Howard University College of Arts and Sciences
Department of Philosophy
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Introduction to Ethics

Phil 057

Human beings are social animals, whose full potentials cannot be realized in isolation from the human society. It is true however, that part of our nature tends towards selfishness. We see it in others, and we condemn it. They also see it in us and condemn it. But why is selfishness condemnable? Or is it really condemnable? And what makes benevolence commendable? In any case, what is the basis of all these moral judgments that we pass on the conduct of others and of ourselves?

In this course, we will raise, and try to find answers to, some of these questions, as well as others. We will try to address the following questions, among others: “what makes right actions right and wrong actions wrong?” Is there an objective basis for our moral judgments? Indeed which should we focus on: judging actions or helping people to develop their character? Can we do one without the other? What is virtue and what is vice? And how are they related to the development of a satisfactory human life? What is a satisfactory human life?

The main objective of the course is to improve the ability of students to think clearly about moral issues, and on the basis of their clear thinking, to make intelligent moral judgments and defensible moral decisions. It is expected that, after reading the materials, participating in all class discussions, and completing all assignments, students would acquire essential skills for evaluating moral theories and making sound moral judgments. Among the substantive moral theories we would evaluate are utilitarianism, deontology, natural law theory, virtue ethics, feminist ethics, and theory of justice.


African American Philosophy
Afro-Caribbean Philosophy
Ancient Egyptian Philosophy
Ancient Egyptian Philosophy
Ancient Greek Philosophy
Classical Ethics
Comparative Philosophy: Philosophical Explanations of Evil Across Cultures
Current Topics: Philosophy and Ethics of Appropriate Technology and Development
Current Topics: Africana Philosophy and Film
Environmental Ethics
Ethics and Public Policy
Ethics of Medical Care
Ethics of Medical Care
History of Africana Philosophy
Introduction to Ethics
Introduction to Philosophy
Introduction to Social and Political Philosophy
Medieval Philosophy
Modern Philosophy
Philosophy of Education
Philosophy of Language
Philosophy of Mind
Philosophy of Religion
Philosophy of Social Science
Principles of Reasoning
Representative Thinkers
Seminar on Aristotle 
Symbolic Logic


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