Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Logging In

To login to the Thomson Turnitin system, you need to buy a PIN code card from the bookstore. See the syllabus!


We have had some students contact us regarding invalid pin codes for Turnitin. If you please have the students contact us if they find that they have a pin code that is not registering properly. I would ask you to have them go to the following web site and choose to Chat or send an e-mail to us. Depending on the time of day Chat is available. We will take care of this issue promptly and if I am out of town my back-up will be able to answer the e-mails, if the students e-mail us through the web site.


And here is where you login:
http://insite.thomson.com/ Go to the LOGIN link.

And, again, the password is ethics and the course # is on the syl.

12 - 12:50, MWF, Sale Hall, Room 105: 42308 - HPHI 302G - 01 ; Turnitin code: 1762563

1 - 1:50, MWF, Sale Hall, Room 105; 42309 - HPHI 302G - 02 ; Turnitin code: 1762573

New info from Friday afternoon:

Some codes will appear invalid due to a simple typo. If you would like to tell your students if their pin code for Turnitin is not working to try correcting the code first, and then if the code is still not working then to contact technical support it may save your students a lot of time.

If a student finds that their code is invalid have them check the letters after the dash in the pin code to see if there are any instances of the letter “S” in the code. If there are, have the student change the letter “S” to a “$” and this may correct the code and make it valid so that the student can register.

Buying a code online (new info):

Students can purchase codes online but the pin code will be shipped from our warehouse. Currently we do not offer Turnitin pin codes as an instant access pin code. If students need to purchase the pin code they can do the following.

Go to: http://e-catalog.thomsonlearning.com/150l/

Enter the ISBN: 1-4130-3018-1

Click on the shopping cart icon to place the item in your shopping basket.

Click Checkout to complete your order.


Finally, EMP Ch 1!

For Friday and Monday:
EMP Ch. 2 and this article:
"What's Culture Got to Do with it? Excising the Harmful Tradition of Female Circumcision"

We'll do EMP Ch 2 Friday and finish that and the article on Monday. Please print out the article, have read it and bring it to class Monday.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Extra Credit Opportunity

If you got to this and write up a 3 page summary/reaction, you will get 3 extra credit points.

Agnes Scott College's Ethics Program

Agnes Scott College's Ethics Program continues its 2006-07 speaker series, " Is Nature Ours? Ethics, Economics, and the Environment, " contintues with the following exciting events.

Monday, February 5, 2007
Peter G. Brown
" Becoming Citizens Worthy of the Earth "
7:30 p.m.
Evans Hall, terrace level, rooms ABC

Peter Brown is a Professor in the Departments of Geography and Natural Resource Science at the McGill University School of Environment. He is currently working on a book entitled, Reverence for Life: A Philosophy for Civilization. In his talk, Peter Brown will argue that humans don ' t own the Earth, and that the belief that we do is a significant cause of the environmental degradation that is overtaking us and many other species. He will show how this belief is rooted in our Judea-Christian and Greek heritages, and suggest a more promising future lies in Albert Schweitzer's idea of reverence for life.

For more information see www.agnesscott.edu

Friday, January 26, 2007

For Monday

Read/re-read RTD Ch. 2, A Short Introduction to Moral Philosophy (also re-read Ch. 1.. the whole thing, esp. the sections on 'moral skepticism')
Read/re-read EMP Ch. 1

Remember a reading quiz can come at any time over the assigned reading, so be prepared.

Please make sure you are up on all the assigned readings.

First Writing Assignment

How do you write a philosophy paper?

First writing assignment: due Monday, Feb 5 [earlier typo fixed] in class and submitted via the system here: http://insite.turnitin2.thomson.com/
You need to BUY a card with account from the bookstore: this will give you your PIN to make an account and these are the class #'s:
12 - 12:50: 1762563
1 - 1:50: 1762573
No late papers will be accepted; you need to get the PIN card and do the paper before the due date. No excuses.

