Atyniadau Angheuol — Fatal Attractions

This page provides resources for Atyniadau Angheuol: Arweiniad i’r Pechodau — Fatal Attractions: A Guide to the Vices (Yr Hydref/Autumn 2015), taught for Cardiff University’s centre for Continuing & Professional Education during autumn 2015. The course assumes no prior knowledge of philosophy.

Note that the official course page is on Learning Central and that all enrolled students should access content there.

Course Description

What is so deadly about the ‘deadly sins’? Does the inclusion of gluttony, lust and sloth merely reflect a Puritanical suspicion that virtue can’t be any fun? Does the person without pride lack anything but appropriate self-respect? Aren’t such alleged vices less deadly than some so-called virtues? What are faith and hope but an abdication of responsibility for one’s beliefs and a foolish penchant for comforting delusions? Have we inappropriately medicalised vices such as addiction? Does research on ‘implicit bias’ show that the most virtuous of efforts will anyway be undermined by vices of which we are not even aware?

This course will explore the nature of vice in the light of both philosophical theory and psychological research. We will examine what guidance philosophy may offer us in shaping our characters, evaluating those of our fellow citizens and formulating public policy.

No previous knowledge of philosophy will be assumed.


Note that this document is also included in the course packet but that the ‘live’ links will not work there as a consequence of its inclusion in a longer document. If you would like to use these links, please use this version.

Course Packet

Module Assessment

The scheme of assessment is detailed in the course packet and consists of a contribution to the class glossary and a final paper. Paper topics and instructions are included in the course packet. Details concerning the glossary will be distributed in class as the design of this assignment depends on the number of students taking the class.

Note that all work must be submitted via Learning Central. This includes plagiarism detection. Please email me in case of difficulty.

Session Materials

If a session includes additional materials such as LCD slides, these will be posted shortly before or after the relevant class, copyright etc. permitting.

§1 Fatal Attractions

One upon a time…

§2 Illusory Goods

Temptation & Illusion

§3 Deontological Approaches

Failing Oneself


§4 The Deadly Seven

Destructive Desires

§5 Beyond the Seven

Ignorance Is No Excuse

Efficiency & Ethical Deficiency

§6 Vicious Attitudes

Bad Attitudes

The Problem of Implicit Vice

§7 Sick Minds

Poor Health or Bad Character?

Western Philosophy Timeline

Note that this can be used on a variety of levels. It can be used simply to get a sense of when different philosophers worked, or when different philosophical ideas emerged. It can also be treated as a series of symbolic clues to various philosophical ideas. While some of the solutions are included in the timeline itself and many others are straightforward, a few are positively obscure. The colours have no significance except to associate symbols with philosophers. In general, a symbol in a given colour belongs with the nearest philosopher named in a box of that colour.

Resources / Links

I’ve posted some resources / links which may be useful, interesting or amusing. Since this collection was created some time ago, some of the links may be broken. I’ve already weeded out one but would welcome further corrections.

Careers for Philosophy Graduates

What can you do with a BA in philosophy? How do employers regard philosophy graduates? Can you really make a living after spending three years of your life studying the correspondence between Princess Elisabeth and Descartes? The answers to these questions may surprise you…

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