Saint-Louis University - Bruxelles

POLS1124 - Moral Philosophy

Credits : 5

Lecturer :
Mode of delivery :
Face-to-face , first term, 30 hours of theory.

Timetable :
First term
Wednesday from 13:30 to 15:30 at 119 Marais 1100

Language of instruction :

Learning outcomes :
The main aim of the course is to stimulate the students into developing a critical attention and understanding ability regarding the ethical and moral dimension of human, personal and collective experience.

This aim is pursued according to several axes - which may or may not constitute specific moments or chapters of the course:
a) critical clarification of certain major ethical or meta-ethical logics in our cultural time;
b) fundamental reflection on the sense and structure of the ethical dimension;
c) analysis of the polarities and levels that structure this dimension of sense and experience.

Prerequisites :

Co-requisites :

Course contents :
Course outline:


1. Moral and freedom
2. Moral and religion
3. Moral and science
4. Subjectivity and objectivity
5. Freedom between theoritical reason and practical reason

Chapter 1. Freedom and Beginning

1. Freedom as causality
2. Freedom and plurality: Hannah Arendt
3. Suffering from the imprevisible: Henri Maldiney
4. Freedom and corporeality: Merleau-Ponty

4.1. The flesh as the union incompossibles
4.2. Toward an ethics of the perception: to see the sense
4.3. A radical perspectivism
4.4. The inchoativity of the body and the possibility of the sense
4.5. The action ambiguity
4.6. The self of the action, the action of the self

5. Freedom and incarnation: Sartre

5.1. The abyss of freedom : absolute and egological consciousness
5.2. Involvement, authenticity, value
5.3. The intrinsic sharedness of value
5.4. The language, the death, the life
5.5. The community destination of freedom
5.6. Towards a"maybe" ethics: Sartre and Derrida
5.7. Roles and subjectivity
5.8. The naturalisation of the desire to live
5.9. The intrinsic dynamic of the value
5.10. The objectivation of freedom
5.11. Moral and history
5.12. The ethics of care and the anthropology of capable man (Sen, Ricoeur)
5.13. The Sartre freedom as power of the passivity

Chapter 2. The Kantian formalism

1. Freedom and autonomy
2. Free causality and natural causality
3. The moral law and conceptions of good life
4. The unconditionality of the moral law
5. The premise of freedom
6. Freedom and universality
7. Typic of the Pure Practical Reason
8. The formulations of categorical imperative
9. The moral signification of religious beliefs
10. The radical evil and the incessant conversion of freedom
11. Freedom and procedure

Chapter 3. Freedom and recognition

1. Fichte

1.1. The primacy of practical reason
1.2. I and not-I
1.3. The theoritical I and the practical I
1.4. The possibility for freedom to be
1.5. The rule and its application : the conviction
1.6. Body and Freedom
1.7. Ethics and life forms
1.8. Vulnerability of the body, imagination, call
1.9. Education and Freedom
1.10. The recognition of the recognition
1.11. Originarity of the legal relationship

2. Hegel

2.1. The recognition of oneself as a person and as a citizen
2.2. Freedom and Dialectic
2.3. Universality, particularity, singularity
2.4. The world as a demonstration of freedom
2.5. The law of History
2.6. To recognise and to be recognised: the dialectic of the master and the slave

3. The recognition philosophy after Hegel

3.1. Axel Honneth: the struggle for recognition
3.2. Habermas, Kohlberg and the stages of moral life
3.3. The idea of a post-kantian moral
3.4. The issue of contextualism

Chapter 4. Life and singularity

1. Kierkegaard 

1.1. The distress: being yourself and having to become it
1.2. Freedom and anxiety
1.3. To despair of being yourself, to despair not being yourself
1.4. The aesthetic stage of the existence
1.5. The ethical stage of the existence
1.6. The religious stage of the existence
1.7. Singularity and community

2. Nietzsche 

2.1. The will as passivity, the desire as production: Schopenhauer
2.2. The original plurality of life forces
2.3. Interpretation and assessment
2.4. The possibility of the value : Nietzsche and the nihilism
2.5. Nietzsche, Foucault and the genealogy
2.6. Deleuze and Nietzsche

3. Levinas
3.1. The non-sens of the real
3.2. The fullness of the sensible or the happiness to live
3.3. The totality or the come back of the anonymity of existence
3.4. Face and speech
3.5. The radical powerlessness of yourself
3.6. Freedom and murder
3.7. The other, others, the world

Planned learning activities and teaching methods :

Assessment methods and criteria :
Written examination.

It includes three types of questions:
a) a clarification of concepts;
b) a synthesis question;
c) a question that poses a “problem” (for instance confronting two logics or two authors, exploring a paradox or an enigma).

Recommended or required reading :
Texts related to the material of the course will be regularly put online (eSaintLouis).

Other information :
A syllabus will be provided. Each course is supported by a powerpoint presentation.