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PHIL228 Ethics

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?

Paper title Ethics
Paper code PHIL228
Subject Philosophy
EFTS 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period Semester 1 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $955.05
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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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

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Semester 1

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Tuesday 14:00-14:50 9-14, 16, 18-22
Thursday 11:00-11:50 9-14, 16-22
Friday 11:00-11:50 9-13, 16-22