Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Quiz 2

Quiz 2, covering everything in and related to EMP Ch. 2, 3 and 4, will be on Monday Oct. 27.

A detailed study guide will be due that day also, via Turnitin.

Some questions, concerning materials from Rachels and class discussion:

- What is the moral theory 'cultural relativism'?
- What is the moral theory 'the divine command theory'?
-  What is the theory 'simple subjectivism'?
- What is the theory 'emotivism'?

For each theory above, what are the arguments that the theory is true? What are the arguments that the theory is false? Given your understanding of the theory and the various arguments, is the theory true or false?
Practical issues:

- What is female genital mutilation?
- What is homosexuality? What might someone mean if they say that 'homosexuality is wrong'?

For each practice, action and/or "lifestyle" above, what are the arguments that it is is morally permissible? What are the arguments that the it is wrong? State these arguments in logically valid form.
Given your understanding of the practice and the various arguments, is the action morally permissible or not, and why?

General techniques: making arguments logically valid; stating arguments as syllogisms.

EMP Chapters 2 and 3 are available here, in case this is useful for anyone:
http://highered.mheducation.com/sites/0078038243/information_center_view0/sample_chapters.html

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Extra Credit event at Agnes Scott College

Please see the attached flyer for the Wednesday Oct. 22 ethics program lecture by Shelly Kagan, Yale University. Campbell Hall, Room 128. Agnes Scott College

If you go, you must be there on time and write up a detailed summary and reaction that you submit to Dr. Nobis. 


Group project assignment 1.

Group project assignment 1.

Due Wednesday October 22, by class time. Submitted by Turnitin. 

Common Arguments on Homosexuality “Mad Libs” Worksheet, available here:

http://aphilosopher.googlepages.com/homosexuality-arguments.doc


http://aphilosopher.googlepages.com/homosexuality-arguments.pdf


The purpose for this assignment is for you to construct a online teaching tool to help people better find and evaluate moral arguments and then apply this guidance to the issue of homosexuality. (Your teaching tool can, and probably will, be used with other issues later in the semester ). Create your own group of 2 or 3 students. Create a webpage or blog (on Blogger, Wordpress, Google Sites, wherever) where you present and evaluate at least five arguments for the conclusion that homosexuality is wrong.

You must also explain the methods that you will use to evaluate these arguments, in terms of finding conclusions, finding premises, making the arguments valid and identifying whether the arguments are sound or not (including using counterexamples to try to argument that general moral premises are false). That is, you must explain *how* someone would think about moral issues and explain the methods that we’ve used in this class.

On your page(s), you must:
- Identify what you mean by the claim that 'homosexuality is wrong'; this might be different for different arguments.
- Identify at least five arguments for that conclusion: pick arguments that you think are interesting, common and/or influential.
- State these arguments in logically valid form. 
For each argument, explain whether each premise is true or false and so whether the argument is sound or not.

Your webpage/blog should have an introduction and a conclusion and so forth.

The purpose for this assignment, instead of a paper, is for you to construct a teaching tool to help people better find and evaluate moral arguments and then apply it to the issue of homosexuality. (Your teaching tool can, and probably will, be used with other issues later in the semester).
Please email Dr. Nobis the URL, post a link to your page on the blog (below this post) and upload a cut and paste of the text from your teaching tool with the link to Turnitin. Make it very, very clear who is part of your group. Each student must submit, for himself, the text from the blog. 

You may want to re-read this article by James Pryor, "Guidelines on writing a philosophy paper": http://www.jimpryor.net/teaching/guidelines/writing.html 
Questions about your webpage:

1. Did you produce a teaching tool? That is, could someone look at your webpage and learn how to be better identify and evaluate moral arguments? Does your page have a section where you explain the methods and skills involved in doing this?
2. Do your page have some kind of introduction?
3. Does it have some kind of conclusion?
4. Is the writing grammatically correct? Does the page look elegant and smooth (as opposed to clunky and awkward)?

Did you do everything in the initial assignment?

Monday, October 06, 2014

New Assignments

TWO READING AND WRITING ASSIGNMENTS DUE NEXT MONDAY, 10/6/14, BY CLASSTIME, VIA TURNITIN

1.
Detailed, *DETAILED* summary or outline of this paper by James Pryor on how to write a philosophy paper: http://www.jimpryor.net/teaching/guidelines/writing.html 

To ensure proper formatting and all the required information, you MUST use this template:
http://philosophy302.blogspot.com/2013/08/assignment-template.html 

2.
Detailed summary or outline of the HBR Guide to Better Business Writing, pp. 99-151.

To ensure proper formatting and all the required information, you MUST use this template:
http://philosophy302.blogspot.com/2013/08/assignment-template.html 

Some announcements:

- Written work not properly formatted will be penalized. Please use the template, which has all the required information.
- Written work with major grammatical, punctuation and spelling errors will be penalized also. Students need to carefully proofread their work. Please visit the writing center for help with your writing. See the flyer from the Writing Lab here and the message from the director:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/alosdemdx3rsmd4/Fall%202014%20Lab%20Workshops%20.pdf?dl=0 


I hope the new year is shaping up well for everyone. I'd like to introduce you to some new changes in the Morehouse English Multimedia Writing Skills Lab that will offer more guidance and direction for all of our students. (Forgive me, this email may be a bit long.)

1. We will be hosting one hour long intensive workshops for students in the lab, covering some of the most popular problems we see in student writing. I will be teaching these workshops once a week on Thursdays 12-1PM and Fridays 11-12PM alternatively. I have attached a schedule of events. Please encourage your students to attend these workshops. I will also give students letter of completion as proof of participation.

2. Our tutors are not yet in the lab--we are waiting for funding to be addressed--but I will send out an email when the tutors have arrived and their current schedules.

3. This semester, we will also have English faculty members occasionally volunteering in the lab. I will list the hours for the next few weeks and send updates as the weeks progress. Students who have current tutorial needs are welcome to meet with these faculty members (or myself) during the designated times.

4. Please encourage your students to come to the lab well before a paper is due. Our tutors are amazing and talented, but they are not miracle workers. The day the paper is due is not enough time to get the feedback (and make revisions) they may need.

5. Have them bring their assignment sheets. We need to have a clear understanding of the assignment in order to direct the students int he best way possible.

6. If you are sending students to the lab because of specific issues in their writing, please send us a bulleted list of these issues. The tutors can then narrowly focus on these main problems.

Thank you so much for all you do. We look forward to working with all of you to help our students communicate more effectively.


Faculty Volunteer Times:

Tuesday 8/26 11AM-12PM
Wednesday 8/27 12PM-2PM
Tuesday 9/2 10AM-12PM

Best,

Natasha Walker

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Natasha Walker
Morehouse College
Department of English
Morehouse English Multimedia Writing Skills Lab
Brawley 202C

Office Number: 404-215-2726
Email Address: nwalker1@morehouse.edu
Twitter: @profnwalker

Friday, September 26, 2014

Quiz Corrections Assignment

New assignment, due Monday, Oct. 6; due by class time via Turnitin.

Please find all the correct answers to the first quiz questions. Please submit a writing that
1. States your quiz grade.
2. States what questions you lost points on.
3. State the correct and complete answers to those questions.
4. States where those answers were found: what book? What handout? What set of notes? What page?
5. You explain what, if anything, you need to do so that you do better on the next quiz. The more ideas the better!

Make sure you use the template for writing assignments:
http://morehousemodernphilosophy.blogspot.com/2014/09/assignment-template.html

Monday, September 22, 2014

This week and next

THIS WEEK: reading and writing:

This week, Wednesday and Friday we will discuss EMP Ch. 2, and an article from the Harvard Law Review, "What's Culture Got to do with it? Excising the Harmful Tradition of Female Circumcision." Please carefully read them both.  

About EMP Ch. 2, be prepared to answer these questions:
1. What exactly is the moral theory called "cultural relativism"?
2. What is the argument from the chapter from the conclusion that the moral theory called 'cultural relativism' is true?
3. What are the arguments from the chapter for the conclusion that the moral theory called 'cultural relativism' is false
4. Given 1, 2 and 3, do you think that the moral theory called 'cultural relativism' is true or false?


About FGM, be prepared to answer these questions:
1. What is FGM?
2. What arguments (from the article and Rachels) are given for the conclusion that FGM is morally permissible?
3. What arguments (from the article and Rachels) are given for the conclusion that FGM is morally wrong?
4. Given your understanding of what it is, and the arguments for and against it, do you think it is MP or wrong? Why?

Next week: watching, reading and writing:
NOW DUE WEDNESDAY.. INSTEAD OF MONDAY. DUE WEDNESDAY OCT. 1. 

1. Watch two online videos and write and submit detailed summaries of each; submit these to Turnitin.com 


John Corvino - What's Morally Wrong with Homosexuality? (Full DVD Video) 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5iXA_0MED98 

2. Nathan Nobis
Moral Arguments: Syllogisms  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xw8DJQRYWXg 

3. Detailed summary of HBR Guide to Better Business Writing, pp. 0-87. Submit this via Turnitin also. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Updates

Dear Ethicists,

A number of messages.

1. Friday we will not have class because there is an event on sustainability that you should attend. You should try to attend sessions that look interesting to you. I'll pass along details as soon as I get them. Info is here:
http://philosophy302.blogspot.com/2014/09/friday-we-wont-have-class-due-to-this.html

2. I posted grades on EMP Ch. 1 through Turnitin. Either people did excellently and provided a detailed outline or summary of the full chapter, or they didn't provide a detailed summary of the whole chapter.

A comment I often made was that if you use the word 'argument' you must ALWAYS state the conclusion and the premises.

Also, outlines should have 'levels' to them, where the details under a point are indented. That provides structure.

3. Since we won't get to it today, the quiz Monday won't include EMP Ch. 2. So only everything in class up until  Wednesday. 

