PHIL 230 Prof. Sarah Stroud Fall 2009 office: Leacock 942 lectures

PHIL 230
Prof. Sarah Stroud
Fall 2009
office: Leacock 942
lectures MW (+ F Sept. 4 only) 11:35-12:25, plus weekly conference
office phone: x3250
lecture hall: MDHAR G-10
office hours: W 1:45-2:45 pm and by appt.
Introduction to Moral Philosophy
An introduction to central questions of moral philosophy through the study of classic texts by
Aristotle, David Hume, Immanuel Kant, Jeremy Bentham, John Stuart Mill, and G. E. Moore.
Some of the fundamental questions we will investigate through these texts are the following:
What things are worth pursuing? What constitutes a good life? What constitutes a moral life?
What is the relation between the two? How do we reason about what to do? Can reason
determine how one ought to live, or how one ought to treat others? Can reason motivate us to act
in accordance with those determinations? What are moral judgments, and why are we influenced
by them? Throughout the term we will take note of the ways in which our authors differ, not just
in the answers they give to these questions, but in the questions they take to be most central.
Required Texts
• Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics (4th century B.C.) [trans. Irwin, Hackett, 2nd ed. 1999],
• David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature (1739) [ed. Selby-Bigge, Oxford U. Press, 2nd ed.
1978], selections
• Immanuel Kant, Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals (1785) [trans. Ellington, Hackett,
3rd ed. 1993], through Second Section
• Jeremy Bentham, An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation (1789) [in John
Stuart Mill and Jeremy Bentham, Utilitarianism and Other Essays, Penguin 1987], selections
• John Stuart Mill, Utilitarianism (1861) [see previous item]
• G. E. Moore, Principia Ethica (1903) [Prometheus Books 1988], selections
All of these texts are for sale at Paragraphe Books (at 2220 McGill College Avenue) and on
three-hour reserve at the library. Students are expected to use the editions specified above.
Course Requirements and Method of Assessment
The course requirements consist of three five-page papers (one on Aristotle, one on Hume, one
on Kant) and a three-hour final exam. The three papers are together worth 2/3 of the final course
mark (i.e., approximately 22% each); the final exam is worth the remaining 1/3 of the course
mark. The three papers are due Oct. 5, Oct. 26, and Nov. 16; a choice of topics for each paper
will be handed out 7-10 days before the due date. In order to pass the course, you must hand in
all three papers by the last day of classes (Dec. 3) and take the final exam.
The final exam will consist entirely of essay questions. Some of the questions will pertain to
Bentham, Mill, and Moore; these will not be given out in advance. The remaining questions will
range over all course readings; these will be drawn from a list of review questions handed out in
advance. Paper topics and review questions will be posted on myCourses after having been
given out in class.
Discussion is an important part of philosophical endeavour; students are therefore expected to
attend conference each week and to contribute to conference discussions. If your final mark is
borderline, your conference attendance and participation may be used as the deciding factor.
No extensions will be given on the papers except for medical reasons. Requests for extensions
should be directed to your teaching assistant and must be supported by appropriate medical
documentation. The deadline for requesting an extension is one business day before the paper is
due. Papers turned in late without an extension will be penalized at the rate of 1/3 of a grade
(e.g., from a B to a B-) per calendar day of lateness.
Please note that all formal final examinations at McGill are centrally scheduled and
administered. This means that I as instructor have no control over the date of the exam for this
course, which will be set by the Examination Office. (A preliminary draft of the examination
schedule is usually released in October.) Nor is it possible to arrange to sit the exam at an
alternative time which is more convenient for you: as specified in section of the
Calendar (available on line at, or see pp. 67-8 of the printed version),
instructors are not permitted to make special arrangements for final exams with individual
students. Given these facts, all students must plan to be in Montreal and available to write final
exams during the entire exam period, which runs from Dec. 7 to Dec. 22 this year.
The University requires that the following notices appear on every syllabus:
In accord with McGill University’s Charter of Students’ Rights, students in this course have the
right to submit in English or in French any written work that is to be graded.
McGill University values academic integrity. Therefore, all students must understand the
meaning and consequences of cheating, plagiarism and other academic offences under the Code
of Student Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures (see for
more information).
