Spring 2012

Phil 385 Moral Sense Theory

Why do we feel a deep concern for our fellow human beings? Is conscientiousness about others' welfare just a feeling, or do our moral emotions somehow justify morality itself? Is our moral sense as reliable as our other senses? Does it ground duties and virtues? This course addresses these and related questions through a close reading of Adam Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments, one of the most readable and influential works in the moral-sense tradition of ethics.

The course is designed for philosophy students who wish to expand their horizons by focusing on an author and a topic not typically covered in introductory ethics courses, as well as for students in general who are interested in living a good life-and in reflecting on why they are interested in, and perhaps justified in, doing so. The course will also appeal to fans of The Wealth of Nations who are curious how the altruistic sentiments of Smith's earlier book can be reconciled with the individual self-interest at the heart of the later one.