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AZA2939: Ethics and the modern world

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.




Ms Thando Nkohla


South Africa

  • Second semester 2018 (On-campus)


AZA3939, ATS1839, ATS2839


The unit adopts a global perspective but looks at issues through a South African and African lens. The theories of utilitarianism and deontology will be examined within the South African context and judged according to ethical dilemmas that arise within the country. Key to this examination will be a discussion of the role of friendship and family within ethical decision-making. A major focus of discussion is the opposition between consequentialist theories, such as utilitarianism, which judge rightness and wrongness solely in terms of consequences, and the Kantian theory of deontology which judges rightness and wrongness according to whether the act is in accordance with rational will. The question that will guide this discussion is whether these theories can account for the agent-centred reasons which arise from relations of love and friendship and which seem to have the potential to conflict with impartial moral requirements?


  1. Capacity to critically analyse central ethical theories such as consequentialism and Kantianism.
  2. Have developed skills important to the discipline of philosophy, such as argument analysis, textual interpretation, and argument construction.
  3. Capacity to develop a theoretical position and argument concerning the main theories and arguments in meta-ethics.
  4. Be able to critically assess society and its accompanying ethical problems in South Africa from the point of view of the unit.


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)

Ms Thando Nkohla

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

Philosophy and ethics – South Africa

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