How Ought We to Live?

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Is Ethics Based on Virtue?
Part of the Series: Examined Life Series
Is Ethics Based on Virtue? explores Aristotle's and other ancient views of virtue and the good life, as well as contemporary virtue ethics with its focus on emotions, personal relationships, character, and long-term values.
Moral Dilemmas…Can Ethics Help?
Part of the Series: Examined Life Series
The parents and medical staff caring for a premature baby struggling for life are faced with the decision of whether or not to continue treatment. Philosopher Immanuel Kant, whose ideas have influenced modern medical ethics, would answer such a question by focusing on human dignity and the chance for the…
Why Bother Being Good?
Wickedness has its rewards, which raises the question: Why bother being good? Explore this issue with Plato, whose dialogue The Republic is a detailed description of a highly regulated, virtuous society. Plato contends that the individual achieves virtue in an analogous way.
Does Reason Define the Good?
Kant suggested that reason determines what is moral or immoral. Analyze his famous categorical imperative, which is a set of obligatory moral rules guided by reason. See how Kant's rules go far beyond the Golden Rule. Then uncover the shortcomings of the categorical imperative.
Death, Illusion, and Meaning
Explore how it's possible for us to find meaning in life--even when confronted with the finality of it. Drawing on the work of cultural anthropologist Ernest Becker, discover how forms of death denial serve to allay fears about our insignificance, and how we can cultivate meaning in the face of…
Can Rules Define Morality?
Part of the Series: Examined Life Series
Can Rules Define Morality? addresses formalist theories of ethics, particularly that of Immanuel Kant, and explores the implications of his views in relation to ethical issues.
Biblical Wisdom Literature
[Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Job] Questions about the meaning of life abound in the Bible's books of wisdom literature: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Job. Join Professor Koester as he unpacks each book's distinctive character and outlook, the answers it offers to life's questions (sometimes straightforward, sometimes nebulous), and its contribution to a fascinating…
Could Machines Think?
Push your exploration of the mind even further by looking at functionalism, which suggests that anything that functions like our brain has mentality. The implication is that, in principle, machines can think. Study some responses to this theory, including John Searle's thought experiment called the Chinese Room.
Happiness and Politics (Book 19)
In Augustine's view, we are living in an "epilogue" to history. The Fall and the Resurrection have occurred, and we are awaiting the Last Judgment. In this lecture, you'll encounter The City of God's most worldly book, in which Augustine expounds on how we are meant to live in this…
Are Persons Just Bodies?
Could it be that you are the same person over time because you have the same body over time? Explore the implications of this view, which traces to the Judeo-Christian concept of the resurrection of the body in the afterlife. Consider biological objections.
Babylonian Conquest and Exile
[2 Kings, Lamentations, Habakkuk] In 587 BC, the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem. Explore the trauma of this cataclysmic moment through three biblical books: 2 Kings, which tries to explain the events of the loss of Jerusalem; Lamentations, which gives voice to the anger and grief of exile; and Habakkuk, which helps…