Introductory Topics in Philosophy

Boris Buden
Arts and Society, Cross-Disciplinary Strategies
2024S, Lecture and Discussion (VD), 2.0 ECTS, 2.0 semester hours, course number S04947


Introduction to Philosophy II: The Problem of “Evil”

If the first part of the Introduction to Philosophy (in the Winter term 23/24) followed a historical and translational approach to philosophy, concentrating on words instead on concepts, the second part (in the Summer term 2024) will deal with a particular – ethical and/or political problem: the problem of “evil”. In a close collective reading in groups, using additional video and audio sources from the internet, the class will discuss two texts: 1. Peter Singer, “Famine, Affluence, and Morality” from 1972, and Robert Meister, After Evil: A Politics of Human Rights (Preface: My Task VII-X, and Introduction: Disavowing Evil 1-20). The task is to confront two different perspectives on the problem of evil: the perspective of a utilitarian ethics concerned with individual choices and a historical and political perspective that addresses the problem of international justice. The students will be encouraged to debate these ethical questions in the context of real moral and political problems of the contemporary world.


Peter Singer, “Famine, Affluence, and Morality”, Philosophy and Public Affairs, Vol. 1, No. 3 (Spring, 1972), pp. 229-243.

Robert Meister, After Evil: A Politics of Human Rights, New York: Columbia University Press 2010.

Both texts are freely available on the internet

Examination Modalities

Consists in the active participation and contribution (discursive, textual and performative).

The module grading is based on the mentioned contribution, active in-class participation and

  • - submission of written assignments (word minimum of 500 total)


 “Students from other departments or universities will be given a place on the course subject to room capacities.”

Key Words

Evil, ethics, utilitarianism, charity, international justice, human rights


18 March 2024, 13:00–17:00 CDS Lecture Room
19 March 2024, 10:00–16:00 CDS Lecture Room
20 March 2024, 10:00–16:00 CDS Lecture Room
21 March 2024, 10:00–16:00 CDS Lecture Room

Course Enrolment

From 05 February 2024, 00:00
Via online registration

Cross-Disciplinary Strategies (Bachelor): Philosophy: Foundation 700/003.10

Cross-Disciplinary Strategies (Master): Study Areas 4-6: Study Area 4: Philosophy 569/022.04

Co-registration: possible

Attending individual courses: possible