4-5 pages

The assignment is this:
A friend knows that you are in a philosophy course. This friend asks you to come to her group to give a little presentation on what philosophy essays are like and how to effectively write them. Your job is to carefully read the readings below on how to write philosophy and then effectively summarize them for this person. Write up the text that you could read -- or pass out -- to this audience so that they can learn from you. Write so you teach them how to write a philosophical essay: pass on what you learn from Pryor, Weston and the other sources below! This assignment requires you to summarize advice from a number of different sources and explain this advice to other people in your own words.

There are a number of writings on how to write a philosophy paper that you need to read. Please read:

1. An online article by Jim Pryor called "Guidelines on Writing a Philosophy Paper":

2. Some chapters on writing from A Rulebook for Arguments:
VII. Composing an Argumentative Essay
A. Exploring the Issue
VIII. Composing an Argumentative Essay
B. Main Points of the Essay
IX. Composing an Argumentative Essay
C. Writing
I. Composing a Short Argument: Some General Rules
3. Strunk and White's The Elements of Style, the section III. ELEMENTARY PRINCIPLES OF COMPOSITION:

4. Some tips from me:
  • The most common comments I write on papers are these: (1) What do you mean? and (2) Why think that? The first is in response to unclear claims: write clearly. The second is in response to claims that need defense: give reasons.
  • Write in short sentences: if any longer sentence can be broken into two or more sentences, do it because it's easier to read then.
  • Each paragraph should deal with one, and only one, topic. You should be able to say, "This paragraph is about this: _____."
  • Omit all needless words and needless discussion. Your reader's time is valuable so don't waste it.
  • Make sure everything is clear. Use simple words: no need for anything nebulous.
  • Your papers should have a short introduction, culminating in a thesis, a main point, the point that your paper is supposed to defend. The most direct way of presenting this sort of thesis is this: "I will argue that _(short sentence here: 'all abortions are wrong', 'Dr. Doopy's argument against euthenasia is unsound,' etc.___."
  • Your introductory paragraph, or a paragraph immediately after it, should give the reader an overview of what you will be doing in the paper. It should briefly explain the overall structure (e.g., "First I will ___ and then I will ____. Finally I will ______.")
  • Omit anything totally obvious and uninformative (e.g., "This issue has been debated for hundreds of years."). Everyone already knows this, so don't waste time telling us what we already know.
  • Don't write, "Well, _____." No "well's".
  • Don't say, "'Mr. Bubbles feels that this is wrong." Say, he believes, or thinks, or (if he does) argues. His views are probably not his "feelings" or his emotional reactions.
  • Also, no ' . . . ' unless you are shortening a quote. No "trailing off" in hopes that the reader will think what you are hoping they will think.
  • Don't ask rhetorical questions. Make statements, don't ask questions. Your reader might answer your questions for you in ways you'd like. But if you do ask questions, make sure there is a question mark.
  • It's OK to use "I". People use "I" to communicate clearly, so use it.
  • "Arguments" are not people's conclusions. They are the conclusions and the reasons they give in favor of those conclusions.
  • If I ask you to raise objections to a theory, argument, claim, or whatever, it's fine to raise objections that are discussed in our readings. What's not good, however, is to raise an objection that is discussed in the readings but the author responds to the objection and shows that it's not a good objection. If you raise this same objection, but do not discuss the author's response (and respond to that response), this suggests that you didn't do the reading very closely.
  • If an author states a conclusion (or a main point) and gives reasons for it, then that author has given an argument. If an author has given an argument, do not say that the author has not given an argument: you might not have found the argument (yet), but the argument is still there! Keep looking!
  • Keep focused and don't argue for more than you can give reasons for.
  • You have succeeded in writing a paper if you can give that paper to a smart and critical someone who is not familiar with your topic and this person will understand the views and arguments you are discussing, as well as whatever criticisms you raise. You can do an empirical test to determine whether you are writing well, and it's basically just to see if others understand your writing! If not, you need to keep working at it.
  • Finally, good writing, like many things, takes a lot of time. If you don't take the time to work at it, you probably won't do very well and you probably won't improve. I recommend writing something about double the length needed and then editing down and re-organizing and re-writing to remove the needless words, irrelevant distractions, and -- most importantly -- improve your statement of whatever argument you are trying to develop.
Also see the directions on writing papers on the syllabus, which gives guidance for the format of the papers:

9-10= excellent
8 = good
7 = fair
6 = poor
5 or below = very poor

They will be graded on clarity, organization, thoroughness, grammar and spelling, and, most generally, whether your reader would get a good sense for what philosophical / argumentative essays are like and how to write them.

