PHIL 1100 -- Ethics
Office: HLMS 192
Hours: Wednesdays 3:00-5:00, and by appointment
Office: HLMS 15
Hours: Wednesdays 12:00-1:00, Thursdays 3:30-4:30, and by appointment
This course provides an introduction to ethics by way of a study of doctrines and arguments in two areas of moral philosophy: the normative ethics of behavior (the theory of right and wrong), and practical ethics. Our goals are to understand some important theories and positions in these areas, to understand and evaluate important arguments for and against these views, to develop the ability to extract, explain, and evaluate arguments from philosophical texts, and to come to our own reasoned views on these topics. Our topics will include beginning logic, divine command theory, cultural relativism, utilitarianism, deontology, the doctrines of double effect and doing and allowing, the trolley problem, vegetarianism, abortion, and slave reparations.
The course website, which you should check regularly, can be found here:
Here you will find:
There will be no book! All readings are are online and are linked below on the course schedule. You will need a password to access some of them; I will give you the password in class. Although there is no book, you will need a clicker, which can be purchased at the CU Bookstore. More on clickers below.
I will be using slides in lecture, which I will make available via links on the course schedule below. But the availability of these slides is no substitute for good note-taking. Many important details are not on the slides!
So that you will have someone from whom to get the notes and any other pertinent information should you miss class, introduce yourself to two of your classmates, and get their email addresses and phone numbers.
1. Technology. You must have an email account and regular access to the internet, and you must check your colorado.edu email address and the course website frequently.
Text messaging during class is strictly prohibited. First-time offenders will be asked to leave their phones on my desk for the remainder of class; repeat offenders will be excused from class. When you get to class, turn your cell phone OFF.
I prefer that you don't use a computer in class; students who use laptops in class do less well in college, as do those who sit near them. (See also here, here, here.) But if you must, you may use it only for taking notes. No web-surfing, emailing, IM-ing, facebooking, etc. If you use a laptop, disable the wifi.
2. Exams: There will be two exams: a midterm exam and a non-cumulative final exam. Each exam has two parts, and will take place over two class periods. The first part of each exam will consist of very-short-answer questions (e.g., multiple choice or true/false questions); the second part will consist of short-answer questions (questions that can usually be answered in a sentence to a paragraph). For the second part of each exam you'll need to bring a bluebook. Both parts of both exams will take place in class, and will be closed-note and closed-reading.
To help you prepare, and to give you an idea about the sorts of questions you can expect, a study guide will be made available before each exam. Furthermore, we will have a review day before each part of each exam where we will take your questions about the study guide. You must come prepared for these review sessions by having already written out your own answers to the questions on the study guide.
If you miss any part of any exam during the semester, you will be permitted to take a makeup exam only if you have a legitimate, documented excuse (e.g., non-trivial illness, death in the family, religious obligation). If you need to miss an exam, you need to let us know in advance.
3. Papers: Two papers are required. The first will be due about 1/3 of the way through the term, and the second will be due about 3/4 to 4/5 of the way through the way of the term. See below for specific (tentative) due dates. You will be given a set of paper topics for each paper, from which you can choose. We'll have more to say about papers in class, and there is a set of paper guidelines, which you should get to know well. Late papers will be penalized unless you have a legitimate, documented excuse; the penalty is 1/3 of a letter grade per day late (see the paper guidelines for more details).
4. Clicker Questions: Many lectures after the first week will feature clicker questions. You answer them using your i>clicker device, which you can purchase at the bookstore. You will receive credit simply for participating in the clicker questions (i.e., you don't need to get the right answer to get the points [there isn't even always a "right answer"]). Occasionally, a student forgets his or her clicker, or the batteries die. Thus, I give each student one free passes on clickers: the first time you miss clicking-in, you will get the points anyway. No free points after that, however. If you miss clicking-in simply because you miss class, that will use up your free pass.
Clicking-in for an absent classmate by using his/her clicker on his/her behalf is a form of cheating. Cheating will earn you an F for the whole course. See the Academic Integrity section below.
If you have not already done so, you need to register your clicker immediately. Otherwise, I can't match your name to your clicker, and you won't be able to receive any clicker points.
