Monday, April 14, 2014

Final sections of writing book

Please read the EMP chapters on utilitarianism. Also read "The Singer Solution to World Poverty" from the NY Times.

For next Monday, 4/21, please complete your outline or summary of the Harvard writing book. Due via Turnitin.

By Wednesday, April 30: "homework forgiveness day". You will have the opportunity to submit up to 3 late homework assignments via Turnitin by that day.

Group Service Project

For this assignment, you will, in a group, perform some "community service." The service you will provide is demonstrating to the community how to thinking critically about moral issues using the logical methods we've practiced in this class. So, you will model thinking in systematic ways about moral issues, engage some arguments from your audience and help them evaluate these arguments.

This project, and your report on it, are due on the last day of class, Wednesday April 30.

Here's what to do:
1. Find a group of 2-4 students.
2. Pick a topic from the syllabus, or develop your own, with approval from Dr. Nobis:

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, 

3. Develop at least 5 arguments in logically valid form on this topic. 

4. Find an audience of at least 4 people, not from this class.

5. Present your arguments to this audience. Given them an introduction to what you will do in your presentation. Explain to them what you will do and how you will do it. State and explain your five arguments and evaluate them as sound or not. 

6. Get at least 3 (ideally, at least 5) new arguments, or premises, on the topic from the audience.

7. With the audience, formulate these arguments in logically valid form and determine whether they are sound or not.

8. Formulate any conclusions from your discussion and wrap it up.

9. Write up a report on what happened, using this form that will be posted soon!

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Quiz 2

Quiz 2, next Friday April 11, covering everything since the last quiz: EMP Ch. 3 and 4, for the most part.

Here is the powerpoint on abortion we've looked at:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/ab1lzawg36rwhnu/shortened-abortion-talk.ppt 

And although we haven't used this handout on abortion, it could be useful.

And recall this handout from long ago:
Common Arguments on Homosexuality “Mad Libs” Worksheet, available here:

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

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

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Page on Fred Feldman on abortion from class today:
 http://aphilosopher.googlepages.com/fred_feldman_on_abortion.pdf 


Please make lists to fill in these blanks:

Abortion is prima facie wrong because __?__.


Abortion is prima facie permissible because __?__.

Monday, March 24, 2014





Please read EMP Ch. 3 and 4. No specific writing assignment, but read carefully!

Read this on reading, please:
http://www.jimpryor.net/teaching/guidelines/reading.html 

Monday, March 17, 2014

New Assignments

1. Harvard writing book, pp. 57-99, detailed outline or summary. Due  Wed., March 26(NOTE CHANGE / EXTENSION) via Turnitin.

Two assignments due Monday, 3/31, via Turnitin, by class: NOTE THE EXTENSION
2.  Detailed outline or summary of Jim Pryor's (online) Guidelines on Writing a Philosophy Paper (link).
3. Redo / revise paper on cultural relativism. Please follow all the directions below. Your goals, again, are to:

1. CLEARLY and ACCURATELY explain what the moral theory known as moral or cultural relativism is. (Note: it is *not* all of those five claims: read the paragraph after those five claims).
2. CLEARLY and ACCURATELY explain the main argument(s) that the moral theory known as moral or cultural relativism is true. (Note: this is the "argument from cultural differences." Are there other arguments?)
3. CLEARLY and ACCURATELY explain the main argument(s) that the moral theory known as moral or cultural relativism is false. (Note: these are the "consequences of accepting cultural relativism" or "what follows from cultural relativism. Are there other arguments?)

Please follow everything from the initial assignment and all the guidance from Pryor and the Harvard writing book. 

Your grade on the redo/rewrite will replace the old grade, if it is higher. 

Here is the initial assignment:


Please write a short paper on the topic of the moral theory known as moral or cultural relativism. Do not read anything else on these topics besides the Rachels EMP and the paragraphs on the theory in RTD. Please write a brief explanatory essay that follows the guidance suggested below and answers these questions:
1. What is the moral theory known as moral or cultural relativism?
2. What arguments does Rachels discuss for the conclusion that the moral theory known as moral or cultural relativism is false? Explain those arguments.
3. What arguments does Rachels discuss for the conclusion that the moral theory known as moral or cultural relativism is true? Explain those arguments.
4. Based on your understanding of what moral or cultural relativism is, and the arguments for the conclusion that the theory is true and the arguments that the theory is false, what do you believe about the theory? Do you think it's true, or that it's false? Explain.
You must use this template this template to organize your paper with these subject headings. keep the headings / outline labels in the document. This will improve the organization. So, again, download that file and use it to structure your paper.  If you do not do this, you will get a zero on the paper:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/3cgtsnrj7ixxywn/template%20for%20cultural%20relativism%20assignment.doc
or
https://www.dropbox.com/s/ohc1cqyy09en3u1/template%20for%20cultural%20relativism%20assignment.rtf
You should not write anything that would be unclear to the reader (who is, as Pryor describes, lazy, stupid, and mean -- http://www.jimpryor.net/teaching/guidelines/writing.html). So, as one example of this, you should not write, for example, anything like, "In section 2.2 this topic is discussed," and go on from there. You should not do this because your reader will have no idea what you are talking about. So you need to always keep your audience in mind and explain in a manner that your reader will understand.
 I also strongly encourage everyone to visit Morehouse's Writing Center for this assignment and any other: http://philosophy302.blogspot.com/2013/09/morehouse-writing-center.html

Friday, March 07, 2014

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

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

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

Assignment: download this worksheet. Formulate at least 10 of the arguments in logically valid form. 

