Exploring Moral Character in Philosophy Class

Teaching Philosophy 21 (2):171-182 (1998)
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Abstract

In order the combat the growing apathy, cynicism, and indifference observed among students, the author developed a course designed to make the study of philosophy relevant, applicable, and personal for students. This paper is a detailed exposition of the structure and content of this course. Build around the theme “Exploring Moral Character,” this course focuses on the role of moral character in ethical decision making and the nature of students’ own moral character. The course is divided into four units. Designed as a voyage of personal discovery for students, each unit concludes with a non-traditional writing assignment (the moral reasoning unit, for example, concludes with students writing letters to the Admiralty as witnesses to the conviction and sentencing of Billy Budd). The author discusses why the course structure and paper assignments facilitate students’ ability to make explicit and to reflect on their own moral values. Appended to the article is a list of the course’s non-traditional paper assignments.

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