About the Course

Exploring Ethics

  • Grades 7-11
  • Advanced CTY-Level

We all face ethical choices. How do we know what is “good” or “bad,” or “right” or “wrong”? Are there standards of ethics by which we can judge people or their actions? In this course, you and your classmates will reflect on common intuitions you have about how humans ought to live our lives. Then you will learn to apply analytical reasoning to your intuitions while investigating the debate between moral relativism—which denies ethical distinctions such as right or wrong—and moral realism, which upholds them. You’ll examine theories for guiding moral decisions, like utilitarianism, in which moral choices are evaluated based on their consequences, and Kant’s claim that moral actions come from an objective and rational universal principle of morality. You’ll also explore virtue ethics, which focuses on cultivating morally worthwhile traits in each individual, and consider ethical dilemmas like war, animal rights, and capital punishment while critiquing primary philosophical works, participating in discussions and debates, and writing analytical essays.

Typical Class Size: 16

Testing and Prerequisites

  Math Verbal
Required Level Not required Advanced CTY-Level
Check your eligibility using existing test scores If you do not have existing test scores:

Students must achieve qualifying scores on an advanced assessment to be eligible for CTY programs. If you don’t have qualifying scores, you have several different testing options. We’ll help you find the right option for your situation.

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Cost and Financial Aid

  • Tuition
    • Varies
  • Application fee
    • Nonrefundable Application Fee - $50 (Waived for financial aid applicants)
    • Nonrefundable International Fee - $250 (outside US only)

Financial Aid is available

We are committed to serving all talented youth regardless of financial circumstances. Financial assistance is available based on need.

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Course Materials

Students should bring basic school supplies like pens, notebooks, and folders to their summer program. You will be notified of any additional items needed before the course begins. All other materials will be provided by CTY.

Sample Reading

These titles have been featured in past sessions of the course, and may be included this summer. CTY provides students with all texts; no purchase is required.

  • Ethics: History, Theory, and Contemporary Issues, Steven M. Cahn and Peter Markie

About History and Social Science at CTY

Enhance your critical thinking skills

Expand your ability to reason through difficult problems by taking one of our philosophy or logic classes. Learn how to craft strong and clear arguments in Big Questions, write proofs that avoid fallacious reasoning in Introduction to Logic, or explore the techniques of logic that lawyers, doctors, and mathematicians utilize to be successful in their fields in Logic: Principles of Reasoning.

Explore social justice in action

Develop knowledge and skills that will help you address issues of systemic inequality throughout the world. Challenge historical assumptions about gender to interrogate harmful stereotypes in Beyond the Binary.

Meet our instructors and staff