Ehr 2101 Theories of Ethics Course Description

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EHR 2101 Theories of Ethics
Course Description

This course describes theories and principles of ethics. The course concentrates on theories like; utilitarianism, rule based ethics, and virtue ethics. The course will also discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each of these theories.
Course Objectives

  1. To help the students acquire knowledge of the basic theories of ethics so that they are capacitated to understand how ethical decisions are made in day to day life.

  2. To acquaint the students with rational arguments that support right principles that affect practical ethical decisions in day to day life

Learning Objectives
By the end of the course students should be able to

  1. Explain the various theories of ethics, like the consequentialist’s theories, the duty based theories, and rule based theories.

  2. Define the consequentialist and non-consequentialist views on ethics

  3. Describe and critically analyze the two main consequentialist theories i.e., ethical egoism and utilitarianism

  4. Describe and critically evaluate virtue ethics or duty based theories of ethics expounded by Kant’s Duty Ethics and Ross’s Prima Facie Duties

  1. Know the anthropological ‘facts’ about universalism and relativism and understand the criticism of these ‘facts’

  2. Understand how basic principles are important in making moral decisions

  1. Describe and critically examine the rule based ethical theory and they impact on ethical decision making.

Course Outline

  1. Introduction

  2. Approaches to Various Theories of Ethics

  3. Meta-Ethical Theories

  1. Ethical Relativism

  2. Ethical Absolutism/Universalism

  3. Emotivism

4. Normative Ethical Theories

  1. Need for them

  2. Consequentialist/Teleological Theories

  3. Ethical Egoism

  4. Utilitarianism

  1. Non-consequentialist/Deontological Theories

  1. Kantian Deontology

  2. Ross’s Deontology

  3. Rights Based Ethics


The facilitator(s) will employ the following methods; lectures, seminars, inquiry, case studies, expert talks, explanations, group work, brain storming.

Assessment Mode
Take home exercise 15%

Practical exercise test 15%

End of semester examination 70%

Reading List
Bowie, N. E. 1998. Business Ethics: A Kantian Perspective. Blackwell Publishing.
Brandt, R. B. 1959. Ethical Theory: The Problems of Normative and Critical Ethics. Prentice-Hall.
Cahn, S. M. and P. Markie. 2001. Ethics: History, Theory, and Contemporary Issues. Oxford University Press.
Donaldson, T., P. H. Werhane and M. Cording. 2001. Ethical Issues in Business: A Philosophical Approach (7th Edition). Prentice Hall. 
Dworkin, G. (ed.). 1970. Determinism, Free Will, and Moral Responsibility. Prentice-Hall.
Edwards, P. (ed.) 1967. The Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Macmillan.
Frey, R. G. and C. H. Wellman. Editors. 2003. A Companion to Applied Ethics (Blackwell Companions to Philosophy). Blackwell Publishing. 

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