4. You have a writing assignment still due Friday. Make sure you use the template for it:
http://morehousemodernphilosophy.blogspot.com/2014/09/assignment-template.html

Thanks!

Georgia Campus Sustainability Network Annual Conference

Friday, we won't have class due to this event, which you should please attend. I will pass on the detailed schedule when I get it. Note: they won't provide lunch for you if you haven't registered.  

Friday, September 19
9:00am
 Georgia Campus Sustainability Network Annual Conference
WhenFri, September 19, 9am – 4pm
WhereShirley A. Massey Executive Conference Center (map)
DescriptionMorehouse College Institute for Sustainable Energy (ISE) will host the 2014 Annual Georgia Campus Sustainability Network (GCSN) conference sponsored by the National Wildlife Federation on September 19, 2014. ISE will pay registration fees for all Morehouse College students, faculty and staff.

Georgia Campus Sustainability Network Annual Conference here at Morehouse College on Friday, September 19, 2014.  

TIME: 9:00am-4:00pm
WHERE: Shirley A. Massey Executive Conference Center
WHO: Faculty, staff and students from colleges and universities throughout Georgia

Tentative Schedule
9:00am – 9:30am - Registration/Check-in (posters will be set up for presenting and networking)
9:35am – 9:40am - Welcome: Morehouse College Administrator
9:45am – 10:15am - Keynote: V. Anne Heard, Acting Deputy Regional Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency, Region 4
10:15am-10:30am - Break
10:30am-11:40am - Breakout Sessions
11:45am-11:55am - Break
11:55pm-1:00pm - Lunch, Networking, Poster Exhibition Walks
1:10pm-3:30pm - Breakout Sessions
3:40pm-3:40pm - Closing:  Eriqah Foreman-Williams, National Wildlife Federation

More info:
http://online.nwf.org/site/Calendar?id=107981&view=Detail 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Assignment Template

To ensure that your assignments have what's needed on them (your name, class name, class time, your email address, assignment, paper title, correct 1" margins, double space, etc.) please use these files as templates:

http://philosophy302.blogspot.com/2013/08/assignment-template.html

Use these exact files: download them and work from them.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Next two weeks

LAST WEEK:
This week, Wednesday and Friday, and perhaps a bit of Monday, we will discuss EMP Ch. 1.

THIS WEEK, Sept. 15-19:
Next week, we will discuss EMP Ch. 2, and an article from the Harvard Law Review, "What's Culture Got to do with it? Excising the Harmful Tradition of Female Circumcision." Please carefully read them both.  About EMP Ch. 2, be prepared to answer these questions:
1. What exactly is the moral theory called "cultural relativism"?
2. What is the argument from the chapter from the conclusion that the moral theory called 'cultural relativism' is true?
3. What are the arguments from the chapter for the conclusion that the moral theory called 'cultural relativism' is false?
4. Given 1, 2 and 3, do you think that the moral theory called 'cultural relativism' is true or false?

WRITING ASSIGNMENT:
By Friday, Sept. 19, please review your first paper in light of these questions and concerns:
http://philosophy302.blogspot.com/p/essay-evaluation-questions.html
Write up your responses and submit via Turnitin.

QUIZ 1, MONDAY SEPT 22:
Covering RTD 1 and 2, EMP 1 and 2 and all handouts and class discussion.

WRITING ASSIGNMENT:
Due by classtime: a detailed study guide, covering all concepts, theories, arguments and issues from class. Study groups are encouraged. Submit this via Turnitin.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Reminder, for NOW WEDNESDAY AND FRIDAY

NOTE DATE CHANGE:

A reminder:

Reading: For WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 10, Ch. 1, "What is Morality?" (Elements of Moral Philosophy, EMP):

Writing assignment 1: very detailed summary OR OUTLINE of this chapter, covering every section.  Due MONDAY, SEPT. 8, via Turnitin, by classtime. 

How detailed? Suppose there was going to be a big, important exam on this chapter, covering potentially every case, argument, response, theory, claim, definition and so on. You can, however, use your outline or summary. Given that, how much detail would you want? Have that much detail! 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Handout #2

Here is a one page handout (click for the link!) of the main concepts for philosophical ethics. 

Updated First Assignments

READING: Wednesday & Friday and Wednesday after Labor day:) we will discuss logic:
o   Rachels, The Right Thing to Do (RTD: Ch. 2, “Some Basic Points About Arguments,” available here for students who don’t yet have the books: http://aphilosopher.googlepages.com/rachels-on-arguments.pdf
Handouts on Overview of Logic & Arguments
· 

READING: For Friday after labor day (Sept. 5):
o   Rachels, The Right Thing to Do: Ch.1 “A Short Introduction to Moral Philosophy,” available here for students don’t yet have the books: http://aphilosopher.googlepages.com/rachels-intro-to-ethics.pdf 

Focus on the 2nd half of the chapter, on Impartiality, Utilitarianism and Kantianism.


