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Philosophy 101: Contemporary Moral Problems- Winter 2011

Dr. Jackie Ann K. Kegley jkegley@csub.edu


Office: Faculty Towers 103D- 664-2249 Philosophy Office-664-2291 Fax: 665-6904

Office Hours: M 11-1; Th. 3-5; Friday: 9-11, and by appointment.


Class materials and grades will be posted on Blackboard 9. This includes any lecture materials. They may also be important messages posted, so please check Blackboard regularly.


You must register for this course on Blackboard 9- Here are the instructions:

1. Login to blackboard using net ID and password (default is last five digits of your student id)

2. Select "My Courses" tab

3. Browse course catalog (recommendation to browse by last name of instructor)

4. Click submit

5. If it doesn't work, call x 2315 for help.


Required Texts:

  1. Rachels, J. & Rachels, S, editors, The Elements of Moral Philosophy 6th Edition, New York: McGraw Hill, 2010. ISBN: 978-0-07-338671.

  2. Rachels, J. & Rachels, S., Editors, The Right Thing to Do 5th Edition, New York: McGraw Hill, 2010. ISBN: 9780-0-07-340740-1.


Course Description: This course provides an overview of historical and recent ethics theory and concepts, and an examination of contemporary moral issues and dilemmas, such as abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment, affirmative action, animal rights, and gender relationships. Emphasis is given to the relationship between theory and practice.


Goals and Objectives


Goal 1: Understand the Experiences and ideas of others

Objective: Discuss the similarities and differences of theories and ideas presented by various ethicists on a variety of topics.

Goal 2: Understand one’s own culture and community

Objective 1: Discuss the assumptions underlying the theories and their applications on contemporary moral issues.

Objective 2: Discuss the assumptions underlying your own moral system and principles as you apply them to contemporary moral issues.

Goal 3: Appreciate and critically evaluate diverse value systems

Objective 1: Distinguish between normative and descriptive claims.

Objective 2: Critically evaluate the assumptions and principles of specific ethical systems.

Objective 3: Use the various ethical theories in evaluating moral issues.

Goal 4: Critically analyze original and secondary texts.

Objective 1: Engage in critical reading of various types of texts.

Objective 2: Critically evaluate the various theories and proposals on moral issues.

Goal 5: Understands changes in viewpoints and human conditions over term.

Objective 1: View the ethical issues and proposed solutions in light of their historical and cultural context.

Objective 2: Evaluate the notion of moral development.


Requirements: Your progress in this course will be assessed through the following requirements. Required work is always due on the day of class when the work is listed.


30% Class Participation: This includes the following elements:


  1. 12%- Short Reading quizzes- one each week.- You may drop two of these.

  2. 12%- Structured Discussions- These are small group discussions of the topics and readings and will be graded by you and the instructor. These will be good preparation for the reflective papers.

  3. 5%-Attendance- Attendance is a counted in your grade calculation. You are allowed three absences- all other absences must be documented (for illness, family difficulties, required university travel) If you must miss class for a truly legitimate reason, please contact me ahead of time. Each unexcused absence warrants a five-percent reduction in the final grade.


Justification: attendance and participation is vital. This is a class is an opportunity to explore together the fundamental moral issues by means of a variety of ethical approaches and principles. Sharing our ideas, arguments, and experiences will lead us to greater understanding of very complex, but highly significant questions. Our classroom should become a “community of intellectual inquiry and sharing” and thus, your attendance and participation is vital. It is crucial that we share our observations, ideas, and critical reflections. In this process, we should gain a wider understanding of the philosophical texts and hopefully will learn much from each other. (Students are expected to spend two hours outside of class on class work for every hour of class.)


Discussion Board- “Ethical Issues”


I have also created a Discussion Board on Blackboard 9. It is entitled “Ethical Issues.” Questions posted there are related to the structured discussions that we will have in class. Your participation in the Discussion Board can be used as extra credit toward your overall discussion grade and participation in 6 out of the 8 discussion forums can be used to make up for a missed discussion session or for one unexcused absence.


70% Reflective essays- These essays replace any Mid-Term or Final Exams because they will allow you to bring together and synthesize the course content. The last reflective essay will contain a summative question- it will be due on the exam date. The first two essays will be worth 20% each and the final essay will be worth 30%.


I will read and comment on rough drafts of your papers. They can be sent by e-mail.

These should be sent at least two days in advance of the due date of the paper.

This allows time for feedback and re-writing.


These essays are due as follows:

Reflection Paper # 1 February 1

Reflective Paper # 2 February 23

Reflective Paper # 3 March 17th Exam Day- 5-7:30 p.m.


