Introduction to moral philosophy

Course Dates: 12/01/23 - 30/03/23
Time: 12:30 - 14:30
Location: Keeley Street
What do ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ mean? What makes our actions right or wrong? And why should we care? We will look at the principal philosophical answers to these questions alongside engaging in philosophical analysis ourselves. No class on 16th February.
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Full fee £239.00 Senior fee £191.00 Concession £120.00

This course has now started

Course Code: HP011

Started Thu, day, 12 Jan - 30 Mar '23

Duration: 11 sessions (over 12 weeks)

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What is the course about?

In grappling with moral dilemmas, we can benefit from stepping back and reflecting on more general questions such as: What makes something (an action, a policy, a pattern of distribution of goods, a character trait etc.) good or bad, or right or wrong? What determines the extent to which I have obligations to others? What reason do I have to do the right thing? In fact, do I have a reason not to do the wrong thing when I could get away with it? Are there moral facts? Are moral values universal? Could history, sociology, psychology, or evolutionary theory explain them? In this course we will look at these and related questions from different theoretical perspectives, drawing on the work of various philosophers -notably Plato, Aristotle, Hume, Kant, Bentham, Mill, Nozick, and Rawls- and examine their importance for the moral dilemmas we face individually or collectively. A second component of the course is the study of how to analyse, evaluate and construct arguments.

What will we cover?

- Moral relativism
- Plato and why we should be good
- Aristotle and virtue
- Moral Egoism
- Utilitarianism
- Kantian ethics
- "Collateral damage"
- Distributive justice
- Hume and moral sentiment.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

- Identify ideas about the source of moral value
- Understand key elements of major moral theories and their relevance to our choices and dilemmas
- Appreciate the broader implications of local moral intuitions
- Analyse, evaluate, and construct a moral argument.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

This course is suitable for those who have followed an introductory course, but those new to philosophy are equally welcome. Curiosity, an open and critical mind, and a commitment to do the preparatory work will enhance your learning experience.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

The class will consist of a combination of lecture and structured conversation. Reading material will be assigned for each class.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

There are no additional costs. Please bring a pen, paper, and curiosity.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

You might be interested in HP162 - Selves, persons and agents: a philosophical enquiry, starting in April 2023 and taught by the same tutor. Please check our prospectus or website - - for details of all philosophy courses on offer.

We’re sorry. We don’t have a bio ready for the tutor of this class at the moment, but we’re working on it! Watch this space.