Sunday, December 14, 2008

Spring 2009

I am offering an advanced ethics class next semester. Here's the book I plan to use; the course will have a philosophical research project as its main focus:

A Companion to Applied Ethics

Edited by: R.G. Frey and Christopher Heath Wellman (Washington University in St. Louis)

Series: Blackwell Companions to Philosophy


Now Available Online - visit Blackwell Reference Online at for more details.


"The Companion to Applied Ethics offers accessible essays by many of the leading writers in the field. It is a superb introduction to applied ethics for students and the interested reader alike." <...


Applied or practical ethics is perhaps the largest growth area in philosophy today, and many issues in moral, social, and political life have come under philosophical scrutiny in recent years. Taken together, the essays in this volume - including two overview essays on theories of ethics and the nature of applied ethics - provide a state-of-the-art account of the most pressing moral questions facing us today.

  • Provides a comprehensive guide to many of the most significant problems of practical ethics.
  • Offers state-of-the-art accounts of issues in medical, environmental, legal, social, and business ethics.
  • Written by major philosophers presently engaged with these complex and profound ethical issues.

TopTable of Contents

Notes on Contributors.
1. The Nature of Applied Ethics: Tom L. Beauchamp
2. Theories of Ethics Stephen: L. Darwall
3. Property Rights and Welfare Redistribution: Jeremy Waldron
4. Civil Disobedience and the Duty to Obey the Law: A. John Simmons
5. Capitalism and Marxism: Richard W. Miller
6. State Punishment and the Death Penalty: David Dolinko
7. Racism: Michele Moody-Adams
8. Sexism: Ann E. Cudd and Leslie E. Jones
9. Affirmative Action: Bernard Boxill and Jan Boxill
10. The Legal Enforcement of Morality: Larry Alexander
11. Hate Crimes, Literature, and Speech: L. W. Sumner
12. Pornography and Censorship: Lori Gruen
13. Dirty Hands: Gerald F. Gaus
14. Sexual Ethics: Alan H. Goldman
15. Gun Control: Lance Stell
16. Citizenship: Wayne Norman and Will Kymlicka
17. Immigration: Michael Blake
18. World Hunger: Hugh LaFollette
19. War and Terrorism: C. A. J. Coady
20. Nationalism and Secession: Christopher Heath Wellman
21. Intergenerational Justice: Clark Wolf
22. Bioethics: Margaret P. Battin
23. Abortion: Margaret Olivia Little
24. Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide: Michael Tooley
25. Reproductive Technology: John D. Arras
26. Genetic Engineering: Dan W. Brock
27. Surrogate Motherhood: Rosemarie Tong
28. Cloning: John Harris
29. Allocation of Medical Resources: H. Tristram Engelhardt, Jr. and Ana Smith Iltis
30. Experimentation on Human Subjects: Patrick Boleyn-Fitzgerald
31. Disability: Leslie Pickering Francis
32. Moral Status: Mary Anne Warren
33. Killing and Letting Die: Alastair Norcross
34. The Doctrine of Double Effect: R. G. Frey
35. Bad Samaritans, Acts and Omissions: Patricia Smith
36. Moral Dilemmas: N. Ann Davis
37. Education: Amy Gutmann
38. Personal Relationships: Lawrence A. Blum
39. Animals: Jeff McMahan
40. Business Ethics: Patricia H. Werhane and R. Edward Freeman
41. Corporate Responsibility: R. Edward Freeman and Patricia H. Werhane
42. Whistle-blowing: Terrance McConnell
43. Professional Ethics: David Luban
44. Media Ethics: Judith Lichtenberg
45. Computer Ethics: Deborah G. Johnson
46. Engineering Ethics: Michael S. Pritchard
47. Environmental Ethics: Andrew Light
48. Values in Nature: Dale Jamieson
49. The Tragedy of the Commons: David Schmidtz and Elizabeth Willott
50. Global Warming: Robert Hood

A Companion to Applied Ethics

Thursday, December 04, 2008

For the 12 PM class the final exam time is Wednesday, December 10 from 1 PM to 3 PM.

