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Practical Ethics Minor

College of Liberal Arts / Philosophy
Undergraduate minor

About The Program

The Practical Ethics minor is designed to familiarize students with the nature and varieties of moral reasoning that are applied to areas of everyday experience, such as:

  • business, marketing, management, and sales;
  • medicine and the delivery of health care;
  • law enforcement; media and public relations;
  • social service careers;
  • civic life; and
  • intimate life in the roles of friend, lover, partner, parent, child, man or woman, and racialized person.

Practical ethics is a 20-credit minor meant to complement a degree in any professional field, such as marketing, management, counseling, nursing, or human services.

How to enroll

Current students: Declare this program

Once you’re admitted as an undergraduate student and have met any further admission requirements your chosen program may have, you may declare a major or declare an optional minor.

Future students: Apply now

Apply to Metropolitan State: Start the journey toward your Practical Ethics Minor now. Learn about the steps to enroll or, if you have questions about what Metropolitan State can offer you, request information, visit campus or chat with an admissions counselor.

Get started on your Practical Ethics Minor

Courses and Requirements


Requirements (20 credits)

+ General ethics (4 credits)

Choose one

This introductory course examines the two central concerns of practical philosophy: wisdom and justice. In contrast to theoretical philosophy which addresses the nature of reality and being, practical philosophy addresses the pursuit of wisdom and justice in personal, professional, and civic affairs. Students will have the opportunity to examine their own lives and goals from a variety of viewpoints in consideration of practical understanding and avenues for action in relation to local communities and regional or national concerns. Particular topics will include personal ethics, civic duties, relations between law and morality, racial and social justice, professional ethics, environmental ethics, practical reason, and philosophical counseling.

Full course description for Introduction to Practical Philosophy

What does it mean to be an ethical person? What thinking should guide a person's decisions about doing (or not doing) what is right or wrong? Can we know when something is right or wrong or this only a matter of personal feeling? Do the affluent have moral duties to help the poor of the world with their plight? This course explores these questions and others like them, using a variety of philosophical materials and approaches. It examines major moral theories and related moral dilemmas concerning, for example abortion, economic justice, war and morality, and the moral status of animals. This course also examines ideas about how race, class and gender may affect concepts of ethics.

Full course description for Ethical Inquiry

Does the fact that some in the world have more than they need in order to live and others have too little to survive show that the world is unjust? Do people in affluent countries have a moral obligation to help those in impoverished countries? Should material well-being be more equally distributed in a just world? Should people who contribute more get more? Do smart people, beautiful people, and hard-working people deserve to get more than those who are less so? Should the world's bounty be seen as belonging to all equally? These and other questions regarding the controversial issue of economic justice will be addressed through a variety of philosophical materials.

Full course description for Economic Justice: Who Gets What and Why?

When we say something is morally right or wrong, are we simply expressing our personal feelings or are we saying something more? Who gets to decide (and how do they decide) what makes something morally right or wrong? Do moral issues have answers about which we can be certain? Does morality have well-regarded theories like the physical sciences do--theories which help ethicists and others to decide what is right or wrong? These and other questions will be addressed in this decidedly theory-focused course in moral philosophy.

Full course description for Contemporary Moral Theory

+ Philosophical perspectives on diversity (4 credits)

Choose one

This introductory course explores the most basic ideas about human sexuality and sexual identity: What does it mean to be a woman or a man? What does it mean to have a sexual identity? Is there such a thing as "normal" sex? How has sexuality been socially regulated in the past and how is it currently regulated? How can people evaluate such "regulations"? How do ideas about sexuality influence gender, ethnic, racial and other stereotypes? What sorts of ideas do people have about the nature of their bodies? Students develop basic philosophical skills in order to sort out these questions. Topics usually include: eroticism, desire, homophobia, sexual violence, pornography, prostitution, and sexual imagery in popular culture, love and romance.

Full course description for Philosophy and Sexuality

This course examines works produced by, and heavily influenced by, black philosophers, including historical and contemporary works by thinkers from Africa, the wider African Diaspora, the United States, and Europe. These works will draw our attention to the social construction of race and blackness, and we will dig into how and why black voices have been excluded, and continue to be excluded, from the traditional "western" philosophical and academic canon. Themes may include: philosophies of race and racism, identity, power and knowledge, colonialism, freedom and liberation, intersectionality, the disposability of black bodies, testimonial injustice, afro-pessimism, afro-futurism, and non-violence/whether or not violence can be justified.

