Faculty of Arts

Monash University

Undergraduate - Unit

This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2014 only. For students planning to study the unit, please refer to the unit indexes in the the current edition of the Handbook. If you have any queries contact the managing faculty for your course or area of study.

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6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered, or view unit timetables.

FacultyFaculty of Arts
Organisational UnitPhilosophy
OfferedCaulfield First semester 2014 (Day)
Clayton First semester 2014 (Day)
Clayton First semester 2014 (Off-campus)
Clayton Second semester 2014 (Off-campus)
Clayton Summer semester A 2014 (Off-campus)
Coordinator(s)Dr Paul Silva (Day); Dr Monima Chadha (Off-campus)


Previously coded PHL2150


This unit covers some central debates in ethical theory. A major focus is on opponents and proponents of consequentialist theories, such as utilitarianism, which judge the morality of an act solely in terms of its consequences. Alternative theories include other elements, such as the nature of the act itself, human rights, rationality, and the character of the actor. Another key theme of the unit is metaethics, which includes questions such as: Are there moral facts? If so, are they in some sense objective? Is moral judgement grounded primarily in reasoning or in emotion? What motivates us to do what we believe is right?


Students successfully completing this unit will

  1. Be familiar with central debates in ethical theory.
  2. Have acquired more sophisticated bibliographical skills, including independent use of digital and online material such as the Routledge Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, the Stanford Encyclopedia as well as more advanced reference works like the Cambridge Companions series.
  3. Have a firm grasp of referencing and citation requirements
  4. Have developed critical reading habits which allow the student to identify points of agreement and disagreement among a variety of authors.
  5. Be able to identify and charitably reconstruct arguments in more complex and demanding philosophical texts than those used in first-year, especially in the field of ethics.
  6. Have developed much more sophisticated skills in assessment of arguments.
  7. Demonstrate a greater capacity for independent thought and reflection in their essay writing.
  8. Have a more nuanced understanding of the methods used in philosophical ethics.
  9. Have a more nuanced understanding of the norms of philosophical writing. This additional understanding includes: anticipating and pre-empting potential objections to your thesis and showing that the difficulties faced by your preferred view are less problematic than those faced by competitors to your view.
  10. Have a more nuanced understanding of the norms of philosophical discussion. These include: seeking presuppositions, finding common ground and isolating specific sources of disagreement.


Written work: 60% (2500 words)
Exam: 40%

Chief examiner(s)

Workload requirements

On-campus: 2 hours (one 1-hour lecture and one 1-hour tutorial) per week

Off-campus attendance requirements

Off-campus: no timetabled contact hours

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study


6 points of first-year or with permission.


ATS1839, AZA2939, AZA3939