PHIL 2010 The Ethical Life

Credit Points 10

Legacy Code 101867

Coordinator John Hadley Opens in new window

Description This subject introduces students to time-honoured ethical questions and controversies. The issues to be examined point to questions that students are likely to face at some stage during their lives: Is death always a bad thing? Is abortion immoral? Are we obligated to give to charity? Should we be vegetarian? Should you have sex outside of a committed relationship? Is ethics founded upon religion, reason or community standards? As well as examining specific issues, students will be introduced to the leading secular and theistic ethical theories.

School Humanities & Comm Arts

Discipline Philosophy

Student Contribution Band HECS Band 4 10cp

Check your fees via the Fees page.

Level Undergraduate Level 2 subject


Successful completion of 40 credit points of study in currently enrolled program.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this subject, students should be able to:

  1. Demonstrate their understanding of the major positions and issues in the field of practical ethics
  2. Critically evaluate ethical theories and arguments
  3. Develop their own arguments and positions on ethical issues with clarity and rigour

Subject Content

. The foundations of right and wrong: Is ethics based on religion, reason or cultural standards? Are ethical judgments true or false?
. Survey of rival ethical theories: consequentialism, deontology, virtue theory, post-analytic ethics.
. The harm of death and the ethics of killing: abortion, euthanasia, animals, killing in self-defense and war
. Giving to charity and duties of assistance
. Non-anthropocentrism: animal rights; the moral significance of ecosystems, species, trees and other non-sentient forms of life
. Interpersonal ethics: abstinence and sex before marriage; marriage; gay marriage; having children, surrogacy
. Freedom of Speech: The contemporary relevance of Millian free speech theory; recent free speech controversies - pornography, Islamic extremism, pro-anorexia and contemporary art; the internet and free speech ideals


The following table summarises the standard assessment tasks for this subject. Please note this is a guide only. Assessment tasks are regularly updated, where there is a difference your Learning Guide takes precedence.

Type Length Percent Threshold Individual/Group Task
Short Answer not specified 25 N Individual
Essay 2000 words 40 N Individual
Essay 1500 words 35 N Individual

Prescribed Texts

  • Subject Reader