Patricia Greenspan, instructor
1101A Skinner Hall
Th 2:30-4 pm and by appointment
We will use a recent book arguing for a form of moral skepticism to organize readings from some of the main figures in contemporary moral theory. Our central focus will be on positions in metaethics (moral realism, expressivism, error theory, etc.), but our readings will also provide examples of some of the standard approaches to normative ethics (consequentialism, contractualism, etc.).
Prerequisite: Graduate status in philosophy
Required readings will
R. Joyce, The Myth of Morality (Cambridge). [0 521 80806 5]
and selections from
S. Darwall, A. Gibbard, and P. Railton (eds.), Moral Discourse & Practice (Oxford). [0-19-510749-7]
as indicated in the schedule of topics and assignments. During the later portions of the course, students will be asked to lead discussion of our readings.
Written requirements of the course include a midterm (one essay question, to be done as a short [c. 4-page] paper), and a final exam (in the same format, but with two questions). Students also have the option of sending around short commentaries or essays on the weekly readings for earlier feedback. The final will normally count 50% of the student's grade, with the midterm supplying 30%. However, if the final is a full grade higher than the midterm, it will count 70% and the midterm 10%, to reflect improvement. The remaining 20% will depend on oral performance, and any further or optional assignments. Details of assignments will be discussed as the course proceeds.
This syllabus is available, along with the schedule, plus supporting information about policies of the instructor, on the instructor's web page (click on "courses"). Handouts distributed in class will be posted under "course materials" as the course proceeds.