Three goals of this course are to:
(1) introduce students to philosophical debates on moral problems ofTexts
(2) present criticisms that will aid students in evaluating some of the
(3) help students better develop and defend their own positions.
Carl Wellman's Morals and Ethics, second edition.
Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc, 1988.
Orson Scott Card's Maps in a Mirror. New York: Tom Doherty Associates, Inc., 1990.
We will consider six moral problems and related philosophical ethical issues as follows:
Moral Problem Philosophical Ethical Issue
1. Civil Disobedience
The Nature of Right and Wrong
2. Genetic Engineering The Good
3. Cheating in Academia Moral Value
4. Abortion The End of the Law
5. Preferential Admissions "A Right"
6. Capital Punishment Moral Knowledge
These issues will be treated in lectures
and discussions as the course progresses. During the discussions students
will have an opportunity to make sense out of and criticize other positions,
and to develop and
defend their own reasoned conclusions.
To confirm students' familiarity with the material and the basics of the various positions, a midterm and final exam will be given. In these exams, the student will be asked to defend his or her own position concerning a moral problem discussed in class and a related philosophical issue covered before the exam (not necessarily the issue paired with that problem in class; e.g., on the final exam, the student might be asked to consider whether or not genetic engineering should be legal given the student's own views on the end of the law). ON THE MIDTERM AND FINAL EXAMS, an additional question will be asked concerning an issue raised by Maps in a Mirror.
The exams are primarily related to the first two objectives of this course concerning criticism of and familiarity with philosophical debates on moral problems of present concern. It is also hoped that preparation for the exams will help students satisfy the third goal of developing and defending their own positions on these and related issues. For those student who wish to do more work in this area. there is an optional paper assignment.
EVALUATIONS AND REQUIREMENTS
1. Attendance and Participation. Attendance is expected. Participation in discussions will figure to the student's benefit in determining grades. ATTENDANCE AND PARTICIPATION TOGETHER COUNT FOR 1/3 OF THE FINAL GRADE. GRADING IS DONE ON THE "TRADITIONAL TEN POINT SCALE" [90-100 = A RANGE, 80-89 = B RANGE, ETC.
2. Exams. Students are expected to be familiar with the material in the lectures, discussions, and the required texts. This familiarity will be evaluated in the midterm (6/14) and cumulative final (take-home due 6/24; in-class on June 28). These each constitute 1/3 of the grade. However, if the final is better, it will be given more weight.
3. Extra credit: Each student will be given a chance to develop and defend his or her own position on one of the moral problems or theoretical issues discussed in this course. Students are encouraged to consider problems not explicitly treated in the course, e.g.:
1. Is war always wrong?Students are encouraged to treat topics of their own choosing. If, however, you decide to do so, please confirm your topic with me in advance. Whatever your topic, please feel free to consult me regarding bibliography, style, or as a devil's advocate.
2. Is the use of psychological testimony in the courts on a par with allegations of witchcraft?
3. Should cigarette smoking be illegal?
4. Is cigarette smoking ever justified?
5. Is the use of alcohol (or marijuana or cocaine or . . . ) good or bad?
6. Should men (or women) have a genuinely equal right to work outside the home?
7. Should men (or women) have a genuinely equal right to work inside the home?
8. Is adultery always wrong?
9. The laws on rape should be . . . . . .
10. Ethical Relativism (pro or con).
11. Why be moral?
12. Ethical Egoism (pro or con).
13. Justification in Ethics.
14. Religion and ethics.
15. Is it wrong to eat meat?
16. Animal rights.
17. Should aborted fetuses be used for research or treatment?
18. The obligations of the living to the dying.
19. The obligations of the dying to the living.
20. Other topics.
TENTATIVE COURSE SCHEDULE AND READING ASSIGNMENTS
(5/24) Introduction to the subject. The usefulness of worrying ahead. Theory and practice.
(5/25) Civil Disobedience. Read Wellman,
Chapter 1. Read Card's "Unaccompanied Sonata."
(5/27) The Nature of Right and Wrong. Read Wellman, Chapter 2.
(6/1) Genetic Engineering. Read Wellman, Chapter 3. Read Card's "Gert Fram."
(6/3) The Good. Read Wellman, Chapter 4. Read Card's "The Best Day."
(6/7) Are cheaters qua cheaters morally evil? Read Wellman, Chapter 5.
(6/8) Moral Value. Read Wellman, Chapter 6. Read Card's "The
Porcelain Salamander" and "Middle Woman."
(6/10) Abortion. Read Wellman, Chapter 7.
(6/14) JUNE 14: IN-CLASS MIDTERM. FIRST DRAFT OF OPTIONAL PAPER
(6/15) The End of the Law. Read Wellman, Chapter 8. Read Card's "Prior restraint."
(6/17) Take-home version of midterm due. Preferential Admissions. Read Wellman, Chapter 9. Read Card, "Bicicleta." (Take-home version of final distributed.)
(6/21) What is "A Right"? Read Wellman, Chapter 10.
MONDAY, JUNE 21: 2D DRAFT OF OPTIONAL PAPER DUE
(6/22) Is Capital Punishment ever right? Read Wellman, Chapter 11. Read Card's "A Thousand Deaths" and "Sandmagic."
(6/24); TAKE-HOME VERSION OF FINAL DUE THURSDAY JUNE 24
How can anyone one ever know which act is right? Read Wellman, Chapter 12. Review "Unaccompanied Sonata" and "Middle Woman." The challenges of ethical skepticism, relativism, emotivism, sophism. Responses to the challenges. The authoritarian paradox, revelation, intuitionism, naturalism, good reasons approach. Read Wellman, Conclusion. Ethical systems and the challenge of science. Determinism and free-will. Ethical systems and codification. Theory and practice again.
(6/28) MONDAY, JUNE 28: IN-CLASS FINAL. Note: No office hours on 6/28/99.