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AZA1371: Introduction to philosophy: Moral dilemmas and philosophy

6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate – Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal datesfor the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.






South Africa

  • First semester 2018 (On-campus)


ATS1371, ATS1834


The unit is an introduction to moral philosophy. The focus of the unit is the ethics of killing. The unit adopts a global perspective but looks at issues through a South African and African lens. We examine questions such as: When, if ever, is killing justified? Many of us think that killing is permissible in emergency rescue situations, or in self-defence. Is it possible to explain this in a way that is consistent with our more typical attitudes to killing? What about killing non-human animals for food? Like all philosophy units, this unit will also develop critical and analytic thinking skills. These issues are linked to the situation regarding life and death in South Africa and Africa in general, with particular reference to some of the ethical dilemmas (such as violent crime) encountered within this context.


On completing the unit, students will have an understanding of some central issues in applied ethics and of the role philosophy can play in clarifying the discussion of them. They will have acquired some understanding of the nature and methods of philosophical inquiry, and an enhanced capacity for critical reasoning and rigorous thought. Students will also be able to critically assess the situation in South Africa and its accompanying ethical dilemmas as it relates to the ethics of killing.


Within semester assessment: 60% + Exam: 40%

Workload requirements

Minimum total expected workload to achieve the learning outcomes for this unit is 144 hours per semester typically comprising a mixture of scheduled learning activities and independent study. A unit requires on average three/four hours of scheduled activities per week. Scheduled activities may include a combination of teacher directed learning, peer directed learning and online engagement.

Chief examiner(s)

Dr Thando Nkohla

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study

Philosophy and ethics – South Africa

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