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Meta-ethics (Fall 2011)


PHIL 306-01 | ID 11222 | MW 9:30-10:50 | Room: Alger 106 | Fall 2011 

Instructor: Dr. Aaron Smuts | asmuts@ric.edu | office hours: 219 Alger Hall, 12:00-1:0 TR                 


This course is an introduction to the major positions in the area of theoretical ethics known as meta-ethics. 

We will not look at any applied ethical issues, such as the morality of abortion or capital punishment. Nor will we examine any theories about what makes an action wrong or right. Instead, we will explore questions such as: Do ethical claims have cognitive content, that is, do they state facts or is our moral discourse the mere expression of approval or disapproval? If statements such as “torturing the weak for sport is wrong” make factually evaluable claims, are any of these claims true, or are we in nearly constant error? Must moral judgments come with motivation to “do the right thing”?

The goal of the course is to introduce students to the major positions in one of the most active areas of contemporary philosophy. 



Final Exam

Aaron Smuts,
Nov 20, 2011, 7:59 AM