Issues in Applied Ethics


This curricular unit aims to promote an informed and thoughtful critical response to some pressing problems of contemporary applied ethics and politics. The classes will focus on the description and discussion of ethical and political issues in order to foster ethical reflection. By the end of the course, students will be able to: i) demonstrate a clear understanding of the debates on some central issues in applied ethics, ii) distinguish between different conceptions of the methodology of applied ethics and different ethical theories, and iii) analyse and reconstruct philosophical arguments from readings.  

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Susana Maria Afonso Fernandes Cadilha


Weekly - 3

Total - 280

Teaching language





- Ethics in Practice, 4th edtion, ed. Hugh LaFollette (Wiley Blackwell 2014);
- Contemporary Debates in Applied Ethics, 2nd edition, ed. Andrew I. Cohen and Christopher Heath Wellman (Wiley Blackwell 2014);
- A Companion to Applied Ethics, ed. R. Gillespie Frey and Christopher Heath Wellman (Oxford: Blackwell, 2003)

Teaching method

The exposure of content, comment and analysis of texts, supervision of essays.

Evaluation method

Regular attendance, carefully completing the assigned readings before class, and active participation in seminar discussions. Following assignments: i) a 3000-4000 word final paper and an in-class presentation. The topic for the final paper/presentation assignments is to be determined in consultation with the instructor; ii) in-class discussions and short commentaries on selected articles(100%)

Subject matter

Applied ethics, metaethics and normative theories.
A typical selection of problems would include: freedom of expression and hate speech; racism and affirmative action; ethics of immigration, world hunger and international justice; environmental ethics, consumption and climate change; the ethics of human enhancemen. Main ethical teories include: consequentialism, kantian ethics, virtue ethics and social contract theory.


Programs where the course is taught: