Ethics is a branch of philosophy which is concerned with judgments about right and wrong, good and evil, duties, obligations and rights, as well as with the status and meaning of such judgments. In this seminar we will explore the central (western) theories regarding these issues. Among other things, we will discuss ethical relativism, emotivism, and objectivity; consequentialism/utilitarianism, deontology, and contractarianism. Towards the end of the seminar we will also use the general insights gained during the earlier parts of the seminar to explore some of the most important practical ethical questions of our time, such as duties towards the distant poor and duties towards (non-human) animals.
• Plato, The Republic.
• Aristotle, Nicohmachean Ethics.
• T. Hobbes, Leviathan.
• D. Hume, Treatise of Human Nature.
• Kant, The Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals.
• J. S. Mill, Utilitarianism.
• W. D. Ross, The Right and the Good.