Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Friday and early next week

Friday we are going to move on to the Elements of Moral Philosophy chapter on the moral theory known as  Ethical Egoism and issues related to absolute poverty. In more recent editions this is Chapter 5: in older versions there are two chapters, one on Psychological Egoism and another on Ethical Egoism.

Please read this EMP chapter and the essay by Peter Singer called "The Singer Solution to World Poverty." This is in The Right Thing to Do and is widely reprinted online. I'll post some other materials related to that topic, including some issues related to career choice.

 A powerpoint on the topics.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Quiz 2

Quiz 2, next Wednesday, November 6.

Study guide due Monday, November 4.

The quiz will cover everything since the last quiz, including EMP Ch. 3 and 4, the topics of abortion and homosexuality, and the skills of formulating arguments in logically valid form (by adding any unstated premises) and evaluating them as sound or not (using counterexamples to try to show that a general moral premise is false).

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A short PowerPoint on abortion.

Judith Thompson's famous article "A Defense of Abortion" edited down a bit (also in the Right Thing to Do):

A response: 

Friday, October 18, 2013

A flyer for this event, with graphics, is available here: 

 Homecoming Philosophy Presentation and Discussion
"The Value of Philosophy and its Application to the African-American Community"

John Torrey, Ph.D candidate in Philosophy, University of Memphis, Morehouse Class of 2009, &
William Allen Ph.D candidate in Philosophy, University of Memphis, BA, Emory, MA, GSU
John Torrey will dispel many common myths about the academic field of philosophy. He will argue that there is value – of many kinds – in studying philosophy, especially at the graduate level. William Allen will discuss how John Rawls’ influential theory of justice is relevant to the African-American community. He argues that African-American philosophy, and African-American philosophers, are needed in academia and to help address pressing social problems.

Thursday October 24
2:25 pm - 3:40 pm
Wheeler 214
A flyer for this event, with graphics, is available here: 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Monday, October 14, 2013

Writing Assignments for next Monday, Oct. 21

Writing Assignments for next Monday, Oct. 21:

1. Finish reading the Harvard book on writing: from section 3 to the end. Please turn in a detailed summary.

2. Read EMP Ch. 4 which is entitled "Does Morality Depend on Religion?" Write an essay that clearly addresses the topic of how morality might depend on religion, focusing on the Divine Command Theory of Ethics and the topic of abortion (you do not need to address Natural Law theory). Your essay should have these sections and conform to the guidance given on writing from Pyror and all other sources on writing that you have been asked to read:

I. Introduction 
II. The Divine Command Theory
  1. What the theory Is.
  2.  Arguments that the Theory is True.
  3.  Arguments that the Theory is False
  4. Conclusions about the Divine Command Theory
III. Religion and Abortion
Here you will need to discuss arguments about abortion. In addition to any other arguments, you will want to discuss religious arguments, either arguments from the Bible (discussed also in EMP Ch. 3) and arguments from the Divine Command Theory and what God might think about the topic.
IV. Conclusion
Use this outline in your paper. Visit the writing center. Send Dr. Nobis a draft by email if you'd like.

Group Project

Here is an assignment for group project due in 2 weeks, Monday Oct. 28 (note: this was changed in class to Wednesday Oct. 30). Your group can be 3 or 4 students, but no more and no less, unless you receive special permission from Dr. Nobis. And everyone who is part of the group must have his or her name clearly on the project. It must be submitted in hardcopy and via Turnitin: if your project is an online project, you can still submit the text through Turnitin.

You may do this as online project (e.g., a blog or webpage), like a lab report, like a scientific poster, or a conventional paper.

Your task is to create an educational teaching too that will (A) provide general guidance on how to identify and evaluate moral arguments and (B) apply those skills to the topic of homosexuality.

