Summer 2019 - PHIL 322 D100

History of Ethics (3)

Class Number: 3252

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Th 11:30 AM – 2:20 PM
    AQ 5007, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    One of PHIL 120W (or equivalent), 121, 150, 151, 220 or 221.



An examination of an issue or selection of issues in the history of moral or political philosophy. Historical readings will be the primary focus and may include important figures such as Aristotle, Hobbes, Locke, Hume, and Kant.


This course provides a survey of key themes and ideas in the history of ethics. We will cover a range of issues and debates by lesser known (e.g. Samuel Pufendorf) and well known (e.g David Hume) thinkers varying in understandings of the source and nature of morality. Our survey will take us through understandings of morality from the natural law tradition through to Kant. We will see key debates in understanding the relationship between human and divine nature and morality; the role of reason and sentiment as a source of morality; and the importance and emergence of autonomy. Students will grasp some of the debates that influenced the thought of the major thinkers often studied and will have a broad understanding of the challenges facing previous conceptualizations of moral obligation and human flourishing. We hope to also further illuminate these debates and issues they engender by taking the merit of these theories in their application to current moral problems that arise in thinking about sites of disadvantage including race, gender, and indigeneity.


PHIL 322 may be applied towards the Certificate in Ethics: Theory and Application (see our website for more details).

General aim of this course: 
1. Recognizing key concepts, articulating their meaning and placing them in their appropriate context
2. Identifying key arguments placing them in their appropriate context with respect to authorship
3. Presenting formally, the relevant arguments that we consider in class in premise to conclusion format
4. Articulating the key themes found within the class in a well structured essay
5. Critically analyzing and criticizing various arguments for soundness and validity
6. Critically comparing various theories showing their strengths and weaknesses and critically extending arguments to novel cases and problems not found within the text

This course is excellent preparation for: law school, graduate school in philosophy, public policy degrees, business school, or for anyone wishing to participate in public deliberation.


  • One Essay 35%
  • Midterm 25%
  • Final Exam (take-home) 35%
  • Participation 5%


Written work for this course will be submitted via Turnitin, a third party service licensed for use by SFU. Turnitin is used for originality checking to help detect plagiarism. Students will be required to create an account with Turnitin, and to submit their work via that account, on the terms stipulated in the agreement between the student and Turnitin. This agreement includes the retention of your submitted work as part of the Turnitin database. Any student with a concern about using the Turnitin service may opt to use an anonymous identity in their interactions with Turnitin. Students who do not intend to use Turnitin in the standard manner must notify the instructor at least two weeks in advance of any submission deadline. In particular, it is the responsibility of any student using the anonymous option (i.e. false name and temporary e-mail address created for the purpose) to inform the instructor such that the instructor can match up the anonymous identity with the student.

Department Undergraduate Notes:

Thinking of a Philosophy Major or Minor? The Concentration in Law and Philosophy? The Certificate in Ethics? The Philosophy and Methodology of Science Certificate?
Contact the PHIL Advisor at   More details on our website: SFU Philosophy

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University.