u01lecture1 - Introduction to Ethical Theory What is the...

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Introduction to Ethical Theory What is the philosophical study of Ethics? For an introductory class such as this, we will be seeking to answer this question, and others (because Philosophy is all about raising questions and trying to answer them), in the context of particular contemporary ethical issues. Many students (and in fact most people), upon coming across the subject for the first time, tend to take one of two extreme views. On the one end, of those who have already begun to attempt to wrestle with ethical issues such as abortion, euthanasia, racism, and so on (and believing it is necessary to have a clear and certain opinion on such matters), formulate one or adopt a position taken by an influential authority figure in their lives. There is then one right, and correct opinion about a particular subject for such persons, and they are confident that they have it. On the other end of the spectrum are those who are either skeptical about being able to have an informed and clear view about an issue of ethical import (usually for any number of reasons), or have not taken the mental energy to attempt to formulate a position. Subsequently they tend to take the view that Ethics are entirely relative to a particular society or subjective to a particular person—and that there is no objective right or wrong answer on any given ethical issue. This course will not allow you to take either of these positions, at least not easily. For as a branch of Philosophy, Ethics will require you to do two things. First, you will be asked to not simply decide what the difference is between right and wrong, but to seek to examine why a particular action or policy is right or wrong. Since we are going to be asking why something is the case, we will therefore be looking at particular philosophical theories , and the reasons for accepting or rejecting such theories. Second, once you have gained a clear understanding of the particular theories, you will then be expected to apply them to contemporary ethical issues. By the end of this course, you can expect to not necessarily have the right or wrong answers to particular ethical issues, but you can hope to have more informed reasons for believing that your position is the best one. Let us look at these expectations in a little more detail. This course is assuming that
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This note was uploaded on 02/17/2010 for the course PHI 112 taught by Professor Camp during the Fall '08 term at Front Range Community College.

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u01lecture1 - Introduction to Ethical Theory What is the...

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