Learning outcomes of the course unit
By the end of the class the student will be able to (in accordance with the Dublin indicators):
1. Understand the challenges of contemporary ethics and appreciate some of the most prominent philosophical solutions.
2. Apply the concepts acquired by the thinkers examined in class to other areas of ethical reflection.
3. Develop a critical perspective on contemporary ethics.
4. Present in clear and argumentative manner the philosophical positions discussed in class and master at least the rudiments of philosophical discussion in English.
5. Read and comprehend autonomously complex philosophical texts devoted to ethical reflection.
Basic knowledge of methods and topics of moral philosophy, as well as proficiency in the English language are pre-requisites for this class.
Course contents summary
The class aims at tackling in detail an array of topics in contemporary ethics, thereby integrating the analytical and the phenomenological perspectives.
In the general perception of laypeople, philosophers wonder about the meaning of life. Actually, however, the issue of life's meaning is mostly ignored or looked down upon by contemporary philosophers. The question about life's meaning is often taken to epitomize unanswerable questions that perhaps aren't even worth asking.The texts discussed in this class represent an exception to the general neglect of life's meaning in philosophy. They set out tackle this issue in a rigorous argumentative fashion, thereby articulating possible options (nihilism, subjective naturalism, objective naturalism and supernaturalism) and probing their limits.
1. J. Seachris (ed.), Exploring the Meaning of Life: An Anthology and Guide (Wiley Blackwell: Hoboken NJ 2012)
2. Thaddeus Metz, Meaning in Life (Oxford University Press 2013)
Frontal lecture, seminar-style discussion, discussion with invited international experts.
Assessment methods and criteria
One written research paper on a topic to be determined with the instructor. Alternatively, students may require to be examined orally in English or Italian after submitting a two-page critical discussion in English of one of the texts discussed in class.
Assessment criteria and assessment thresholds:
30 cum laude: Excellent, excellent solidity of knowledge, excellent expressive properties, excellent understanding of the concepts
30: Very good. Complete and adequate knowledge, well-articulated and correctly expressed
27-29: Good, satisfactory knowledge, essentially correct expression.
24-26: Fairly good knowledge, but not complete and not always correct.
22-23: Generally sufficient knowledge but superficial. Expression is often not appropriate and confused.
18-21: Sufficient. The expression and articulation of the speech show important gaps.
<18: insufficient knowledge or very incomplete, lack of guidance in discipline, expression seriously deficient. Exam failed.
The research paper topic must be discussed in person with the instructor. The determination of the research paper topic should happen a good while before the chosen examination date, in order to have enough time to write the paper and have it linguistically copy-edited.