About PHIL 1600 A

Explores central themes in ethics, such as what our most fundamental obligations are, using the tools of philosophical argument and analysis. Content, readings, and assignments vary by section and instructor. Credit not awarded for both PHIL 1600 and versions of the course offered as PHIL 1010 to 1029.


Open to degree and PACE students

Section Description

This course is an introduction to the problems of philosophy, centered on questions in and about morality (or ethics). We will look at Western philosophical approaches to ethics (in the analytic tradition) on three levels. Applied Ethics (as it is sometimes called) asks about fairly concrete moral issues. We will look at some relatively recent literature on the morality of abortion, an area which I will argue illustrates that when it comes to ethics, we don’t know nearly as much as we think we do--but philosophy can help! We go on to consider some broad approaches to (what is often called) Normative Ethics. These include approaches such as Utilitarianism and Kantian deontology. Ultimately, we turn to Metaethics and ask whether morality is even a realm of fact--something that could be known at all. (We might do these in a different order.) We also consider whether religion could be the basis for morality and moral knowledge or provide us with good reasons to behave morally. Early in the term we will take a very brief detour into logic, because some fundamentals will be useful to us in wrestling with the material.

Section Expectation

The course will be a mix of lecture and structured discussion, centered on careful readings of a small number of texts. Students will be expected to spend a good deal of time reading and rereading the material prior to each class and to attend class regularly. All materials will be made available on line at no charge. The pace will accelerate as the term continues and students become better acquainted with philosophical ways of thinking. The main point of the course is to help students learn to think and express themselves more clearly. We will have fun and work hard every day!


Grades are likely to be based on three examinations. For exams, I typically hand out two to four long essay questions in advance. If so, the only surprise is which question(s) I pick for you to answer, closed book. A student's grade can be affected negatively by unexcused absences (or, in very rare cases, disruption) and positively by helpful participation in class discussions. Requirements, method of instruction, and even content are subject to change.

Important Dates

Note: These dates may change before registration begins.

Note: These dates may not be accurate for select courses during the Summer Session.

Last Day to Add
Last Day to Drop
Last Day to Withdraw with 50% Refund
Last Day to Withdraw with 25% Refund
Last Day to Withdraw


There are no courses that meet this criteria.