 WRITING: DUE FRIDAY AFTER LABOR DAY, SEPT 5, VIA TURNITIN.COM: 

WITHOUT READING ANYTHING ABOUT THESE TOPICS – E.G., DO NOT SEARCH THE INTERNET – please write a short (2-3 page) essay that addresses one of these questions:
·         Is it wrong to use illegal drugs, such as marijuana?
·         Suppose a married woman did not any more children but became pregnant. She could raise another child but does not want to. Would it be wrong for her to have an abortion? Assume the father would support her decision, whatever it is.
·         Are racism and/or sexism wrong? Why?
·         Is the death penalty wrong?
·         Is affirmative action wrong?
·         Or another moral issue, with approval of the instructor, but not homosexuality or the treatment of animals.

Please discuss at least three arguments relevant to the issue.

Please write this essay on the basis of what you already know: again, please do not do any research for this paper (if you do, Turnitin might reveal that and you will be penalized!). This is an assignment to measure where you are at now. If you take it seriously and put in a good effort, your grade will reflect that. J


READING AND WRITING:

For MONDAY, SEPT. 8, Ch. 1, "What is Morality?" (Elements of Moral Philosophy, EMP):

Writing assignment 1: very detailed summary OR OUTLINE of this chapter, covering every section.  Due MONDAY, SEPT. 8, via Turnitin, by classtime. 


After this, we will briefly review the later chapters on utilitarian and Kantian moral theory in greater detail, discuss John Rawls’s moral theory, an African ethical theory [ some writings from http://philpapers.org/s/Thaddeus%20Metz [and then return to earlier chapters of the Elements of Moral Philosophy and related readings in The Right Thing to Do.

Friday, August 22, 2014

First Assignments

First reading and writing assignments:

1. Sign up for email group on blog. Make sure you sign up to get the emails.
2. Get a Turnitin.com account. Sign up for class.

3. Get the books. 

For next Monday and Wednesday (August 25 & 27) we will discuss logic:
o   Rachels, The Right Thing to Do (RTD: Ch. 2, “Some Basic Points About Arguments,” available here for students who don’t yet have the books: http://aphilosopher.googlepages.com/rachels-on-arguments.pdf
Handouts on Overview of Logic & Arguments
· 

For next Friday (August 29):
o   Rachels, The Right Thing to Do: Ch.1 “A Short Introduction to Moral Philosophy,” available here for students don’t yet have the books: http://aphilosopher.googlepages.com/rachels-intro-to-ethics.pdf 

DUE (Wednesday September 3): WITHOUT READING ANYTHING ABOUT THESE TOPICS – E.G., DO NOT SEARCH THE INTERNET – please write a short (2-3 page) essay that addresses one of these questions:
·         Is it wrong to use illegal drugs, such as marijuana?
·         Suppose a married woman did not any more children but became pregnant. She could raise another child but does not want to. Would it be wrong for her to have an abortion? Assume the father would support her decision, whatever it is.
·         Are racism and/or sexism wrong? Why?
·         Is the death penalty wrong?
·         Is affirmative action wrong?
·         Or another moral issue, with approval of the instructor, but not homosexuality or the treatment of animals.

Please discuss at least three arguments relevant to the issue.

Please write this essay on the basis of what you already know: again, please do not do any research for this paper (if you do, Turnitin might reveal that and you will be penalized!). This is an assignment to measure where you are at now. If you take it seriously and put in a good effort, your grade will reflect that. J



For Wednesday, September 3, Ch. 1, "What is Morality?" (Elements of Moral Philosophy, EMP):
Writing assignment 1: very detailed summary OR OUTLINE of this chapter, covering every section.  Due that Wednesday via Turnitin.


After this, we will briefly review the later chapters on utilitarian and Kantian moral theory in greater detail, discuss John Rawls’s moral theory, an African ethical theory [ some writings from http://philpapers.org/s/Thaddeus%20Metz [and then return to earlier chapters of the Elements of Moral Philosophy and related readings in The Right Thing to Do.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Fall 2014 Syllabus

Introduction to Philosophical Ethics, PHI 302
Fall 2014

AVAILABLE at

Note: Students are responsible for understanding all the information and policies presented in this syllabus. Students will be referred to it if they have questions that are answered here. A syllabus is not a contract and can be revised, if needed, to promote learning and other educational goals.

Class
12:00 pm - 12:50 pm
MWF
Sale Hall 107
Aug 20, 2014 - Dec 12, 2014

Nathan M. Nobis (P)
Turnitin.com class ID # for 12 PM class   8427762 , password= ethics

Class
1:00 pm - 1:50 pm
MWF
Sale Hall 107
Aug 20, 2014 - Dec 12, 2014
Nathan M. Nobis
 Turnitin.com class ID number for 1 PM class = 8427773  , password = ethics

Blog:               http://philosophy302.blogspot.com
Email group:  http://philosophy302.blogspot.com/p/email-group.html  [ please sign up ]
Calendar:       http://philosophy302.blogspot.com/p/course-calendar.html [please sync calendar]

Instructor:      Nathan Nobis, Ph.D., www.NathanNobis.com
Email:                         nathan.nobis@morehouse.edu  
Telephone:                 404-215-2607 office; 404-825-1740 cell
Office:                         Sale Hall 113, Philosophy & Religion Department
Office Hours:             MWF 11-12; M 2-3; and by appointment: please email!

