The Nature of Ethics in Our Department

In addition to courses in theology and religious studies, our department offers courses in ethics. The study of ethics includes both abstract questions, such as what we mean by 'good' or 'right,' and very practical questions, on individual, societal and global levels, such as deciding in concrete situations what goals and means should be adopted, or what duties and rights should be acknowledged. To address such tasks, the study of ethics makes use of many sources  -some are familiar, such as philosophy, religion, culture and history, and others may be unexpected sources such as art, literature, science, and even humor.

The ethics courses offered by our department, like those in many United States colleges, attempt to provide 'public squares,' in which these tasks and sources can be investigated. In that context, Molloy's ethics courses do not assume or promote the validity of any particular moral system, nor do they attempt to be absolutely neutral about the many moral choices humans may face.

There are historical reasons why the study of ethics is conducted in these challenging conditions - and why these conditions create opportunities as well as difficulties. American society, and Western societies in general, trace their origins and/or foundational values to religious culture that was rooted in Jewish and Christian beliefs and values, and informed by the Bible and classical traditions. In recent centuries, these societies have become more diverse in the variety of religious beliefs and moral systems that individuals may choose, and more secular in public life as religious culture has become more private. This history has created new arenas of moral conversation, where Christian and other religious perspectives encounter a variety of other, and often more secular, moral perspectives. When courses in ethics have this character, they can be opportunities to explore the relevance and application of Christian and various moral traditions to contemporary life, and to explore the truths, insights and inspirations which each of them may uniquely offer.

Instead, our courses aim to achieve two general goals: first, to provide students with introductions to the moral beliefs and values of various world religions; and second, to equip students with the tools of moral reasoning by which to test these alternative resources, and learn whether and how to apply these resources to the moral questions of our time.

Ethics courses offered by the Department of Theology and Religious Studies may focus primarily on religious moral traditions, such as the study of biblical ethics or how Christian churches have addressed social issues through the ages, and explore their relevance to broader societal conditions. Other courses may engage in the dialogue between religious and philosophical perspectives. In still others, religious and/or philosophical perspectives provide the ethical framework in particular professional fields, such as business ethics, healthcare ethics and environmental ethics.

As indicated under general education requirements, Molloy's courses listed under "Ethics" (with the subject code of ETH) are taught by both this department and the Department of Philosophy. The general education requirement to complete one course in ethics can be met by any of these ETH courses. LIVE LINK TO COMPLETE LISTOF ETHICS COURSES IN CATALOG> Majors and minors in our department are required to take one ethics course taught by our faculty (which also meets the general education requirement). On the next web page, the ETH courses regularly taught by our faculty are listed after the TRS courses. To learn which current or future ETH courses meet this requirement for majors and minors, please contact the chairperson of the Theology and Religious Studies Department.

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Connie Lasher
Theology and Religious Studies
310 Fern Street, South Hempstead, New York 11571