PHIL 3019 - How Should I Live? Contemporary Ethical Theories
North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2024
General Course Information
Course Code PHIL 3019 Course How Should I Live? Contemporary Ethical Theories Coordinating Unit Philosophy Term Semester 1 Level Undergraduate Location/s North Terrace Campus Units 3 Contact Up to 3 hours per week Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Prerequisites At least 6 units of Level II undergraduate study Incompatible PHIL 2036 Course Description How should we live our lives, morally speaking? This is a big question, and philosophers have tackled it by breaking it down into three distinct but related questions, each of which is important and fascinating in its own right. These are meta-ethics (what type of thing are moral statements/questions?), normative ethics (which systematic approach to morality should we adopt?) and applied ethics (what should we do in some specific situation?). In this course we follow their lead and focus on one of the middle of these central questions - which normative theory should we use to provide a systematic account of what makes something right or wrong fundamentally? We will canvas accounts of moral theory using the traditional three approaches in the Western tradition - Consequentialism, Deontology and Virtue Ethics as a broad organising schema, but we will also look at accounts of moral theory from outside of the Western tradition. However the purpose of this course is not to merely present a range of ethical theories alongside each other and leave it there. Instead the aim is to put these theories into critical dialogue with each other with the goal of considering what the right theory of ethics might be. This will support students to clarify their own position regarding normative ethics. Our main focus will be on contemporary philosophical work, though there will also be opportunities to look at some of the historical roots of contemporary views.
Course Coordinator: Dr Pei-hua Huang
The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.
Course Learning OutcomesOn successful completion of this course students will be able to:
- Demonstrate an advanced understanding of contemporary philosophical debates on a range of central issues in normative ethics and metaethics.
- Analyze and engage critically with contemporary philosophical work on these issues.
- Express, develop and defend their own views on these issues, through written work and through constructive discussion with others.
- Demonstrate an understanding of the ways in which moral philosophy can be relevant to real-world moral problems.
University Graduate Attributes
This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:
University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
Attribute 1: Deep discipline knowledge and intellectual breadth
Graduates have comprehensive knowledge and understanding of their subject area, the ability to engage with different traditions of thought, and the ability to apply their knowledge in practice including in multi-disciplinary or multi-professional contexts.
Attribute 2: Creative and critical thinking, and problem solving
Graduates are effective problems-solvers, able to apply critical, creative and evidence-based thinking to conceive innovative responses to future challenges.
Attribute 3: Teamwork and communication skills
Graduates convey ideas and information effectively to a range of audiences for a variety of purposes and contribute in a positive and collaborative manner to achieving common goals.
Attribute 4: Professionalism and leadership readiness
Graduates engage in professional behaviour and have the potential to be entrepreneurial and take leadership roles in their chosen occupations or careers and communities.
Attribute 5: Intercultural and ethical competency
Graduates are responsible and effective global citizens whose personal values and practices are consistent with their roles as responsible members of society.
Attribute 8: Self-awareness and emotional intelligence
Graduates are self-aware and reflective; they are flexible and resilient and have the capacity to accept and give constructive feedback; they act with integrity and take responsibility for their actions.
Required ResourcesThere is no set text for this course. All of the required lecture and tutorial readings will be made available via the course website on MyUni.
Recommended ResourcesTopic-specific reading recommendations will be supplied on MyUni at the commencement of the course.
Students wishing to do some initial background reading for the course, or to assess their interest in the course content, should look at Russ Shafer-Landau, The Fundamentals of Ethics, 3rd edition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015).
Online LearningAll essential course information (including lecture slides and recordings, tutorial questions, further readings, and assessment information) will be available online via MyUni.
Learning & Teaching Activities
Learning & Teaching ModesThis course will be taught by a combination of lecture classes (one 2-hour class per week) and workshops (ten over the course of the semester). Details of the content of each class will be provided on the course website on MyUni at the start of the semester.
The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.
In Philosophy study, there is an emphasis on careful reading and clear writing. A relatively small quantity of reading will be set each week (two chapter-length pieces of reading related to your classes, plus reading for assignments) -- but you will be asked to study this carefully.
The information below is provided as a guide to the time commitment that will allow you to engage appropriately with the course requirements.
Hours per week Hours per semester
1 x 2-hour lecture 24 hours
1 x 1-hour workshop 10 hours
3 hours lecture preparation and revision (reading, taking notes, reviewing lectures) 36 hours
3 hours workshop preparation (reading, taking notes, preparing tutorial questions) 30 hours
4 hours assessment work (research, planning, and writing) 48 hours
13 hours 148 hours
Hours per week are approximate and averaged over the semester. The actual hours required will vary from week to week, and are likely to be higher in the weeks leading up to the submission of an assignment.
Learning Activities SummaryFurther details will be supplied in the Course Guide, available at the commencement of the course through MyUni.
Specific Course RequirementsDetails will be supplied in the Course Guide, available at the commencement of the course through MyUni.
The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:
- Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
- Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
- Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
- Assessment must maintain academic standards.
- Formative assessment: Workshop participation. (10%)
- Formative assessment: Major Essay Plan. (10%)
- Summative assessment: Essay 1. (20%)
- Summative assessment: Essay 2. (20%)
- Summative assessment: Major Essay . (40%)
Assessment Related RequirementsSubmission of essays is a requirement for this course. You are encouraged to attend the course workshops, although attendance is not mandatory. There will be opportunities to discuss your arguments and receive feedback on your work prior to submission.
Assessment DetailAssessment 1 - Assessing Consequentialism (20%)
Write a 750 word piece identifying a moral dilemma/problem or decision you have encountered in the last month and consider it from the perspective of one of the consequentialist accounts that you have learnt about. What would it suggest you should do? Critically discuss whether the understanding that theory supports of the moral dilemma/problem or decision is compelling. Why/why not?
Assessment 2 - Assessing Deontology (20%)
Write a 750 word piece identifying a moral dilemma/problem or decision you have encountered in the last month and consider it from the perspective of one of the deontological accounts that you have learnt about. What would it suggest you should do? Critically discuss whether the understanding that theory supports of the moral dilemma/problem or decision is compelling. Why/why not?
Assessment 3 - Major Essay Plan (10%) This is a piece of formative assessment due just before the mid semester break each student may submit an up to two page essay plan identifying the topic they intend to write their major essay on, and the approach they intend to take. An example essay plan will be provided and the process explained in the seminar/tutorials.
Assessment 4 - Major Essay (40%)
Write a 2500 word essay critically assessing one objection to one of the moral theories in this course. Does this objection mean we should abandon that moral theory?
Assessment 5 - Tutorial Participation (10%)
Active participation in tutorials will be assessed throughout the semester
Submissiona) Submitting your essays
All essays must be submitted electronically through MyUni. Please do not submit a hard copy of your essay. In this course, we will only accept electronic submission of essays through MyUni. Please remember that it is your responsibility to submit your essays correctly.
b) Overdue work
If your essay is submitted after the due date without an extension, then your work will be considered late/overdue. Please note the following regarding late/overdue work:
(i) Late essays will be penalized at the rate of 2 marks of the percentage mark achieved for that
assessment component for each day that the work is overdue.
(ii) Essays submitted more than 7 days late without an extension will not be marked.
c) Special consideration
You may apply for special consideration if unanticipated events during the study period (e.g. illness, bereavement, personal trauma) impact the your ability to attempt or complete an assessment item to the best of their ability. Details of the procedure and required document, please refer to the following page: https://college.adelaide.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Special-Consideration.pdf
Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:
M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme) Grade Mark Description FNS Fail No Submission F 1-49 Fail P 50-64 Pass C 65-74 Credit D 75-84 Distinction HD 85-100 High Distinction CN Continuing NFE No Formal Examination RP Result Pending
Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.
Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.
Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.
The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.
SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy (http://www.adelaide.edu.au/policies/101/) course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.
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