Office: Parker 202
heathwood @ philos.umass.edu
Office Hours: Monday after class and by appt.
(The best way to get a hold of me is by email.)
This course provides an introduction to ethics by way of a discussion of doctrines and arguments in two central areas of moral philosophy: (i) the normative ethics of behavior (the theory of right and wrong action); and (ii) axiology (the theory of good and bad). Along the way, other topics in moral philosophy are also discussed. If time permits, we may do some applied ethics at the end.
The focus is on careful formulation of the doctrines and arguments. The goals are (i) to understand the doctrines and arguments; (ii) to develop the ability to evaluate the doctrines and arguments; and (iii) to begin to develop the ability to extract well-formulated, interesting arguments from philosophical texts.
Two books are required:
- Fred Feldman, Introductory Ethics (Prentice Hall, 1978).
- Louis Pojman (ed.), Moral Philosophy: A Reader (Second Edition) (Hackett, 1998).
Each is available at the Keene State College Bookstore.
Additional readings may be provided in class, or on a course website, or on reserve at the library.
Exams: There will be three exams, each worth 20% of your grade. Exams will thus constitute 60% of your grade for the course. Before each exam, a study guide will be made available which will contain the possible exam questions. The exam will consist of some subset of the study guide. Although Exam #3 will be given during finals week, it is non-cumulative.
If you must miss a scheduled exam, you must notify me before the exam. If you do this, and if you have a legitimate, documented reason for missing the exam, you may be permitted to take a make-up exam. Only in very unusual circumstances will a student who does not contact me before a missed exam be allowed to make it up.
Homework: There will be several homework assignments. Homework will constitute 15% of your total grade. Late homework will be penalized substantially unless the student has a legitimate, documented excuse.
Quizzes: There will be several unannounced "pop" quizzes throughout the semester. Quizzes will constitute 15% of your grade. These will serve to ensure that you are keeping up with the reading and with the material presented in lecture. Pop quizzes will be "open note," but not "open book." This is supposed to encourage you to take detailed notes from the reading as well as in class.
Attendance and Class Participation
You are also required to attend regularly and to participate in class discussion. Attendance and participation will constitute 10% of your grade. Your performance here can, however, affect other parts of your grade, since if you miss a class, you might miss a homework assignment or a pop quiz. I really want each and every one of you to participate: philosophy is better done as a dialogue rather than a monologue-speak your mind!
Violations of College regulations concerning academic honesty will not be tolerated in this course. I will do my best to see to it that students caught cheating in this course are subjected to the most severe penalties consistent with College policies. See the undergraduate catalog for Keene State College's policies on academic honesty.
Students with Special Needs
Please do not hesitate to contact me for any necessary accommodations.
A Possible Course Schedule [with Possible Readings]
Wk 1: Introductions; What is Ethics?; Logic and Truth [Feldman]
Wk 2: Right and Wrong: The Normative Ethics of Behavior (NEB) [Feldman]
Wk 3: Theological Approaches to Ethics: 10C, The Divine Command Theory [Plato]
Wk 4: Sociological Approaches to Ethics: Cultural Relativism [Benedict, Rachels, Feldman]
Wk 5: Egoism; Morality and Self-Interest [Plato, Rand, Feldman]
Exam #1 - NEB I
Wk 6: Utilitarianism; Common Misconceptions about Utilitarianism [Mill, Feldman]
Wk 7: Problems for Utilitarianism [Ross, Feldman]
Wk 8: Kantianism [Kant, Feldman]
Wk 9: Problems for Kantianism [Feldman]
Wk 10: Rawls's Social-Contract Theory [Feldman, Rawls]
Exam #2 - NEB II
Wk 11: Good and Bad: Axiology [Feldman]
Wk 12: Consumerism; Hedonism [Bentham]
Wk 13: Objections to Hedonism [Nozick, Ross, Moore]
Wk 14: Desire Satisfactionism [Parfit]
Wk 15: Undecided. Possibilities include: more axiology; applied ethics
Exam #3 - Axiology+