Teaching ethics at the university: controversy over its purpose


  • Margarita Mauri Álvarez Universidad de Barcelona




This paper addresses the discussion about what should be the purposes of the Ethics courses taught at the university. There is general agreement that one of the objectives of Ethics courses should be cognitive. But, while for some authors these have to be the only objectives, for other professionals of the subject it is necessary to add the educational objectives to the cognitive ones, so that the knowledge that the subject of Ethics provides affects, through reflection, in the moral life of students. This is an old question that Aristotle already raised in the Nicomachean Ethics when he affirmed that the study of virtue has a practical purpose. One of the undercurrents of the subject being analyzed is the debated question about the role of the university, whether it should only be a transmitter of knowledge or, in addition, a moral educator.