PHIL10040 Introduction to Ethics

Academic Year 2022/2023

This module is taught in both the autumn and the spring trimesters, and students are welcome in either. The teaching staff and the content will differ slightly, but the assessment will be the same.

Ethics is all about doing the right thing and about becoming the right sort of person; it is also about how we act collectively, as a family, as a nation, as the human race, to improve welfare and reduce harm; it is about how we blame and praise people, including ourselves; it is about how we teach children, both at home and in schools. In this module we will look at how some philosophers have understood "the right thing" and "the right sort of person" from ancient Greece through to the 18th Century through to the present day, (although we might not teach it chronologically). Philosophy is not only a distinct university subject; it is a conversation that has been underway for more than 2000 years.

One approach to "the right thing" involves developing a theory to guide us. For example: Is doing what is right a matter of doing what is in one's own enlightened self-interest on the whole (rational egoism)? Or is it having primarily in view the welfare or happiness of everyone potentially affected by one's action (consequentialism), perhaps including all sentient beings? Or alternatively, is doing the right thing perhaps recognising what is intrinsically right in itself, as being consistent with respecting the absolute worth of every free rational being as such, including oneself (Kantianism)?

Another popular theory is called "virtue ethics". The right sort of person cultivates the virtues (such as courage or kindness), and tries to avoid vices (such as cowardice or cruelty). But how much of our character is in our control? How much can virtue be taught? Is vice merely a form of ignorance? And the most important question: is virtue necessary for happiness? In the second half we will seek the genesis of virtue ethics in Plato's conception of happiness, its relation to virtue, and its role in the good life. Aristotle expanded upon and adapted Plato's insights into a robust ethical theory. We will trace how the conception of happiness and its role in the ethical life fared in the Hellenistic period. In particular, we will look at the development of the Stoic idea of living in accordance with nature — a notion that has recently gained substantial purchase in popular culture.

This module is designed for people with no background in philosophy at all.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

This module will introduce students to philosophical approaches to ethics. It will provide students with the philosophical vocabulary to voice, clarify, and justify their own ethical positions while critically engaging with contrasting views.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Autonomous Student Learning

96

Lectures

22

Tutorial

7

Total

125

Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
The module will comprise lectures and small-group tutorials 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations
Learning Recommendations:

This module assumes no background knowledge of philosophy at all.


Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
 
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Essay: Essay 2 Varies over the Trimester n/a Graded No

30

Attendance: Attendance and participation at tutorials Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No

10

Examination: Exam 2 hour End of Trimester Exam No Graded No

30

Essay: Essay 1 Varies over the Trimester n/a Graded No

30


Carry forward of passed components
No
 
Remediation Type Remediation Timing
Repeat Within Two Trimesters
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Feedback will be given to students on each of the essays.

Name Role
Peter Larsen Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Professor James O'Shea Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Ranier Abengana Tutor
Haikyung Kwon Tutor
Ms Aisling Phipps Tutor
Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.
 
Autumn
     
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12 Thurs 17:00 - 17:50
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 3, 4, 5 Tues 17:00 - 17:50
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12 Tues 17:00 - 17:50
Tutorial Offering 1 Week(s) - 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 Wed 13:00 - 13:50
Tutorial Offering 2 Week(s) - 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 Tues 14:00 - 14:50
Tutorial Offering 3 Week(s) - 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 Tues 13:00 - 13:50
Tutorial Offering 4 Week(s) - 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 Wed 10:00 - 10:50
Tutorial Offering 5 Week(s) - 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 Wed 16:00 - 16:50
Tutorial Offering 6 Week(s) - 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 Fri 11:00 - 11:50
Tutorial Offering 7 Week(s) - 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 Thurs 10:00 - 10:50
Tutorial Offering 16 Week(s) - 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 Fri 13:00 - 13:50
Autumn
     
Spring
     
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 20, 21, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30, 32, 33 Mon 17:00 - 17:50
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33 Wed 17:00 - 17:50
Tutorial Offering 1 Week(s) - 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30 Tues 15:00 - 15:50
Tutorial Offering 2 Week(s) - 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30 Tues 16:00 - 16:50
Tutorial Offering 3 Week(s) - 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30 Wed 15:00 - 15:50
Tutorial Offering 4 Week(s) - 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30 Wed 16:00 - 16:50
Tutorial Offering 5 Week(s) - 19, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30 Tues 11:00 - 11:50
Tutorial Offering 6 Week(s) - 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30 Wed 12:00 - 12:50
Spring