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Course Title

Approaches to the Study of Values

    Course Code

    LSE 7010

    No. of Units


    Offering Department

    Department of Religion and Philosophy

    Aims & Objectives

  1. To help students achieve a comprehensive understanding of various approaches in resolving moral conflicts.

  2. To help students understand the pros and cons of different moral approaches and their impact on the study of ethics.

  3. To equip students with analytical skills that will enable them to apply moral theories and principles to resolve moral dilemmas arising from different fields in applied ethics.

  4. To help students appreciate the relevance of ethics to Liberal Studies.

    Course content

The course begins with an introduction to both religious and philosophical moral theories and principles in preparing students to analyze important issues that they face in their daily life. In order to enhance their social awareness, an issue-enquiry approach will be used to train them in applying those methods derived from these theories and principles in facilitating morally acceptable solutions. This course will also help students learn how to conduct research projects on ethical issues in major areas of Liberal Studies.

Outline Content:

I. Foundation

a. The Nature of Morality

b. The Structure of Moral Reasoning

c. Relationship between Liberal Studies and Ethics

1. Self and Personal Development

2. Society and Culture

3. Science, Technology and the Environment

d. Research Materials in Liberal Studies

II. Some Moral Intuitions and Moral Principles

(e.g., Nonmaleficence, Beneficence, Autonomy, Justice)

III. Some Contrasting Moral Theories

(e.g., Christian, Utilitarian, Intuitionist, Kantian, Contractual, Confucian Theories)

IV. Application: Issues in THREE or More of the Following Areas

a. Family and Sex Ethics

b. Bio-ethics

c. Environmental Ethics

d. Business Ethics

e. Media Ethics

f. Legal and Political Ethics

g. Professional Ethics

V. Conducting Independent Enquiry in Ethics

a. Interpretations of the Moral Situations

b. Specify the Values and Norms that Ought to Orient Personal and Social Life

c. Clarify the Demands of Practical Reasoning about the Moral Questions Concerned

d. Develop and Defend Some Pictures of Human Existence in Relation to Self, Others, and God

e. Provide Arguments for the Validity of Moral Visions

    Course Intended Learning outcomes (CILOs)


      By the end of the course, students should be able to:

      CILO 1

    Use different methods deriving from different moral theories and principles in resolving moral conflicts.

      CILO 2

      Use resources for research in investigating different ethical issues.

      CILO 3

      Demonstrate a high level of social awareness.

      CILO 4

    Guide secondary school students to do Independent Enquiry projects on moral issues as part of Liberal Studies curriculum.

    Teaching & Learning Activities (TLAs)

    CILO No.


    CILO 1

The instructor will introduce the structure of moral reasoning, some moral intuitions and principles as well as some contrasting moral theories. Students are required to read a textbook on moral philosophy and also other related assigned readings. They need to discuss in groups in tutorial classes and to submit written reports on the morally controversial cases being discussed. In attempting to resolve those morally controversial cases, they are required to use the approaches of at least 2 to 3 different theories.

    CILO 2

Students are introduced to the relationship between Liberal Studies and Ethics as well as research resources available in the market.

    CILO 1, 3

During the lectures, the instructor will use current news as examples to introduce students to the moral dimension of different social issues. Students are encouraged to engage in the process of critical moral analysis with a view to strengthening their skills in resolving moral conflicts and heightening their social awareness.

    CILO 2, 4

    Each student is required to work in a group for presentation in tutorials. Each group has to choose one topic from one of the 7 application areas stated in the course content. The instructor, with the teaching assistants, will coach each group in preparing for the presentation to make sure that they could learn how to apply the proper method, to use relevant resources in dealing with the ethical issue at hand and to guide others in doing projects of a similar nature.


    Assessment Methods (AMs)

      Type of Assessment


      CILOs to be addressed

      Description of Assessment Tasks

      Group Presentation



      Students need to show their ability to choose a relevant topic, identity the moral conflicts, find resources, use relevant moral theories, present possible resolutions and answer questions posed by their instructor and classmates.