Department of Philosophy and Religion: Mission and Objectives:

The two-fold objective of this Department is to prepare students for graduate or professional study in the fields of philosophy and religious studies and to enable them to satisfy the College requirements in the general education program. The courses in philosophy and religion seek to provide the student not only with a firm base in these two academic disciplines, but also with a means for self-examination and self-orientation. The work in philosophy aims to develop a critical and analytical approach to all the major areas of human inquiry. The work in religion aims to describe, analyze and evaluate the role of religion in the life of humans since earliest times and how the religious quest continues as a variegated and often tortuous climb toward human growth and fulfillment.

1.      CATALOG COURSE DESCRIPTION: Provides an introduction to philosophical reflection about the nature and function of morality. Readings will include both historical and contemporary materials.

EXTENDED COURSE DESCRIPTION: This course provides students with the opportunity to improve their skills at reasoning critically about moral issues. Students will learn some basic logical concepts and argument analysis skills and apply them to theoretical and practical questions about morality. We will practice identifying clear  and precise moral conclusions and the premises, or reasons, given for and against these conclusions. We will then practice evaluating these reasons to see if they provide rational support for these conclusions or not.
We will think about what helps people think more carefully and critically about moral issues and what factors and influences discourage this.    
We will discuss influential ethical theories and moral principles – answers to the questions ‘What’s the basic difference between a morally permissible and a morally impermissible (or wrong) action?’ and ‘What makes wrong actions wrong and what makes permissible actions permissible?’ – and apply our argument analysis skills to moral issues such as the treatment of disabled newborns, female genital mutilation, homosexuality, abortion, absolute poverty, racism, sexism, and speciesism, drug use and the criminalization of drug use, vegetarianism and the treatment of animals, euthanasia and assisted suicide, and capital punishment, among others.

2.      COURSE PREREQUISITES: There are no formal prerequisites for this course. However, students will benefit most from the course when they enter it with the abilities to:
·         read critically and identify the structure and components of an argumentative essay or passage, i.e., the conclusion(s), the premises(s) or supporting elements, and so forth;
·         write clear, concise and simple grammatical, spelling-error-free sentences and well-organized expository and argumentative essays, as taught in Introductory English courses;
·         speak clearly, concisely, and grammatically.
Basic mathematical and scientific literacy is desirable.
Familiarity with moral issues, common positions taken on them and reasons given in favor of these positions is desirable, since we will build on any previous understanding.
Intellectual and moral virtues, such as curiosity, patience, and openness to the possibility of error and the need for change, are desirable as well.

3.      COURSE OBJECTIVES: Upon successfully completing this course, students will be able to use the set of argument analysis skills below to identify and evaluate moral arguments:
a.       identify whether any presentation (“text”) is “morally argumentative” or not, i.e., whether it presents an argument for a moral conclusion on a moral issue or not;
b.      identify conclusions of morally argumentative presentations, evaluate these conclusions for clarity and precision, and (if needed) reconstruct / restate the conclusion in clear and precise terms; 
c.       identify stated premises or reasons in morally argumentative presentations, evaluate these conclusions for clarity and precision, and (if needed) reconstruct / restate these premises in clear and precise terms; 
d.      identify (if needed) unstated premises in argumentative presentations that are logically essential to the structure of an argument and state them as part of the argument in clear and precise terms;
e.       identify and distinguish factual/empirical/scientific and moral/philosophical premises in moral arguments;
f.       evaluate moral arguments as (1) logically valid or logically invalid  and (2) sound or unsound  (i.e., logically valid with true premises, or not).
g.      identify and explain reasons given to think an argument is sound, reasons to think it is unsound (often using counterexamples to general moral premises), and responses to these reasons.

Students will be able to accurately explain historically influential moral theories and common arguments against them, in light of their implications, explanatory power and theoretical virtues and vices.

Students will be able to accurately explain (in essays and oral presentations) the most common arguments given on a number of controversial moral issues, from a variety of perspectives, and criticisms of these arguments. Students will be better able to evaluate their own moral views and create their own moral arguments.

A GREEN SYLLABUS: This course contains content that allows it to contribute to Morehouse’s Institute for Sustainable Energy program, its planned academic Minor in Energy and the Morehouse-Wide Initiative for Sustainable Energy (M-WISE) program:
This content is indicated in green below.

