Skip to main content

GED/PHI3001 Good and Evil: Understanding Ethics: Home

Course Description

In this course students will study several different ethical theories in philosophy. Ethical theories are theories about right and wrong, moral and immoral, good and bad. They tell us what is good behavior and what is bad behavior, about how we should live as morally good people. 

Recommended Books

A Theory of Virtue: Excellence in Being for the Good

This book deals with the topic of virtue, the moral evaluation of character. In Part One, Adams presents the conception of virtue as intrinsic excellence of character by defensing these conceptions and discussing the subject of vice. Part Two addresses one challenge to the idea of excellence of character, that is, altruism. Part Two argues that moral virtue should involve excellence in being for other goods besides the well-being of other persons. Part Three addresses another challenge which is typified by doubts about the reality of moral virtue. Adams explores the prospects for an empirically realistic conception of excellence of character as an object of moral aspiration, endeavor, and education.

Kant's Theory of Freedom

This book deals with the concept of freedom in Kant’s philosophy, based on incisive analysis of Kantian texts. Part One discusses Kant’s views on freedom and rational agency as expressed in the Critique of Pure Reason and some of his earlier writings, concerned primarily with the metaphysics of the problem. Part Two discusses Kant’s conception of moral agency and the central features of this moral psychology in his main writings on moral philosophy from the Groundwork on. Part Three presents Kant’s attempts to justify the moral law and freedom in the Groundwork and the Critique of Pure Reason.

The Morality of Happiness

This book is concerned with the form and structure of ancient ethical theory. Part One examines the core notions in ancient ethics- a final end and virtue. Part Two is concerned with the role in ancient theories of the appeal to nature to ground or justify the theory in some way. Part Three examines the role in ancient theories of the interests of others. Part Four argues that equal weight should be distributed to the point of morality and that of happiness of ancient theories. The final part concludes with the results of the different parts and the structure of ancient ethical theories.

An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation

This book is where Bentham develops his theory of utilitarianism. Main issues discussed in this book includes the principle of utility, principles adverse to that of utility, the four sanctions or sources of pain and pleasure, how to measure value of a lot of pleasure or pain, kinds of pleasures and pains, circumstances influencing sensibility, human actions, intentionality, consciousness, motives, human dispositions, consequences of a mischievous act, cases unmeet for punishment, the proportion between punishments and offences, the properties to be given to a lot of punishment, division of offences, the limits of the penal branch of jurisprudence.

On Liberty

This book applies John Stuart Mill’s ethical system of utilitarianism to society and state. In this book, Mill enunciates such principles that people have freedom to pursue their own goals and that power should not be exercised over people for their own good. He argues that a society which respects this principle enables individuals to realize their potential in their own way, that it liberates a mature diversity of interest and feeling, and it nurtures the moral freedom of reason and will, and that it produces the social conditions of moral and intellectual progress by throwing open the gates to talent, creativity and dynamism.


This book is an exposition of utilitarianism in ethics by John Stuart Mill. The central argument is that happiness is the only purpose of human action, and the promotion of it is the criteria to judge all human conduct. Mill argues that happiness is desirable as an end, that nothing but happiness is desirable as an end, and that each person’s happiness is equally desirable. This book also reflects Mill’s philosophy of morality- Mill believes that we are not obliged to do all that we can upon pain of moral censure.

Recommended Databases