Full course description for Philosophy and Blackness

How have feminist thinkers approached traditional questions about the nature of reality, personal identity and social institutions, and how do their answers influence their choices about how to act? By what standards can these choices be evaluated? Does it make sense to talk about feminism as a single school of thought? What is the relationship of feminist theory and philosophy to other women's movements? In this course students have the opportunity to connect discussions of feminist thought to personal and community issues. Topics may include sexism in traditional theory and philosophy; concepts of oppression; how sexism, racism, homophobia and class affect women's lives and thought; the evaluation of various feminist theories; and how intellectual and political connections between women are created and maintained.

Full course description for Feminism and Philosophy

This course studies the socio-cultural, political, and conceptual bases of contemporary identity formation in gay. lesbian, transgender and bisexual communities. Variable topics of study, focused primarily on the United States, examine the development of communal and political LGBT identity rooted in the philosophical, social, and political debates and challenges among and between LGBT people since 1945: the Homophile movement of the 1950's and 1960's, the Stonewall Riot of 1969 and Gay Liberation movements of the 1970's, lesbian feminism and the politicization of sexuality, the HIV crisis, LGBT civil rights and public policy, transgender politics, race and is relationship to sexuality, and cultural, literary, and filmic expressions of LGBT identity. Overlap: GNDR 365

Full course description for The Cultural Politics of GLBT Sexuality

What exactly is a race? How have conceptions of race changed over time? What does it mean to say that race is socially constructed? What is the relation between the idea of race, racial prejudice and racial oppression? What exactly is racism? What is the precise nature of the harm of racism? What can and should we do about racism -- its historical legacy and its contemporary manifestations? This course uses the tools and methods of philosophy to examine a variety of conceptual and ethical questions about race and racism.

Full course description for Race and Racism: Philosophical Problems

+ Professional ethics (8 credits)

Choose two

In this course we use various philosophical approaches to explore the relations among persons, non-human animals and the worlds they inhabit separately and together. We will look closely at the grounds for claiming that we have obligations and duties in relation to non-human animals and the environment, as well as the ways in which these relations provide inspiration, companionship, solace and love. Topics may include: environmental justice and the disposal of electronic waste; animals and factory farming; the real cost of cheap consumer goods; the historical evolution of the concept of environment protection, of a land ethic, and of the development of natural parks; human stewardship; the possibility that natural creatures have a value that is independent of human benefit and whether it makes sense to grant them legal standing; global climate change; the connections between feminism and environmental ethics; the population time bomb and current responses; green politics; the role…

Full course description for Environmental Philosophy

Do business firms have obligations besides making as much money as possible for their stockholders? What are their responsibilities, if any, to their employees, their customers, and the wider community? Is it enough to obey the law, or does the law sometimes allow people to do things that are wrong? Do employees have any right to privacy on the job? To 'living wages'? To 'decent' working conditions? Does a seller have any obligation to look out for the interests of the buyer? Isn't it necessary to put the best possible 'spin' on your product and let the buyer look out for him or herself? This course will examine questions like these in light of various theories of ethics and current theories of justice. In addition to considering how we might ideally like people to act, it will also consider the challenges to personal integrity and 'doing the right thing' posed by the real world of business and by the kind of large bureaucratic organizations that dominate it.

Full course description for Business Ethics

Is it ever right to try to hasten a patient's death? Should people ever be given medical treatment against their will? How should we decide who will get access to scarce medical resources (like organ transplants)? Do people have a right to get the care they need, even if they can't pay for it? This course will use ethical theories and theories of justice to explore these questions and others like them. It is intended to be helpful not only to (present or future) health care practitioners, but also to anyone who wants to think about these issues, which confront us in our roles as patients and as citizens whose voices can contribute to the shaping of health care policies.

Full course description for Medical Ethics

Do criminal justice professionals have to meet a higher moral standard in their behavior as professionals than that of ordinary persons? Is it ever right for a criminal justice professional to "give a break" to a fellow professional? Should criminal justice professionals report clear moral violations of their fellow professionals? This course examines a range of moral dilemmas that criminal justice professionals are likely to face as they attempt to perform the duties of their office. Using both moral theory and detailed case examples from the criminal justice system, students learn to apply moral principles and concepts in a given situation to resolve these situations in a satisfactory ethical manner.

Full course description for Criminal Justice Ethics

This course explores a range of moral issues raised by the introduction of new technologies for the production, distribution and use of information -- issues about privacy, surveillance and data-mining, freedom of speech, copyright, computer crime and abuse, justice in access to information, the political and social significance of the Internet, and so on. The course is intended to be helpful not only to information technology professionals, who will encounter some of these issues in connection with their work, but also to anyone who has an interest in the way information technology is changing our lives. Students will study moral theory, professional codes of ethics and a variety of case studies.

Full course description for Ethics in the Information Age

+ Elective (4 credits)

One additional course, chosen in consultation with a faculty advisor in the Department of Philosophy