Don’t Obsess About Morality

Feb 6

Pick your Professor

The utilitarian philosophers offer a powerful argument that the morally good life requires significant sacrifices (time, money, organs?) In this class we will debate whether to live the good life you shouldn’t strive to be as moral as possible.  Can a moral saint also be a good friend?  Does being a good person mean you cannot also be funny, or a good cook, or just generally weird and interesting?  Can being morally good be different from being just all-around good?  We’ll debate whether there are goals more important than morality and also think more seriously about the kinds of lives we honestly admire.

We have three main learning goals for this day. You will:

  1. Understand the distinction between moral value and other types of value, applying Susan Wolf’s theory.
  2. Devise a method for weighing moral value against competing values and relate it to the view of the good life you’ve been developing.
  3. Construct an argument for or against the conclusion that the moral life is very demanding.

Read This:

PrimaryInteractive Essay: Susan Wolf – “Moral Saints” 

Secondary: What is Ethics Good For?

Do This:


  • Make sure you’ve completed the “How We Argue” (ThinkerAnalytix) course up through lesson 6 by today’s class.
  • After you’ve finished today’s reading, make sure you complete the reading quiz, which you can access through your section’s Canvas page.

Suggested: Write a little reflection to yourself — do you think it’s always important to do the right thing, even when it’s demanding, difficult, or even annoying? Or is it sometimes okay to eat veal, swear under your breath in church to make someone laugh, or even steal from a corporation if you don’t think they’re treating their workers and customers fairly?

Watch This: