My Ethics class runs the full gamut of philosophical ethics. We regularly alternate between highly relevant immediate impact issues in applied ethics and more foundational philosophical questions about the very nature of morality and values. We spend a lot of time on the question of whether there is any hope for rational and objective answers to ethical questions. We examine major ethical traditions such as consequentialism (including Mill’s utilitarianism), deontology (including Kantianism), Stoicism, feminist ethics, and perfectionism (including Aristotle, Nietzsche, and virtue theory). We work unflinchingly through hard moral dilemmas (both theoretical ones, which clarify our values in the abstract, and pressing real world values choices that we as individuals or a society have to face in medicine, technology, law, and business).
We also examine the roles of both emotions and reason in ethical judgment and in living a good life generally. We try to figure out the relevance of cultural relativity to ethics. We consider arguments that religion or the authority of God are necessary for ethics. We try to determine the measurements for weighing priorities when our values conflict and we have to make tradeoffs between duty, autonomy, happiness, fairness, loyalty, altruism, self-interest, flourishing, pain-reduction, pleasure, excellence, or moral consistency. We also assimilate and evaluate findings from the empirical sciences that are relevant to morality. In particular we think critically about the implications for ethics of evolution, game theory, and the burgeoning field of moral psychology.
Each week I rotate to another self-contained topic so students can join in at any time without worrying about having missed anything. While students can keep attending as long as they want and there will always be fresh lectures, most students take about 16 weeks of a given class before moving on to another. So over the course of any given 16 week run of sessions, as students rotate into the class and out at their own pace, I cover all the major topics of the course.
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You can cancel your subscription at any time. There are no refunds except for weeks when I cancel class. Whenever you are absent from class you can attend another class instead that week or you will be entitled to make up sessions in the future, even after you have canceled your subscription (if need be).
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