Ethics is about living a good life. What does this mean? Generally, we take this to mean that one is able to live as one ought -- according to the values and convictions which give one's life meaning and purpose. Ethics is, ultimately, about doing. We are not merely passive -- the kinds of things to which stuff happens. We make stuff happen -- to ourselves and to others. Ethics proposes to facilitate figuring out what we ought to do or ought not to do, what is permissible, impermissible, or obligatory -- whether this is in our personal life or in our public/social life.
In this course, we will explore some of the basic elements of ethics -- moral reasoning, wickedness, freedom, agency, meaning, happiness, and pleasure -- and we will also learn about some of the important ethical theories -- utilitarian ethics, ethical egoism, deontological ethics, virtue ethics, and social contract ethics. But, we will also be practising ethics. Much of our in-class time will be devoted to exercises and activities in which we can apply what we learn, practice being ethical, reason through dilemmas and cases, and test the different theories against our lived experience.