Although citations -- i.e., direct quotations -- are not needed for this paper, if you use them you should use an official citation method. Guidance on how to do so is found here, among other places:

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Writing Lab

Since 2001, the Writing Lab has served the general Morehouse student population by providing services that foster the most important skills of functioning within our modern global society: the ability to communicate clearly and effectively in writing. The Writing Lab provides tutoring services to Morehouse students regardless of classification or major. All tutors are hired based upon their strong skills in English and their ability to communicate effectively with their peers. Tutors are available Monday through Friday during the day [usually 9-5] in Brawley 200 and weekends and Monday through Thursday evenings in Douglass Hall.

The writing tutors work one-on-one with student writers in order to help them improve their writing. We approach writing holistically, explaining and encouraging student understanding of grammar and mechanics as well as content and rhetorical approach. We do not edit or write the papers for the students; rather we approach tutoring as an opportunity for students to expand their skills. Our goal is to help student writers become more independent and more confident in their writing ability.

Check with the lab for current hours!

English Tutor Schedule – Spring 2007

Monday 9:00 – 5:00

9:00 – 12:00 Jumoke Johnson

9:00 – 11:00 Robert Graham

11:00 – 12:00 Anthony Dean

12:00 – 1:00 Raybourn

1:00 – 3:00 James Cammon

2:00 – 5:00 Paul Scisney

3:00 – 4:00 Anthony Dean

Tuesday 9:30--5:00, 6:00 – 8:00

9:30 – 11:00 Wendell Marsh

10:00 – 1:00 James Cammon

12:00 – 3:30 Paul Scisney

12:00 – 4:00 Anthony Dean

3:00 – 5:00 Wendell Marsh

4:00 – 5:00 Robert Graham

6:00 – 8:00 Robert Graham (Douglass)

Wednesday 9:00 – 5:00

9:00 – 12:00 Jumoke Johnson

9:00 – 11:00 Robert Graham

10:00 – 11:00 James Cammon

11:00 – 12:00 Anthony Dean

12:00 – 1:00 Raybourn

1:00 – 2:00 James Cammon

2:00 – 5:00 Paul Scisney

3:00 – 4:00 Anthony Dean

Thursday 9:30 – 5:00, 6:00 – 8:00

9:30 – 11:00 Wendell Marsh

10:00 – 2:00 James Cammon

12:00 – 3:30 Paul Scisney

1:00 – 4:00 Anthony Dean

4:00 – 5:00 Robert Graham

6:00 – 8:00 Robert Graham (Douglass)

Friday 9:00 – 2:00, 3:00 – 4:00

9:00 – 12:00 Jumoke Johnson

9:00 – 11:00 Robert Graham

11:00 – 12:00 Wendell Marsh

12:00 – 1:00 Raybourn

1:00 – 2:00 Wendell Marsh

3:00 – 4:00 Anthony Dean

Sunday 6:00– 9:00

Jumoke Johnson (Douglass)

Wendell Marsh (Douglass)

Monday, January 22, 2007


For Wed.
  • Re-read RTD Ch. 1, A Short Introduction to Moral Philosophy
  • Read EMP Ch.1
  • Read RULEBOOK, 'affirming the consequent' and 'denying the antecedent' in the directory of fallacies.
  • There will likely be a quiz on the logic material we have covered, so be prepared!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Turnitin Password

I think the Turnitin.com password (see below) for this class is the word ethics.

Friday, January 19, 2007


If you haven't gotten the books yet, here are some readings on arguments you should read:

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Sping 2007 Syllabus

Also available here in PDF.

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

PHI 302: Introduction to Philosophical Ethics


12 - 12:50, MWF, Sale Hall, Room 105: 42308 - HPHI 302G - 01 ; Turnitin.com code: 1762563

1 - 1:50, MWF, Sale Hall, Room 105; 42309 - HPHI 302G - 02 ; Turnitin.com code: 1762573

Instructor: Nathan Nobis, Ph.D.

