Ethics is the branch of philosophy that deals with the governing principles of moral action. Moral psychology is an interdisciplinary, empirical approach to determining the conditions under which moral decisions are made. In this course, we will combine traditional approaches to ethics with contemporary research in moral psychology to develop a well-rounded understanding of moral behaviour. We shall bring two pairs of normative accounts of ethics into conversation with each other. We will consider utilitarianism and deontology together and ask, “Is moral behaviour a matter of consequences or intentions?” To answer this question, we will consider the psychology of preferences and responsibility. We shall also bring together care ethics and virtue ethics to ask, “Is moral behaviour directed towards others, or towards ourselves?” Answering this question requires considering the psychology of emotions and character. Finally, we will close out the course by considering the epistemology of disagreement, and the consequences such a view has for moral pluralism. Along the way, we will study the work of Bentham, Kant, Gilligan, and Aristotle, and others. Applications may include redistribution of wealth, organ donation, capital punishment, etc.
- Alfano, Mark. Moral Psychology: An Introduction (Polity, 2016).
- Tännsjö, Torbjörn. Understanding Ethics, 3d. ed. (Edinburgh UP, 2014).
Summary of Course Requirements
|Midterm I||Tests competence from Unit I.||25%||Week 06|
|Midterm II||Tests competence from Unit II.||25%||Week 10|
|Weekly Reflections||Weekly assignments on the material.||10%||Ongoing|
|Seminar Participation||Assessed by your TA on the quality and quantity of participation.||10%||Ongoing|
|Final Examination||One sit-down cumulative examination.||30%||TBD|
All information subject to change with notice.
Preferences & Duties
|02||Utilitarianism – Hedonism||UE: 17-42|
|06||[Review and Midterm]||N/A|
Care & Character
|07||Ethics of Care||UE: 113-128|
|08||Emotions & Judgements||MP: 81-112, E1|
|09||Virtue Ethics||UE: 95-113|
|10||Character formation||MP: 112-138|
|11||[Review and Midterm]||N/A|
Relativism & Disagreement
|12||Can we live and let live?||UE: 142-152, E2|
|13||How we disagree||MP: 138-171|
|MP||Moral Psychology: An Introduction|
|UE||Understanding Ethics (3d. ed.)|
|E1||James, W. “The Sentiment of Rationality” (selections)|
|E2||Feldman, R. “Rational Religious Disagreements” (selections)|