PHI202: Moral Philosophy


PHI202: Moral Philosophy

Key details

Accredited towardsBachelor of Arts in the Liberal Arts
Unit typeCore unit
Credit points6
Indicative contact hours3 hours per week
Offered inSemester 2
Tuition feeLearn more



This unit deals with the various approaches that have been developed in the effort to come to philosophical grips with the ethical and moral realm – an effort that has always been central to the discipline. A wide variety of approaches will be studied, including theories that fall under the rubrics of ‘natural law ethics’, ‘virtue ethics’, ‘Kantianism’, and ‘utilitarianism’. Both normative and meta-ethical issues will be addressed. Figures discussed will include Aristotle, St. Thomas Aquinas, Kant, Hume, and Mill, as well as such contemporary or near-contemporary philosophers as Alasdair MacIntyre, Bernard Williams and John Finnis. The subject also addresses meta-ethical questions (in relation to, e.g., Ayer and Geach). An important goal will be to develop a clear understanding of such relevant concepts and distinctions as virtue, duty and inclination, the right and the good, consequentialism, deontology, natural law, normative ethics and meta-ethics, factualism and non-factualism, naturalism, moral sentiments, categorical and hypothetical imperatives, autonomy and heteronomy, intention, internal and external motivations and moral luck, to mention just a few.


Learning outcomes

The unit learning outcomes develop in students an awareness of the value and relevance of the study strand. On completion of this unit of study, students will be able to:

  1. understanding the distinction between normative ethics and meta-ethics.
  2. understand the debates between various sorts of cognitivists/factualists and non-cognitivists/non-factualists in meta-ethics, and understand where relativists fit into this debate.
  3. understand the debates between consequentialists, Kantian deontologists, virtue ethicists, and natural-law theorists in normative ethics.

In relation to more general academic skills, the unit aims to lead the student

  1. to develop an ability to apply knowledge of standard philosophical concepts and theories, in the course of engaging in research on, critical reading of, reflection on, and analysis of presented texts.
  2. to exercise and develop further the ability to summarise information and communicate in a persuasive, logical and coherent manner.
  3. to competently exhibit in written work clarity of expression, logical essay structure and appropriate use of referencing and bibliography according to the conventions of academic writing.
  4. to exercise and develop the ability to apply knowledge of standard philosophical concepts and theories in verbal discussion.



Interested in other Philosophy units?

PHI101: Introduction to Philosophy
PHI102: Metaphysics
PHI202: Moral Philosophy
PHI204: Political Philosophy
PHI301: Modern Philosophy
PHI302: Social and Political Philosophy
PHI303: Philosophy of Language
PHI304: Twentieth Century Analytic Philosophy
PHI305: Intensive Study of a Text in Classical Philosophy
PHI306: Intensive Study of a Text in Modern Philosophy



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