Oxford’s Free Course A Romp Through Ethics for Complete Beginners Will Teach You Right from Wrong

Oxford Uni­ver­si­ty pro­fes­sor Mar­i­anne Tal­bot has a num­ber of excel­lent phi­los­o­phy pod­casts online, some of which we’ve pre­vi­ous­ly fea­tured on the site. Today, we bring you Tal­bot’s A Romp Through Ethics for Com­plete Begin­ners (WebiTune­sU — YouTube), which address­es one of phi­los­o­phy’s cen­tral ques­tions: what is the right way to con­duct your­self in life?

The prob­lem may, at first, seem some­what triv­ial. “Live whichev­er way you want, as long as you’re going to be a good per­son,” you might say, shrug­ging off the ques­tion. But it’s real­ly a great deal more com­pli­cat­ed than that. What does being a “good” per­son entail? Should we emu­late the actions of some­one wide­ly con­sid­ered vir­tu­ous?

Does being good mean liv­ing by absolute rules? Say, nev­er mur­der anoth­er human being? Or should we tai­lor our actions accord­ing to each sit­u­a­tion, with the aim of achiev­ing the great­est quan­ti­ty of good as our only hard-and-fast rule? If the pos­si­bil­i­ties are mak­ing your head spin, you’re not alone: philoso­phers have done their best to fig­ure out pre­cise­ly what con­sti­tutes moral rights and wrongs since the days of Socrates.

Luck­i­ly, Tal­bot is ready to guide us through the com­plex­i­ties. True to its title, A Romp Through Ethics for Com­plete Begin­ners walks stu­dents through sev­en com­pre­hen­sive lec­tures (watch them all above) on moral thought, pro­vid­ing a neat­ly-pack­aged sur­vey of the field. Tal­bot begins by dis­cussing some pre­con­di­tions to moral rea­son­ing, and then sets out Aristotle’s con­cep­tion of right­eous liv­ing, which con­sists of act­ing in a vir­tu­ous man­ner (if you smell some­thing fishy about that state­ment, you’re on the right track). Tal­bot then pro­ceeds to guide the class through some of philosophy’s most sig­nif­i­cant eth­i­cal par­a­digms, explain­ing Immanuel Kant’s idea of the invi­o­lable cat­e­gor­i­cal imper­a­tive and the moral cal­cu­lus behind John Stu­art Mill’s util­i­tar­i­an thought.

A Romp Through Ethics for Com­plete Begin­ners is cur­rent­ly avail­able on the Uni­ver­si­ty of Oxford web­site in both audio and video for­mats, and also on iTune­sU and YouTube. You can find it list­ed in our col­lec­tion of Free Online Phi­los­o­phy Cours­es, along­side class­es like Ancient and Medieval Phi­los­o­phy, Aris­to­tle: Ethics, and Bioethics: An Intro­duc­tion, all part of our col­lec­tion 1,700 Free Online Cours­es from Top Uni­ver­si­ties.

Ilia Blin­d­er­man is a Mon­tre­al-based cul­ture and sci­ence writer. Fol­low him at @iliablinderman, or read more of his writ­ing at the Huff­in­g­ton Post.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Oxford’s Free Course Crit­i­cal Rea­son­ing For Begin­ners Will Teach You to Think Like a Philoso­pher

The Par­tial­ly Exam­ined Life: A Phi­los­o­phy Pod­cast

The His­to­ry of Phi­los­o­phy With­out Any Gaps – Peter Adamson’s Pod­cast Still Going Strong

Phi­los­o­phy Bites: Pod­cast­ing Ideas From Pla­to to Sin­gu­lar­i­ty Since 2007


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