PHIL 200: Introduction to Ethics

Number of Sections: 1 | Day and Time: Wednesday & Friday (08:00-09:30 ICT)


  • Dr. Caesy Doyle

Course Description

In this course we will confront some of the major ethical issues that arise in our society—the treatment of animals (vegetarianism, experimentation), the beginning of life (abortion, in vitro, PGD testing), the ethics of war (when to go, how to wage), the ethics of politics (what ought our representatives do), the end of life (right to die, suicide, euthanasia), fear of death, the ethics of food, and the environment.

In Ethics, we seek not simply opinions or personal positions on these contentious problems, but hope to make a broader claim about right and wrong. These issues are ethical issues insofar as when we take a position on them we make a claim about what is the right or wrong thing to do. And we are not simply making the statement that this is right or wrong for me, but also for anyone else who is as properly thoughtful and informed as I am. That is, I think I have good reasons for saying such-and-such is right or wrong, and you ought to also be convinced by my reasons.
In order to have such convincing reasons, we will need to say what it means for something to be right or wrong in general. This is where ethical theories come in. An ethical theory makes a claim about what makes something right or wrong in general. If we know that, then we ought to be able to look at each of these specific problems and any cases in which they arise, and evaluate them to see how they ought to be resolved. That will be our goal in this course–to introduce and engage students in the theories of ethics and their application to practical ethical problems so that they develop the knowledge of each ethical theory and the ability to apply them to particular issues.

Prerequisites: None




Broad Disciplines