Course Description: 

 There is a prima facie duty not kill people. But, in certain circumstances it seems permissible to do so. The course explores under which conditions killing is morally acceptable and the kinds of constraints that we face when killing someone. We will address some of the following questions: do we have to save the greater number of people? When is killing in self-defence permissible? Is abortion morally acceptable? What constraints do apply when killing in war? 


  • · To trigger an understanding of central discussions in contemporary moral philosophy around the problem of killing. 
  • · To foster the ability to analyse and discuss arguments in moral philosophy. 
  • · To foster the ability to communicate both orally and in writing arguments in moral philosophy. 
  • · To develop the capacity to learn new ideas and approaches, and to apply them in research. 


Learning Outcomes: 

At the end of the course the student shall be able to: 

  • · Understand the key positions within contemporary debates in moral philosophy. 
  • · Produce critical and well-structured arguments in moral philosophy. 
  • · Balance and contrast the weakness and strengths of different positions in contemporary debates in practical ethics. 
  • · Summarise arguments clearly and succinctly. 
  • · All students must read the core reading before the lectures and seminars. 
  • · Attendance is compulsory. You need at least 90% of attendance to get a grade. 
  • · There will be a mid-term assignment, and a final 4000 words paper. The paper’s title must be pre-approved, so consult me once you have an idea what you want to write about. You can use some of the seminar questions to formulate the title or any other related topic you are interested in

Grades will be awarded as follows:

  • · Mid-term assignment: 25%, participation 15%, presentation 15%, final paper 45%. 
  • · Essays are due on the date they are due! Extensions will be granted only in special circumstances. Late submissions will be penalised. Organise your time! 
  • · Academic dishonesty will be severely penalised. Don’t plagiarise!!