Monday, March 03, 2014

Post Midterm Assignments

Harvard writing book, pp. 57-99, detailed outline or summary. Due after break, March 26, (NOTE CHANGE / EXTENSION) via Turnitin.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Midterm Week Assignments

Monday we will discuss female genital mutilation, which used to be called "female circumcision." This was discussed in Rachels' EMP Ch. 2, so please re-read that. Google and Youtube the topics to see what you find. Also, please read this article from the Harvard Law Review, "What's Culture Got to Do With It? Excising the Harmful Tradition of Female Circumcision."

Wednesday and Friday we will discuss ethics and homosexuality. Please read the final sections of EMP Ch. 3 on that topic, and review the videos that were already assigned below here: http://philosophy302.blogspot.com/2014/02/assignments.html 



Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Slippery Slopes

I mentioned this very short paper in class yesterday, in case you are interested:

  • "Cut the Fat! Defending Trans Fats Bans" by Nathan Nobis, Molly Gardner; 2010. The American Journal of Bioethics. 10(3):39 [PDF]
also here:

Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Let's have our first quiz next Friday! :) February 28th, in class!

Assignment: for next Wednesday, please develop a study guide covering ALL and ANYthing read, assigned, discussed, etc. in class so far. So, all arguments (all conclusions, all premises), all theories, all concepts, etc.
STUDY GROUPS ARE ENCOURAGED.
Please submit by Turnitin.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Assignments

Here are some assignment reminders and some new assignments:

1. The writing on Cultural relativism, due FRIDAY 2/21. Assignment below.
2. NEW: Due next Monday, February 24 detailed, detailed, detailed outline summary of the Harvard Writing book, pp. 0-56. The Turnitin slot is now open. 
3 & 4. New: Due next Friday, February 21: DETAILED, DETAILED outline or summary of these two videos, one video by Nathan Nobis on moral syllogisms, another by Professor John Corvino on homosexuality:




Wednesday, February 05, 2014

New Assignments

Professor Nobis is almost done grading everyone's first writing assignments: he should be done by tonight. 

Wednesday, today, we'll discuss the moral theories presented in "A Short Introduction to Moral Philosophy."

This Friday and Monday AND WEDNESDAY: we will discuss the issues and arguments from EMP Ch. 1. THIS OUTLINE IS NOW DUE BY FRIDAY, WHICH IS A CHANGE FROM WED. TURNITIN HAS BEEN CHANGED.

For next MONDAY and WEDNESDAY -- 2/17/14 AND 2/19/14) we'll discuss EMP Ch. 2:

Read EMP Ch 2 on the moral theory known as moral or cultural relativism. Also read Jim Pryor's (online) Guidelines on Writing a Philosophy Paper (link).

Writing assignment, due MONDAY AFTER THE INAUGURATION (2/17/14), before class, submitted to Turnitin:
Please write a short paper on the topic of the moral theory known as moral or cultural relativism. Do not read anything else on these topics besides the Rachels EMP and the paragraphs on the theory in RTD. Please write a brief explanatory essay that follows the guidance suggested below and answers these questions:
1. What is the moral theory known as moral or cultural relativism?
2. What arguments does Rachels discuss for the conclusion that the moral theory known as moral or cultural relativism is false? Explain those arguments.
3. What arguments does Rachels discuss for the conclusion that the moral theory known as moral or cultural relativism is true? Explain those arguments.
4. Based on your understanding of what moral or cultural relativism is, and the arguments for the conclusion that the theory is true and the arguments that the theory is false, what do you believe about the theory? Do you think it's true, or that it's false? Explain.
You must use this template this template to organize your paper with these subject headings. keep the headings / outline labels in the document. This will improve the organization. So, again, download that file and use it to structure your paper.  If you do not do this, you will get a zero on the paper:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/3cgtsnrj7ixxywn/template%20for%20cultural%20relativism%20assignment.doc

or

https://www.dropbox.com/s/ohc1cqyy09en3u1/template%20for%20cultural%20relativism%20assignment.rtf

You should not write anything that would be unclear to the reader (who is, as Pryor describes, lazy, stupid, and mean -- http://www.jimpryor.net/teaching/guidelines/writing.html). So, as one example of this, you should not write, for example, anything like, "In section 2.2 this topic is discussed," and go on from there. You should not do this because your reader will have no idea what you are talking about. So you need to always keep your audience in mind and explain in a manner that your reader will understand.

