Syllabus

Title
1844 Course II - Theories in Ethics
Instructors
ao.Univ.Prof. Dr. Gabriele Mras
Contact details
  • Type
    PI
  • Weekly hours
    2
  • Language of instruction
    Englisch
Registration
09/13/21 to 10/03/21
Registration via LPIS
Notes to the course
Subject(s) Bachelor Programs
Dates
Day Date Time Room
Thursday 12/02/21 04:00 PM - 06:30 PM Online-Einheit
Saturday 12/04/21 12:00 PM - 03:30 PM Online-Einheit
Thursday 12/09/21 04:00 PM - 08:00 PM Online-Einheit
Thursday 12/16/21 12:00 PM - 03:30 PM Online-Einheit
Thursday 12/23/21 04:00 PM - 06:00 PM Online-Einheit
Tuesday 01/11/22 05:00 PM - 08:00 PM D4.0.019
Thursday 01/13/22 04:00 PM - 08:00 PM D4.0.144

Contents

This course offers an introduction into moral philosophy. It is designed around objections to the possibility of justifying criteria of moral action. We will begin with Aristotle’s “Nicomachean Ethics”, move on to Immanuel Kant’s “Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals”, and will then discuss John Stuart Mill’s criticism of Kant’s approach in “Utilitarianism” and Mill’s own reasoning for what could count as acting morally right. The questions we will pursue will be: (1) Can eudeimonia, i.e.“well being”, be regarded as final end of all our actions? (2) does Aristotle’s reference to human nature as foundation of consideration about “what one ought to do” – represents a petitio in principii? (3) Is it possible to deduce any criteria for assessing the rightness of  an action from the formulae of the categorical imperative alone? (4) Is the greatest happiness determinable, i.e, can it represent the goal of a society? (5) Does rule-consequentialism avoid the problems of action-utilitarianism?

Learning outcomes

  1. identify the basic theoretical problems in moral philosophy and the major approaches in the history of ethics
  2. critically analyze the foundations of ethical theory
  3. summarize in detail, both orally and in writing, the three major ethical theories
  4. evaluate the ways in which philosophers attempt to justify a criterion for acting morally
  5. try to apply the different ethical criteria in concrete cases 
  6. analyze the application suggested by others

Attendance requirements

 

The is a blended learning course. The first part A is a self study phase + synchron lectures. Part B: The course is a PI course, which means that continuous assessment of student performance in part B is carried out. Students will answer questions and show further active participation (e.g. presentations). The online “presence” of students in part A  will be checked through the activities of the students who will carry out Multiple Choice (MPC) tests and written assignments (see below). 

Teaching/learning method(s)

The course is a Blended Learning course.

The course starts with online presence sessions (the whole part A). Firt session: Students will receive information about the first part A and part B and will organize themselves in “working” groups for part B (only). Students will get input on the theoretical aspects of this course, information about the foundations of ethical theory, and assessment criteria about ho to evaluate the ways in which philosophers attempt to justify a criterion for acting morally. We will also begin with discussing absolute normative claims.

During the whole course students will receive e-mails reminding them of the assignments. Based on the theory input made available as text on MyLEARN ("Logic and Ethics Course 2"), they deepen their understanding with MPC tests (just for the purpose to check their own understanding — I highly recommend this check).

Additionally, they create (in small groups) short video interviews to see, how other people see the different approaches, which are often understood as common sense. Instructions for the assignments will be given and discussed in the presence units, where the grouping will be done, as well. Student groups will upload their videos to MyLEARN and receive feedback from peer groups, basing on a checklist for the feedback, via comments on the videos. Written, personal feedback from the lecturer is provided, as well. Students can discuss the group work in group forums and questions arising while working on the assignments with supervisors in a general forum on MyLEARN. 

The final 2 sessions will be devoted to showing and discussing these short video interviews, i.e. the potential problems that arise in evaluating the applications of ethical theories.

Assessment

1. 4 individual assignments: 80 points (no grading according to a 1-5 scale, grading takes place on the basis of a point-system). The assignments are weekly assignments, there are deadlines (see Learn) for uploading the assignments, turning in the assignments too late will lead to receiving less points. 1 day: 20%, 2 days: 50%. (1 day: 16 of 20 points max, 2 days: 10 of 20 points max). Assignments that are sent to me later will receive no points.


2. Group Video Presentation: 100 points (includes presentation of the interviews: 40 points, transcription of 1 interview: 20 points, written summary of the interpretation of all interviews: 40 points ). 

+ written comments (group assignment) : comments on the asnwers presented in the videos. 

