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Moral Problems and the Good Life

A rigorous introduction to ethics. We’ll think about well-being, objectivity, key historical figures and approaches, what we owe to others, and more.

start date
10 weeks
5-7 hours per week

About this course

This course is currently archived. You can view most of the course materials, such as lectures and readings, and many assignments. However, you cannot complete assignments for a grade; you cannot upgrade or earn a certificate; the discussion forums may not be open or actively monitored; and some assignments or links may no longer work.

This course has two goals. The first goal is to introduce you to key questions in ethics.

  • What makes your life go better or worse for you?
  • Can ethics be objective?
  • What are the main historical approaches in ethics?
  • What do you owe to others?

The second goal is to get you thinking rigorously about ethical questions yourself. This will help you develop your critical reasoning and argumentative skills more generally.

Studying philosophy is valuable in itself, but it’s also excellent preparation for a wide variety of other fields. Philosophy majors do exceptionally well in the GRE, GMAT and LSAT, for example. See here for more details.

This course offers instructor grading. If you choose to pursue a verified certificate, a professional philosopher will carefully read, grade and comment upon your work. We believe that this is the best way to learn philosophy.

Verified learners will be eligible for the MITx Philosophy Award and (for learners in high school) the MITx High School Philosophy Award. The awards will be given by the MIT Philosophy Department for outstanding written work. Award winners will be profiled on the MIT Philosophy Department website. See there for additional information and profiles of winners from previous years.

What you’ll learn

You will learn how to think about difficult ethical questions in a rigorous and disciplined way.

You will learn about the most important ethical theories, and about how to apply them to real-life cases.

Who can take this course?

Because of U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) restrictions and other U.S. federal regulations, learners residing in one or more of the following countries or regions will not be able to register for this course: Iran, Cuba, Syria, North Korea and the Crimea, Donetsk People's Republic and Luhansk People's Republic regions of Ukraine.