University of Malta

Study-Unit Description
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TITLE Ethics 1 and 2

LEVEL 01 - Year 1 in Modular Undergraduate Course



DESCRIPTION Ethics 1 involves the analysis of the meaning of ‘good’ in a moral context as expounded by the diverging approaches of objectivists, subjectivists and functionalists. These approaches sought to define the purpose of ‘man’ and whether this is revealed in one’s birth and death. The notion of happiness will also be explored and how a multiple of outlooks were proposed on its meaning; if it is a matter of fulfilment of love, fidelity to universal law or the maximization of communication. The role of reason also plays an important role in ethical discourse and the study-unit includes an enquiry into the relations between reason with desire and choice. This in turn leads to a further exploration of the possibility of practical reason which is bound to intentionality and thus laying the groundwork for a discussion on freedom, determinism and moral responsibility.

Ethics 2 consists of in-depth discussions of the ethical theories of Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, Emmanuel Kant, Utilitarians, Emmanuel Levinas and A.N. Whitehead.

Study-unit Aims

The aim of this study-unit is foundational: it will introduce students to the basic concepts and theories of ethics.

Learning Outcomes

1. Knowledge & Understanding:
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

(i) Clarify basic ethical concepts;
(ii) Raise fundamental questions on the nature of 'good' and 'bad' in moral context and on the meaning and purpose of human life;
(iii) Study those elements necessary for an ethical evaluation of human activity;
(iv) comprehend some leading ethical traditions.

2. Skills:
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

(i) Discuss the merits and defects of ethical theories developed by some ancient, medieval, modern and contemporary philosophers;
(ii) Critically assess the importance of these theories and evaluate their relevance to the contemporary world.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings

-Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics.
-Hudson, W.D. (1983) Modern Moral Philosophy. London: Macmillan.
-Taylor, C. (1968) The Explanation of Behaviour. London: Routledge & Kegan.
-Von Wright, G, H. (1963) Varieties of Goodness. London: Routledge & Kegan.
-Warnock, G.J. (1967) Contemporary Moral Philosophy. New York: St Martin Press.
-Aquinas, Th., Summa Theologica, I-II, q.1-21.
-Bentham, J., Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation.
-Kant, I., Critique of Practical Reason and Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals.
-Levinas, E., Totality and Infinity.
-Mill, J.S., Utilitarianism.
-Whitehead, A.N., Process and Reality.


Assessment Component/s Resit Availability Weighting
Assignment Yes 50%
Assignment Yes 50%

LECTURER/S Christopher Caruana

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the study-unit description above applies to the academic year 2017/8, if study-unit is available during this academic year, and may be subject to change in subsequent years.
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