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Subject details

At the completion of this subject students will have developed:

  1. an ability to recognize and describe key theories in philosophical ethics
  2. skills in applying these theories to the ethical issues discussed in class and beyond
  3. the ability to develop well defended ethical arguments, rather than relying on intuitions or emotional reactions
  4. skills in evaluating the relative merits of competing ethical arguments, whilst appreciating that ethical conflicts are often inevitable and sometimes insoluble
  5. the ability to reflect on and critically interrogate the values you have and how they influence you as a person, student, and future professional.
    • Part 1: Introduction to course and ethical reasoning
    • Part 1: Abortion
    • Part 1: Marriage, family, parenting
    • Part 1: Death: (a) Suicide (b) Euthanasia
    • Part 2: What we owe to those less fortunate: (a) Poverty (b) Refugees and asylum seekers
    • Part 2: Non-human animals
    • Part 2: The environment
    • Part 3: War and Humanitarian Intervention
    • Part 3: Torture
    • Part 3: Punishment and capital punishment
  • Study resources

    • Instructional methods

      • Discussion forum/Discussion Board
      • Online assignment submission
      • Standard Media
      • Web links
    • Online materials

      • Resources and Links
      • Printable format materials

Equivalent subjects

You cannot enrol in this subject if you have successfully completed any of the following subject(s) because they are considered academically equivalent:

  • MAQ-PHI210


You must complete some Level 1 studies before starting this subject. Prior study in Philosophy is recommended.

Special requirements

  • OtherDetails -

    Students who have an Academic Standing of Suspension or Exclusion under Macquarie University's Academic Progression Policy are not permitted to enrol in OUA subjects offered by Macquarie University. Students with an Academic Standing of Suspension or Exclusion who have enrolled in subjects through OUA will be withdrawn.

This subject was previously known as PHI210 Practical Ethics.

Please note: This subject is available in Macquarie Semester 3, which is an intensive semester that spans only 5 intensive teaching weeks, plus a mid-semester recess and an assessment period. Students are advised to enrol in only one or two subjects in Semester 3. Students who would prefer to take the unit over 13 teaching weeks should enrol in the Semester 1 offering.

This subject focuses on a range of topics in applied ethics, starting with ethics in the personal sphere and expanding the sphere of moral concern outwards to include those with whom we are not in a personal relationship and also non-human animals and the environment. We consider ethical questions to do with abortion, marriage, children's rights, suicide and euthanasia; questions of what we owe to those less well off than ourselves (e.g. those in poverty, refugees and asylum seekers); and ethical issues in the breakdown of moral relations (e.g. war, terrorism, torture and punishment). Discussion of the different topics is structured around key concepts, themes and questions including personhood, harm, and justice. What are the criteria for personhood, and are these criteria relevant to the morality of abortion or euthanasia? The duty to minimize harm is an important ethical principle. But what is the nature of harm? And under what circumstances (if any) might causing harm be justified? Is there such a thing as a just war? Is terrorism ever justifiable? The subject aims to encourage deep intellectual and also personal reflection on the complex ethical issues raised by such questions and to introduce students to the different positions and arguments within the relevant philosophical debates.

  • Essay (30%)
  • Short paper (20%)
  • Participation (20%)
  • Reflective Task (30%)

Textbook information is pending.

Related degrees

undergraduate MAQ-ART-DEG-2018

Bachelor of Arts

  • Major in Ancient History
  • Major in English
  • Major in Modern History
  • Major in Philosophy
  • Major in Politics
  • Major in Society and Culture
  • Major in Sociology