Tuesday, August 29, 2006


PHI 302: Introduction to Philosophical Ethics

· 11:00 am - 11:50 am, MWF, Sale Hall 105: 44981 - HPHI 302G - 06

· 12:00 pm - 12:50 pm, MWF, Sale Hall 107: 44976 - HPHI 302G – 01

· 1:00 pm - 1:50 pm, MWF, Sale Hall 107: 44977 - HPHI 302G - 02

Instructor: Nathan Nobis, Ph.D.

Office: Philosophy & Religion Department, Sale Hall

Office Hours: TBA

aphilosopher@gmail.com [best way to reach me]

Catalogue Description: Provides an introduction to philosophical reflection about the nature and function of morality. Readings will include both historical and contemporary materials.

Extended Description: This course provides students with the opportunity to improve their skills at reasoning critically about moral issues. We will practice identifying precise and unambiguous moral conclusions (i.e., exact perspectives taken on moral issues) and the reasons given for and against these conclusions. We will then practice evaluating these reasons to see if they provide strong rational support for these moral conclusions or not. We will think about what helps people think more carefully and critically about moral issues and what factors and influences discourage and prevent this. We will discuss influential ethical theories and moral principles – answers to the questions ‘What’s the basic difference between a right and wrong action?’ and ‘What makes right actions right and wrong actions wrong?’ – and apply methods critical thinking skills to moral problems such as female genital mutilation, homosexuality, famine and absolute poverty, racism, sexism, euthanasia and assisted suicide, the treatment of animals, abortion, capital punishment, vegetarianism, and civil disobedience, among others.


· James and Stuart Rachels, The Elements of Moral Philosophy, 5th Ed. [EMP]

· James and Stuart Rachels, eds. The Right Thing to Do, 4th Ed. [RTD]

· Anthony Weston, A Rulebook for Arguments [RULEBOOK]

· Additional readings will be online for students to download, print, read and bring to class.

Assignments and grading:

(1) Readings and reading quizzes: The reading assignments should be done before you come to class. Some of the readings are difficult. I urge you to read them more than once, preferably before class, and after we discuss it in class. We will discuss strategies to read them more effectively. To help encourage careful reading and reflection on the readings – which will contribute to better discussion – there will be periodic reading quizzes. These will be basic factual questions about the readings and will be easy points for those who have read carefully and thoughtfully. 20 points total.

(2) Six Writing Assignments: These must by typed and carefully written: you will have to read some articles on how to write clear, well-organized argumentative essays. These will graded vigorously but you will have the opportunity to re-write some papers, if you would like the opportunity to learn more and improve your abilities. 10 points each. (60 points total)

(4) Three Exams. All of lecture, discussion and reading content is fair game. I will give you a study sheet of possible questions for each exam to help focus your studying. Exams will include multiple choice, short answer, and short essay questions. 40 points each. (120 points total).

(5) Attendance and participation are required. This course is based on discussion, dialogue and cool, calm, rational debate: thus class attendance is required and will be taken daily. You are allowed 1 missed class for any reason; after that 5 points will be deducted from your overall grade per missed class. Absences can be excused only if you bring me an excuse in writing. Students with perfect attendance will receive 5 extra points added to their overall score.

(6) There will likely be extra credit opportunities, events addressing ethical and/or philosophical issues that I’ll encourage you to attend and write up a summary and reaction to for variable bonus points.

A NOTE ON PLAGIARISM: Cheating and plagiarism are forms of lying (to the instructor, the school, future teachers and employers, and yourself, among others) and theft (of other people’s ideas and words) and are grounds for failing the course. If you submit a plagiarized paper (e.g., a paper you took, in whole or in part, from the internet), I will likely notice this and you will then fail this course immediately. Do your own work!


Fill in this sheet to determine your grade out of 200 possible points:


Points Possible:

My points:

Paper 1


Paper 2


Paper 3


Paper 4


Paper 5


Paper 6


Exam 1


Exam 2


Exam 3


Reading Quizzes:

20 total


Variable +‘s & -’s

Extra Credit, if avail.

Variable +’s

100 +

Grade = total points / 200;

Letter grade will be according to standard percentages.

Reading, Lecture and Discussion Schedule, subject to slight changes:

Readings should be done in advance for the day assigned. The EMP has 13 chapters, and we will work through the book roughly in the order it presents the theories and issues with additional readings from RTD and other sources. Exact readings and assignments will be announced in class. If you come to class, you should know exactly what the current assignments are.

I will likely get a WEBCT page for this class or some other electronic format for discussion.

First reading assignment:

· RTD: Ch. 2, “Some Basic Points About Arguments”

· RULEBOOK: preface, introduction, Ch. I, II, & VI.

· RTD: Ch.1 "A Short Introduction to Moral Philosophy"

If you ever have any questions about anything, please just ask!

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