      Term paper



      Students are required to show their ability to do independent research on a topic. They have to gather relevant facts related to the issue, find out the values in conflict, scrutinize the pro and con arguments, identify the moral theories supporting these arguments, find out the strengths and shortcomings of these theories, and present his or her argument systematically.

      Book review



      Students need to show their ability to understand the content of the book under review. They are required to read the book in a dialectical way by showing the strengths and weaknesses of the book. They have to think critically and learn to dialogue with an author.


    Textbooks / Recommended readings


Rachels, James. The Elements of Moral Philosophy. McGraw Hill, 2007.

Cohen, Stephen. The Nature of Moral Reasoning: the Framework and Activities of Ethical Deliberation, Argument and Decision-Making. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.

Recommended Readings

Almond, B. Exploring Ethics: A Traveller’s Tale. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers Ltd, 1998.

Almond, B. Introducing Applied Ethics. Oxford: Blackwell Publisher Ltd, 1995.

Baron, M. W., Pettit P. and Slote, M. Three Methods of Ethics. Malden: Blackwell Publisher Inc, 1997.

Billington, R. Living Philosophy: An Introduction to Moral Thought. London: Routledge, 1988.

Bond, E. J. Ethics and Human Well-being. Cambridge: Blackwell Publisher Inc., 1996.

Caws, P. Ethics from Experience. Boston: Jones and Barlett Publishers, 1996.

Cohan, Martin. 101 Ethical Dilemmas. London: Routledge, 2004.

Edel, A., Flower, E. and O’Connor, F. W. Critique of Applied Ethics: Reflections and Recommendations. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1994.

Fischer, J. M. and Ravizza M. Perspectives on Moral Responsibility. New York: Cornell University Press, 1993.

Frankena, W. K. Ethics. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall Inc, 1973.

Gensler, H. J. Ethics: A Contemporary Introduction. London: Routledge, 1998.

Grassian, V. Moral Reasoning: Ethical Theory and Some Contemporary Moral Problems. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall Inc, 1992.

Kagan, S. Normative Ethics. Colorado: Westview Press, 1998.

LaFollette, Hugh (ed.) Ethics in Practice: An Anthology. Oxford: Blackwell, 2001.

LaFollette, Hugh (ed.) The Oxford Handbook of Practical Ethics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005.

MacKinnon, B. Ethics: Theory and Contemporary Issues. Belmont: Wadsworth, 2004.

Macniven, D. Creative Morality. London: Routledge, 1993.

May, Larry and Sharratt, S. C. Applied Ethics: A Multicultural Approach. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall Inc, 1994.

McNaughton, D. Moral Vision: An Introduction to Ethics. Oxford: Blackwell Publisher Inc, 1988.

Oakley, J. Morality and the Emotions. London: Routledge, 1992.

Olen, J. and Barry, V. Applying Ethics: A Text with Readings. Belmont: Wadsworth, 2002.

Pearce, W. B. and Littlejohn, S. W. Moral Conflict: When Social Worlds Collide. California: Sage Publications, Inc., 1997.

Pojman, L. P. (ed.) Ethical Theory: Classical and Contemporary Readings. California: Wadsworth Publishing Company, 2002.

Poole, R. Morality and Modernity. London: Routledge, 1991.

Shaw, W. H. Contemporary Ethics: Talking Account of Utilitarianism. Malden: Blackwell Publishers Inc., 1999.

Singer, P. (ed.) Applied Ethics. New York: Oxford University Press, 1986.

Singer, P. (ed.) Ethics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994.

Singer, P. Practical Ethics. Melbourne: Cambridge, 1993.

Sloan, T. Life Choices: Understanding Dilemmas and Decisions. Colorado: Westview Press, 1996.

Sterba, J. P. Ethics: The Big Questions. Malden: Blackwell Publisher Inc, 1998.

Wilson, J Q. The Moral Sense. New York: The Free Press, 1993.

Winkler, E. R. and Coombs, J. R. (eds.) Applied Ethics: A Reader. Cambridge: Blackwell Publisher, 1993.








LSE 7010 Approaches to the Study of Values

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