Extra Credit Assignments- There will be three extra credit assignments. These may be used to supplement your grade at the end of the quarter.

  1. Kegley Lecture- Andrei Codrescu, Poet, Essayist, NPR and PBS Commentator- “Whose Global Village? Reflections on Power and Imagination in Today’s World.”- Monday, February 21- 7:00 p.m. in the Dore Theater.- Write up a summary of the lecture and relate it to discussions and lectures in class.




  1. Write up and analysis of the following two articles:


The Ethics of War and Peace- Questions on these articles may be

discussed and handed in for extra credit.

Douglas P. Lackey, “The Ethics of War and Peace,” The

Right Thing, 161-169; John Rawls, “Fifty Years After Hiroshima,” The Right Thing, 170-1

There is a handout with the questions- ask for this. It is also on Blackboard 9.


  1. Note also the participation in the Discussion Board posted on Blackboard entitled “Ethical Issues.”


Letter grades and their percentage equivalents:


87-89= B+ 77-79=C+ 67-69=D+

93-100 =A 83-86=B 73-76=C 63-66=D

90-92= A- 80-82=B- 70-72=C- 60-62=D- Below 60= F


COURSE POLICIES

Make-Ups: Make-ups will not be allowed. However, if you miss a deadline for reasons that are beyond your control (illness, car accident) you must contact me either before class or as soon as possible afterwards. The make-up may be granted upon proper documentation, i.e. a doctor’s note, receipt from the mechanic. Failure to do so will result in a zero grade for the missed assignment.


Office Hours- I am available to discuss with you any aspects of this class as well as other matters if you wish.


My announced office hours are an indication of when I can usually be found in my office. Occasionally other commitments will take me away from the office during these times, so for important matters it is best to set up an appointment in advance. Also, you should not feel restricted to seeing me only during scheduled office hours. I can meet with you by appointment other than my scheduled office hours at a time convenient for both of us. You should contact me in advance to cancel the appointment if you cannot honor the scheduled appointment. You may leave a message on my voice mail or with our department secretary, or you can email me.


Academic dishonesty (Cheating) is a broad category of actions that involve fraud and deception to improve a grade or obtain course credit. Academic dishonesty (cheating) is not limited to examination situations alone, but arises whenever a student attempts to gain an unearned academic advantage. Plagiarism is a specific form of academic dishonesty which consists of the misuse of published or unpublished works of another by claiming them as one’s own. Plagiarism may consist of handing in someone else’s work as one’s own, copying or purchasing a pre-written composition and claiming it as one’s own, using paragraphs, sentences, phrases, words, or ideas by another without giving appropriate citation or using data and/or statistics compiled by another, without giving appropriate citation. Another example of academic dishonesty is the submission of the same, or essentially the same paper or other assignment for credit in two different courses without receiving prior approval from the instructors of the affected courses.


If academic dishonesty in any form occurs, I am required to notify the CSUB Student Conduct Coordinator. A course grade of ‘F’ may be assigned or another grade penalty may be applied. Additional academic sanctions such a disciplinary probation, suspension or permanent expulsion may be determined by the student conduct coordinator. I take this matter of betrayal of trust very seriously. If you have questions about this, please ask.


Special Needs: To request academic accommodations due to a disability, please contact the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) as soon as possible. Their office is located in SA 140, and they may be reached at 661-654-3360 (voice), or 661-654-6288 (TDD). If you have an accommodations letter from the SSD Office documenting that you have a disability, please present the letter to me during class or during my office hours as soon as possible so we can discuss the specific accommodations that you might need in this class. Please do let me know of any special needs that you might have.


Class Etiquette

Out of self-respect and respect for others I expect that during lectures or class activities you refrain from (1) private conversations, (2) texting, (3) receiving cell phone calls, (4) leaving the classroom during the lecture-class session, and (5) starting to pack up your belongings before class is over. Such behavior is very disruptive and discourteous to your instructor and classmates. If you need to leave the classroom during the class session for a serious reason, let me know before the class starts and be seated close to the door.


Harassment Policy

Written or spoken statements that can be construed as harassment will not be tolerated and will be reported to the appropriate university office for proper legal investigation and action. This includes, but is not limited to, comments based on race, ethnic origin, gender, disability, or sexual orientation.


SCHEDULE


Wednesday, January 5 Introduction to the Class- “Mores and Morality”

“A Short Introduction to Moral Philosophy,” The Right

Thing, 1-19.


Monday, January 10 “Autonomy and Beneficence.”

Important Steps in Moral Discussion

“Some Basic Points about Arguments,” The Right Thing, 20-28;

Structured Discussion # 1 Video, “Old Person’s Friend”


Wednesday, January 12 “Ethical Egoism” Elements, 62-79.