Office: Philosophy & Religion Department, Sale Hall 113

Office Hours: 10-12 MWF and by appointment (but please let me know if you want to meet)

Best way to reach me: aphilosopher@gmail.com

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, environmentalism, and civil disobedience, among others.

Required course materials:

If you cannot get your own copies of these books and other materials, you cannot be in this class.

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

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

3. Anthony Weston, A Rulebook for Arguments [RULEBOOK]

4. A pass-code for the Thompson Turnitin system: http://insite.turnitin2.thomson.com/ (This code should be for sale at http://www.ichapters.com/ in addition to the bookstore). ISBN 1413030181

5. A small budget for downloading and printing some articles to read and bring to class.

Classroom rules:

1. Be on time: being late is disruptive and wastes time. If you are more than 10 minutes late, you will not get full attendance credit.

2. No using cell phones, PDA’s, text messaging, listening to music on headphones, reading a newspaper or doing work for other classes. Computers can only be used for taking notes and other class-related work, not personal web surfing. Anyone using such devices for unacceptable purposes will be asked to leave. No such devices can be used or accessed during tests.

3. No food in class.

Assignments and grading:

(1) Readings

The reading assignments should be done before you come to class. Many of the readings are difficult. You will need to read them at least three times. To better comprehend the readings, you should first skim the article or chapter, then you should read more carefully, taking notes, making an outline, underlining/highlighting, etc. Doing this kind of work is necessary for an adequate understanding of the material. I expect that your books will show signs of wear.

(2) Reading quizzes

To help encourage careful reading and reflection on the readings – which will contribute to better discussion – there will be reading quizzes, at least once a week. These will be basic, factual questions about the readings and will be easy points for those who have read carefully and thoughtfully. Reading quizzes cannot be made-up except for official, excused absences (3 points each; 45 points total)

(3) Six Writing Assignments

· All written work must be submitted both in hardcopy in class (I do not accept any papers by email) and through the Thompson Turnitin system: http://insite.turnitin2.thomson.com/ If the paper is not submitted through the Turnitin system, it will not be graded and so you will receive a zero.

· Papers must by typed and carefully written: put your name, email, the date, course # and time at the top of the first page; DO NOT USE A COVER PAGE. And give your paper a title.

· They 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; I might also require that you take your paper to the Writing Lab to work with their staff.

· No late papers will be accepted: you will have plenty of time to write the papers, so you need to make wise use of that time. (10 points each; 60 points total)

A WARNING ABOUT 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 or some other illegitimate source), the instructor (with the help of Turnitin.com) will notice this and you will then fail this course immediately: no excuses will be accepted. It is your responsibility to know what plagiarism is.
Here are some suggestions to avoid plagiarism: do not check the internet for anything related to your papers: instead use the texts required for the course and think for yourself; do not take phrases from the texts; put all of your writings in your own words; do not cut and paste anything from the internet into your paper; do not visit Wikipedia; do not take articles from online encyclopedias; do not visit online dictionaries; use an acceptable citation method (e.g., MLA, APA, etc.). If you would like additional sources to learn more about a topic, see the instructor.

(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 at start of the class time. You are allowed 1 missed class for any reason; after that 3 points will be deducted from your overall grade per missed class and 1.5 points will be deducted for being late to class. Absences can be excused only if you bring me an excuse in writing. Students with perfect attendance will receive 10 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.


Fill in this sheet to determine your grade out of 225 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:



Variable +‘s & -’s

Extra Credit, if avail.

Variable +’s


Grade = total points / 225;

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 and posted on the course blog/webpage at http://philosophy302.blogspot.com . If you come to class, you should know exactly what the current assignments are.

First assignments:


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

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

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

Another assignment, by the end of the first week or as soon as you decide you are going to be in this class: email the instructor at aphilosopher@gmail.com to let him know that you are going to be in this class. The email should say which class you are, your name, your major and ask a question or give a comment about the class so far. This will help the instructor make an email list for the class.

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