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Religious Ethics - PHI00072I

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  • Department: Philosophy
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Jamie Buckland
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25

Module summary

This module considers questions about the relationship between God and morality.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 1 2024-25

Module aims

The aim of this module is to introduce students to a number of issues in religious ethics. In particular, whether features of morality provide us with evidence for the existence of God, whether theism can provide an adequate framework for ethics, and whether features of religious faith are in tension with the requirements of morality.

We begin by looking at a number of classical issues within the philosophy of religion, such as the moral argument for the existence of God, and the Euthyphro dilemma. We will also examine the claim that the Anselmian God of classical theism provides us with the theological resources to defend theistic ethics against the Euthyphro argument. From here, we consider a number of interrelated issues such as divine command theory, the problem of evil, and the moral significance of heaven and hell. Finally, in Weeks 8, 9 and 10, we will look into contrasting ideas surrounding Buddhism and Buddhist ethics. Namely, the ethical implications of the non-self view, as well as Buddhist solutions to the problem of evil and suffering.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should be able to:

—understand and explain a range of key problems, issues, and debates in religous ethics and express this understanding in clear, precise, and accessible terms

—develop and articulate ranges of alternative solutions to problems and issues in religious ethics in an open-minded way, drawing on module materials

—develop and articulate arguments for the alternative solutions considered in relation to problems and issues in religious ethics, drawing on module materials, identifying some points of weakness and some potential points for development

—make a judgement about what is the best view on a particular problem in religious ethics and argue in defence of this judgement

—identify some of their strengths and weaknesses by evaluating their own work in relation to departmental marking criteria

—apply simple strategies for improving their work, based on critical reflection, advice, and feedback

—critically engage with social, political, cultural, ethical, and value issues to contribute to the solution of key contemporary problems


Task Length % of module mark
Summative Essay
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Summative Essay
N/A 100

Module feedback

All feedback will be returned within current guidelines for turnaround.

Indicative reading

  • Robert Merrihew Adams, Finite and Infinite Goods: A framework for ethics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999).
  • David Baggett and Jerry L. Walls, Good God: The Theistic Foundations of Morality (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011).
  • Robert K. Garcia and Nathan L. King (eds), Is Goodness Without God Good Enough?: A debate on faith, secularism and ethics (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2008).
  • Charles Goodman (2009) Consequences of Compassion: An Interpretation and Defence of Buddhist Ethics. Oxford University Press.
  • Mark Siderits (2007) Buddhism as Philosophy. Hackett.
  • Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Morality Without God? (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009).
  • William J. Wainwright, Religion and Morality (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2005).
  • Erik J. Wielenberg, Value and Virtue in a Godless Universe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005),
  • Linda Trinkaus Zagzebski, Divine Motivation Theory (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004).

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.