nl en

Contemporary Utilitarianism (BA)


PLEASE NOTE that this course has replaced the originally announced course on “Kantian Ethics: For and Against”.

Admission requirements

Introduction to Ethics


How ought we to live? Utilitarianism is a major moral theory and it provides a comprehensive and apparently simple answer to this question. Utilitarianism holds that the morally right action is the one that maximizes welfare for all concerned, where everybody’s welfare gets equal consideration. Put into practice, this would have far-reaching and often revolutionary consequences for our daily lives and policy-making, for instance with regard to our duties towards animals and future generations, and for medical decision-making. As appealing as the idea of neutral welfare maximization might seem, utilitarianism is probably the most criticized moral theory. It tends to be too easily dismissed, though. In response to criticism, the theory is evolving and new versions of utilitarianism are being proposed.

Participants of this course will be invited to explore the utilitarian moral theory in its very diverse facets. Part of the course will be a lecture of the most famous contemporary ethicist and utilitarian Peter Singer.

Course objectives

Course objectives will be posted on Blackboard by the start of the course.


See Rooster BA Wijsbegeerte 2010-2011
See Timetable Undergraduate Courses in English 2010-2011

Mode of instruction

Seminar (werkcollege)

Assessment method

To be announced


Blackboard will be used for announcements, course documents, and course information.

Reading list

To be announced


Please register for this course on uSis. See registration procedure

Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply

Contact information

Drs. T. Visak


Specialisation: Ethics and Political Philosophy