University Core Curriculum
Module II: Exploring the Self and Others

Ethical Reasoning

  • These courses introduce students to major traditions of moral theory and ethical reasoning, engage students in critically examining ethical problems, and challenge students to develop rigorous personal systems of ethical reasoning. The central goals of the course are to develop students' skills in reasoning about ethical problems and encourage deep, habitual reflection on the ethical dimensions of life. This course requires a major case study analysis of some sort. Individual sections may focus on different ethical arenas or problems. Prerequisite: Philosophy of the Human Person.

    Sample Sections

    Environmental Ethics

    Faculty: Daniel Dombrowski

    There are two principal aims in this course, one theoretical and the other practical.  The theoretical aim is to understand the major options in the history of philosophical ethics, especially utilitarianism, Kantianism (or deontology), and virtue ethics.  The practical aim of the course is both to apply these theories to various ethical problems regarding human nature and to see how these theories emerge out of these problems.

    Ethics of Food

    Faculty: Paulette Kidder

    This course engages students in ethical reasoning about issues surrounding food, including the health of the environment, hunger and inequality, and the treatment of nonhuman animals.

    Ethics, Persons, and Values

    Faculty: David Heller

    How should we live? Can we be happy without living a good life? Can we live a good life without being happy? To address these questions we need to grasp what is meant by happiness and good lives.  We'll study several classic accounts of ethics: Mill's utilitarian focus on consequences, Kant's duty-based focus on acts, and Aristotle's virtue theory focus on character.  Each writer has a distinctive view of the value of persons.  In the second half of the course the relation of persons and values will be examined in terms of our natality and mortality.  We apply the main theories to matters of life and death: abortion, euthanasia, and just wars/pacifism.  The prohibition against taking a life might be seen as the core of ethics.  To see why taking a life is such a great harm we'll need to think about what a person is and how they can be harmed (or benefited).  Our concerns will be developments of ideas broached in philosophy of the human person.

  • Learning Objectives

    This course helps students understand key philosophical foundations of the Jesuit intellectual tradition, particularly insofar as that tradition has addressed issues of ethics.

    This course helps students understand, use, and assess the strengths and weaknesses of ethical theories.

    This course assists students in becoming effective writers, including writers of high quality academic prose.

    A central goal of this course is to help students learn to use ethical theories to analyze situations and inform judgments about actions.