20 Feb 2008

Ethics in Real Life: new Open University course focuses on contemporary ethical issues

Contemporary ethical issues, including euthanasia, plagiarism and professional ethics, are among the key themes of Ethics in Real Life, a new course from The Open University.

Issues that the course focuses on are:
- euthanasia and end-of-life issues, including practical actions arising from ethical issues in healthcare;
- the ethics of plagiarism and copyright infringement;
- professional ethics, including the codes of ethics adopted by jobs known as the ‘professions’;
- business responsibility, including the ‘shareholder’ and ‘stakeholder’ models within it.

A further block considers ethical theory, and draws on the best philosophical writing to explore some of the frameworks of ethical decision-making.

Course chair Dr Derek Matravers, senior lecturer in philosophy at the OU, said the course had been designed to be of interest to everyone. He added: “The focus of the course is on exploring some aspects of life that bring forward difficult ethical problems, and how to think through these problems to a solution. The course then goes on beyond these contemporary issues to consider the role of ethical thinking in work and daily life.

“Ethical issues are regular discussion topics in the media, and as interest in the subject continues to develop, we hope this course will offer a useful starting point for the consideration of some of those issues and of their place in a wider ethics context.”

The Level 1 course, for which there are no entry requirements, will be taught online. The first presentation begins in April 2008; closing date for student registrations is Friday, February 23. The 15-week course will be presented twice a year.

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