For the 1 PM class the official exam time is Monday, December 8 from 8 AM to 10 AM. However, that is really early, so you could come from 9 AM to 11 AM instead, since the test should not take more than an hour if you know the know the material.

Another option for the 1 PM class is to come to the final time for the 12 PM one, which is Wednesday, December 10 from 1 PM to 3 PM.

Again, final papers must be submitted by Turnitin and in hardcopy. If you forget to turn it in via Turnitin, the assignment will not be graded.

And nothing will be accepted after Wednesday, December 10 at 3 PM, so plan ahead.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Study guide for final

Morality & Religion, Abortion, Ethical Egoism,Famine Aid & Animals

All material since the previous test is testable!

EMP, Ch. 4 Does Morality Depend on Religion? (see also RTD, “Short Introduction to Moral Philosophy”)

1. What is the Divine Command Theory of ethics (see both RTD and EMP)? What are three arguments against it, i.e., arguments to think it is false? Are these objections strong objections to it, i.e., give reason to think it’s false, or not? Explain.

2. Socrates asked, "[A] Does God command doing certain actions because they are right actions, or [B] are actions right because God commands them?" Explain this question, responses [A] and [B] and what’s entailed by them, and which response is a better response and why.

3. Can a theist reject the Divine Command Theory of ethics? If so, how? Why might a theist do this?

Be able to present all the arguments about abortion that we discussed in class in logically valid premise-conclusion form, explain them and evaluate them as sound or unsound, with reasons. A full handout, with all the premises stated, is here:

Be able to know which arguments are Marquis’s and which are Warren’s. Here are some details that you’ll know if you are familiar with all the discussed arguments;

1. Some people think about “abortions” in general. Explain why we thought it’s better, when one develops a moral view about abortion, to make it clear whether one’s view pertains to all abortions or only some of them, and if just some of them, that one explains which abortions one is arguing to be right or wrong. The Feldman handout gave some insight into this:

2. Some people disagree about whether fetuses are “human” or “human beings”. To help resolve this dispute, be able to explain how the word “human” (as in the claim ‘Fetuses are human’) is ambiguous; be able to explain two distinct meanings, with examples. Warren provides this explanation.

3. Be able to explain one method of reasoning to try to figure out the meaning of the word “person” or what the concept of “person” or “being a person” is. This method is generally useful for trying to figure out the meanings of words or concepts when their meanings are not clear.

4. Be able to explain what it is to be a person on the view that was developed in class. Explain why, on this theory, if God exists, God is a person. Explain why, on this theory, if “ET” existed, ET, Worf, Jabba The Hut and other fictional persons would exist as persons.

5. Since you should be able to explain all the arguments, be able to give a logically valid argument against from fetuses’ potential to be persons. Be able to explain whether any premises in that argument are false.

6. According to scientists and physicians, approximately when do human fetuses develop some kind of consciousness and ability to feel pain? (Present the range of scientific estimates). Do most actual abortions occur before or after this time period?

7. Explain why a bumper that said “Aren’t you glad your mother didn’t have an abortion?” doesn’t appear to suggest a sound argument against abortion because it suggests an analogous argument against birth control.

8. Some arguments against abortion suggest that birth control and even abstinence are wrong also. (However, since most people don’t believe that birth control and abstinence are wrong, they take this false implication to reveal a fault with the argument.) Explain how this is so and which exact premises have that implication.

9. Some people get upset when it is said, and even argued (i.e., reasons are given), that (early) fetuses are not “persons” and not conscious, feeling beings. Explain to them why they should not get upset, since these facts do not entail that abortions are right. Explain why that is so, i.e., why this argument is invalid:

a. If fetuses were persons, then killing them would be wrong.

b. But fetuses are not persons.

c. Therefore, killing them is not wrong.

