Old Dominion University
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General Education Implementation

Implementation Info


12. Philosophy and Ethics (Way of Knowing) (3 hours) 

The justification for Ways of Knowing is the need for our students to become more broadly educated because our students will enter a world in which they will hold several different jobs, and perhaps even embark on a succession of careers during their lives. Equally important is the consideration that this education will make their lives richer and their outlook broader even in the unlikely event that demands on their expertise do not change. All of the Ways of Knowing are required to consider the ways in which gender, age, poverty, ethnicity and globalization fashion and influence our lives.

Because of the many decisions our students will be called upon to make in their personal and professional lives, they will need an appreciation and understanding of philosophical, religious, and ethical foundations to help them make informed, intelligent choices. Further, as the pace of change and interdependency in the world accelerates, it is important that our students be given an ample opportunity to critically examine philosophy and ethical values and to understand how philosophical and ethical issues affect decision making in professional disciplines.

This Way of Knowing can be fulfilled at either the lower level (Option A) or the upper level (Option B). Some majors may require one specific course at either level. Where none is specified, a student is free to select a course from those listed below in either A or B.

A new course at the lower level, PHIL 230E, Introduction to Ethics, will be included as an option in this Way of Knowing, and PHIL 150P, World Religions: A Philosophical Introduction, will be restructured as PHIL 250E, Values and Beliefs of World Religions, to examine the foundations of ethical behavior.

Option A. Unless a class is specified for the major, students may choose one of the following courses offered by the Philosophy Department to fulfill the requirement:

PHIL 110P, Introduction to Philosophy
PHIL 120P, Introduction to Logic and Critical Thinking
PHIL 230E, Introduction to Ethics
PHIL 250E, Values and Beliefs of World Religions

Outcomes for Option A

  • Students will acquire a basic understanding of several foundational questions in one or more of the major areas of philosophy, e.g., metaphysics, epistemology and value theory (including ethics).
  • Students will acquire a basic familiarity with the answers that diverse schools of philosophical or religious thought have proposed to foundational philosophical questions and the arguments with which they have supported these answers.
  • Students will acquire a facility with critical thinking and reasoning, especially concerning the construction and evaluation of arguments.

Option B. Programs may choose to have an ethics requirement at the upper division fulfilled in one of two ways:

  1. Require an upper division course offered by the Philosophy Department that integrates ethical values and issues in the discipline, or
  2. Fulfill an ethics requirement within the major through a 3-credit upper division course or a combination of courses that meet the prescribed outcomes, with the approval of Faculty Senate Committee A.

The following upper division courses are currently options for various majors and clusters. They will be re-evaluated by Committee A as courses eligible to meet the requirement in the upper division.

PHIL 302E, Gender and Ethics
PHIL 303E, Business Ethics
PHIL 344E, Environmental Ethics (changed from T)
PHIL 345E, Bioethics
PHIL 355E, Computer Ethics (changed from T)
PHIL 441E, Foundations of Ethics
PHIL 442E, Studies in Applied Ethics
SMGT 450E, Ethics in Sports Management

Outcomes for Option B
Upon completing the upper division Ethics and Values requirement, the student will be able to:

  • distinguish between normative and descriptive questions and to reason critically about the former
  • describe, compare, and contrast diverse bodies of thought about what constitutes ethically acceptable conduct and an ethically good character
  • explain how ethical values are reflected in various cultural, social, economic, legal and political practices and institutions.