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B2-HUM4: Introduction to Ethics (20-21)

Dutch Title

Inleiding ethiek

Course Code




Year of Study

Bachelor 2




7,5 ECTS




Dr. Alistair Niemeijer



Dr. Pieter Dronkers; Prof dr. Carlo Leget; Dr Alistair Niemeijer, Dr. Inge van Nistelrooij, Dr. Fernando Suarez- Muller


to final attainment levels

The final attainment levels of the program are:

1.     Knowledge and understanding: the Bachelor is able 

1a to explain meaning making and humanisation based on relevant and contemporary theories and methods derived from both humanities and social science disciplines, and to explain how humanistic studies relates to the constituent scientific disciplines; 

1b to describe how theories and practices of world views, specifically of humanist traditions, relate to societal and historical contexts;

2.    Application of knowledge and understanding: the Bachelor is able 

2a to conceptualise and analyse contemporary processes of meaning making and humanisation in the public domain;

2b with supervision, to set up and perform scientifically sound research that is relevant to humanistic studies;

3. Judgement: the Bachelor is able

3a to formulate scientifically substantiated points of view in the field of world views and existential questions, with reference to humanist traditions and their historic-cultural contexts; 

4. Communication: the Bachelor is able 

4a to set up a well-argued line of reasoning and to formulate this verbally and in writing in a socially relevant and scientifically sound manner;



At the end of this course, the student will be able to:

1. Recognize and describe main theories in ethics and differentiate between moral principles and moral epistemologies.

2. Evaluate the argumentative force of critical positions and the alternatives to existing theory (2a, 3a)

3. Situate ethical questions and theory in their historical context (1b)

4. Reproduce the content of different positions in ethics (1a)

5. Apply and differentiate ethical theories and positions to current societal issues and practices (2a), and construct substantiated ethical arguments. (3a, 4a)

6. Write an academic and philosophical paper (2b, 3a, 4a)   

Content Description

Humanization 2: Introduction to Ethics is a course dedicated to studying the basic approaches in the field of ethics (or moral philosophy). Ethics is seen here to involve systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong behaviour and can generally be divided into three broad subject areas: metaethics, normative ethics, and applied ethics. Metaethics investigates where our ethical principles come from, and what the ontological or epistemological basis is of an ethical theory, Normative ethics aims to formulate by which moral standards right and wrong conduct might be assessed. This may involve articulating the good habits that we should acquire, the duties that we should follow, or the consequences of our behavior on others. Finally, applied ethics involves examining specific controversial societal issues and applying ethical theories to such issues, including euthanasia, genetic enhancement, animal rights, and environmental concerns. The lines of distinction between metaethics, normative ethics, and applied ethics are however often blurry.

The emphasis in this course is mainly on the first two fields (meta-ethics and normative ethics) and being able to differentiate between these two. The course will consequently consist of addressing different topics including: meta-ethics; eudaimonism and virtue ethics; deontology and utilitarianism; social justice and social contract theory; feminist and care ethics and ‘post’- theory.


Plenary interactive lectures and text comprehension seminars will take place twice a week. During these seminars, students will be encouraged to reflect together on their reading experiences and utilize a form of peer review.


A short paper of 3000 words.


and other prescribed sources

Obligatory literature:

  • Shafer-Landau. (2019). A Concise Introduction into Ethics. Oxford: OUP. 240 pages.


Humanization 1: B1-HUM1 and B1-HUM2