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    Contemporary ethical theory: What is meaning in life? What is a just society? We seek the best philosophical answers to these questions.

    In this paper you will answer two philosophical questions. First: what does it take for action to be right or to be wrong? Second: what does it take to have meaning in one’s life?

    About this paper

    Paper title Ethics
    Subject Philosophy
    EFTS 0.15
    Points 18 points
    Teaching period Semester 2 (On campus)
    Domestic Tuition Fees ( NZD ) $981.75
    International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.
    One PHIL paper or POLS 101 or 72 points
    PHIL 211 and PHIL 328
    Schedule C
    Arts and Music
    Teaching staff

    Course Co-ordinator and lecturer: Associate Professor Andrew Moore

    Paper Structure

    One half of this paper seeks the best answer to: ‘What does it take to have meaning in one’s life?’. We first get clearer about the question itself, good methods of answering it, and this question's connections to other issues in its neighbourhood. We then examine leading philosophical answers to the question. Two-thirds of the classes are lecturer-led. The lecturer also chairs the other classes, in which half the students each give a brief work-in-progress presentation that they later develop into a research essay. The other half of PHIL228 seeks the best answer to the question: What does it take for action to be right or wrong?’. This half of the paper has the same structure as the first half does.

    Teaching Arrangements

    Three one-hour classes per week, which are typically interactive seminars rather than lectures.


    Thaddeus Metz, 'Meaning in Life', Oxford University Press (2013).
    Mark Timmons, 'Moral Theory: An Introduction', 3rd edition, Rowman & Littlefield (2022).

    Graduate Attributes Emphasised
    Lifelong learning, Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Ethics, Research, Self-motivation.
    View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
    Learning Outcomes

    The goals of the paper are:

    • student understanding of basic issues about meaning in life, and what makes acts right or wrong
    • student understanding and critical engagement on a promising answer to each of these issues, shown through one verbal presentation and two research essays - one on meaning in life and the other on what makes acts right or wrong
    • capability to present and engage with philosophical ideas about meaning in life, and what makes acts right or wrong, shown through a short presentation; and by engaging with others' work in PHIL228


    Semester 2

    Teaching method
    This paper is taught On Campus
    Learning management system


    Stream Days Times Weeks
    A1 Tuesday 15:00-15:50 29-35, 37-42
    Thursday 13:00-13:50 29-35, 37-42
    Friday 11:00-11:50 29-35, 37-42
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