Your project must have these clearly stated sections:

1. An Introduction, where explain what you will try to accomplish in this project.
2. A Methods section, where you explain -- in detail - the general methods and techniques for finding and evaluating moral arguments.
3. At least five moral arguments about the topic of homosexuality stated in logically valid form and evaluated as sound or unsound. You must explain your reasoning and why you evaluate each premise as true or false.
4. A Conclusion, that reviews what you have done.

Your goal, again, is to create a "product" that someone unfamiliar with philosophical ethics would be able to gain some general skills at reasoning about moral issues and see how these general skills can be applied to the particular issue of ethics and homosexuality. You are the teacher, so your job is to teach people how to better reason about this particular issue. And the general concepts, skills and techniques that you use will be useful for addressing other moral issues as well.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Assignment for Monday, Oct 14

1. Re-read your paper on writing philosophy.
2. Re-read your summary of the assigned chapters on on writing.
3. Redo your redo assignment on cultural relativism, unless you used the template and/or rigorously followed the outline and Dr. Nobis said that you did on your returned paper. Download the template file and use it to provide organization. Keep the headings; keep the introduction. Follow the advice that you summarized in your writings on writing from the Harvard writing book and your paper on writing philosophy.
4. Take your paper to the writing center for feedback.
5. Detailed summaries and reactions to the online video on syllogisms by Nathan Nobis. Link below. 
6.  Detailed summaries and reactions to the video on homosexuality by John Corvino. 
7. Re-read EMP Ch. 3; start reading EMP Ch. 4. Soon there will be some writing assignments about  those.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Using the Template

I have been reading your revisions of your assignment concerning cultural relativism. While many students papers have improved (GREAT!), many students did not use the template, as you were asked to use:
If you did not use the template, I am going to ask you to revise your assignment so that you use the template. Please keep the headings / outline labels in the document. In many cases, this will improve the organization even more. So, again, download that file and use it to structure your paper. 

Another thing to keep in mind is that you should not write anything that would be unclear to the reader (who is lazy, stupid, and mean -- 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.

New revisions that conform to the directions and Pryor's guidance are due Monday. I also strongly encourage everyone to visit Morehouse's Writing Center for this assignment and any other:


An Extra Credit Event

The ethics program at Agnes Scott College presents its 2013-14 lecture series:

October 15: Gillian Hue, "Neuroethics: An Overview"

7:30 pm, Letitia Pate Evans Hall, Rooms ABC 

Gillian Hue is a postdoctoral fellow in Science Education and Ethics in the Program in Science and Society, and a Program Associate in the Neuroethics Program at Emory University. She earned her bachelor's degree in Psychology with a concentration in Behavioral Neuroscience from Washington College in Chestertown, MD. She completed her doctoral research in Neuroscience at Emory University. In her current position, Dr. Hue teaches research ethics for scientists, and develops curricula to promote science literacy and ethical engagement across a range of educational levels.

If you go, you must be on time and take detailed notes and write a reaction which you submit in class after the event. 

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Assignments for Monday, Oct 7

1. The redo assignment's due date has been changed; instead of being due this Monday (Sept. 30) it will be due the Monday after, which is Oct 7.

2.  Please read this "Guidelines on Writing Philosophy" by Jim Pryor, as well as the short chapters on writing philosophical essays in The Rulebook for Arguments book. On the basis of what you read, write a short "how to paper" on how to write a philosophy paper: what they are like, what they try to accomplish, how they should be structured, what "parts" they should have, how they should be written, and so on. 2-3 pages. (Note: this reading and writing assignment should help with the redo of your writing on cultural relativism).

3. Watch these videos, carefully (take notes, don't be distracted, etc.):

A little video on syllogisms:

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

4. Next week we will identify and evaluate some arguments about homosexuality. Please read Elements of Moral Philosophy Ch. 3.

Our discussion will proceed at a quicker pace if students are able to quickly state arguments in logically valid form and then be able to evaluate arguments as sound or unsound. The more familiar students are with the assigned readings and videos, the quicker and more fruitful our discussion will be!

5. You may wish to consider checking out this extra credit assignment related to career exploration: