Ethical Theory

Subject PHIL20008 (2016)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2016.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 2 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2016:

Semester 1, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period 29-Feb-2016 to 29-May-2016
Assessment Period End 24-Jun-2016
Last date to Self-Enrol 11-Mar-2016
Census Date 31-Mar-2016
Last date to Withdraw without fail 06-May-2016

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 35 hours - 2 x 1-hour lectures each week and 1x 1-hour tutorial in weeks 2-12
Total Time Commitment:

170 hours

Prerequisites: None
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge:

One of the following subjects is recommended but not required:

Study Period Commencement:
Credit Points:
Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Student Support and Engagement Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Overview, Learning Outcomes, Assessment and Generic Skills sections of this entry.

It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the University's programs. Students who feel their disability may impact on meeting the requirements of this subject are encouraged to discuss this matter with a Faculty Student Adviser and Student Equity and Disability Support:


Mr Michael Barton



Subject Overview:

This subject critically studies the three classical approaches to moral philosophy: Aristotle 'virtue ethics, Immanuel Kant' deontology, and John Stuart Mill's Utilitarianism. As well as examining works by these great thinkers, we look at debates among the contemporary heirs to the traditions they started.

Learning Outcomes:

Students who successfully complete this subject will:

  • understand the main approaches to the nature of morality, including understanding the historical antecedents to important contemporary approaches to the nature of morality;
  • be able to charitably reconstruct arguments from classic philosophical texts and evalutate their strengths and weaknesses;
  • become more able to defend, and not just coherently state, one's own position with regard to controversial questions in normative ethics;
  • have acquired a background for one'w own further philosophical reflection on morality;
  • work individually, and in groups, to create and test arguments.
  • A 2000 word essay, due mid-semester (50%)
  • A 2000 word take home exam, due in the end of semester examination period (50%)

Hurdle Requirement:

  • students must attend a minimum of 75% of tutorials in order to pass this subject
  • all pieces of written work must be submitted to pass this subject

Note: Assessment submitted late without an approved extension will be penalised at 10% per day. After five working days late assessment will not be marked. In-class tasks missed without approval will not be marked.

Prescribed Texts:

Sahfer-Landau (ed) Ethical Theory: An Anthology (Blackwell 2007). This book will be available from the University bookshop at the start of semester.

Breadth Options:

This subject potentially can be taken as a breadth subject component for the following courses:

You should visit learn more about breadth subjects and read the breadth requirements for your degree, and should discuss your choice with your student adviser, before deciding on your subjects.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Links to further information:
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: European Studies
Graduate Certificate in Arts - Philosophy
Graduate Diploma in Arts - Philosophy
Philosophy Major

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