PHIL 1100 -- Ethics
Prof. Chris Heathwood
T.A. Bodhi Melnitzer
University of Colorado Boulder
What We Did Each Day
(or plan to do)
M 8/24: First day stuff: Introductions (especially concerning stuttering), roll.
W 8/26: Syllabus review. Distributed Questionnaire (due Friday).
F 8/28: Collected Questionnaire. Bodhi's Answers to Questionnaire Questions. What is Philosophy? What is ethics? Logic: statements, truth.
M 8/31: Logic: truth, argument, validity, soundness. Validity exercises. The three main areas of normative ethics. The normative ethics of behavior. The case of baby Theresa.
W 9/2: The case of baby Theresa: our first clicker question! Moral principles. WKS, PGP, BP. Fully general moral principles. Moral theories. The fundamental project of the normative ethics of behavior. 10C, GR, GHP. Refuting moral theories. Counterexamples. Your Counterexamples to 10C.
F 9/4: Had Reading Quiz #1. Two other problems for 10C: what it fails to forbid; conflicts between commandments. Review of Questionnaire question on God and Morality. God and morality. Divine Command Theory (DCT). How do we know God's commands? Disturbing Bible passages. An alternative divine-command-theoretic moral epistemology. DCT and atheism.
M 9/7: NO CLASS
W 9/9: DCT and atheism. Reasons to believe DCT. Plato. The Euthyphro. Socrates' question. Euthyphro Problem for DCT. Horn 1 and Horn 2. First problem with Horn 1. The problem with Horn 2. The Euthyphro Problem as a valid, line-by-line argument.
F 9/11: Reading Quiz #2. Discussion of first problem with Horn 1. Second problem with Horn 1. The problem with Horn 2. The Euthyphro Problem as a valid, line-by-line argument.
M 9/14: Examples of differences in moral beliefs and practices between cultures. Some Common Claims of Cultural Relativists according to Rachels. Group exercise to find internal inconsistencies in these claims.
W 9/16: Our statement of cultural relativism: CR. CR and Tolerance. An Argument from Tolerance for CR. Two problems with that argument. Introduction to the Cultural Differences Argument for CR.
F 9/18: Reading Quiz #3. The Cultural Differences Argument for CR. The general principle that P2 of Cultural Differences Argument seems to be based on. Counterexamples to this principle. C.S. Lewis recording. Arguing Against a Moral Theory. The Argument from Evaluation of Cultures. Questionnaire results.
M 9/21: Discussed First Paper Assignment (due Friday!). The Argument from Evaluation of Cultures. Providing rationales for premises. The Gallup Poll, our views about it, and upshot of this for Cultural Relativism.
W 9/23: Reading Quiz #4. The Gallup Poll Argument. The Appeals of Cultural Relativism. How non-relativists or "objectivists" can (1) value tolerance, (2) have humility about our knowledge of right and wrong, and (3) accept that lots of morality is relative at a non-fundamental level.
F 9/25: More moral principles. The Playing God Principle. The mind-your-own-business principle. The societal ruin principle. Examples of uncontroversially wrong actions. The Suffering Principle. Counterexamples to the necessity claim in the SP. John Stuart Mill. A very famous passage. Difficulties in formulating Mill's theory.
M 9/28: Hedonic Utility. Varieties of pleasure and pain. Maximization. Alternatives. Our formulation of utilitarianism: AU. Examples. Important features of AU.
W 9/30: Returned and Discussed First Paper (median score was 44 out of 50). The Peeping Tom Objection to AU and a preferentist version of utilitarianism. The "Lack of Time" Argument against AU. Presenting, Explaining, and Evaluating Arguments. Presenting, Explaining, and Evaluating the "Lack of Time" Argument against AU.
F 10/2: Reading Quiz #5. The Organ Harvest Objection to AU.
M 10/5: The Trolley Problem and some possible solutions. A Utilitarian Response to the Organ Harvest Argument.