5. Reading Quizzes: There will be quite a few "pop" quizzes throughout the semester. These quizzes are designed to test that you are doing and understanding the readings. For each reading, there will be a set of reading questions posted on the website. Most or all of the questions on the pop quizzes will be taken directly from these reading questions. Furthermore, the quizzes are open-note. Thus, as you are doing each reading and taking notes on it, you should write down your answers to the readings questions in your notes. Then bring these notes with you to class, since most or all of the answers to the pop quiz questions will be right in your notes! You are permitted to use only notes that you yourself created from doing the reading; you cannot copy your classmate's notes. Though the pop quizzes are open-note, they are not open-book or "open-reading."
Let me put all of this another way. There will be quite a few pop quizzes throughout the term. But you will be getting all (or most all) of the questions in advance. And you will be permitted to answer them in advance, and to bring those answers in with you to look at when you take the quiz. Thus, there is really no reason why you shouldn't ace every pop quiz.
You can drop your lowest quiz score.
Your final grade for the course is determined according to the following scheme:
|Midterm Exam, part 1||50 points|
|Midterm Exam, part 2||50 points|
|Second Paper||50 points|
|Final Exam, part 1||50 points|
|Final Exam, part 2||50 points|
|Clicker questions||50 points|
|Reading quizzes||50 points|
In other words, the two exams together comprise half your grade, the two papers a quarter, and the clicker questions and reading quizzes an eighth each.
There are no "extra-credit" opportunities. So there's no need to ask if you can "do extra credit" to boost your grade. If you want to get a good grade, don't miss class, always arrive on time, always do the reading, take notes on readings and in class, ask questions when you have them, contribute to class discussions, start working on your papers early, start working on the study guides for exams well in advance, work on these study guides by actually writing out your answers to the questions on them (as you would have to do if it were a question on the real exam), come to the review sessions having already put a lot of work into the study guides, come to office hours when you are confused about the material, and arrange study groups with your classmates.
We will use a standard "non-curved" grading scale, as follows:
Since we don't grade on a curve, it is theoretically possible for everyone to get an A (and also for everyone to get an F). But assuming that grades are distributed throughout the spectrum of grades in the normal way, the average grade in the class will probably be about a B–.
Course Schedule (subject to change)
(links below are to lecture slides)
(due on date listed; subject to change)
|M 8/25||Introductions, Syllabus|
|W 8/27||Finish Administrative Stuff
|F 8/29||What is Philosophy?
What is Ethics?
Logic, Truth, Validity, Soundness
Shafer-Landau, "Introduction" (2011), pp. 1-7
|M 9/1||NO CLASS -- LABOR DAY||An optional reading showing a smart person reasoning badly about ethics: "Richard Dawkins Would Fail Philosophy 101," The Daily Beast, 8/28/14. It touches on some issues that will arise in our class (e.g., utilitarianism, abortion).|
|W 9/3|| Review Questionnaire
Slides for Course Introduction
|Shafer-Landau, "Introduction" (2011), pp. 7-15
|F 9/5||The Normative Ethics of Behavior
Slides for Intro to NEB
|Rachels, "What is Morality?" (2009)|
|M 9/8||Religious Approaches to Ethics||Mortimer, "Morality is Based on God's Commands" (1950)
|W 9/10||The Euthyphro Problem||Plato, from Euthyphro (~380 B.C.E.)|
|F 9/12||Finish Religious Approaches
Slides for Religious Approaches
|Antony, "Good Minus God" (2011)|
||Sociological Approaches to Ethics Cultural Relativism
||Herodotus, from Histories (~450 B.C.E.)
Benedict, from "Anthropology and the Abnormal" (1934)
Rachels, "Challenge of Cultural Relativism" (2003), §§2.1-2.3
|W 9/17||The Cultural Differences Argument
CR and Tolerance
|Lewis, from Mere Christianity (1958)
Rachels, rest of "Challenge of Cultural Relativism"
|F 9/19||The Reformer's Dilemma||Midgley, "Trying Out One's New Sword" (1981)|
|M 9/22||First Paper Assignment
The Moral Methodology Argument
|W 9/24||Finish Cultural Relativism
Slides for Cultural Relativism
More Moral Principles
|Mill, from Utilitarianism (1863), pp. 1-4 (2/3 of the way down)|
|F 9/26||First Paper Due
What is Act Utilitarianism?
|Feldman, "What is Act Utilitarianism?" (1978), pp. 16-26|
|M 9/29||Understanding Utilitarianism||Mill, from Utilitarianism (1863), rest.
