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This course is a graduate-level introduction to normative ethical theory, touching also on some metaethical issues. Our main goal will be to understand and examine different kinds of normative ethical theory: a theory that aims to answer substantive moral questions, such as: What acts are right or wrong? What kind of person should I be? We will discuss the contrast between utilitarian, or more broadly consequentialist, moral theories, and Kantian, or more broadly deontological, theories. We will discuss the relative strengths and weaknesses of these types of normative ethical theory, as well as the third major approach to normative theory, virtue ethics, which focuses primarily on personal character. We will finally consider the role of theory in ethics, and the demandingness objection to major ethical theories. 


Students will discuss readings before class on Perusall, and there will be a midterm informal position paper (600-800 words) on an assigned question, graded pass/fail. Grades for the class will be based on a final written exam. 

For one-year MA students: Participation: 15% Critical analysis of a text (up to 800 words): 20% Final paper (up to 2500 words): 65%