Institutt for filosofi og førstesemesterstudier


Course on the ethics of life and death

This Autumn 2018, the Department of Philosophy will offer a course in ethics with a focus on issues surrounding life and death.

Et menneske som går med dødt landskap på venstre side og grønt og frodig landskap på høyre side.

These issues raise challenging philosophical questions whose answers have important implications not only for how we should live our lives as moral agents, but also for politics, law, public policy, and medical practice. This course will be of interest to philosophy students as well as to students in other disciplines, and it can be taken at the 100-, 200-, or 300-level.

In this course, students will become familiar with philosophical debates over ethical issues surrounding three central themes:

(1) Ending Lives: Is death bad for us? What makes death bad? What makes life worth living?

Why is it wrong to kill another human being? Are there any exceptions to the wrongness of killing? For example, is it permissible to kill in self-defense? Is abortion morally permissible? Is euthanasia morally permissible? Is death bad for non-human animals, and is it morally permissible to kill them?

(2) Saving Lives: Do we have moral obligations to save the lives of others? How much are we morally required to sacrifice in order to do so? When we can’t save all lives, how do we decide which ones to save? What implications does this have for the distribution of health care resources?

(3) Beginning Lives: Is it morally permissible to have children? If so, should we try to create the best children we can? What moral obligations do parents and children owe to each other?