• Offered by School of Philosophy
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Course subject Philosophy
  • Areas of interest Philosophy
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Mode of delivery In Person

After an initial examination of some of the personal reactions of members of the class to issues such as commodification, self-interest, ethical subjectivism and cultural relativism, and at philosophical issues to which they give rise, the course will engage with some significant contemporary approaches to the understanding of ethical theory. We will look, in turn, at utilitarianism, deontological ethics, and virtue ethics. In each case, we will look at some of the (recent) historical background to these views, at philosophical issues to which they give rise, and to some of the contemporary debate about them. We will also look at issues concerning the epistemology of ethics and (briefly) at some meta-ethics, at issues of feminism and ethics, at Wittgenstein and 'Wittgensteinian ethics', and at the problem of evil.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

1. identify some main contemporary theoretical approaches to ethics

2. understand something of the debate about their pros and cons

3. have articulated, and have received critical feedback upon, their own understanding of these issues in both written and spoken form

Indicative Assessment

Engagement with response to initial questions, 500 words 10% (Learning Outcome 3)

Initial essay 1,500 words 35% (Learning Outcomes 1, 2 and 3); there will be a prior opportunity to receive unassessed feedback on an essay plan

Major essay 2,500 words 45% (Learning Outcomes 1, 2 and 3)

Tutorial performance 10% (Learning Outcomes 1, 2 and 3)

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21 hours of lectures; 12 hours of tutorials; it is expected that students will undertake 7 hours a week of private study.

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must have completed 6 Units of Philosophy (PHIL) Courses, or by permission of course convenor.

Preliminary Reading

Rachels, J, The Elements of Moral Philosophy, 5th ed., McGraw-Hill




Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2015 $2604
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2015 $3576
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

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There are no current offerings for this course.

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