Ethics: PHIL 308

Introduction to Ethics (PHIL 308) [Honors] – Fall 2019

Intro to Ethics is one of those classes that I never would have taken were it not part of the general education requirements. It’s not that I dislike the subject or find it boring; it’s just a topic outside of my usual interests. But I ended up really enjoying it, and I think that the inclusion of a wide variety of classes in the general education requirements is really important for students’ learning.
This class covered the basics of ethics, a branch of philosophy, including widely known ethical theories, how to properly format a logical argument, how to disprove logical arguments, and then finally explored various “hot topics” in ethics today, including abortion, euthanasia, and vegetarianism.

A lot of people tend to dismiss philosophy as something that ordinary people will never encounter or need to use in their everyday lives. But studying ethics, as my professor Dr. Moore explained to us, is not done necessarily to be useful; it’s done in hopes of making oneself more sympathetic, understanding, and hopefully a better person. Learning how to analyze, deconstruct, and reformat arguments into logically understandable forms has helped me better understand what exactly someone else is saying. Even if I don’t put something a family member or politician says into modus ponens form as I’m listening to them, I still can use those tools I’ve gained to better understand their argument.

And, with the knowledge from this class, I’m better equipped to understand the morality of new topics that arise. In class, we had to find an ethical argument for or against some current topic. For my first paper (attached below), I chose to find an argument on lab-grown meat, something that has only appeared recently and is still controversial to many. Though I wasn’t making a direct statement of “this is/isn’t okay” in my paper, I still learned a lot about what various people thought about the subject, and I was able to determine what I thought about their arguments.

Overall, I feel that I gained a lot of “soft skills” from this class, and I’m really glad I was given the opportunity to take it when I might have otherwise passed it up. I’m glad Longwood requires its students to explore a variety of disciplines, because I believe it helps to make us better thinkers and better people.