Philosophy’s Role in Ethics Across the Curriculum: Failures, Successes, and Suggestions for the Future

  • Phyllis (Peggy) VandenbergEmail author


This paper is a report on the academic discipline of Philosophy and its engagement in practical/applied ethics—primarily including the teaching of ethics across the university. The involvement of philosophers individually and philosophy as a discipline in civic and public engagement or anywhere practical ethics is being discussed or taught will also be considered. This includes making policy in government, corporations, professions, or in any societal discussions where there is need for practical determinations of an ethical nature. In keeping with a common philosophical practice—the grounding of scholarship in the history of philosophy, tradition and the accepted canon—the chapter begins with the philosophical and public engagement of Socrates in 428 BCE. The conclusion argues that 18th century moral sentimentalist, David Hume, has insights into human nature and moral development that are helpful to effective philosophical engagement in the 21st century.


Practical ethics Applied ethics Public philosophy Professional ethics David Hume Moral sentimentalism Ethics and pedagogy Philosophical ethics 


  1. Capaldi, N. (1992, November). The dogmatic slumber of Hume scholarship, Hume studies, (Vol. XVIII, no 2, pp. 117–135).Google Scholar
  2. Pritchard, M. S. (2006) Professional ethics: Thinking ethically, (pp. 15–19). University Press of Kansas.Google Scholar
  3. Sayre-McCord, G. (2014) Metaphysics. In N. Z. Edward (Ed.), The stanford encyclopedia of philosophy, (Summer 2014 edition). URL =
  4. Sloan, D (1980). The teaching of ethics in the American Undergraduate Curriculum. In C. Daniel & S. Callahan (Eds.), Chapter one in ethics in teaching in higher education. Plenum Press. (Sloan’s chapter documents the history of practical ethics in the college curriculum. For a more thorough list of references and historical documentation, I recommend this chapter and its list of resources).Google Scholar
  5. Vandenberg, P. (2013, August) “A Humean Look at Feminist Ethics,” The European Legacy, (Vol. 18, No. 5). Routledge Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Grand Valley State UniversityAllendaleUSA

Personalised recommendations