Day

Time

Place

Instructor

CRN

Thursday

1 PM

103 PETR

Gus Skorburg

26035

Thursday

1 PM

123 MCK

Bonnie Sheehey

26036

Thursday

2 PM

123 LLCN

Gus Skorburg

26037

Thursday

2 PM

105 FEN

Jon LaRochelle

26038

Thursday

3 PM

132 GSH

Billy Göhring

26039

Thursday

3 PM

214 FR

Jon LaRochelle

26040

Friday

10 AM

112 WIL

Billy Göhring

26031

Friday

10 AM

121 MCK

Phil Mayo

26032

Friday

11 AM

373 MCK

Teri Mayfield

26029

Friday

11 AM

121 MCK

Phil Mayo

26030

Friday

Noon

303 GER

Teri Mayfield

26033

Friday

Noon

112 WIL

Bonnie Sheehey

26034

 

Course description

A study of basic views on how we ought to live our lives. The following kinds of questions are examined: What is goodness? Can we, and if so how can we, justify our basic ethical principles? Can ethical statements be true (or false), or are they solely a matter of preference?

 

Further details

This course canvasses several of the main ethical theories in the history of philosophy.  According to virtue ethics, the aim of ethics is to cultivate good character, from which right action naturally flows.  According to deontological ethics, the aim of ethics is to formulate and act upon universalizable rules – rules that anyone, anywhere, at any time should follow.  According to consequentialism, the aim of ethics is to act so as to produce the best possible resulting state of the world.  We will discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each view, from both theoretical and empirical points of view.

 

Textbooks

We will be using two textbooks in this class:

Shafer-Landau, The Fundamentals of Ethics (FE)
Shafer-Landau, The Ethical Life: Fundamental Readings in Ethics and Moral Problems (EL)

 

Assessment

This is a lower-level undergraduate course in philosophy, so I have two main goals for you: to establish a baseline of knowledge, and to start to hone your philosophical skills.  To that end, I will assign two exams and one paper.  The breakdown of the value of assignments is as follows:

midterm exam

25%

final exam

30%

term paper

30%

participation

15%

 

Midterm exam

 

This exam will be administered in the fifth week of class, and will be based on all material covered up until that point.  It will involve both short answers and a few longer essays.

 

Final exam

 

This exam will be administered after classes end, and will be based on all material covered in the entire ten-week term.  It will involve both short answers and a few longer essays.

 

Term paper

 

Your term paper, of between 1000 and 1500 words, is due at the end of the term, and will answer one of several questions that I will pose to you.  By the end of week eight, you will turn in an abstract of between 150 and 250 words.  The paper is due at the end of the term.

 

 

 

Participation

 

This includes showing up on time, speaking up in section, paying attention to what the other students have to say, taking notes, asking questions, etc.  And of course it includes not sleeping, texting, emailing, tweeting, facebooking, luluing, etc.  The GTFs and I all have water guns that we’re not afraid to use. 

Participation also includes weekly responses: you are required to email your GTF an informal response by 11 PM the night before your section (Wednesday night if your section is on Thursday, Thursday night if your section is on Friday).  These responses should be between 150 and 250 words.  The content of the response is up to you, but all responses should deal directly with the reading assigned for that week.  You may want to choose a sentence or paragraph you found especially provocative, difficult, or remarkable, then explain why you found it provocative, difficult, or remarkable.  Alternatively, you may want to argue that one of the authors is right or wrong in making some particular claim.  Or you may wish to connect two passages in the reading that illuminate each other.  You may even just pick a passage and ask questions about it.  Your responses will guide what we address in lecture and in section, and I will sometimes quote from them, so please take them seriously.

Finally, participation includes presenting once over the course of the term with a partner in section.  Your section leaders will describe this assignment in more detail.

 

Schedule of readings and assignments

 

Week & Topic

Day

Assignments

1: Introduction to ethical theory

January 6

 

January 8

EL, pp. 1-7

January 10

FE, pp. 1-20

2: Feminist ethics and abortion

January 13

FE, pp. 272-286
EL, pp. 150-161 (Lindemann)

January 15

EL, pp. 351-363 (Thompson)

Objection from Gus

January 17

EL, pp. 364-374 (Marquis)

EL, pp. 375-387 (Foot)

Objection from Billy

3: Religion and ethics

*note: MLK holiday on January 20

January 22

FE, pp. 61-73

Objection from Gus

January 24

EL, pp. 63-71 (Euthyphro)

Objection from Jon

4: Hedonism

January 27

FE, pp. 21-29
EL, pp. 17-26 (Mill)

Objection from Phil

January 29

 

EL, pp. 11-16 (Epicurus)

January 31

FE, pp. 30-41
EL, pp. 27-36 (Huxley)

Objection from Gus

5: Preferences

February 3

FE, pp. 42-58

Objection from Jon

February 5

FE, pp. 117-153

Objection from Billy

February 7

 

Midterm exam

6: Kantian ethics

February 10

FE, pp. 154-167

Objection from Gus

February 12

EL, pp. 102-114 (Kant)

Objection from Phil

February 14

FE, pp. 168-186

Objection from Bonnie

7: Virtue ethics

February 17

 

FE, pp. 252-271

February 19

 

EL, pp. 138-149 (Aristotle)

February 21

EL, pp. 72-83 (Foot)

Objection from Teri

8: Metaethics – relativism

February 24

FE, pp. 289-305

Objection from Phil

February 26

EL, pp. 188-197 (Mackie)

Objection from Teri

February 28

EL, pp. 198-216 (Gensler)

Abstract due
Objection from Billy

9: Metaethics –sentimentalism

March 3

FE, pp. 306-319

Objection from Bonnie

March 5

EL, pp. 217-228 (Bambrough)

Objection from Jon

March 7

EL, pp. 165-187 (Hume)

Objection from Phil

10: Policy

March 10

EL, pp. 229-236 (Singer)
EL, pp. 408-420 (King)

Objection from Bonnie

March 12

EL, pp. 282-306 (Walzer)
EL, pp. 421-435 (Huemer)

Objection from Teri

March 14

 

Final paper due

TBA

 

 

Final exam