Search results - The Good Life: Virtue Ethics from Plato to the Present
1 Wellington Square
|Dates||Mon 1 Oct to Mon 3 Dec 2012|
Time of meeting: 7.00-9.00pm
Number of meetings: 10
|Application status||Course ended|
|Course contact||If you have any questions about this course, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.|
OverviewThe good life has been held by many philosophers to be central to any discussion of ethics. We will examine various conceptions of the good life by looking at virtue ethics from the Ancient Greeks to the present day.
DescriptionWhat is the good life? Philosophers since the Ancient Greeks have considered this question as one of the most important questions in ethics. We will begin with examining some of the earliest approaches to ethics, as found in the works of Plato and Aristotle. Both Plato and Aristotle agree that the good life is the life which comes from the possession of virtue. But what do they mean by virtue? We will consider Plato's account of the well-ordered soul and theory of the Forms before moving on to Aristotle's systematic account of human flourishing and his doctrine that virtue is the mean between two vices.
In the second half of the course we will explore some modern approaches to virtue, such as those of Iris Murdoch and Alastair MacIntyre. We will also look at the ways in which modern virtue ethicists have applied virtue theory to real-life ethical dilemmas and will investigate the ways in which virtue ethics might be applied to contemporary debates. We will conclude by looking at the challenges posed to virtue ethics by modern psychology.
Programme detailsWeek 1: The Good Life? Introduction to the three main theories in philosophical ethics; discussion of the range and scope of ethical enquiry.
Week 2: Plato's Republic: Thrasymachus's Challenge; The City-Soul Analogy; The Well-ordered Soul.
Week 3: Plato's Republic: The Theory of the Forms; The Analogy of the Cave; The Form of the Good.
Week 4: Aristotle's Ethics: Teleology; Human Flourishing; The Unity of the Virtues.
Week 5: Aristotle's Ethics: The Golden Mean; Virtue and Continence; Natural Slaves.
Week 6: Iris Murdoch: The Sovereignty of Good over Other Concepts.
Week 7: Alasdair MacIntyre: The Nature of the Virtues.
Week 8: Applied Virtue Ethics: Rosalind Hursthouse's Discussion of Abortion.
Week 9: Applying Virtue Ethics: Consideration of Contemporary Case Studies; Presentations.
Week 10: Social Psychology and Virtue Ethics: The Situationist Debate.
Norman, R., The Moral Philosophers: An Introduction to Ethics
Plato, The Republic
Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics [often sold simply as 'Ethics']
Murdoch, I., The Soveignty of Good
McIntyre, A., After Virtue
Dr Robert Mahoney
Bob Mahoney has a PhD which focused on the conception of character in the work of David Hume. He has been teaching for the Department of Continuing...more
Course aimsCourse Aim:
To introduce participants to both ancient and modern approaches to virtue ethics and to appreciate its strengths and weaknesses as an approach to ethical problems.
1. To examine the strengths and weaknesses of both ancient and modern conceptions of the good life through an examination of approaches to virtue ethics.
2. To engage with contemporary ethical problems from a virtue ethical perspective.
3. To consider the challenges posed to ethics in general and virtue ethics in particular by modern scientific theories.
Assessment methodsEITHER: A portfolio with three elements, comprising: a presentation given in week nine (with notes) (~5 minutes), a short (~250 words) essay, and a short reflective report on the participant's experience of one (or more) session (~250 words).
OR: A 1,000 word essay on one of the topics covered during the course.
Teaching methodsTeaching will be through short lectures by the tutor followed by seminar discussions in which all participants will have the opportunity to ask questions and explore their views. In some sessions there will also be small group activities. In week nine there will be the opportunity for participants to make short presentations on topics related to contemporary ethical concerns and get feedback from the tutor and other members of the group.
Teaching outcomesBy the end of the course students will be expected to:
1. Be able to understand and explain a number of central arguments from both ancient and modern conceptions of the good life through virtue ethics;
2. Critically assess a range of virtue ethical approaches and formulate their own position;
3. Present their philosophical views on virtue ethics and contemporary ethical topics both orally and in written form with improved clarity and confidence.
- Programme Fee
- EU Fee: £165.00
- Non-EU Fee: £165.00