20-21 PY1106: Introduction to Aesthetics and Morals

The aim of this course is to give students a grounding in some of the central issues in moral philosophy and aesthetics. In the first half of the course, we will look at a number of philosophers working on moral philosophy, looking at the standard positions taken, as well as some of the criticisms raised to traditional formulations of moral philosophy. In the second half of the course, we will briefly look at some work in the field of aesthetics, which deals with questions of the nature of beauty and of art. Having looked at the value and nature of our aesthetic concerns, we will conclude by considering what an artwork might actually be.

Having successfully completed this course, students will be able to:

1.      describe different conceptions of the philosophical enterprise;

2.      evaluate different ways of understanding our ethical commitments to others;

3.      describe some of the criticisms of our common sense understanding of ethics;

4.      critically engage with some of the central debates within aesthetics;

5.      present a critical evaluation of a piece of philosophical writing;

6.      demonstrate an awareness of the connections between different areas of philosophical inquiry.