Public ethics (2012/2013)

Course code
Name of lecturer
Italo Sciuto
Italo Sciuto
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Academic sector
Language of instruction
Sem. 1B dal Nov 19, 2012 al Jan 20, 2013.

Lesson timetable

Learning outcomes

Aims of the course:
Being a branch of Moral Philosophy, reflection on Public Ethics focuses on the public aspects of human living, as they happen in the context of contemporary liberal democracies, which form the backbone of what is usually known as the Western world (and lifestyle). Therefore Public Ethics is concerned with the moral behavior of individuals within a historical, social and political situation shaped by tolerance and ethical pluralism, and it aims to create a public space of opinion where the confrontation among the individuals’ different private moral notions – which in turn may be not only different, but also reciprocally opposed, and even non-compatible – may eventually result in more largely shared choices.


Course Program:
Justice and Republican Freedom
On the background of the main interests of Public Ethics, the course aims to analyze Italy’s current situation, in which the leading principles of every democratic system – that is, justice and freedom – are highly weakened, and in many cases even disappeared. Therefore justice and freedom become the basic tenets of every reflection about Public Ethics, and it becomes of extreme importance to comprehend them in the most proper way. The thesis we would like to argument is that, in order to overcome the present chaotic and critical situation, it is necessary to undertake a task of “citizenship rebuilding” on a great scale. Public Ethics must focus on the creation of the righteous, virtuous citizen, that is a citizen who is constantly led by the idea of justice in his public behavior, exerting his individual freedom by always keeping public responsibility as his guiding light. Finally, the course will also try to reflect on Italians’ national character, and in particular on Italians’ lack of ethics, which is as self-apparent today as due to a controversial historic legacy, in order the understand how, and if, it can be corrected.

Course Texts:
Z. Bauman, L'etica in un mondo di consumatori, Laterza (only cap. 6: "L'etica è ospitalità";
R. De Monticelli, La questione civile, Cortina;
S. Rodotà, Elogio del moralismo, Laterza;
M. Viroli, L'intransigente, Laterza.

Assessment methods and criteria

Evaluation test:
Oral exam.