4.      REQUIRED MATERIALS, which must always be brought to class: students without course materials may be asked to leave and counted absent for that day.
  1. James and Stuart Rachels, The Elements of Moral Philosophy (McGraw Hill Publishing, 2012) (7th edition is ideal, but any will do). http://highered.mcgraw-hill.com/sites/0078038243/information_center_view0/table_of_contents.html
  2. James and Stuart Rachels, eds. The Right Thing to Do (McGraw Hill Publishing, 2012) 6th edition is ideal, but any edition will do: however, students are responsible for getting copies of any readings in the current edition not found in prior editions). http://highered.mcgraw-hill.com/sites/0078038243/information_center_view0/the_right_thing_to_do.html
  3. Bryan Garner, HBR (Harvard Business Review) Guide to Better Business Writing (2013): http://hbr.org/product/hbr-guide-to-better-business-writing/an/10946-PBK-ENG

Computer Policy:
Unless authorized for a specific purpose, there will be no computer or phone use in class, not even for taking notes. This is because scientific research has shown that computer use in class is contrary to legitimate educational goals. See
Thus, any “electronic readings” must be brought in hardcopy also.


5.      ASSIGNMENTS & GRADING:
All writing is done for an audience: for this class you should always assume that your readers are not familiar with the course material so you must explain everything very clearly for them, so that they understand and learn from you! You must intentionally focus on effective communication of complex ideas and arguments.

ALL WORK MUST HAVE STUDENTS’ NAME, EMAIL ADDRESS, CLASS, CLASS TIME AND A VERY CLEAR INDICATION OF WHAT THE ASSIGNMENT IS; POINTS WILL BE DEDUCTED IF ANY OF THESE ARE MISSING.

Discussing readings and assignments is highly encouraged, but each student must always do his or her own written work, unless specifically told otherwise. 

  1. 10 weekly short writing assignments, often on the readings, usually due Monday at the time of class, submitted to the Turnitin.com system (see above for the Course ID and password): 5 points each, 50 points total.
    • There will likely be options for many of the writing assignments; generally they are opportunities for the student to explain the issues and arguments and so teach the material to someone else. Two typical options are these:
      • A very detailed outlines or summaries of some assigned readings. You will want them to be so detailed that you can use them for a detailed open outline quiz.
      • Alternatively, an essay where you explain the main topic of the reading, the main conclusion(s) advanced in the reading, the main reason(s) given in favor of that conclusion; that argument stated in logically valid form and your evaluation of the argument as sound or unsound. This essay should also be so detailed that it could be used for an open-note quiz.
  2. Group project: an online educational tool: a webpage or blog, made in groups of 2 or 3 (and no more), that introduces a moral issue, explains how to identify and evaluate moral argument, presents and critically evaluates at least 5 arguments concerning that issue and thus teachers the reader or viewer how to think about that moral issue. 20 points.
  3. Argumentative paper (approximately 5 pages) or lecture or speech (around 15 minutes) done on webcam (or an alternative) and posted online (privately or publicly). 20 points. Including rough drafts, peer and instructor review and revisions. See: http://www.jimpryor.net/teaching/
  4. One “service project,” that will involve engaging some aspect of the community (such as other AUC students) regarding some moral issue. There will be a variety of options here including volunteering (at some organization that addresses a moral issue), interview projects, hosting a forum, showing a film and holding a discussion, and more. 20 points. See http://philosophy302.blogspot.com/p/group-service-project-for-this.html
  5. A “comparative ethics” project: find, on your own, a writing that presents a non-United States (or non-north-American) and non-European perspective on a contemporary moral issue that we discuss: so, e.g., an African or Asian or South American or other perspective on a moral issue. Write up a report on the arguments presented and evaluate the arguments. Details forthcoming. 10 points.
  6. 3 Tests: In class. 20 points each, 60 points total.

  1. Attendance and participation, including taking class notes is required. Attendance will be taken at the beginning of class. Each unexcused absence after 4 will result in a 2% reduction from the student’s overall grade. Unexcused tardiness will result in 1% reduction.
  2. EXTRA CREDIT ASSIGNMENTS. There likely will be many extra credit opportunities, including this assignment related to finding your “calling” through your career(s):  http://morehousephilosophyandreligion.blogspot.com/p/career-exploration.html

No work will be accepted late except with a written, college-approved excuse.

Final grades will be determined by the quantity and quality of work done only: students who need a certain grade should work to ensure that they earn that grade.

Plagiarism and cheating is not allowed and will be severely penalized by either a zero on an assignment (and no chance for making up that assignment) or failing the course. Do not consult any outside sources for any assignments or examine the work of any other students – current or past students – unless directed to do so by the instructor. Do not work with other students unless instructed to do so.

Assignments will be posted in class, on the calendar http://philosophy302.blogspot.com/p/course-calendar.html , blog, and email list.