In the event of extraordinary circumstances beyond the University’s control, the content and/or
evaluation scheme in this course is subject to change.
PHIL 230
Prof. Sarah Stroud
Fall 2009
office: Leacock 942
lectures MW (+ F Sept. 4 only) 11:35-12:25, plus weekly conference
office phone: x3250
lecture hall: MDHAR G-10
office hours: W 1:45-2:45 pm and by appt.
Schedule of Readings and Lectures
Note: except for Friday Sept. 4, there will be no lectures on Fridays. Each of you will instead
attend a discussion conference every Thursday or Friday, for which you must register on
lecture date(s), readings
principal topic(s)
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics (6 lectures)
Fri. Sept. 4
book I, chs. 1-5, 7-8 (pp. 1-5, 7-11)
happiness as the highest good
Wed. Sept. 9
book I, ch. 13; book II, chs. 1-4; book X, ch. 9
(pp. 16-22, 167-171)
book II, chs. 5-9 (pp. 23-30)
virtue (of character) and its acquisition
the doctrine of the mean
Mon./Wed. Sept. 14/16
book III, chs. 10-12 (pp. 45-9)
book III, chs. 2, 3; book VI, chs. 1-2, 5-9, 12-13
(pp. 33-6, 86-7, 89-94, 96-9)
book VII, chs. 11-14; book X, chs. 1-5
(pp. 114-119, 153-161)
one virtue of character: temperance
decision and deliberation; prudence and
virtues of thought
Mon./Wed. Sept. 21/23
book VIII, chs. 1-5; book IX, chs. 3, 9
(pp. 119-125, 140-1, 148-150)
book X, chs. 6-8 (pp. 162-7)
final reflections on happiness
David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature (5 lectures)
Mon./Wed. Sept. 28/30
title page, Advertisement, Introduction (pp. xi-xix)
Book I, Part I, Secs. I, II; Book II, Part I, Sec. I
(pp. 1-8, 275-7)
Book II, Part III, Sec. III (pp. 413-418);
Book III, Part I, Sec. I through top p. 463
Hume’s aims and method
Hume’s theory of mind
reason and passion
Mon./Wed. Oct. 5/7
Book III, Part I, Sec. I, p. 463-end; Book III, Part I,
Sec. II (pp. 470-6)
Book III, Part II, Secs. I, II, VI (pp. 477-501, 526-534)
Wed. Oct. 14
Book III, Part III, Secs. I, III, VI
(pp. 574-591, 602-6, 618-621)
moral judgments
sympathy and the “natural” virtues
Immanuel Kant, Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals (5 lectures)
Mon./Wed. Oct. 19/21
Preface (pp. 1-5)
First Section through Ak. 399 (pp. 7-12)
First Section, Ak. 399 to end (pp. 12-17)
Kant’s aims and method
the good will; moral worth
duty, inclination, reason
Mon./Wed. Oct. 26/28
Second Section through Ak. 425 (pp. 19-33)
the categorical imperative;
perfect and imperfect duties
Mon. Nov. 2
Second Section, Ak. 425 to end (pp. 33-48)
the formula of humanity;
autonomy and heteronomy
Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill, Utilitarianism and Other Essays (6 lectures)
Wed. Nov. 4
Bentham: chs. I, II, IV (pp. 65-83, 86-9)
the principle of utility
Mon./Wed. Nov. 9/11
Mill: ch. I; ch. II through p. 283
ch. II, p. 283 to end; ch. III
introduction; higher and lower pleasures
further explication of utilitarianism
Mon./Wed./Mon. Nov. 16/18/23
ch. IV
ch. V
proof of the principle of utility
justice and utility
G. E. Moore, Principia Ethica (3 lectures)
Wed. Nov. 25
Preface (pp. vii-xii)
§§ 1-15, 24-26 (pp. 1-21, 37-41)
Moore’s aims and method
the “naturalistic fallacy”
Mon. Nov. 30/Wed. Dec. 2
§§ 36-44, 47, 48 (pp. 59-74, 77-81)
§§ 16-17, 64, 88-91 (pp. 22-7, 105-8, 146-150)
critique of hedonism
right conduct
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