Ethics 12

This course is required for all seniors. It is an introduction to a basic college ethics and philosophy class. The majority of the course is an analysis of ethical theorists stretching from the classical Greek philosophers including Plato and Aristotle up to the current theories of evolutionary ethics of Marc Hauser.

In the first semester, the validity of the study of Ethics begins the course. Cultural Relativism and the Behaviorist theory of B.F. Skinner are discussed. Then the historical survey commences with pre Sophist and Sophist philosophers such as Parmenides and Heraclitus. They are followed by Socrates and Plato, Aristotle and the general concept of Virtue Ethics. The Stoics, particularly Epictetus, are then studied, as is the Divine Command theory of Ethics based on Biblical portions of the Book of Job. This leads to Natural Law ethics as championed by St Thomas Aquinas. Descartes is studied in some depth, followed by the study of Duty ethics as described by Immanuel Kant. Utilitarianism is next, particularly as it relates to punishment, and is studied through the writings of Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill.

By the second semester, we are into discussions of quandary ethics, while continuing to historically examine the writings of Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, and Karl Marx. The more contemporary philosophers such as Ayn Rand and Ethical Egoism, are, in turn, followed by an examination of Existentialism and the works of Jean Paul Sartre. Finally, we come to the present day ethical issues raised by such philosophers as Peter Singer and Marc Hauser.