Course Catalog

UGRD > PHIL > 216

The History of Ethics

This course focuses on four or five philosophers whose impact on the development of Western thinking about ethics has been substantial, e.g., Plato, Aristotle, Hume, Kant, and Nietzsche. The following are the sorts of questions with which they were preoccupied, and upon which we focus in reading them: Is there a single ideal life which all human beings should strive to live-and if so, what does it consist in? What are the virtues that human beings should exemplify? Why should one live a moral life? Are there objective moral standards-and if so, how does one discover what they are? What roles do reason and the emotions, respectively, play in the moral life? Special attention is given to the role that one's metaphysical views and one's views of human nature play in shaping one's theory of ethics.

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