PHI 116 - Ethical Theories (Normative Ethics)

Philosophy 116 focuses on theories in normative ethics, the area of ethics that inquires into what right action is and how we should live our lives.
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Students participating in Philosophy 116





One course in philosophy




The majority of the course consists of an investigation of which factors go into determining morally right action. We look at the goodness of consequences and well-being. We then consider constraints or prohibitions on action, focusing on a constraint against doing harm. On the flip side, we look at permissions to do less than the best. During the final few weeks of the course we discuss foundations of normative ethical theories.

Where do the rules about morally right action come from? By the end of the course, students will be familiar with the inner machinery of the major normative ethical theories—consequentialism, deontology and virtue ethics—as well as foundational theories, including Kantianism and contractualism. Along the way, we will read contemporary papers in normative ethics that illuminate or expand upon the fundamental normative ethical concepts.