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PHIL103 Ethical Issues

Theories about the status of moral claims (relativism, subjectivism, egoism, utilitarianism, etc.). The rights and wrongs of specific issues (abortion, the environment, pacifism, etc.).

We cannot avoid causing deaths. We can only save some lives. We want to respect rights, but what if doing so requires us to harm some people? This course presents pressing moral issues, such as euthanasia, abortion, animal welfare, marriage rights, racial equality, the rights of states to punish, free speech, poverty, and drug use. We attempt to understand influential arguments on the issues, to discuss them productively, and to improve them.

Paper title Ethical Issues
Paper code PHIL103
Subject Philosophy
EFTS 0.1500
Points 18 points
Teaching period Second Semester
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $868.95
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $3,656.70

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Schedule C
Arts and Music
This paper is open to all students.
Teaching staff
Convener and Lecturer: Professor Michael Lebuffe
Paper Structure
The course begins with questions of life, death, and health. We then proceed to social issues. Lectures introduce influential arguments and philosophical resources for evaluating issues. Tutorials emphasise student argument, with the aim of understanding course readings of improving upon them through analysis and criticism.

  • Two 1,500-word essays 15%
  • Tutorial exercises 10%
  • One 3-hour examination 60%
Teaching Arrangements
There will be two 50-minute lectures and one tutorial session per week. Lectures include material not covered in the readings as well as substantive discussion. Tutorials focus on student argument and include exercises meant to illuminate the readings.
Required weekly readings will be distributed via Blackboard.

Recommended readings will be on reserve in the Central Library or available electronically.
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Lifelong learning, Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding, Ethics, Self-motivation.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
Students who successfully complete the paper can be expected to
  • Know how to construct defensible ethical arguments
  • Identify the main schools of thought in ethics
  • Apply different ethical arguments to a wide range of ethical issues
  • Disagree productively and congenially about sensitive subjects

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Second Semester

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
L1 Tuesday 12:00-12:50 28-34, 36-41
Friday 12:00-12:50 28-34, 36-41


Stream Days Times Weeks
Attend one stream from
T1 Tuesday 14:00-14:50 29-34, 36-41
T2 Tuesday 15:00-15:50 29-34, 36-41
T3 Wednesday 15:00-15:50 29-34, 36-41
T4 Thursday 11:00-11:50 29-34, 36-41
T5 Thursday 13:00-13:50 29-34, 36-41
T6 Thursday 14:00-14:50 29-34, 36-41
T7 Thursday 16:00-16:50 29-34, 36-41
T8 Friday 11:00-11:50 29-34, 36-41