First reading and writing assignments:

For next Monday and Wednesday (August 25 & 27) we will discuss logic:
o   Rachels, The Right Thing to Do (RTD: Ch. 2, “Some Basic Points About Arguments,” available here for students who don’t yet have the books: http://aphilosopher.googlepages.com/rachels-on-arguments.pdf
Also read, Weston, Preface, Introduction, chapter on Deductive Arguments

Handouts on Overview of Logic & Arguments
· Overview of Basic Moral Evaluations: Morally Permissible, Obligatory, Impermissible/Wrong
o   Available in Making Moral Progress here, in the section “Right and Wrong? Wrong”:

For next Friday (August 29):
o   Rachels, The Right Thing to Do: Ch.1 “A Short Introduction to Moral Philosophy,” available here for students don’t yet have the books: http://aphilosopher.googlepages.com/rachels-intro-to-ethics.pdf 

DUE (Monday September 1): WITHOUT READING ANYTHING ABOUT THESE TOPICS – E.G., DO NOT SEARCH THE INTERNET – please write a short (2-3 page) essay that addresses one of these questions:
·         Is it wrong to use illegal drugs, such as marijuana?
·         Suppose a married woman did not any more children but became pregnant. She could raise another child but does not want to. Would it be wrong for her to have an abortion? Assume the father would support her decision, whatever it is.
·         Are racism and/or sexism wrong? Why?
·         Is the death penalty wrong?
·         Is affirmative action wrong?
·         Or another moral issue, with approval of the instructor, but not homosexuality or the treatment of animals.

Please discuss at least three arguments relevant to the issue.

Please write this essay on the basis of what you already know: again, please do not do any research for this paper (if you do, Turnitin might reveal that and you will be penalized!). This is an assignment to measure where you are at now. If you take it seriously and put in a good effort, your grade will reflect that. J



For Wednesday, September 3, Ch. 1, "What is Morality?" (Elements of Moral Philosophy, EMP):
Writing assignment 1: very detailed summary OR OUTLINE of this chapter, covering every section.  Due that Wednesday via Turnitin.

After this, we will briefly review the later chapters on utilitarian and Kantian moral theory in greater detail, discuss John Rawls’s moral theory, an African ethical theory [ some writings from http://philpapers.org/s/Thaddeus%20Metz [and then return to earlier chapters of the Elements of Moral Philosophy and related readings in The Right Thing to Do.


Order of Readings, subject to change with student input. We will not discuss all these readings below. exact dates and assignments will be announced in class and online:

1.      "Some Basic Points about Arguments," James Rachels (RTD, #2). Available here if you don’t yet have the books: http://aphilosopher.googlepages.com/rachels-on-arguments.pdf

Weston, Preface, Introduction, chapter on Deductive Arguments


2.      James Rachels, "A Short Introduction to Moral Philosophy" (RTD, #1). Available here if you don’t yet have the books: http://aphilosopher.googlepages.com/rachels-intro-to-ethics.pdf  

3.      Ch. 1, "What is Morality?" (Elements)

5.      Ch. 2, "The Challenge of Cultural Relativism" (Elements)
6.      “What’s Culture Got to Do with it? Excising the Harmful Tradition of Female Circumcision,” Harvard Law Review, http://sites.google.com/site/nobisphilosophy/female_circumcision.pdf
    • Also, male circumcision.
7.      "Monogamy: A Critique," John McMurtry (RTD, #28) [This goes with the brief discussion of polyamory on pp. 29-30 of Elements; the readings below also concern sexual ethics.]
8.      "Our Sexual Ethics," Bertrand Russell (RTD, #29)
9.      "Alcohol and Rape," Nicholas Dixon (RTD, #30)

10.  Ch. 3, "Subjectivism in Ethics" (Elements)
11.  "The Subjectivity of Values," J. L. Mackie (RTD, #6) [This defends a version of Ethical Subjectivism.]
12.  Richard Feldman on “Simple Moral Arguments”: http://sites.google.com/site/nobisphilosophy/feldman-simple-moral-arguments.pdf
13.  Video on Simple Moral Arguments: http://www.makingmoralprogress.com/
14.  "Is Homosexuality Unnatural?" Burton M. Leiser (in older versions of RTD) [This is an expanded version of the argument given on pp. 44-45 of Elements.]
Video: John Corvino: “What’s Morally Wrong with Homosexuality?” http://johncorvino.com/wp/photos/  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SutThIFi24w

Blog/webpage small group assignment

14.  Ch. 4, "Does Morality Depend on Religion?" (Elements)
16.  "On the Moral and Legal Status of Abortion / Postscript on Infanticide," Mary Anne Warren (RTD, #13)
17.  "Why Abortion Is Immoral," Don Marquis (RTD, #11) [One aspect of the abortion debate is discussed on pp. 57-61 of Elements.]
18.  "A Defense of Abortion," Judith Jarvis Thomson (RTD, #12)
19.  Nobis, Nathan and Jarr-Koroma, Abubakarr Sidique (2010) "Abortion and Moral Arguments From Analogy," The American Journal of Bioethics, 10: 12, 59 — 61

19.  Ch. 5, "Ethical Egoism" (Elements)
20.  Materials on “Effective Altruism”: http://www.nathannobis.com/2013/11/effective-altruism.html
21.  "9/11 and Starvation," Mylan Engel, Jr. (online) [Poverty is discussed on pp. 62-63 of Elements.]
22.  "The Singer Solution to World Poverty," Peter Singer (RTD, #18)