Questions and comments in the "Foren" (or class contribution over the whole term) Full engagement is necessary in order to get compensatory 10 points here) 

Points in total 210:

Excellent (1): 190 - 210 points
Good (2): 150 - 190 points 
Satisfactory (3): 110 - 149 points
Sufficient (4): 80-109 points
Fail (5): <80

Readings

1 Author: Immanuel Kant
Title:

Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals
2nd revised edition. Translated and edited by
Mary Gregor


Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Year: 2012
Recommendation: Essential reading for all students
Type: Book
2 Author: Immanuel Kant
Title:

Practical Philosophy. (Includes Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals (1785), Critique of Practical Reason (1788), and The Metaphysics of Morals (1797)). Translated by Mary Gregor


Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Year: 1996
Recommendation: Essential reading for all students
3 Author: Immanuel Kant
Title:

Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason (1793). Translated by Allen Wood and George di Giovanni


Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Year: 1998
Recommendation: Essential reading for all students
4 Author: Barbara Herman
Title:

The Practice of Moral Judgment


Publisher: Harvard University Press
Year: 1993
Recommendation: Essential reading for all students
5 Author: Christine M. Korsgaard
Title:

The Constitution of Agency


Publisher: Oxford University Press
Year: 2008
Recommendation: Essential reading for all students
6 Author: Onora O’Neill
Title:

Constructions of Reason: Explorations of Kant’s Practical Philosophy


Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Year: 1989
Recommendation: Essential reading for all students
7 Author: John Rawls
Title:

Lectures on the History of Moral Philosophy


Publisher: Harvard University Press
Year: 2000
Recommendation: Essential reading for all students
8 Author: Robert C. Bartlett, and Susan D. Collins (eds/trans.)
Title:

Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics


Publisher: The University of Chicago Press
Year: 2012
Recommendation: Essential reading for all students
9 Author: Mill, John Stuart; Crisp, Roger (ed.)
Title:

Utilitarianism


Publisher: Oxford University Press
Year: 1998
Recommendation: Essential reading for all students

Recommended previous knowledge and skills

LV "Logic and methodology of social sciences"

Availability of lecturer(s)

ao.Univ.Prof.Dr. Gabriele M. Mras
Building D4, 3rd floor, room number D4.3.020
Tel.: 01-31336-4257
Email: gabriele.mras@wu.ac.at

Administration: Bettina Gerdenich
Tel.: 01-31336-4166
Email: bettina.gerdenich@wu.ac.at

 

Unit details

Unit Date Contents
1 02.12.21: 16:00-18:30

Intro into class, course overview, required readings

2 04.12.21: 12:00-15:30

A) ARISTOTLE

  1. Introduction
  2. Three Kinds of Life
    Required reading: Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, Book I
  3. Virtues Between Two Vices
  4. The Voluntary, Decision, and Responsibility
  5. The Virtues of Character
  6. Acting Against One’s Better Judgment
  7. Friendship
    Reading: Aristotele's Nicomachean Ethics, Books VIII
  8. What is the Best Kind of Life?
    Reading: Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics Book X
  9. Moral Virtue and Moral Psychology
    Reading: Korsgaard, The Constitution of Agency, Aristotle's Function Argument

B) (i) VIRTUE ETHICS  (ii) SOCIETY AND/OR HUMAN NATURE

  1. Sympathy and the General Point of the View
    Required reading: Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature, III.iii.1,3,6; Book I Part III and Book III Part I.
3 09.12.21: 16:00-20:00

We are a little bit behind our schedule: So HUME will be first and then:

C) KANT

  1. Acting from Duty
    Required reading: Kant, Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals, Preface and Section I
  2. The Categorical Imperative
    Required reading: Kant, Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals, Section II, through 4:424
  3. The Kingdom of Ends
    Requried reading: Kant, Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals, Section II, 4:425-440
  4. Modern and Moral Philosophy
    Reading: Rawls, Lectures on the History of Moral Philosophy, Introduction: Modern and Moral Philosophy, 1600-1800
  5. Reading: Kant, Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason, Concerning the Battle of the Good against the Evil Principle for Dominion over te Human Being
  6. Critique of practical reason
    Reading: Kant, Practical philosophy, Critique of practical reason (1788)
  7. Moral Deliberation and the Derivation of Duties
    Reading: Herman, The Practice of Moral Judgment, Moral Deliberation and the Derivation of Duties
    4 16.12.21: 12:00-15:30

    KANT TO BE CONTINUED AND THEN

    C) CONSEQUENTIALISM vs. A PRIORI ACCOUNTS OF MORALITY

    1. The Foundation of Morality
      Reading: Kant, Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals, finish Section III
    2. Maxims and obligations
      Reading: O'Neill, Constructions of Reason: Explorations of Kant's Practical Philosophy, Consistency in action
    3. Happiness for Everyone
      Reading: Bentham, An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, selections on course website; Mill, Utilitarianism, Chs. 1-2 and 8
    4. Mill Ultilitarianism
      Required reading: Mill Utilitarianism, Chs. 1-5.
    5. The Idea of a Moral Science
    6. The "Greatest Good for All" and the Question of a usable Criterion
    7. The Foundations for Moral Relativism
      Reading: Velleman, Foundations for Moral Relativism, Ch. 5.
      5 23.12.21: 16:00-18:00

      16-17.00 Utilitarianism

      17:-18:00 Questions

        6 11.01.22: 16:00-20:00

        D) APPLIED ETHICS — Presentation of moral deliberations.

        7 13.01.22: 16:00-20:00

        APPLIED ETHICS: PRESENTATION OF PATHS OF MORAL DELIBERATION

        Discussion of the application of "our" ethical theories

        Last edited: 2021-12-04



        Back