Course Description: 

The course is designed to cover a wide range of topics in moral philosophy, including normative
ethics and moral psychology. Apart from the introductory session, during which we will discuss
the merits of the arguments for anti-theory in ethics, the topics are divided into three sections. The
first section (Helping and harming) concerns the nature and scope of moral requirements. How
demanding is our duty to help those in need? Are we required to help as many people as we can?
What are the grounds and the scope of our powers of consent and of promise? Should moral
principles be justified to each individual? What are the grounds for accepting the individualist
restriction? By tackling these topics, we will implicitly ascertain the strengths and weaknesses of
consequentialism, deontology, and contractualism.
In the second section (Moral responsibility), we will cover hotly debated questions
concerning moral responsibility. What is the nature of blame and why does it matter? What
principle governs our practice of blaming people whose faults are partly the result of bad luck?
When is it and when is it not appropriate for a third party to blame the wrongdoer, and why?
In the third section (Moral psychology), we will discuss moral motivation, character and
practical reasoning. Does moral motivation require that we deliberate about what reasons we have?
We will touch upon virtue ethics by inquiring whether being virtuous is a matter of having certain
character traits and dispositions. What does psychology tell us about character traits and the way
we acquire them? Are our reasons for action grounded in our desires and motivations?

Learning Outcomes: 

Students will familiarise themselves with widely debated questions in moral philosophy. They will
acquire detailed knowledge of the arguments in the studied texts and gain understanding of the
relation between various topics. Through close-reading, detailed analysis, and critical discussion
of the arguments in the set texts, students will further develop their powers of philosophical
analysis and argument.


Two-year Philosophy MA students will be graded according by an in-class written final exam,
taken as part of the Theoretical and Practical Philosophy exam scheduled for the end of spring
term. The instructor has the right to modify the grade by a third of a grade on the basis of the
student’s performance in the classroom and on written assignment.
The performance of other students who take the course for credit will be assessed in the
following way:
1. Attendance and participation: 15%
2. Position paper: 15%
3. The final paper: 75%

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