W 10/7: Review for Midterm Part 1
F 10/9: Midterm Part 1
M 10/12: Return and go over Midterm Part 1. Review for Midterm Part 2.
W 10/14: Midterm Part 2
F 10/16: Something all our theories have had in common. W.D. Ross. The Concept of a Prima Facie Duty. The Promise/Accident example. The Splinter example.
M 10/19: Ross List of Prima Facie Duties: (a) Fidelity; (b) Reparations; (c) Gratitude; (d) Justice; (e) Beneficence; (f) Self-Improvement; (g) Non-Maleficence. Learned how to apologize. Stated Rossian Pluralism (RP).
W 10/21: Reading Quiz #5. Review and detailed applications of Rossian Pluralism. How we know what maximizes p-f rightness over wrongness on Ross' view. Ross' Argument from Promises against AU. Would it be irrational to follow RP?
F 10/23: Guest lecture on Kant by Bodhi Melnitzer.
M 10/26: New general topic: applied ethics / applied social philosophy. First topic in that: Slave Reparations. Poll results from our questionnaire. Comparison with some of Horowitz' objections to slave reparations. Poll results of Americans. Audio clip of interview with Ta-Nehisi Coates, author of "The Case for Reparations."
W 10/28: Details of U.S. government support of "slavery and its aftermath," 1789 to the mid-20th century. Empirical data about how well African Americans are doing as compared to other Americans. The Robinsonian Argument for Slave Reparations.
F 10/30: Reading Quiz #6. Review of Robinsonian Argument for Slave Reparations. Compensation/Reparations principle. Rationale for P2. Analogy with company spilling toxic waste a long time ago. Objections to the Robinsonian Argument for Slave Reparations (from Horowitz and the class).
M 11/2: Some real news stories: Brothers Get 10 Years for Cooking Puppy in Oven; Former CU student convicted of taping dog to fridge; In Thailand, Tracking the Dog Trade. An Imaginary Story: Fred's basement. An explanation for why what Fred does (and what is done to the dogs in Thailand) is wrong: it causes serious harm, suffering, and death for only trivial benefits. Norcross' Argument for Vegetarianism. Questionnaire results: 25% of class thinks it's wrong to buy meat from conventional sources; 75% think this is ok. What is "factory farming"?
W 11/4: Reading Quiz #7. Review of Norcross' Argument for Vegetarianism. Arguments by Analogy and Objecting to the Parity Premise. The Technique of Variant Cases. Objections to P2 of Norcross' Argument for Vegetarianism. First objection: health. Second objection: puppies are different. Homework Assignment: Benjamin Franklin's Argument against Vegetarianism.
F 11/6: Collected homework assignment. Ben Franklin's Argument. Counterexamples to Ben Franklin's Principle. Other Criticisms of Ben Franklin's Argument. Another argument for the permissibility of eating meat: the long-standing practices argument.
M 11/9: The importance of the question of the morality of abortion. A survey. The questionnaire results. Marquis' Main Thesis. Marquis' Methodology. The concept of a future like ours. Marquis' Future-Like-Ours (FLO) Theory of the Wrongness of Killing.
W 11/11: Discussed Second Paper and Philosophy Paper FAQ. Marquis' Future-Like-Ours (FLO) Theory of the Wrongness of Killing. Allegedly Attractive Implications of the FLO Theory. A Fifth Implication of the FLO Theory. Marquis' Main Argument. Marquis' Main Argument: Not a religious argument. When did I start existing?, and how that depends on some facts about embryology. The "Failure to Conceive" Objection.
F 11/13: Reading Quiz #8. Paske's Personhood Theory of the Wrongness of Killing. Definitions of 'person' and 'human'. Examples of persons and non-persons. Paske's "Cat Person" Objection to Marquis' FLO Theory. Paske's Personhood Theory vs. Marquis' FLO Theory.
M 11/16: The Standard Anti-Abortion Argument. The standard way for defenders of abortion to reply. Thomson's way of replying. Thomson's Counterexample to P2 of the Standard Anti-Abortion Argument. Thomson's Positive Argument.
