How to Live: What the Great Philosophers Teach us about Ethics

Andy Wimbush PhD AFHEA


How to Live: What the Great Philosophers Teach us about Ethics

Eight classes

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Led by expert tutor Andy Wimbush PhD


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What is good? An introduction to moral philosophy

Lesson 1

What is good? An introduction to moral philosophy

This session will give students an overview of the subject area and some foundations in the key concepts of ethical enquiry.

A life of excellence: Aristotle’s virtue ethics

Lesson 2

A life of excellence: Aristotle’s virtue ethics

An explanation of the character-based ethical theory of Aristotle, his understanding of human flourishing, and the role of virtue (excellence).

Suffering and its end: The Buddha’s ethics of universal love and compassion

Lesson 3

Suffering and its end: The Buddha’s ethics of universal love and compassion

An overview of the teachings of Siddhartha Gotama, the Indian philosopher better known as the Buddha. A discussion of the place of suffering, its cause, and its end.

Do your duty: Immanuel Kant’s categorical imperative

Lesson 4

Do your duty: Immanuel Kant’s categorical imperative

An exploration of the duty-based ethical theory of Immanuel Kant, its foundation in rationality and respect for persons, its influence on human rights.

The greatest happiness for the greatest number: Bentham, Mill, and Utilitarianism

Lesson 5

The greatest happiness for the greatest number: Bentham, Mill, and Utilitarianism

The consequence-based ethical theory of the Utilitarians, their emphasis on happiness and pleasure, Utilitarianism’s demanding moral principles, and the implications for charitable giving today.

A transvaluation of values: Nietzsche’s challenge to European morality

Lesson 6

A transvaluation of values: Nietzsche’s challenge to European morality

A look at the provocative ideas of Friedrich Nietzsche and his challenge to European moral philosophy and its Christian roots.

Does moral truth exist? Is there such a thing as right and wrong?

Lesson 7

Does moral truth exist? Is there such a thing as right and wrong?

A discussion of metaethical challenges to the existence of moral truth and whether morality can be grounded in reason, empirical evidence, or something else.

Conclusion: evaluating the theories

Lesson 8

Conclusion: evaluating the theories

A final discussion of the course’s topics, a recap of key arguments, and a chance for students to decide which theory – if any – they find most convincing.


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