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PHIL 112: Contemporary Virtue Ethics and its Critics (PHIL 212)

Graduate students enroll in 212. In this course, we shall examine contemporary virtue ethics beginning with G.E.M. Anscombe's famous 1958 paper 'Modern Moral Theory' (although Anscombe herself did not advocate a virtue ethics). In particular, we shall read some of the leading contemporary exponents of virtue ethics (Philippa Foot, Rosalind Hursthouse, Michal Slote, and Linda Zagzebski). We shall also read some of leading virtue ethics' leading critics, such as David Copp, Julia Driver, Robert Louden, and Jerome Schneewind. We shall consider questions including the following. Can Virtue Ethics give a plausible account of right action? Is Virtue Ethics action-guiding at all? What is the relation between virtue and happiness or flourishing? Is Virtue Ethics a form of ethical naturalism? Is Virtue Ethics compatible with modern biology? Does Virtue Ethics give us a way to avoid the 'ethical schizophrenia' of modern impartialist moral theories or does it produce its own form of ethical schizophrenia? Is Virtue Ethics self-effacing?
Terms: Spr | Units: 4
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