PHIL 1100 -- Ethics
Office: HLMS 192
Hours: Wednesdays 2:30-4:30, and by appointment
Office Hours: Mondays 2:00-4:00, and by appointment
Location: Innisfree Poetry Bookstore & Cafe, 1203 13th St.
This course provides an introduction to ethics by way of a study of doctrines and arguments primarily in the normative ethics of behavior (the theory of right and wrong) and practical ethics. We will conclude with the meaning of life. 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 simple logic, divine command theory, cultural relativism, utilitarianism, the trolley problem, deontology, slave reparations, vegetarianism, abortion, and the meaning of life.
The course website, which you should check regularly, can be found here:
Here you will find:
There will be no book! All readings are online and are or will be linked below on the course schedule. You will need a password to access some of them, which I will give you 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 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 stop; repeat offenders will lose points. When you get to class, please turn your cell phone OFF and put it away.
The use of laptops is also prohibited. This is because students who use laptops in class do less well in college, as do those who sit near them. (See also: "Why students using laptops learn less in class even when they really are taking notes" and "Attention, Students: Put Your Laptops Away.")
If you simply must communicate with someone from the outside world during class, that's fine; please just leave the room to do so.
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. Specific due dates will eventually be put on the course schedule below. You will be given a topic or set of 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: Most 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 two free passes on clickers: the first two times you miss clicking-in, you will get the points anyway. Absolutely no free points after that -- no exceptions. If you miss clicking-in simply because you miss class, that will use up your free passes.
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 Honor Code section below.
If you have not already done so, you need to register your clicker immediately. Otherwise, we 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, and to give you an incentive never to miss class (the quizzes are unannounced). For each reading, there will be a set of Reading Questions posted on the website. All of the questions on the pop quizzes will be taken directly from these reading questions. Furthermore, these quizzes are open-note. Thus, as you are doing each reading and taking notes on it, you should copy down each question in your notes and then write your answer to it, which you can find by studying the reading. Then bring these notes with you to class. All of the answers to the pop-quiz questions should then be right in your notes! So, yes, there is no reason that you all shouldn't ace all of the reading quizzes.
Quizzes are not restricted to readings that were due on the day of the quiz. They might cover readings that were due on earlier days.
You are permitted to use notes only that you yourself created from doing the reading; you cannot use or copy a classmate's notes. Though the pop quizzes are open-note, they are not open-book or "open-reading."
There might be a couple of short homework assignments. If there are, they will be lumped in with your quiz grades.
Your final grade for the course is determined according to the following scheme:
|Midterm Exam, part 1||40 points|
|Midterm Exam, part 2||60 points|
|Second Paper||50 points|
|Final Exam, part 1||40 points|
|Final Exam, part 2||60 points|
|Clicker questions||50 points|
|Reading quizzes||50 points|
In other words, the two exams together make up half your grade, the two papers a quarter, and the clicker questions and reading quizzes the final quarter.
Though it's possible that I might offer extra-credit for something if the opportunity arises, please don't 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 8/24||Introductions, Roll|
|F 8/28||What is Philosophy?
What is Ethics?
Logic, Truth, Validity, Soundness
Shafer-Landau, "Introduction" (2011), pp. 1-7
|M 8/31|| Finish Logic
The Normative Ethics of Behavior
[Slides for Course Introduction]
|Shafer-Landau, "Introduction" (2011), pp. 7-15|
|W 9/2||The Normative Ethics of Behavior [Slides for Intro to NEB]
||Rachels, "What is Morality?" (2009)
|F 9/4||Religious Approaches to Ethics||Mortimer, "Morality is Based on God's Commands" (1950)|
|M 9/7||NO CLASS -- LABOR DAY|
|W 9/9||The Euthyphro Problem||Plato, from Euthyphro (~380 B.C.E.)|
|F 9/11||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 9/16||CR and Tolerance;
The Cultural Differences Argument
|re-read Rachels, "Challenge of Cultural Relativism," §2.3
|F 9/18||The Cultural Differences Argument;
Arg. from the Eval. of Cultures
|Rachels, rest of "Challenge of Cultural Relativism";
Lewis, from Mere Christianity (1958)
|M 9/21||[First Paper Assignment]
Arg. from the Eval. of Cultures
|Midgley, "Trying Out One's New Sword" (1981)|
|W 9/23||Finish Cultural Relativism
The Gallup Poll Argument
[Slides for Cultural Relativism]
|Mill, from Utilitarianism (1863), pp. 1-4 (2/3 of the way down)|
|F 9/25||First Paper Due
What is Act Utilitarianism?
|Feldman, "What is Act Utilitarianism?" (1978), pp. 16-26|
|M 9/28||Understanding Utilitarianism||Mill, from Utilitarianism (1863), rest.|
|W 9/30||Against Utilitarianism||Feldman, "Act Utilitarianism: Pro and Con" (1978), pp. 36-41.|
|F 10/2||Against Utilitarianism||Rachels, "The Debate Over Utilitarianism" (2003).
