Ethics is critical thinking about our values and decisions. What kinds of things should I value or desire? What kind of choices should I make? And most importantly, why?

We all make choices every day. Many of them are made unconsciously. Each of these choices imply some set of values or desires. Most of these values are not consciously held either. One of the purposes of ethics is to call attention to those values and desires and critically evaluate them. In doing this, we also come to reflect critically on who we are as individuals, members of society, and part of a global ecosystem.

As a kind of critical thinking, this course aims primarily to help you build a skill useful for evaluating beliefs, values, and actions. The aim of the course is not to advocate for a certain belief or way of life. We will take a look at the structure of ethical arguments and how to evaluate them. We will also examine some of the major ethical philosophies from around the world. These will provide us with theories for judging actions, characters, outcomes, and values. Lastly, we will spend some time applying these skills to controversial ethical issues like abortion, animal rights, and environmental degradation.