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Philosophy for Teens - An Introduction to Virtue Ethics

Professor Dave, PhD
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This one-time class gives students an introduction to Virtue Ethics, with a focus on history and practical life lessons.

Class Experience

US Grade 7 - 10
I have a PhD in the philosophy of religion from McGill University, and many years experience teaching philosophy and ethics.  One of the courses I have taught is Environmental Virtue Ethics (ENVR 380), an open enrollment undergraduate course, at McGill University.  I have also taught Confucius and Confucianism in Religious Ethics and the Environment (RELG 270), an open enrollment undergraduate course at McGill University.  Both courses engage in the history of Virtue Ethics from ancient Greece and China to the present day.  This class is based on the introduction to Virtue Ethics I gave to undergraduates for these classes.  

My PhD examined how the philosophy of Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965) engaged and transformed the philosophies of Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) and Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) as the grounding for his secular and philosophical Virtue Ethic he termed the 'reverence for life' ethic.  This PhD research was followed-up with a book, The New Rationalism: Albert Schweitzer’s Philosophy of Reverence for Life, McGill-Queens University Press (2013).  
Homework Offered
A "practice quiz" is posted online before class. Students will use it to focus on important names, history, terms, and principles during the lecture. It is not graded; it is merely a learning tool to get the most out of the class, and to have a concise summary to keep afterwards.
Assessments Offered
Grades Offered
This class will discuss what is known as the "trolley problem" thought experiment -- a common ethical problem discussed in philosophy classes, so popular it has even become an internet meme.  One aim of this class is empower students to be able to identify the "trolley problem" as a logical fallacy (meaning, it is a false dilemma).  

Specifically, the "trolley problem" involves two bad choices: (1) do nothing and five people get hurt; or (2), take action that saves these five people but results in another person being injured.  The thought experiment claims that these are the only two alternatives, and whatever choice that is made will result in injuries.  Worse, the one who is asked to solve the "trolley problem" often feels guilty in one way or another for his or her answer.  Again, this is a false dilemma: there are always more than two choices.  

This class will show students how to solve the trolley problem where no one gets hurt at all.  

It is thus empowering for young students, who will learn the critical thinking skills needed to identify a false dilemma.
The Analects of Confucius: A Philosophical Translation, Roger T. Ames and Henry Rosemont Jr, Ballantine Books (1999)

Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, Terence Irwin, Oxford University Press (1999)
Joined November, 2021
Star Educator
Teacher expertise and credentials
Doctoral Degree
Hello !

I am a professor of philosophy, ecology, and religious studies, and I will be offering classes to help students make that sometimes difficult transition to college and university.  

So often I see 1st year undergraduate students struggle... 
Group Class


per class
Meets once
55 min

Completed by 118 learners
Live video meetings
Ages: 12-17
1-10 learners per class

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