PHIL3003 Moral Theory

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 1UWA (Perth)Face to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 3 option in the Philosophy; Philosophy, Politics and Economics major sequences
  • The area of knowledge for this unit is Society and Culture
  • Category B broadening unit for students
  • Level 3 elective
The core of this unit consists in a survey of influential moral theories. Students engage both with contemporary readings and with certain classic texts such as those of Aristotle, Kant and J. S. Mill. The details vary from year to year, but typically include: (1) theories of intrinsic value and wellbeing such as hedonism, preferentism and objective theories; (2) consequentialist theories of moral rightness, including act-utilitarianism and rule-utilitarianism; (3) deontological theories of moral rightness, including pluralism, Kantianism and contractualism; and (4) virtue-ethical theories, with a focus on Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics.
Students are able to (1) independently interpret complex philosophical texts; (2) demonstrate an understanding of complex philosophical arguments and positions; (3) evaluate complex philosophical positions and arguments; (4) weigh the virtues and vices of competing philosophical doctrines; (5) construct persuasive arguments concerning difficult philosophical issues; (6) demonstrate advanced written communication and research skills; (7) reflect on the nature and purpose of philosophy and philosophical argumentation; (8) understand how moral judgements differ from non-moral judgements; (9) recognise and utilise the sorts of evidence and reasoning that is relevant for establishing a moral conclusion; (10) apply general moral theories to concrete actions and social policies; (11) distinguish between deontological, consequentialist, and virtue-theoretical approaches to moral theorising; and (12) demonstrate a knowledge of three of the most influential texts in the history of Western moral philosophy—Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, Kant's Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals, and Mill's Utilitarianism.
Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) essays; (2) examination; and (3) participation. 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
any Level 2 Philosophy unit
PPHE2211 History of Political Ideas
PPHE3327 Contemporary Political Theory
PHIL 2209 Moral Theory
Contact hours
lectures: 2 hours per week; tutorials: 1 hour per week
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.