This module provides the student with an overview of the nature of ethics and of important approaches to ethics, notably the analytical approach, the phenomenological approach, virtue ethics, natural law ethics and ethics based on human nature.
Some of the central questions examined in this module include:
• What does it mean to be human? A look at some of the main theories of the human person from the Greeks to the post-moderns.
• What is the good life? Ethics is about human action and involves the judgment of good and bad. What constitutes a good action and can it be considered apart from a good life?
• Is there a human nature? This will include a brief look at the theory of natural law as well as the ethics of Sartre.
• What is the relationship between human acts and moral virtue? A brief look at the Aristotelian/Thomistic tradition.
• What is the approach of utilitarianism /emotivism to morality?
• What is Kant’s moral teaching?
• What is the present state of moral philosophy? MacIntyre's argument.
This module will also examine the nature of moral norms/rules and their application to particular circumstances (i.e. the so-called ‘situation ethics’). This focus will include models of moral decision-making: deontological, teleological, relational-responsible; conflict(s) of value(s) and moral dilemmas; principle of intrinsic evil; principle of double effect and proportionalism; conscience: its nature (moral/ psychological), formation and function.