Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Ethical Theories for Teaching Ethics

LEVEL 05 - Postgraduate Modular Diploma or Degree Course


DEPARTMENT Education Studies

DESCRIPTION This study-unit is designed to familiarize students with the major ethical theories alive in today’s Western societies, assuming that these societies have historically become multi-cultural realities. In other words, it is the content part of the course which is indispensable for teachers of ethics and will consist in tracing out ethical thought from the time of the Greeks, where the language of ethics and ethical behaviour was conceived in terms of virtue, to modern times where the discourse is more one about rights and autonomy, and about the consequences of actions and kinds of behaviour than it is about virtue.

The major theories that will be addressed in the lectures are the following:
- Virtue ethics (Plato, Aristotle and after);
- Kantian ethics which conceives morality as obedience to a rational moral law;
- Utilitarian and hedonistic ethics that represent the human good as the pursuit of happiness;
- Rights-based ethics which include the notion of human rights etc.

Study-Unit Aims:
This study-unit aims to:
- Explore ethical theories and doctrines of these different points of view;
- Familiarize students with the major proponents of various ethical theorists;
- Help students understand the source of ethical issues we meet with in today’s society and in everyday life, including the classroom;
- Expose students to theories and arguments of philosophers on particular ethical issues;
- Familiarize and teach students the meaning and use of the evolving language of ethics.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
- Define the nature of ethics as a kind of human behaviour;
- Demonstrate how to distinguish ethical issues form other kinds of issues that do not classify as ethical but about which we pass value judgments;
- Appraise the history of ethical thought from the time of the Ancient Greeks to modern times;
- Identify the ethical issues that are prominent in our contemporary world;
- Complete the ethical positions from which ethical issues are approached;
- Comprehend the evolution of different theories of rightness, goodness, justice that have made our moral culture;
- Value the nature of culture as multi-cultural and pluralistic;
- Appraise the relevance of the ethical theories in classroom settings where ethical subjects and issues are discussed with the children.

2. Skills:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
- Engage with the readings and with the diverse ethical views in a critical way; (b) see their relevance an put them to use in discussing contemporary ethical concerns in-depth;
- Engage critically with ethical arguments logically and be able to discriminate between those that are valid and those that are fallacious;
- Construct arguments of their own to support their views or to reject those they oppose;
- Generally employ skills of discussion and debate that will later be transferred to students in classroom settings.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Ethics Main Texts:
- Graham, G. (2004) Eight Theories of Ethics, Routledge.
- Taylor, C. (1991) The Ethics of Authenticity, Harvard University Press.
- Wain, K. (1995) The value Crisis: An Introduction to Ethics, Malta University Press.

Ethics Supplementary Readings:
- Gutmann Amy, (Ed.) (1994) Multiculturalism: Examining the Politics of Recognition, Princeton University Press (New Jersey)
- Taylor, C. (1994) Multiculturalismm, Princeton University Press.
- Williams, B. (1985) Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy, Fontana Press.

Ethics Education Main Texts:
- Noddings, N. (1984) A Feminine Approach to Ethics and Moral Education, University of California Press.
- Hand Michael (2014) ‘Towards a Theory of Moral Education’, Journal of Philosophy of Education, Vol. 48, Issue 4, November, pp. 519-532.

Ethics Education Supplementary texts:
- Halstead, M., Taylor, M.J. (1996) Values in Education and Education in Values, The Falmer Press.
- Haynes, F.L. (1998) The Ethical School, Routledge.


Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Essay SEM1 Yes 100%

Joseph Vancell
Kenneth Wain

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Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2020/1. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.