This page provides resources for Ffydd, Gobaith & Chariad: Arweiniad i’r Cythreulig — Faith, Hope & Charity: A Guide for the Wicked, taught for Cardiff University’s Centre for Lifelong Learning during spring 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.
Is greed good? Might lust be a virtue? Are faith, hope and charity for losers? What makes something a virtue or vice? Can we learn to be virtuous, as Aristotle and Aquinas supposed? Or has empirical psychology shown the whole idea of character to be no more than a philosophical pipe dream? Is virtue good because its possessor tends to act well? Or does the true value of acting well lie in the virtue of the actor?
This course will explore the nature of ethical character, virtues and vices 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.
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.
When sessions include a presentation involving slides, the slides will be posted shortly before or after the relevant class.
§1 The Character of Virtue Ethics
What Is Virtue Ethics? What Is Character?
§2 Ancient & Medieval Virtue Ethics
The Cardinal Virtues
The Theological Virtues
§3 Contemporary Virtue Ethics
Neo-Aristotelian Virtue Ethics
Did Virtue Ethics Deserve to Fail?
Agent-Based Virtue Ethics
§4 Virtue Ethics & Empirical Psychology
Is Character a Chimera?
Character… But Not Virtue…
The Virtue of Integrity
§5 Virtue Ethics & Aesthetics
Are Aesthetes More Virtuous?
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.
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.
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…
- Stephen Law, ‘Why philosophy degrees are among the MOST useful. Evidence demolishing myths peddled by philosophy bashers.’ (2011-03-23).
- ‘More things in heaven and earth, Horatio’, Times Higher (2009-01-01).
- Jessica Shepherd, ‘I think, therefore I earn’, The Guardian (2007-11-20).