Ethics: Theory and Contemporary Issues
Course infoSchedule
Course moduleFTR-FIPPSB101
Credits (ECTS)5
Language of instructionEnglish
Offered byRadboud University; Faculty of Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies; Opleiding Filosofie;
Contactperson for the course
prof. dr. M.D. Davidson
Other course modules lecturer
prof. dr. M.D. Davidson
Other course modules lecturer
dr. A.R. Topolski
Other course modules lecturer
dr. A.R. Topolski
Other course modules lecturer
Academic year2023
SEM1  (04/09/2023 to 28/01/2024)
Starting block
Course mode
Registration using OSIRISYes
Course open to students from other facultiesYes
Waiting listNo
Placement procedure-
The course will:
  • familiarize you with major traditional theories, thinkers, and concepts in ethics;
  • build your skills in analyzing and reflecting on ethical problems and defending your views;
  • enable you to understand, criticize, and construct philosophical arguments;
  • help you improve your writing through blog posts and other assignments.
Topics include:
  • Consequentialism
  • Deontology
  • Virtue ethics
  • Natural Law
  • Care ethics
  • Meta-ethics
  • Feminist ethics
  • Non-Western ethics
  • Animal ethics
  • Environmental ethics
  • Posthumanist ethics
Climate change, poverty and inequality, to name but a few. Today we are faced with many complex and often interrelated problems. This course will introduce you to philosophical ethics – questions about right and wrong, good and evil, and all the grey areas that can be found between and beyond this binary, that have puzzled and provoked thinkers for hundreds of years.

We will read and discuss major ethical theories and important moral philosophers, and will also debate controversial moral dilemmas concerning sexism, racism and speciesism. This course provides a practical overview of key issues, questions, and concepts in ethics, with emphases on the historical development of ethical thinking, a variety of ethical approaches and contemporary ethical issues.

The course will begin with a brief overview of the major ethical theories of today. Then each week a different ethical problem of the contemporary world will be examined. You will also examine a variety of personal, social, and professional ethical issues and problems, and learn methods of resolving them through the use of critical thinking skills and sound ethical reasoning.

You are provided an active learning experience and opportunities for independent research into ethical issues of personal interest. Your work on these topics will help develop your capacity to analyze texts and issues, to criticize and construct philosophical arguments, to present your thoughts both orally and in clear written form, and to become a more creative thinker. When you complete the course, you should be better prepared to recognize, confront, reflect and think critically about difficult ethical questions that we all encounter in our daily lives. 

Presumed foreknowledge

Test information
1.              Weekly Submission of Passage/Question = Entry Requirement For Final Papers (minimum 7/11)
2.              50%                 Toetsvorm/Paper - Ethical Text Analysis
3.              50 %                Toetsvorm/Paper - Ethical Narrative Analysis
There will be both a lecture (mandatory) and a seminar per week.
Recommended materials

Instructional modes
Lecture and seminar
Attendance MandatoryYes

Test weight1
Test typeEssay
OpportunitiesBlock SEM1, Block SEM2