Normative Ethics - PHIL6400

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2021 to 2022
Canterbury
Autumn Term 5 30 (15) Alexandra Trofimov checkmark-circle

Overview

This course is designed to introduce students to a number of approaches in what is often referred to as "normative ethics". We face and hear about moral problems every day. These problems range from life and death matters concerning abortion, euthanasia and the like to other types of case such as whether to tell a lie to prevent hurting someone's feelings. At some point we might wonder whether there is a set of rules or principles (such as 'Do not lie') which will help us through these tricky problems; we might wonder whether there is something more simple underlying all of this 'ethical mess’ that we can discern.

Normative ethics contains a number of theories that attempt to give us such principles and to sort out the mess. In particular, different normative ethical theories are attempts to articulate reasons why a certain course of action is ethically best; they are attempts to say what types of feature we should concentrate on when thinking about ethical problems and why it is that such features are features which have ‘intrinsic moral significance’. Of course, ethical theories do not exist in a vacuum. As we shall see, our everyday intuitions about what is morally best are both the origin of normative ethical theories and the origin of thoughts raised against them.

Details

Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 40
Total Private Study Hours: 260
Total Study Hours: 300

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods:

Mid-term Assignment (1,000 words) – 30%
End of Term Essay (2,500 words) – 50%
Group Presentation (25 minutes) – 10%
Seminar Performance – 10%

Indicative reading

Indicative Reading List

Aristotle (2009). Nicomachean Ethics. Oxford: OUP.
Baron, Marcia, Philip Pettit, and Michael Slote (1997). Three Methods of Ethics. Malden, MA: John Wiley & Sons.
Kagan, Shelly (1997). Normative Ethics. Westview Press.
Kant, Immanuel (2012). Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals. Cambridge: CUP.
Mill, J.S. (2002). Utilitarianism. Indianapolis: Hackett.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 Outline and show critical understanding through clear expression of consequentialism;
2 Outline and show critical understanding through clear expression of a number of problems for consequentialism;
3 Outline and show critical understanding through clear expression of deontology;
4 Outline and show critical understanding through clear expression of problems for deontologists;
5 Outline and show critical understanding through clear expression of virtue theory;
6 Outline and show critical understanding through clear expression of a number of problems for virtue theorists.

Notes

  1. Credit level 5. Intermediate level module usually taken in Stage 2 of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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