W 11/18: Collected Second Paper. Thomson's Positive Argument. Objections to Thomson's Argument: different burdens; consent; responsibility.
F 11/20: Reading Quiz #9. The Responsibility Objection to Thomson's Positive Argument.
M 11/30: Review of what we've done so far about right and wrong. New topic: meaning of life. Taylor's method: begin with a paradigmatically meaningless life; vary it to see what might give it meaning. The Life of Sisyphus. Mortal Sisyphus. Easy Sisyphus. Sanctified Sisyphus. Engaged Sisyphus. Taylor's inconsistency.
W 12/2: Taylor's inconsistency. Two kinds of meaning. Taylor's Theory of "Objective Meaningfulness." Taylor's Theory of "Meaning For." Wolf's Two Arguments for the View that "Meaning For" / Fulfillment Isn't Enough: (1) it reasonable to be worried about whether your life is meaningful even if it has satisfied you; (2) Some satisfying activities intuitively contribute to meaning while others do not. Three Theories of Meaning: Taylor's Engagement Theory; Wolf's Engagement in Worth Theory; A Worth Theory.
F 12/4: Free Quiz. Five theories of meaningfulness (along with poll results): Subjectivism (8); Objectivism (1); Wolf's View (11); Permanent Objectivism; Taylor's View (4).
M 12/7: Review for Final Part 1.
W 12/9: Final Exam Part 1.
F 12/11: Return and Review Final Exam Part 1. Review for Final Exam Part 2.
YOU CAN IGNORE WHAT'S BELOW ...
W 11/19: Three potentially morally relevant differences between Famous Violinist and Typical Unwanted Pregnancy: (1) Different relationship: TUP: mother-child; FV: stranger-stranger. (2) Different Burdens: burden(FV) > burden(TUP). (3) Responsibility: FV: you are in no way responsible for the fact that there is this person attached to you who needs to use your body for life support; TUP: the woman is partly responsible for the fact that there is this person attached to her who needs to use her body for life support. Discussion of Responsibility Objection. Variant case: Hunting Accident. Hunting Accident vs. Famous Violinist vs. Typical Unwanted Pregnancy. A potentially morally relevant difference between Hunting Accident and Typical Unwanted Pregnancy.
F 11/21: Reading Quiz #11. Detailed discussion of Responsibility Objection. Final thoughts on abortion.
M 12/1: Slave Reparations (guest lecture by Prof. David Boonin). Slave reparations: who supposedly owes?, owes for what?, owes what? Horowitz' Challenge. First strategy: Principle of Unjust Enrichment. Argument by Analogy from Stolen Painting. Second strategy: Compensation Principle. Four steps for second strategy: (i) Compensation Principle; (ii) Historical Claim; (iii) the Causal Claim; (step (iv) next time). Returned and reviewed Second Paper. Assigned Homework Assignment, due tomorrow: email Prof. Boonin (David.Boonin@colorado.edu), Alex, and me and tell us what you think are the three strongest objections to slave reparations made by Horowitz; you can just say which numbers (e.g., "2, 5, and 8").
W 12/3: Slave Reparations (guest lecture by Prof. David Boonin). Four steps for the Compensation Argument: (i) the Compensation Principle; (ii) Historical Claim; (iii) the Causal Claim; (iv) the Surviving Public Obligation Principle (SPOP). In defense of the SPOP: NATO Analogy; Japanese Internment. Horowitz' objections: Obj. 1, Obj. 3, Obj. 7. If you'd like to think more about slave reparations as well as other applied ethical issues on race, check out Prof. Boonin's book Should Race Matter?: Unusual Answers to the Usual Questions.
F 12/5: Free Quiz. FCQ's. Giving Game.
M 12/8: Review for Final Exam.
W 12/10: Final Exam Part 1.
F 12/12: Return and Review Final Exam Part 1. More Review, for Part 2.
Su 12/14, 7:30 p.m.: Final Exam Part 2. BRING A BLUEBOOK!!!