  • Nathan Nobis, entry on “Peter Singer,” in Encyclopedia of Environmental Ethics and Philosophy, J. Baird Callicott and Robert Frodeman, eds., Macmillan Reference, 2008: http://aphilosopher.googlepages.com/singer-encyclopedia.pdf
  • Peter Singer, “One Atmosphere,” from his One World: The Ethics of Globalization (Yale University Press, 2002)
  • Carr, Edward R. “Sustainable Development” For the Encyclopedia of Environmental Ethics and Philosophy, Vol 2, J. Baird Callicott and Robert Frodeman, eds.  Macmillan Reference USA: 295-298, 2008. http://goo.gl/IWXE0
There are many more resources on sustainability and sustainable development, justice and energy consumption, justice and pollution and related topics.

22.  "Is Racial Discrimination Arbitrary?" Peter Singer (RTD, #32) [This essay asks whether "The Principle of Equal Treatment" (as we call it on p. 77 of Elements) applies to three difficult test cases.]

23.  Ch. 6, "The Idea of a Social Contract" (Elements)
24.  "Letter from the Birmingham City Jail," Martin Luther King, Jr. (RTD, #31) [King's letter is quoted on pp. 90-91 of Elements.]
25.  "In Defense of Quotas," James Rachels (RTD, #33) [This reading goes with King's "Letter from the Birmingham City Jail." In King's day, America was so racist that preferential quotas were justified. Are they justified today?]

26.  Ch. 7, "The Utilitarian Approach" (Elements)
27.  "Utilitarianism," John Stuart Mill (RTD, #3)
29.  "The Morality of Euthanasia," James Rachels (RTD, #34) [Euthanasia is discussed on pp. 98-101 of Elements.]
30.  "The Wrongfulness of Euthanasia,” J. Gay-Williams

31.  "America's Unjust Drug War," Michael Huemer (RTD, #26) [Marijuana is discussed on pp. 101-104 of Elements.]
32.  Videos / readings by Michelle Alexander on THE NEW JIM CROW: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gln1JwDUI64

32.  "All Animals Are Equal," Peter Singer (RTD, #14) [The treatment of animals is discussed on pp. 104-108 of Elements.]
33.  "Torturing Puppies and Eating Meat: It's All in Good Taste," Alastair Norcross (RTD, #15)
34.  "Do Animals Have Rights?" Tibor R. Machan (RTD, #16)
35.  “Reasonable Humans and Animals,” John Simmons: http://sites.google.com/site/nobisphilosophy/veg.pdf

There are many more resources on animal agriculture and sustainability, energy consumption, global warming, pollution and related topics.

36.  Ch. 8, "The Debate over Utilitarianism" (Elements)
37.  "Utilitarianism and Integrity," Bernard Williams (RTD, #4) [This selection presents Williams' most famous objection to Utilitarianism.]
38.  "The Experience Machine," Robert Nozick (RTD, #5) [This selection presents Nozick's most famous objection to Hedonist Utilitarianism.]

39.  Ch. 9, "Are There Absolute Moral Rules?" (Elements)
40.  "The Categorical Imperative," Immanuel Kant (RTD, #7) [The Categorical Imperative is discussed on pp. 127-129 of Elements.]
41.  “Hellhole,” Atul Gawande (RTD)
42.  "The Ethics of War and Peace," Douglas P. Lackey (RTD, #19) [The Allies' conduct of the Second World War is discussed on pp. 124-126 of Elements.]
43.  "Fifty Years after Hiroshima," John Rawls (RTD, #20) [The bombing of Hiroshima is discussed on pp. 124-126 of Elements.]
44.  "What Is Wrong with Terrorism?" Thomas Nagel (RTD, #21) [The readings on war and terrorism go together. Also, Nagel implies that the prohibition on aiming at the death of a harmless person is an absolute moral rule.]
45.  "Liberalism, Torture, and the Ticking Bomb," David Luban (RTD, #23) [One may ask: is the prohibition on torture an absolute moral rule?]

46.  Ch. 10, "Kant and Respect for Persons" (Elements)
47.  "A Defense of the Death Penalty," Louis P. Pojman (RTD, #24) [Punishment is discussed on pp. 139-145 of Elements. We discuss the death penalty specifically on p. 143.]
48.  "Why the United States Will Join the Rest of the World in Abandoning Capital Punishment," Stephen B. Bright (RTD, #25)

49.  Ch. 11, "Feminism and the Ethics of Care" (Elements)
50.  "Caring Relations and Principles of Justice," Virginia Held (RTD, #10) [See pp. 152-157 of Elements.]

51.  Ch. 12, "The Ethics of Virtue" (Elements)
52.  "The Virtues," Aristotle (RTD, #8)
53.  "Master Morality and Slave Morality," Friedrich Nietzsche (RTD, #9) [Nietzsche glorifies the virtues of "master morality" and ridicules the vices of "slave morality."]


54.  Ch. 13, "What Would a Satisfactory Moral Theory Be Like?" (Elements)