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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 questions. First, what does it take for our lives to have meaning, and do our lives actually have what it takes? Second, what makes for a good society, and do our societies achieve this?

Paper title Ethics
Paper code PHIL228
Subject Philosophy
EFTS 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period First Semester
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $913.95
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $4,073.40

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One PHIL paper or POLS 101 or 72 points
PHIL 211, 328
Schedule C
Arts and Music
Teaching staff
Associate Professor Andrew Moore
Paper Structure

One of our topics is life's meaning. We look at how best to understand the issue itself, and then we examine and assess the leading answers to the question of life's meaning. The lecturer leads the first half of the 'meaning of life' classes, and then chairs the second half of the classes in which half the students give brief presentations that each of them later also develops into an essay. The other half of PHIL 228 seeks to answer the question of what it takes to have a good society. That half of the paper proceeds through the same sort of process as for the 'meaning of life' half of the paper.

Teaching Arrangements
One 1-hour class and one 2-hour class per week. Typically, these classes are interactive seminars rather than lectures.
There is no text that covers the whole paper, but all students receive a free PHIL 228 Coursebook that identifies specific readings for each topic. Further resources are also available through Blackboard for the paper.
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

  1. Student understanding of basic questions about life's meaning and about the good society
  2. Student understanding of, and critical engagement with, at least one promising answer to each of these basic questions - demonstrated through one verbal presentation and two research essays - one on meaning of life and the other on the good society
  3. Capability to present and engage verbally with ideas about either life's meaning or the good society - demonstrated through a student short presentation and discussion, chaired and helped by the lecturer

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First Semester

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Tuesday 14:00-14:50 9-13, 15-22
Wednesday 16:00-17:50 9-13, 15-22