Critical and Historical Development of Public Ethics – GOVT 323

CG • Section 8WK • 11/08/2019 to 04/16/2020 • Modified 11/09/2021

Course Description

This course is an introduction to ethical theory to compliment public policy studies. It approaches the subject by way of historical exploration of moral philosophy, integrating areas of Western philosophy of religion, social and political philosophy as necessary. It surveys Western ethical thought by reading selected figures representative of Western ethical traditions. The selected traditions will highlight theoretical developments critical to the ethical dimension of public policy, including virtue theory, utilitarianism, deontological theory, natural law, as well as contemporary theories. Students will interact with the primary writings from representative ethical thinkers. They will explore the differing conceptions of morality with respect to their scope, purpose, and content. In addition, the course will trace the interactions of Western ethical thought with Christian theistic ethics.

For information regarding prerequisites for this course, please refer to the Academic Course Catalog.


Operating from a sound, biblical foundation for ethics includes understanding the historical context of many of the competing ethical theories that have arisen and been developed by various thinkers, particularly as part of Western civilization.

Course Assignment

Textbook readings and lecture presentations

Course Requirements Checklist

After reading the Course Syllabus and Student Expectations, the student will complete the related checklist found in the Course Overview.

Discussions (5)

Discussions are collaborative learning experiences. Therefore, the student is required to provide a thread in response to the provided prompt. Each thread must be 400–500 words, include at least 5 references, and demonstrate course-related knowledge. In addition to the thread, the student is required to reply to 2 classmates’ threads. Each reply must be 200–250 words and must include at least 1 reference to the course readings and at least 1 Scripture reference.

Short Papers (2)

The student will write two research-based essays in current APA format that focus on the topics outlined within the course. These short ethical analysis papers must be be 4 pages and include at least 1 primary and scholarly source, and 3 biblical references.

Final Paper (1)

The final ethical analysis paper must be 7–10 pages and will trace and analyze the question “Why be moral?” as discussed by the student’s choice of 4 philosophers found in the assigned readings. The final paper will include 8 scholarly and primary source references, and at least 4 biblical references.