Ethics II: Autonomy, Freedom and Responsibility


Course Objective

1. Acquire advanced knowledge of normative ethics, and moral
2. Learn to develop your own position in the literature, and defend it
in a paper (on the basis of the “four-sentence paper” method).

Course Content

Is it wrong to buy products made in exploitative conditions, or to fail
to reduce our carbon emissions? And if such acts are wrong, should we be
held responsible for them? This course is organized in two corresponding

In part one, we will address the collective action problem, namely the
problem that certain outcomes (such as climate change) are insensitive
to the behaviour of individuals, and yet it is plausible to think that
the latter should do their part and cooperate. In response to this
problem, we will examine some main theories from Ethics (year 1) in
greater detail, including Kant’s formulas and variants of

In part two, we will examine the debate on whether and when agents are
morally responsible. First we discuss views that require a robust sense
of freedom incompatible with determinism. We then turn to compatibilist
views that require either that the agent acted autonomously, or that the
action stemmed from the exercise of her rational capacities.

Teaching Methods

Lectures and seminars

Method of Assessment

Quizzes: 10%
Final exam: 40%
Papers: 2x25%
Seminar assignments: Pass/fail

Entry Requirements

Courses of Track 1 Philosophy


The list of readings will be announced on Canvas.

Target Audience

Second year PPE students

General Information

Course Code W_JSM_209
Credits 6 EC
Period P4
Course Level 200
Language of Tuition English
Faculty Faculty of Humanities
Course Coordinator dr. J.J.W. Wieland
Examiner dr. J.J.W. Wieland
Teaching Staff dr. J.J.W. Wieland
dr. P. Robichaud

Practical Information

You need to register for this course yourself

Last-minute registration is available for this course.

Teaching Methods Lecture, Seminar*

*You cannot select a group yourself for this teaching method, you will be placed in a group.

Target audiences

This course is also available as: