Course code:



I - Introductory

Class size limit:


Meets the following requirements:

  • HS - Human Studies

Lab fee:


This course provides a broad overview of the issues, arguments, and debates that shape philosophical ethics. Guiding questions include the following: What are the origins of good and evil? What makes an action right or wrong? What is the relationship between reason, emotion, and morality? Why do we act morally? What should we do with someone who commits a horrific act? Who decides what counts as a horrific act?

To critically explore the concepts of rightness, wrongness, goodness, and badness, we will read key philosophical figures including Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Mill, Nietzsche, James, Arendt, Singer, Sartre, Beauvoir, Hursthouse, Du Bois, and West. Along the way, we will study deontology, utilitarianism, natural law ethics, virtue ethics, ethical relativism, feminist ethics, existentialism, and nihilism. In addition, we will unpack the ethical arguments that orbit concrete topics such as execution, murder, abortion, moral character, racial injustice, pornography, prostitution, duties to animals, and our duties to one another.

This course will familiarize students with the influential frameworks of moral philosophy, and it will encourage students to apply these frameworks to specific moral problems. Students will be evaluated on class participation, weekly writing assignments, a final paper, and a presentation.


None, but students should be prepared to engage difficult, philosophical texts and to discuss these texts in class.

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