INS302 - Ethics for the 21st Century: Theory and Practice

Outline info
Last revision date 2018-09-24 01:11:28.815
Last review date 2018-11-07 15:05:33.875

Subject Title
Ethics for the 21st Century: Theory and Practice

Subject Description
This course examines some of the most influential ethical theories, emphasizing practical application in real world situations.  Starting with timeless issues affecting persons throughout history, the main focus will be on current ethical problems unimaginable to the founders of Western ethical thought, along with future scenarios at the boundaries of our own imaginations.  Students will explore how to make ethical choices in our complex, technologically mediated, and rapidly changing world.
The course integrates key foundational ethics theories with an ongoing focus on relevant and intriguing ethical issues from a variety of sources ranging from academic case studies to everyday life and news media examples, including student contributions.  Participants will gain an appreciation for the complexity of the issues studied, as well as the ability to look at these issues from a variety of ethical perspectives.  In a process of critical reflection, students will gain insight into others' ethical viewpoints as well as enrich their own.  While studying ethics requires us to look beyond just ourselves and to consider others, in doing so we can ultimately help ourselves better understand and respond to the ethical challenges in our futures.

Credit Status
Upper–level humanities elective course (300/400 level) for students in the Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies degree program; also a Liberal Studies Option (LSO) for Seneca degree students.

Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this subject the student will be able to:

  • Formulate thoughtful, well-reasoned responses to a variety of ethical issues
  • Identify and analyze the ethically relevant elements in a diverse range of case selections
  • Understand and effectively apply a repertoire of ethical theories and concepts to various ethics case scenarios
  • Understand the interplay between conflicting and complementary ethical views in examining a range of ethically significant situations
  • Develop an awareness of the personal, cultural, and social dimensions of ethical perspectives
  • Discuss the impact of 21st century technological innovations on both the kinds of ethical problems we might encounter and the challenges of dealing with these problems as ethical human beings
  • Analyze and explain the concepts and contexts of ethical theories studied in the course
  • Critically consider the strengths and weaknesses of selected traditional and contemporary ethical theories, as well as the ethical positions of oneself and others
  • Critically engage in and evaluate complex ethical arguments and standpoints as these are applied to a variety of ethics scenarios from past, present, and future

Essential Employability Skills
Communicate clearly, concisely and correctly in the written, spoken and visual form that fulfils the purpose and meets the needs of the audience.

Respond to written, spoken, or visual messages in a manner that ensures effective communication.

Apply a systematic approach to solve problems.

Analyze, evaluate, and apply relevant information from a variety of sources.

Show respect for diverse opinions, values, belief systems, and contributions of others.

Manage the use of time and other resources to complete projects.

Take responsibility for one's own actions, decisions, and consequences.

Cheating and Plagiarism
Each student should be aware of the College's policy regarding Cheating and Plagiarism. Seneca's Academic Policy will be strictly enforced.

To support academic honesty at Seneca College, all work submitted by students may be reviewed for authenticity and originality, utilizing software tools and third party services. Please visit the Academic Honesty site on for further information regarding cheating and plagiarism policies and procedures.

All students and employees have the right to study and work in an environment that is free from discrimination and/or harassment. Language or activities that defeat this objective violate the College Policy on Discrimination/Harassment and shall not be tolerated. Information and assistance are available from the Student Conduct Office at

Accommodation for Students with Disabilities
The College will provide reasonable accommodation to students with disabilities in order to promote academic success. If you require accommodation, contact the Counselling and Disabilities Services Office at ext. 22900 to initiate the process for documenting, assessing and implementing your individual accommodation needs.

ENG 106 or one lower-level liberal studies (LSO) or Critical Thinking course.

Topic Outline

  • Ethics of Virtue: Plato
  • Ethics of Virtue: Aristotle
  • Utilitarianism: Jeremy Bentham
  • Utilitarianism: John Stuart Mill
  • Deontology: Immanuel Kant
  • Ethics of Justice: John Rawls
  • Bioethics
  • Environmental/Global Ethics
  • Legal/Political Ethics
  • Business Ethics
  • Sexual Ethics 

Mode of Instruction

Your professor will use a variety of appropriate teaching modes and techniques, such as the following:  interactive seminars, workshops, discussions, online learning, and lectures. 

Prescribed Texts
Falikowski, Anthony. Moral Philosophy for Modern Life, Latest Edition. Pearson Education. 

Reference Material
Seneca Libraries MLA Citation Guide:

Required Supplies

Promotion Policy

Grading Policy
A+ 90%  to  100%
A 80%  to  89%
B+ 75%  to  79%
B 70%  to  74%
C+ 65%  to  69%
C 60%  to  64%
D+ 55%  to  59%
D 50%  to  54%
F 0%    to  49% (Not a Pass)
EXC Excellent
SAT Satisfactory
UNSAT Unsatisfactory

For further information, see a copy of the Academic Policy, available online ( or at Seneca's Registrar's Offices.

Modes of Evaluation

Term Work

All term work assignments must be completed prior to the time of the final exam or last class.  Students must contact faculty in advance of the assignment due date to discuss the possibility of an extension.  Late assignments may be subject to the awarding of a penalty resulting in a lower grade assigned. Make-up opportunities for assignments must also be made in advance of the scheduled due date.  If an assignment is missed due to class absence, official documentation must be submitted to the faculty member on or before the next scheduled class. Make-up opportunities may not apply to all graded assignments.

Term Work:              75%
Final Examination:   25%
To be successful in this course, you must complete all course work as specified, and achieve an overall grade of 50% or more.  It is expected that students have a sufficient command of the English language to express themselves clearly in both written assignments and class discussions. For further information on evaluation and academic standing, see the Academic Policy at

Approved by: Fiona Bain-greenwood