Cultural and Ethical Values
Gold Coast, Australia
Area of Study
Taught In English
Course Level Recommendations
ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.
Recommended U.S. Semester Credits3 - 4
Recommended U.S. Quarter Units4.5 - 6
Hours & Credits
How can we judge what is right, and what wrong? Is morality just a matter of personal opinion? From where does the state get its authority? Are there limits to that authority? In this subject we examine some of the most influential, and often competing, philosophical theories of ethics and society. We do so in historical order, starting with four ancient pre-Christian Greek thinkers; Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and Epicurus. From Athens we move to medieval Naples and St Thomas Aquinas, natural law theory, and his controversial account of what makes a war a just war. To England next and Thomas Hobbes, the first to assert that the authority of government flows from the people upwards, and not down from some higher authority. His successor John Locke agreed, but insisted this authority is limited, never absolute, and that people have certain 'natural rights' which no government can ever rightly violate - a view that was to influence the framing of the US Bill of Rights. Next, to the 18th century Enlightenment and two giants, the Scot David Hume, and the German Immanuel Kant, who argued an action is moral only if it is motivated by a sense of moral duty, and that moral duties are universally binding irrespective of culture or time, thus rejecting moral and cultural relativism. Then to England again and the utilitarian theories of Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill, arguing that an action is right only if it increases happiness, and reduces misery, to all affected. We then turn to 20th century America and the attempt by John Rawls to answer the question of what makes a society a just or fair one, an account which we contrast with radical libertarianism. Students will be encouraged to develop their own answers to these and other questions, and learn to argue rationally for them.
Learning Objectives1. Knowledge of the western tradition of ethical and political thought, and the ability to express this knowledge in both speech and writing.
2. Capacity to expound, interact with, and rigorously evaluate ideas in moral and political thought.
3. Capacity to effectively communicate complex ideas and arguments, in both speech and writing, in ways that are useful in other subjects and in personal and professional life..
4. Appreciation of and respect for a wide variety of moral opinions and cultural beliefs.
5. Capacity to engage in group discussion of contested ideas in an intelligent, civil, and cooperative manner.
Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.
Eligibility for courses may be subject to a placement exam and/or pre-requisites.
Credits earned vary according to the policies of the students' home institutions. According to ISA policy and possible visa requirements, students must maintain full-time enrollment status, as determined by their home institutions, for the duration of the program.