 I also strongly encourage everyone to visit Morehouse's Writing Center for this assignment and any other: http://philosophy302.blogspot.com/2013/09/morehouse-writing-center.html

I WILL ALSO GIVE ANOTHER ASSIGNMENT TOO, DUE THAT SAME MONDAY. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

For Wednesday, read and/or re-read:
we will also discuss some concepts from logic. Please read in the the Rulebook for Arguments, the preface, the Introduction, chapter I on "short arguments," the chapter on "deductive arguments" .

Read Guidelines on Reading Philosophyhttp://www.jimpryor.net/teaching/guidelines/reading.html by Jim Pryor.

Read Philosophical Terms and Methods

Contents


For MONDAY NOW (GIVEN SNOW DAY), read RTD Ch.1 "A Short Introduction to Moral Philosophy."

For WEDNESDAY NOW (GIVEN SNOW DAY) Read EMP Ch. 1. "What is Morality?" Writing assignment: DETAILED outline outline or summary of the chapter. THIS OUTLINE IS NOW DUE BY FRIDAY 2/7, WHICH IS A CHANGE FROM WED. TURNITIN HAS BEEN CHANGED.

Here are the sample arguments we've been looking at.

And here again is a one page handout with almost all the core concepts for this class.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Here is a one page handout with almost all the core concepts for this class.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Friday Event, Beginning Assignments

Today's King Celebration events at Morehouse.


Current assignments:
  • Sign up for the Google Group and get a Turnitin.com account (details on the syllabus): all work must be submitted through Turnitin. This semester we are going to try doing everything electronically and so not having work in hardcopy. This is a change from the syllabus. 
  • Get the books. 
  • Start reading the Rulebook for Arguments, the first sections and the chapter on deductive arguments. Start the Rachels readings. 
First reading and writing assignments:

No class Monday (1/20). For next Wednesday and Friday we will discuss logic (1/22 & 1/24):
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 the next Monday (1/27):
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 (1/27): 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 the death penalty wrong?
·         Is affirmative action wrong?
·         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?
·         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 FRiday (1/31) Ch. 1, "What is Morality?" (Elements of Moral Philosophy, EMP):
Writing assignment 1: very detailed summary OR OUTLINE of this chapter, covering every section. 

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.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." - Martin Luther King Jr.,‘48  

Introduction to Philosophical Ethics, PHI 302
Spring 2014


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 105
Jan 15, 2014 - May 09, 2014
Lecture
Nathan M. Nobis (P)
Turnitin.com class ID#  7531181 note correction, password= ethics

Class
1:00 pm - 1:50 pm
MWF
Sale Hall 105
Jan 15, 2014 - May 09, 2014
Lecture
Nathan M. Nobis (P)
 Turnitin.com class ID number =  7531194 note correction , 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@gmail.com (preferred email); nathan.nobis@morehouse.edu  
Telephone:                  404-215-2607 office; 404-825-1740 cell
Office:                         Sale Hall 113, Philosophy & Religion Department
Office Hours: MWF 9:30 -10 AM; Monday 2- 4 PM, Friday 1:50 to 2:10 and by appointment on Tuesdays and Thursdays: 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 implicationsexplanatory 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: http://www.morehouse.edu/news/InsideMorehouse_w/dec10jan11/hbcu-energy.html
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) (7thedition 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. Anthony Weston, A Rulebook for Arguments, Hackett
  4. 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

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. 

  • 12 weekly short writing assignments, often on the readings, usually due Monday at the time of class in hardcopy – no work will be accepted late -- and submitted to the Turnitin.com system, with a print out of your submission receipt attached the assignment (see above for the Course ID and password): 5 points each, 60 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:
      • 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 longer communication projects; assignment details forthcoming:
      • One 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.
      • One argumentative paper (approximately 5 pages), lecture or speech (around 10 minutes) done on webcam (or an alternative) and posted online (privately or publicly). 20 points. Including rough drafts, peer and instructor review and revisions: 20 points each40 points total. See: http://www.jimpryor.net/teaching/
  • 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. Details and options TBA. 20 points.
  • 3 Tests: In class. 20 points each, 60 points total.

  • 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.
  • 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:

No class Monday (1/20). For next Wednesday and Friday we will discuss logic (1/22 & 1/24):
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 the next Monday (1/27):
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 (1/27): 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 the death penalty wrong?
·         Is affirmative action wrong?
·         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?
·         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 FRiday (1/31) Ch. 1, "What is Morality?" (Elements of Moral Philosophy, EMP):
Writing assignment 1: very detailed summary OR OUTLINE of this chapter, covering every section. 

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)