Start working on study guide for midterm!
|W 10/1||Against Utilitarianism||Feldman, "Act Utilitarianism: Pro and Con" (1978), pp. 36-41|
|F 10/3||Slides for Utilitarianism||Rachels, "The Debate Over Utilitarianism" (2003)|
|M 10/6||Review for Midterm Part 1 (no clickers needed; do study guide in advance)|
|W 10/8||Midterm Part 1|
|F 10/10||Return Midterm Part 1; Review for Midterm Part 2 (no clickers needed; do study guide in advance)|
Midterm Part 2 BRING A BLUEBOOK!
|W 10/15||Kant's Categorical Imperative||Kant, excerpts from Groundwork for the Metaphysic of Morals (1785)
OPTIONAL: summary by Philosophy Bro (warning: don't read if you are offended by bad words or potty humor)
|F 10/17||Kant's Categorical Imperative|| Kant, excerpts from a "comtemporized" edition the Groundwork
Feldman, "Kant" (1978)
|M 10/20||Problems for Kant
Slides for Kant
|W 10/22||Ross and Prima Facie Duties||Ross, "What Makes Right Acts Right?" (1930), pp. 16-33
|F 10/24||Rossian Pluralism
||Ross, "What Makes Right Acts Right?" (1930), pp. 34-42|
|M 10/27||Rossian Pluralism vs. Utilitarianism
Slides for Ross
|re-read Ross, "What Makes Right Acts Right?", pp. 37-39|
|W 10/29||Doctrine of Double Effect,
Doctrine of Doing and Allowing
|Foot, "Abortion and the Doctrine of Double Effect" (1967)|
|F 10/31||The Trolley Problem
Slides for DDE, DDA, and Trolley
|Thomson, "Killing, Letting Die, & the Trolley Problem" (1976),
§1 (pp. 204-208); the rest is optional.
|M 11/3||Vegetarianism||Norcross, "Puppies, Pigs, and People" (2004), §1|
|W 11/5||Vegetarianism||Boonin and Oddie, "Arguments from Analogy" (2005)
Norcross, "Puppies, Pigs, and People" (2004), §2
Homework Assignment Due!
Slides for Vegetarianism
|M 11/10||Marquis on Abortion||Marquis, "Why Abortion is Immoral" (1989), thru §II
|W 11/12||Marquis on Abortion||Marquis, "Why Abortion is Immoral," §§III-VI
Second Paper Assignment
Philosophy Paper FAQ
|F 11/14||Marquis on Abortion
Slides for Marquis on Abortion
|Paske, "Abortion and the Neo-Natal Right to Life" (1998)|
|M 11/17||Thomson on Abortion
||Thomson, "A Defense of Abortion" (1971), thru §4|
|W 11/19||Second Paper Due
Thomson on Abortion
|(no reading due, since paper is due)|
|F 11/21||Thomson on Abortion
Slides for Thomson on Abortion
|Thomson, "A Defense of Abortion," §§5-8|
M 11/24 - F 11/28: T H A N K S G I V I N G B R E A K
|M 12/1||Background on Slave Reparations
Robinson's Arguments in favor
(Guest lecture by Prof. Boonin)
|Lyons, from "Corrective Justice, Equal Opportunity, and the Legacy of Slavery and Jim Crow" (2004)
Robinson, "America's Debt to Blacks" (2000)
|W 12/3||Horowitz's Arguments against
(Guest lecture by Prof. Boonin)
Slides for Slave Reparations
|Horowitz, "Ten Reasons Why Reparations for Blacks is a Bad Idea for Blacks -- and Racist Too" (2001)
Start working on Study Guide for Final
|F 12/5||FCQ's; Giving Game
Slides for Giving Game
|Continue working on Study Guide for Final|
|M 12/8||Review for Final, Part 1 (no clickers needed; do study guide in advance)
|W 12/10||Final Exam, Part 1
||Review for Final, Part 2 (no clickers needed; do study guide in advance)|
|Su 12/14||Final Exam, Part 2 (Sunday, December 14, 7:30 p.m., in our room) BRING A BLUEBOOK!|
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Anyone caught violating CU's academic integrity policy (in any way) will automatically receive an F for this course, and may be subject to expulsion from the university. I take cheating very seriously.
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