PHIL1001 Justice and Contemporary Ethics

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 1UWA (Perth)Face to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 1 option in the Philosophy major sequence
  • The area of knowledge for this unit is Society and Culture
  • Category A broadening unit for Bachelor of Arts students where relevant according to the broadening requirements for each student
  • Level 1 elective
This unit provides an introduction to ethical theory and the ethical dimensions of problems that arise from the interaction of nations and cultures in the modern world. The first half of the unit surveys five influential theories about what makes an action or a policy morally right or morally wrong: the divine command theory, ethical relativism, utilitarianism, and two aspects of Immanuel Kant's deontological ethical theory. In the second half of the unit, issues of global justice are discussed. What, if anything, grounds our duties to preserve the physical environment? What ethical duties do we have towards refugees and asylum seekers? This leads into a discussion of the extent of our (individual and collective) obligations to provide foreign aid. Finally, the ethics of war is covered, in particular, the conditions under which it is permissible to use military assets to intervene in a foreign country's affairs for humanitarian purposes.
Students are able to (1) identify and evaluate arguments in philosophical texts; (2) independently construct arguments for philosophical positions; (3) understand and apply the methodologies of contemporary philosophy; (4) identify and evaluate assumptions underpinning philosophical viewpoints on topics such as ethics, free will, knowledge and religion; (5) demonstrate sound research skills and written and oral communication skills; (6) demonstrate an understanding of important historical and contemporary philosophical ideas in areas such as ethics, free will, knowledge and religion; (7) articulate and understand a number of contemporary ethical problems; (8) reason effectively toward answers to ethical questions mentioned above; (9) demonstrate their understanding of, and evaluate, several influential ethical theories; (10) apply the ethical theories studied to the contemporary ethical problems studied; (11) evaluate influential attacks on morality; and (12) apply ethical theories to, and reason effectively about, new ethical questions.
Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) research essay; (2) online quizzes ; and (3) final examination. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Supplementary assessment is not available in this unit except in the case of a bachelor's pass degree student who has obtained a mark of 45 to 49 overall and is currently enrolled in this unit, and it is the only remaining unit that the student must pass in order to complete their course.
Unit Coordinator(s)
Assistant Professor Michael Rubin
Unit rules
PHIL1107 Ethics, Free Will and Meaning
Contact hours
lectures: 2 hours per week (for 10 weeks); workshops: 1 hour per week (for 9 weeks)
Unit Outline
Semester 1-2020 [SEM-1-2020]
  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Books and other material wherever listed may be subject to change. Book lists relating to 'Preliminary reading', 'Recommended reading' and 'Textbooks' are, in most cases, available via the Booktopia Textbook Finder, which has the functionality to search by course code, course, ISBN and title, and may also be posted or available at the appropriate school's administrative offices. Where texts are listed in the unit description above, an asterisk (*) indicates that the book is available in paperback.