Thomson, "K, LD, & the TP" (1976), §1 (the rest is optional).
Start working on Study Guide for Midterm!
|M 10/5||Utilitarianism & the Trolley Problem
[Slides for Utilitarianism]
|Radiolab, "Morality" (up to 13:40)|
|W 10/7||Review for Midterm Part 1 (no clickers needed; do study guide in advance)|
|F 10/9||Midterm Part 1|
|M 10/12||Return Midterm Part 1; Review for Midterm Part 2 (no clickers needed; do study guide in advance)|
|W 10/14||Midterm Part 2 BRING A BLUEBOOK!
|F 10/16||Ross and Prima Facie Duties||Ross, "What Makes Right Acts Right?" (1930), pp. 16-33
|M 10/19||Rossian Pluralism||Ross, "What Makes Right Acts Right?" (1930), pp. 34-42|
|W 10/21||Rossian Pluralism vs. Utilitarianism
[Slides for Ross]
|re-read Ross, "What Makes Right Acts Right?", pp. 37-39|
(Guest Lecture by Bodhi Melnitzer)
|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)
|M 10/26||Background on Slave Reparations
Robinson's Arguments in favor
|Lyons, from "Corrective Justice, Equal Opportunity, and the Legacy of Slavery and Jim Crow" (2004)
Robinson, "America's Debt to Blacks" (2000)
|W 10/28||Horowitz's Arguments against||Horowitz, "Ten Reasons Why Reparations for Blacks is a Bad Idea for Blacks -- and Racist Too" (2001)|
|F 10/30||Finish Slave Reparations||OPTIONAL: Coates, "The Case for Reparations"|
|M 11/2||Vegetarianism||Norcross, "Puppies, Pigs, and People" (2004), §1|
|W 11/4||Vegetarianism||Boonin and Oddie, "Arguments from Analogy" (2005)
Norcross, "Puppies, Pigs, and People" (2004), §2
Homework Assignment Due
[Slides for Vegetarianism]
|New York Times Contest and the winning essay
(also read some of the "Comments" for some sample arguments for why it's ethical to eat meat)
|M 11/9||Marquis on Abortion||Marquis, "Why Abortion is Immoral" (1989), thru §II
|W 11/11||Marquis on Abortion
Second Paper Assignment
|Marquis, "Why Abortion is Immoral," §§III-VI
Philosophy Paper FAQ
|F 11/13||Marquis on Abortion
[Slides for Marquis on Abortion]
|Paske, "Abortion and the Neo-Natal Right to Life" (1998)|
|M 11/16||Thomson on Abortion
||Thomson, "A Defense of Abortion" (1971), thru §4|
|W 11/18||Second Paper Due
Thomson on Abortion
|(no reading, since paper is due)|
|F 11/20||Thomson on Abortion
[Slides for Thomson on Abortion]
|Thomson, "A Defense of Abortion," §§5-8|
M 11/23 - F 11/27: T H A N K S G I V I N G B R E A K
|M 11/30||return/review papers
The Meaning of Life
|Taylor, "The Meaning of Life" (1970)|
|W 12/2||The Meaning of Life||Wolf, "Happiness and Meaning" (1997), thru §III|
The Meaning of Life
|Wolf, "Happiness and Meaning" (1997), §§IV-V|
|M 12/7||Review for Final, Part 1 (no clickers needed; do study guide in advance)
|W 12/9||Final Exam, Part 1
||Review for Final, Part 2 (no clickers needed; do study guide in advance)|
|Tu 12/15||Final Exam, Part 2, 4:30 PM, in our room. BRING A BLUEBOOK!|
Accommodations for Disabilities
If you qualify for accommodations because of a disability, please give me a letter from Disability Services in a timely manner (for exam accommodations you must provide your letter at least one week prior to the exam) so that your needs can be addressed. Disability Services determines accommodations based on documented disabilities. Contact Disability Services at 303-492-8671 or by e-mail at email@example.com. If you have a temporary medical condition or injury, see Temporary Injuries guidelines under the Quick Links at the Disability Services website and discuss your needs with your professor.
Campus policy regarding religious observances requires that faculty make every effort to deal reasonably and fairly with all students who, because of religious obligations, have conflicts with scheduled exams, assignments or required attendance. Please let me know well in advance about any such conflicts, and we'll work together to resolve them. See campus policy regarding religious observances for full details.
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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.