Video: “Family Tree”-

Quiz # 1 Guest instructor: Dr. Maria Paleologou




Monday, January 17 NO Class- Martin Luther King Day- Campus Closed


Wednesday, January 19 Utilitarianism- “Utilitarianism,” The Right Thing, 29-39; 40-48.

Quiz # 2


Monday, January 24 “The Debate Over Utilitarianism,” Elements, 97-198, and 109-123.

Structured Discussion #2 Video: “Critical Choice




Wednesday, January 26 Kantian Ethics- “Kant and the Respect for Persons,” Elements, 136-145; and “Are There Absolute Moral Rules,”124-135. “The Categorical Imperative,” The Right Thing, 61-66.

Quiz # 3 Last Day to withdraw from class with a “W”


Monday, January 31 Feminism and the Ethics of Care,” Elements, 146-157.

Aristotle, “The Virtues,” The Right Thing, 67-73; “The Ethics of

Virtue,” 154-172.

Quiz # 4

Structured Discussion # 3 “A Chronic Problem”


Wednesday, February 2 “Does Morality Depend on Religion?” Elements, 48-61.

Structured Discussion #4 Video: “The Courage of One’s Convictions.”

Reflection Paper # 1 Due


Monday, February 7 Human Rights

“The Idea of Social Contract,” Elements, 80-96.

Quiz # 5

____________________________________________________________________________________


Wednesday, February 9 Race

Martin Luther King, “Letter from the Birmingham City

Jail,” The Right Thing, 271-278; Peter Singer, “Is Racial

Discrimination Arbitrary?” The Right Thing, 279-290.

The Tuskegee Affair- Handout- also on Blackboard.

Video: “The Power of an Illusion”-The House we Live In”


Monday, February 14 Race Discussion Continued- Reread the articles by King, and Singer and the “Tuskegee Affair.”

Quiz # 6

Structured Discussion # 5


Wednesday, February 16 Animal Rights

Peter Singer,” “All Animals Are Equal,” The Right

Thing, 120-129; Alastair Norcross,” “Torturing Puppies

And Eating Meat: It’s All in Good Taste,” The Right Thing, 130-137.

Tibor Machan, “Do Animals Have Rights?”The Right

Thing, 138-150

Video: “The Witness”


Monday, February 21 Animal Rights

Peter Singer,” “All Animals Are Equal,” The Right

Thing, 120-129; Alastair Norcross,” “Torturing Puppies

And Eating Meat: It’s All in Good Taste,” The Right Thing, 130-137.

Quiz # 7 Tibor Machan, “Do Animals Have Rights?”The Right

Structured Discussion # 6 Thing, 138-150


Kegley Lecture- Andrei Cordescu-7 p.m. - Dore Theater


Wednesday, February 23 The Death Penalty

“Louis P. Pojman, “A Defense of the Death Penalty,”

The Right Thing, 203-210; Stephen P. Bright, “Why the

United States Should Join the Rest of the World in

Reflective Paper # 2 Due Abandoning the Death Penalty,” The Right Thing, 211-22.

Structured Discussion # 7 Video: “Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”


Monday, February 28 Genetic Technology

Matt, Ridley, “The New Eugenics,” The Right Thing,

321-327.

` David Micklos & Elof Carlson, “Engineering American

Quiz # 8 Society,” Handout.- Also on Blackboard

Structured Discussion # 8 Video: Who Should Decide?”


Wednesday, March 2 Personhood, Humanity, Life and Rights

Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide

James Rachels, “The Morality of Euthanasia,” The Right

Thing, 306-310; Richard Doerflinger, “Assisted Suicide:

Quiz # 9 Pro Choice, or Anti-Life?” The Right Thing, 311-327.

Structured Discussion # 9 “If You Want a Girl Like Me?”


Monday, March 7 Terrorism

Thomas Nagel, “What is Wrong with Terrorism?” The Right Thing, 178-188; David Luban, “Liberalism, Torture,

And the Ticking Bomb,” The Right Thing, 189-201.


Structured Discussion # 10 Video: “Happy Birthday”

______________________________________________________________________________________


Wednesday, March 9 Morality and Abortion- Personhood and Life Again

Don Marquis, “Why Abortion is Immoral?” The Right

Thing, 85-91; Judith Jarvis Thompson, “A Defense of

Abortion,” The Right Thing, 92-109.


Monday, March 14th Review of Life and Death Issues-

Structured Discussion # 11

Wednesday, March 16th Reflective Paper # 3- Due- Exam Day- 5-7:30 p.m.

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