What is Morality?

The Philosophical Study of Right and Wrong

Lesson Objectives

Appreciate the advantages of studying Ethics in a college setting

Understand the nature of Ethics and how it's different than the Law

Understand the three major stages of intellectual development

Key Terms

"Bumper Sticker" Philosophy

Practical Conclusions

Emotional Pronouncements


Ethical Theory

Moral Agent

Critical Thinking

Why Ethics?

Why take this Class?

• It is grounded in theory and practical application

• You will practice presenting coherent and organized arguments

• You will move closer to Perry’s Critical Thinking stage of development

How We Usually Determine our Values

• General Principles

     • "Bumper Sticker Philosophy"

     • Problem: This is too general to be an ethical theory

• Practical Conclusions

     • Concern with the consequence

     • Problem: Inadequate for many ethical dilemmas be an ethical theory

• Emotional Pronouncements

     • "I think it's wrong because it makes me feel bad"

     • Problem: Emotions are inconsistent

Role of Moral Philosophy

• Study and debate of ethics continues after thousands of years

• Ethics is not a science, but that does not mean its arguments cannot be proven

     • Ethical proofs are different, not inferior

• Complex scientific questions are just as debatable as complex ethical questions

• A compelling ethical argument may not sway others