Philosophy 331 - Introduction to Ethics - Fall 2010

Professor: William Sweet
Office: 606 Nicholson Tower
Telephone: 867-2341
Office Hours: Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday; 3.45-5 pm, and by arrangement.
Course web page:

This class meets in the 'Q' time block (T/Th 2.15-3.30)

The object of the course is to introduce students to some major ethical theories. (This will serve as a foundation for later courses in applied and professional ethics, and for the philosophical discussion of a number of contemporary moral and social issues.)

The class will have a 'lecture and discussion' format. The professor will introduce a topic with a summary of the relevant arguments or a commentary on a text. This will be followed by questions and discussion of the material by the class as a whole (e.g., points of clarification or criticism and of comparison; comments on the relations between or among different issues).

Students are expected to have prepared the readings before class, to attend all of the classes and to participate in discussion. It is essential in learning how to do philosophy that students be prepared to ask and answer questions in class.

Course Outline:

The course will focus on the following questions:

Texts / Readings:

There are two textbooks for the course
  1. Ethics: History, Theory, and Contemporary Issues, ed Steven Cahn and Peter Markie, 4th ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. [This book will also be used in Philosophy 332]
    2. Jacques Maritain, Natural Law: reflections on theory and practice, South Bend, IN: St Augustine's Press, 2001.

Supplementary reading:

Additional readings may be placed on reserve in the library

Method of Evaluation:

Be sure to check for information on assignments and dates of tests and examinations.