10. What’s Marquis’s argument for the immorality of abortion? What’s his overall strategy? Present an objection to each premise of the argument.

11. What are Thompsonn's arguments for the moral permissibility of abortion? What is her main point about what's involved in having a right to life?

12. Here’s a PowerPoint on abortion that you might find interesting:

What is ethical egoism? (If someone is an ethical egoist, what exactly does he or she believe?)
• Present at least two logically valid arguments against ethical egoism, i.e., for the conclusion that ethical egoism is false.
• Are these arguments sound or not? Explain and defend your view.

Famine / poverty aid:
• What is Singer’s argument regarding famine aid issues? Be able to present his complete argument in a logically valid form. You will need to know the details.

What role do the examples of the pond/pool, Dora and Bob play in his argument? (i.e., why does he discuss these examples?)
• Be able to present at least 5 objections to Singer’s argument in logically valid form. Since identifying the unstated assumptions behind these arguments was our focus, these objections should be made as logically valid arguments; you’ll need to explain why these arguments are sound or unsound (i.e., why at least one premise is false) and/or defend their premises. Simply asserting that Singer is wrong, or that we have no such obligations, or other responses – without giving reasons and defending them – will be inadequate.
• Explain our final conclusion, the final objection to Singer’s argument. This was that one would indeed be sacrificing something of genuinely comparable moral worth if one gave to famine aid, so one of Singer’s premises is false, and that’s one good reason why his argument is not sound.

You might find this Powerpoint interesting:
And there’s a video here:

Questions on the arguments from Singer's "All Animals Are Equal" and Simmons' "Reasonable Humans and Animals"

Singer on racism, sexism, "intelligence"-ism and speciesism,

· According to Singer, racists and sexists violate “the fundamental principle of equality.” Explain what this principle is and how they violate this principle. Explain what interests are. Fully explain how Singer argues this principle applies to animals.

· Why, according to Singer, would we not want to tie our opposition to racism and sexism to “factual equality?” This addresses a response to racism and sexism that Singer thinks we wouldn’t want to accept.

· Singer discusses a number of other hypotheses to explain why racism and sexism are wrong. What are these other hypotheses? Why are they not good explanations for why racism is wrong, according to Singer?

· Why, according to Singer’s reasoning, is it wrong that animals are raised and killed to be eaten, worn and experimented on? (His reasoning is not that they have “rights”). Is his reasoning sound? Why or why not?

· What is “speciesism” according to Singer? Why is it wrong, according to Singer? Is he right?

· Singer gives a principle for when an experiment on an animal would be morally acceptable. What is his suggestion? Is he right? Why or why not?


· Be able to present and explain – in valid, premise-conclusion form -- John Simmons’ argument from the article “Reasonable Humans and Animals.”

· Be able to present ten objections to Simmons’ argument in logically valid form, where all the premises are clearly stated, and evaluate these objections with reasons. At least 50 objections are here:

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Extra Credit Paper 5

Optional, extra credit 5th paper worth up to 10 points (depending on the quality of your suggestions). It is due at the time of the final. You must turn it yourself in person and through the turnitin system: both are necessary for it to be graded.

Make a "Top 10 List" of helpful things to do and/or not do when thinking about moral issues." For each of your suggestion of what to do (or not do), illustrate it with an example (or examples): explain why your suggestion is a good one. The goal of this assignment is for you to critically reflect on what we have done over the semester and develop a list of helpful ideas that you can use in the future (and help others use) when thinking about moral issues. IT IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT YOU THINK FOR YOURSELF AND COME UP WITH YOUR OWN IDEAS. DO NOT MERELY TAKE IDEAS FROM OTHERS’ (E.G., HANDOUTS IN CLASS) AND TAKE THEIR WORDS. DO NOT DO YOUR OWN THINKING! 4 pages.

Reminder: plagiarism on any assignment, including extra credit assignments, will result in a failing grade for the course.