Course code:



IM - Introductory/Intermediate

Lab fee:


This is a course on the history of ethical thinking in the West.

It deals with ways that philosophers from Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, to Aquinas, Bentham, Kant, Marx, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, A. J. Ayer, Sartre, de Beauvoir, Sara Ruddick, Gandhi, Nozick, Rawls, and Alasdair MacIntyre have addressed questions like the following: What is the best way to live as individuals—and what does this imply about how we should structure our society? Why are there so many types of moral disagreements in modern societies? Why do these disagreements never seem to end but go on indefinitely? Are there ways to resolve these disputes that are persuasive between ethical traditions and across cultures? The central text for the course will be MacIntyre’s After Virtue, which provides a systematic narrative for the history of Western ethics that claims to diagnose its core problems and provide solutions.

Key texts and passages from the philosophers central to that narrative will be examined in detail and interpreted in light of their historical contexts using material from texts such as W. T. Jones History of Western Philosophy and Copleston’s History of Philosophy. Students will develop skills to critically analyze philosophical texts and arguments in both their theoretical and historical contexts through class discussion, role plays, and a series of short papers. There are no prerequisite courses but students must be prepared to deal with complex arguments that move between philosophy, history and other disciplines.




Always visit the Registrar's Office for the official course catalog and schedules.