CPT-20303 Ethics and Social Science


Credits 3.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Independent study
Course coordinator(s)dr. H van den Belt
Lecturer(s)dr. H van den Belt
Examiner(s)dr. H van den Belt

Language of instruction:



Topics that will be covered in the course are the changing position of science in society (from 'ivory tower' to 'agora') and its implications for the social accountability of scientists, the principles of argumentation theory (including common fallacies in social debates), the fundamentals of ethics and the outlines of four main varieties of ethical reasoning (deontology, utilitarianism, virtue ethics, four-principles approach), and business ethics and corporate social responsibility (CSR). The aim is to focus as much as possible on ethical problems and dilemmas with which social scientists are likely to be confronted in the course of their professional careers, either as researcher or as policy advisor.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- identify, describe and analyse ethical problems with respect to (social) scientific research and policy advice;
- identify, understand and discuss at least four ethical approaches to these problems (deontology, utilitarianism, virtue ethics, four-principles approach);
- evaluate in a rational way proposed solutions of an ethical problem;
- recognize and avoid some common fallacies in social debates and ethical reasoning.


- participating in group discussions on extended cases guided by teacher's instructions;
- giving a presentation on a chosen ethical problem before an audience of fellow students;
- writing a paper on an ethical problem preferably related to one's own field of social science.


Written paper (100%). Admission conditions apply to the written paper.


Henk van den Belt. From the ivory tower to the agora (manuscript).
Henk van den Belt. Arguments and fallacies: a brief introduction to argumentation theory (manuscript).
Henk van den Belt. Introduction to ethics: three varieties of moral reasoning' (manuscript).
Henk van den Belt. Business ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility. (manuscript).
The course is supported by MyPortal site.

Restricted Optional for: MMEManagement, Economics and Consumer StudiesMSc5AF, 6MO
MIDInternational Development StudiesMSc5AF, 6MO