2023-2024 / PHIL0021-1

Introduction to ethics and moral philosophy


30h Th

Number of credits

 Bachelor in information and communication5 crédits 
 Bachelor in modern languages and literatures : German, Dutch and English5 crédits 
 Bachelor in history of art and archaeology : general5 crédits 
 Bachelor in modern languages and literatures : general5 crédits 
 Bachelor in history of art and archaeology : musicology5 crédits 
 Bachelor in ancient languages and literatures : Oriental studies (Registrations are closed)5 crédits 
 Bachelor in philosophy5 crédits 
 Bachelor in French and Romance languages and literatures : general5 crédits 
 Bachelor in translation and interpretation5 crédits 
 Certificate in teaching of philosophy and citizenship (not organised in 2022-2023)5 crédits 


Chiara Collamati

Language(s) of instruction

French language

Organisation and examination

Teaching in the second semester


Schedule online

Units courses prerequisite and corequisite

Prerequisite or corequisite units are presented within each program

Learning unit contents

The Body and Consciousness. History and Critique of "Self-ownership"

Any questioning of moral action and ethics presupposes a specific conception of subjectivity. The course introduces the history of modern and contemporary philosophy, examining the figure of the individual as a subject owning himself/herself, his/her body, and his/her will. Throughout the lessons, we will be guided by the following question: to acknowledge the subject's freedom and responsibility (both morally and politically), must we necessarily think of him or her in terms of the logic of property?

After a general introduction (sessions 1-2) to explain the title of the course, the status of philosophical knowledge and the method of analysis adopted, we will look at the modern conception of the individual, based on the link between the dimension of the body and the dimension of "self-consciousness". In sessions 3-8, we will examine how this relationship was constructed from a faculty of thought (René Descartes), a logic of ownership and appropriation (John Locke), or through the interaction of habit and imagination (David Hume).

Once explored this moment, which marks the "philosophical invention of consciousness" (Étienne Balibar), we will see (sessions 9-13) how twentieth-century French Philosophy criticized and questioned the "proprietary individualism" at the heart of modern anthropology. Through the work of authors such as Jean-Paul Sartre, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Michel Foucault, we will examine the figures of a subjectivity that appears to be increasingly (dis)possessed.

Learning outcomes of the learning unit

The course has three main learning objectives:

1/ To offer a first approach to the history of philosophy and philosophical concepts, by introducing the major stages and authors of the modern and contemporary periods.

2/ To provide conceptual, textual, and methodological tools to understand the connection between self-consciousness, individual identity, and self-ownership.

3/ To develop the ability to critically analyze the concept of the individual as a subject who owns himself and his body, particularly in relation to current issues such as the right to abortion or mandatory vaccination in times of pandemics.

Prerequisite knowledge and skills


Planned learning activities and teaching methods

Taking notes (essential) and reading extracts from the books discussed during the course.

The texts will be available in PDF format in the "Supports de cours" tab, as well as in the Open-Shelf of the Philosophy and Communication Library (books can be consulted but not borrowed).

Power Point slides (with only the outline of each session and related bibliographical references) will also be available on e-Campus.

1h30 Lecture (8h15-10h, with a 10-minute break at 9h).

Mode of delivery (face to face, distance learning, hybrid learning)

Face-to-face course

Additional information:

Face-to-face course

Recommended or required readings

The list of required and optional readings will be available on the course page and on e-Campus from January 30.

The references below are only intended to indicate the texts on which each session will be based:

René Descartes, Méditations métaphysiques, Présentation et traduction de Michelle Beyssade, Le Livre de Poche, LGE, 1990, Méditations 1ère et 2ème.

John Locke, Essai sur l'entendement humain, Livre II, Chapitre XXVII, Bilingue anglais-français, Présenté, traduit et commenté par Etienne Balibar, Paris, Seuil, 1998, p. 133-181.

David Hume, Traité de la nature humaine. Livre I, L'entendement, IV (Du système sceptique et d'autres systèmes de philosophie), 6 (De l'identité personnelle), trad. M. Malherbe, Paris, Vrin, 2022, p. 439-455.

David Hume, Traité de la nature humaine, Livre III. La morale, II, (De la justice et de l'injustice), I (La justice est-elle une vertu naturelle ou artificielle ?), II (De l'origine de la justice et de la propriété), III (Des règles déterminant la propriété), p. 75-117, trad. P. Saltel, Paris, GF Flammarion, 1993.

Jean-Paul Sartre, « Une idée fondamentale de la phénoménologie de Husserl : l'intentionnalité », in Situations, I, Paris, Gallimard, 1947, p. 29-32.

Jean-Paul Sartre, L'être et le néant.  Essai d'ontologie phénoménologique, Paris, Gallimard, 1943, Partie II, chapitre I, § I : « La présence à soi », p. 115-120 ; partie IV, chapitre I, § III : « Liberté et responsabilité », p. 638-642.

Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Phénoménologie de la perception, 3ème partie « L'être-pour-soi et l'être-au-monde », I. « Le cogito », Le sujet comme projet du monde », Paris, Gallimard, TEL, 1945, p. 436-470.

Michel Foucault, L'herméneutique du sujet. Cours au Collège de France 1981-82, Paris, Seuil, 2001 (première leçon).

Exam(s) in session

Any session

- In-person

written exam ( open-ended questions ) AND oral exam

Additional information:

Exams in session, all sessions included.

Written evaluation (open-ended questions) and oral evaluation (only for Philosophy students).

Further information about the exam:

Written exam lasting 3 hours. The paper includes:

- two general questions relating to the arguments discussed during the course;

- one question consisting of an explicative commentary on a short text taken from the mandatory reading material.

For Philosophy students, the exam will consist of an oral examination lasting approximately 30 minutes.

Work placement(s)

Organisational remarks and main changes to the course

The course takes place in the second quarter, from February 9 to May 17, 2024.

Every Friday from 8:00 to 10:00 (except Friday April 26 and May 3, 2024: spring break).

Auditoire Gothot (bât A1)

NB: Students who are unable to attend the course regularly (e.g., because of a scheduling conflict) are asked to contact the teacher by e-mail. Complementary tools (i.e., support readings) will be made available.

Changes from previous year:

While keeping the same approach and a similar philosophical theme, this year's course will deal with different authors and works.


Contact: chiara.collamati@uliege.be

Association of one or more MOOCs

There is no MOOC associated with this course.

Additional information:

See "Supports de cours" and e-Campus page