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Action, Virtue and Character - PHL341

This unit explores important contemporary debates in ethics, focusing in particular on the application and role of ethical theory in lived moral life. We begin with a consideration of influential challenges to consequentialism, which claim that attempting to be a good utilitarian is self-defeating, leads to moral schizophrenia, and is incompatible with important moral goods like integrity and friendship. We then consider virtue ethics, focusing on its characterisation of human flourishing, its capacity to be action-guiding, and the implications of the ‘dirty hands’ problem that is posed when virtuous agents confront tragic moral dilemmas. Finally we consider challenges to the very notion of moral character. Scepticism about the existence of character arises from findings in social psychology, which appear to indicate that features of a person's situation play a larger role in determining the morality of their action than does their moral (or immoral) character. We consider the empirical findings, the nature and implications of ethical situationism, and philosophical attempts to defend the notion of character against the situationist challenge.

Credit Points: 3
When Offered:

S2 Day - Session 2, North Ryde, Day

S2 External - Session 2, External (On-campus dates: None)

Staff Contact(s): Dr Mianna Lotz

(39cp at 100 level or above) or admission to GDipArts Prerequisite Information


NCCW(s): PHIL341
Unit Designation(s):
Unit Type:
Assessed As: Graded
Offered By:

Department of Philosophy

Faculty of Arts

Course structures, including unit offerings, are subject to change.
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