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Ethics in Governance, Economics & Development


Admission requirements



This course provides an introduction to ethics, or moral philosophy, for students pursing the ‘Governance, Economics, and Development’ major. Ethics is the branch of philosophy that considers what morality is, and what it requires of us. We will first consider some meta-ethical questions: for example, are moral values universal? What counts as a good reason for preferring one moral view rather than another? What is the role of emotion in forming moral judgments? We will then examine three major approaches to normative ethics (i.e. three frameworks for distinguishing right from wrong): deontology, consequentialism, and virtue ethics. By engaging with the writings of both historical and contemporary philosophers, we will consider the development of approaches to moral questions over time. Finally, we will reflect on the relationship between moral philosophy and the political domain.

Course Objectives

After successful completion of this course, students are able to:

  • understand and critically reflect on some meta-ethical positions that underpin moral arguments

  • explain the key features of three approaches to normative ethics

  • formulate arguments for and against these approaches

  • draw on rich philosophical debates in moral philosophy to think about political and economic institutions.


Timetables for courses offered at Leiden University College in 2020-2021 will be published on this page of the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

Seminar discussion.

Assessment Method

  • Participation: 15%

  • Presentation: 15%

  • Short assignments (weeks 3 and 6): 30%

  • Final essay (week 8): 40%.

Reading list

Jonathan Wolff, An Introduction to Moral Philosophy (Second Edition), W.W. Norton & Co (2020).

Note that it is the second edition of the book (published in 2020) that we will be using, not the first (2018) edition.


Courses offered at Leiden University College (LUC) are usually only open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Leiden University students who participate in one of the university’s Honours tracks or programmes may register for one LUC course, if availability permits. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator,


Dr. Alexandra Chadwick,