Ethics month

7 oktober 2010 | In Meta-ethics Moral philosophy Self-indulgence | 4 Comments

I’m a big fan of october and november, and don’t care who knows it. September is nice to, and has that crispness of air which implies clarity of thought, If you’re into that sort of thing, but  then again, there’s all that fuss about the beginning of term and I’m no fan of fuss. October and november means business as usual. Things have achieved a state of being usual, enough for business to adjust accordingly. Oh, David. What are you on about?

Beginning today, we are into what I, assuming that the world pretty much revolve around me and my interests, am calling ethics month. It is the month during which I teach ethics at the department for philosophy, linguistics and theory of science. Today it’s ”introduction to ethics” or, informally: ”What’s all this, then?”. Tomorrow, it’s ”the meaning of life”. The course is very cleverly structured (I didn’t do it, but if I had, I still wouldn’t hesitate to call it clever. Try to keep up): It begins with applied ethics,  about selling organs, animal ethics, abortions and so on. When these questions turn difficult, we’ll turn to normative ethics, about what makes things right and wrong. The principles against which background applied questions may be answered. When this turns out difficult, we turn to meta-ethics, dealing with the meaning of moral terms and the nature of moral facts and moral knowledge, if such is to be found. When this turns difficult, which it does quite soon, the course is over and questions will have multiplied. If I’m any good, the students will have learned to cope with that fact.

Philosophy is often like that, as someone tweeted recently: climbing a very high tower, and then looking up.

Teaching this course here is fun for me, for personal reasons. I attended my first philosophy lecture here, at the age of 17 and got to talk to the professor who, merely by being nice, helped me decide to go into philosophy for my self. Secondly, it’s ten years since I first took this course which I’m now teaching. Having spent most of the time in between in metaethics, its great and very useful to become reaquainted with the applied and normative side of ethics. As a meta-ethicist, its often easy to forget that those things exist as well.


  1. Yeah. So my idea is that it would be a whole lot simpler if the exam instead was about us asking you questions…

    But seriously.

    Even though I missed some lectures due to some V.A.B-ing and I have yet to finish the mind boggling exam I think the class has been great!

    Keep up the good work!

    Kommentar by Toby_Wan — 09 november 2010 #

  2. Thanks! (Not just for the compliment, but for commenting on this blog of mine. It’s a rarity). It’s been fun teaching it, just as I predicted.
    Good luck with the exam!

    Kommentar by david — 09 november 2010 #

  3. No probs! But my one comment could also be viewed as a proof that 99 other persons have read this blog entry according to the 1% rule.

    If youre not familiar with this.

    And hey presto! Now 198 people would accordingly have read this entry!

    Statistic predictions FTW!

    Kommentar by Toby_Wan — 09 november 2010 #

  4. Or at least 180 if you go by the more accurate 1-9-90 principle…

    Kommentar by Toby_Wan — 10 november 2010 #

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