Foundations of Ethics

Foundations of Ethics

Ethics, like philosophy, is in search of principles and universals. Ethics reflects on a particular human experience, namely, the experience of the good or of being good, and sets it in the context of the whole. One could also say that ethics reflects on what is the good and how our lives are oriented towards it

Course code: PHEN04

ECTS Credits: 6

Professor: Dr Javier Enrique Carreño

Table of Contents

Lecture 1 Introduction to the Foundations of Ethics

Lecture 2  Plato’s Euthyphro.. 10

I. The birth of ethical thought in Greece: Socrates and Plato..

II. No God above the Good: Plato’s Euthyphro.

Lecture 3  Plato’s Republic 1

I. What is justice? Plato’s Republic Bk. 1: 327 – 331d (Intro. & first definitions).

II. Is justice an advantage? Plato’s Republic Bk. 1: 336b – 354 (Thrasymachus’ dialogue).

Lecture 4.. Plato's Republic 2

I. Is man unjust by nature? Plato’s Republic Bk. 2: 357a-362c (Ring of Gyges).

II. Can man be delivered from the sway of his passions? Plato’s Republic Bk. 7: 514-520 (Myth of the Cave).

Read 514a-515b..

Continue reading 515c –e.

Cont. reading 515e-516b.

Read 517b-c.

Read 518b-519a.

Lecture 5

I. How can we know the good? Plato’s Republic Bk. 6: 507b-513e (The Divided Line).


III. Ethics & the form of man. Plato’s Republic Bk. 9: 580d – 592 b (The Composite Beast).

Handout : Plato’s Divided Line

Lecture 6  Aristotle

I. Introduction to Aristotle.

II. The Nicomachean Ethics.

III. The desire for happiness as the foundation of Ethics. Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics Bk. I, 1-4..

Begin reading i.1 from 1094a1 to 15..

Now i.2.

Now i.3.

Reading i.4.

V. What is virtue? Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics Bk. I, 7-9, 13.

Reading i.7..



i. 13..

Lecture 7


II. Actions, habituations, and the mean. Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics Bk. II, 1-3..

Read Book II, 1..

Now read II, 2.

II, 3.


IV. Nicomachean Ethics Bk. II, 6, 8-9.

II, 6.

Read II, 8.

II, 9.. 82

Handout on Moral Virtue (NE Bk. II).

On the Mean:

Figure 1:

Figure 2:

Definition of Moral Virtue

The Twelve Moral Virtues (Bk. II, 7).

Lecture 8


II. What is intellectual virtue? Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics Bk. 6: 1-3, 5.

Book VI Chapter I.

Book VI Chapter 2.

Book VI Ch. 3: The list of intellectual virtues.

Book VI Ch 5.

III. What is practical wisdom? Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics Bk. 6: 7-8, 13.

Book VI Ch. 7.

Book VI Ch 13.

Lecture 9

I. Do people do wrong because of ignorance? Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics Bk. 7: 1, 3-4.

Book VII Ch. 1.

II. Overcoming disorderly pleasures and fears. Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics Bk. 7 : 7-10, 13-14..

Lecture 10

I: What is ethical importance of friendship? Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics Bk. 8: 1-3.

II. What is man’s highest activity? Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics Bk. X: 6-7.