instructor: Professor Nancy S. Jecker

Website: UW Faculty Website
Virtual Office Hours: By apt (email to schedule)

*This course combines in-person and online learning. In-person meetings enhance the learning environment; if you are unable to attend an in-person meeting this will not affect your course grade and you do not need to contact the instructor.  Refer to the complete syllabus (linked above) for more information.. 

LEARNING GOALSBy the end of the quarter you will be able to:
 (1) distinguish normative and non-normative approaches to ethics; (2) identify teleological and deontological ethical theories; (3) demonstrate knowledge of normative ethical theories, including Kantian ethics, utilitarianism, and perfectionism; (4) demonstrate knowledge of metaethical theories, including relativism, subjectivism, objectivism, absolutism, nihilism, and skepticism; (5) deploy philosophical methods of analysis and argument; (6) display awareness of social, cultural and historical assumptions embedded in ethical analyses; (7) appeal to ethical theories and principles to justify alternative viewpoints; (8) serve as peer reviewers for colleagues (graduate students); (9) prepare a research paper (graduate students).

COURSE DESCRIPTION: This course introduces you to some of the most influential ethical theories to date and, with a critical eye, studies the source and ground of their influence. Readings will be from historically prominent Western philosophers, such as Bentham, Mill, Nietzsche, and Kant, as well as from contemporary scholars. Cross-cultural perspectives are incorporated throughout, with a focus on sub-Saharan Africa and East Asia.

Undergraduate Student Requirements apply to students who have not completed a bachelor's degree.

  • Group Projects (25 points each, 100 total points, 25% of course grade)
  • Philosophical Reflections (10 points each, 100 total points, 25% of course grade)
  • Exams (100 points each, 200 total points, 50% of course grade)

Graduate Student Requirements apply to students who have completed a bachelor's degree

  • Group Project: (25 points each, 100 total points, 20% of course grade)
  • Philosophical Reflections: (10 points each, 100 total points, 20% of course grade)
  • Exams: (100 points each, 200 total points, 40% of course grade)
  • Graduate Student Research Paper (100 points total, 20% of course grade)

Group Projects are peer learning activities the invite you to team up with classmates to debate a contemporary ethical problem, develop arguments, prepare slides, & present to the class live on Zoom.

Philosophical Reflections are journaling activities that invite you to formulate your own ethical view in a 250-500 word posting. Full credit for reasonable quality and no credit for unsatisfactory work.

Exams test mastery of material using a combination of multiple choice & essay. Review sheets will be posted online and the class prior to the exam will include a discussion board review session.

Graduate Student Papers are 8-10-page research papers dealing in more depth with a topic discussed in class. Students must submit a proposal to the instructor for approval and a draft paper to colleagues for structured peer review prior to submitting the final paper.

POLICIES: Familiarize yourself with School and Department policies that apply to this class (below). UW COVID-19 policies are strictly enforced; students who do not comply with face covering requirements are subject to discipline under the Student Conduct Code.
UW, COVID-19 Face Coverings Requirements
UW, School of Medicine, and Department of Bioethics Policies 
Department of Bioethics & Humanities, Grading Policy
Department of Bioethics & Humanities, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion Policy

The Department of Bioethics & Humanities advises students who might need Disability Resources for Students (DRS) services to register with DRS at the beginning of the quarter. This class complies with Department's policy requiring that all students in a class be held to the same class policy absent a written accommodation directive from DRS.

SCHEDULE: Prior to joining a live zoom meeting or submitting an assignment, complete all assigned electronic materials (available at the "E-Materials" link on the home page of the course website) and review all online lectures (available from the "Online Lectures" link on the home page of the course website). 

Catalog Description: 
Studies the major normative ethical theories, including both teleological and deontological approaches. Emphasizes moral philosophy during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, as well as contemporary commentary. Offered: jointly with B H 402.
GE Requirements: 
Individuals and Societies (I&S)
Last updated: 
April 16, 2021 - 11:54pm