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PHIL 194M: Capstone Seminar: Consequences for Ethics

Should you always do whatever would have the best consequences? Plausibly, if everything else is equal, and the first of your two options will do more good than the second, then you should take the first one. But this principle faces a number of interesting challenges. Studying these challenges will yield insight into the nature of morality. The course is structured around three units. In the first unit we will study the structure of consequentialist ethical views. We will read the work of old dead masters and exciting new theorists. In the second unit we address questions arising from collective action, such as the following: do you have any reason to vote, or recycle, or protest, if your actions by themselves are guaranteed not to make much difference? We will address a related dispute in the philosophy of activism. The third unit addresses the relationship between actions and character. We¿ll address questions such as the following: what¿s so great about abandoning one¿s friends and family to attend to the greater good? Is it a problem if the best moral theory tells us not to follow it? By the end of all this, you will improve your understanding of ethics generally, as well as applications of related principles in economics, political theory, and public policy.
Terms: Aut | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: WAY-ER | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit
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