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300-Level Interdisciplinary Course  
UI-369      Vice and Virtue
Catalog Description

Investigation and analysis of some of the main concepts, issues and problems in moral psychology or character development.

Course Content

Moral psychology is the study of the nature, capacities and norms of evaluation appropriate for individuals considered as moral agents. It also seeks to learn how the evaluative study of character can be integrated with a scientific knowledge of human nature. Thus virtues and vices are understood, on the one hand, as qualities of character that lead to the performance of good or harmful actions. On the other hand, they are understood as dispositions whose development and expression is influenced by natural endowment, teaching, example and environmental conditions. Many basic human motives can be characterized as virtues or vices to the extent that they are effective in causing or determining behavior, e.g.benevolence, truthfulness and fairness on the one hand, selfishness, indifference and malevolence on the other. The course investigates the development, modification, expression and evaluation of such motives, together with their implications for the moral assessment of persons and their characters. Classical, traditional and contemporary views of human nature are considered for their ability to reflect ideals of character and to justify the judgment, assessment and shaping of character.

Nature of Course

The course combines lecture and discussion of assigned texts. Students are expected to do a good deal of reading and study outside of class, and should be prepared to discuss and apply the readings to historical, fictional and hypothetical situations. Essay questions are a component on all exams.

Student Expectations

Students are expected to read assigned texts, attend class regularly, participate in class discussion, and demonstrate achievement on midterm and final exams. Students should also expect to write one or more discussion papers, and do independent research leading to the completion of a research paper.


Completion of lower division University Studies curriculum, or consent of instructor.

Corequisites None.
Credit Hours 3