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Ethan frome

School of Arts & Science

Phil 202, Contemporary Moral Issues
Winter, 2005
Please note: This outline will not be kept indefinitely. It is recommended students keep this outline for your records.
1. Instructor Information

(b) Office hours: Monday and Wednesday: 8:30 – 9:20; Monday, Tuesday and Thursday: 11:30 –
2. Intended Learning Outcomes
i) Students will be able to describe and evaluate classic and modern moral theories ii) Students will be able to describe the resolutions to moral dilemmas that are implied by classic and modern moral theories iii) Students will be able to assess various arguments for differing positions on contemporary moral issues iv) Students will be able to reason in more sophisticated ways
3. Required Materials
Handout called Philosophy 202
If your grammar needs work, you may wish to purchase a small style guide with a section on common errors
in grammar and usage.
4.Basis of Student Assessment (Weighting)
Mid-term Exam (Closed-book).………….25%
Final (Final exam period - closed-book).25%
Paper (Due one week before you do your debate).….20%
Four verbal comments made on debates (Worth 2.5% each)……….……….10%
Double-space. Illegible or hard-to read exams/papers will have marks deducted. Capitalise
traditionally or lose marks. Keep all marked assignments in case there is a discrepancy between your record
of your marks and my record of your marks.
5. Grading System

The following percentage conversion to letter grade will be used:
6. Course Content and Schedule
Formatting Assignments and Exams

1. Put the following information on each assignment:
a) your student number and your seminar letter (“A” or “B”); 2. Write on both sides of the page, where more than one page is required, and double-space.
You should always bring your course outline, a dictionary and, if you need one, a style guide.. You should
also familiarize yourself with the last page of this course outline for guidance on some errors in English
usage that may cost you marks.
Mid-term and Final Exams: The exams are one hour long, closed-book and each is worth 25% of your
course mark. You will be asked to answer one of the study questions from one of the two lists below. You
will also be asked to make an argument on one of the debate/paper topics. The final is not cumulative.
Paper: The paper is worth 20% of your final grade. Argue for or against the topic statement that you have
been assigned to debate. You don’t need to take the same side that you take on the debate. Papers must be
typed. You may print out your paper on the blank side of used paper. No title pages. The paper should be
between 1000 and 1500 words long and, since conciseness is a virtue, do not feel obliged to aim at 1500
words. Grammar and spelling count and 5% per day will be deducted from late papers which don’t have a
doctor’s note attached.
You may rewrite your paper if you do not like the grade you get on it. In order to get a rewrite marked, you
must submit both the original paper and the rewrite within a week of getting the mark for the original. If you
radically change your paper in the process of rewriting it, some of my comments on the original paper may
become redundant. Nevertheless, you must hand in the original paper with the rewrite.

Participation after Debates:
Each instance of participation is worth up to 2.5%. Only four instances count
and you should indicate to me that you want a comment to count when you are about to make it. You may
provide constructive criticism or praise, suggest alternative arguments, comment on the quality of the
contributions and so on. Questions will not usually be sufficient for a participation mark, as they do not
usually require much thought.
Debates: You are required to participate in a debate which is worth 20% of your final grade.
During the first class, students will be divided into groups of two to four people. One or two people in each
group will take either the pro or con position on a chosen topic. Each group will be given a topic and a date
on which to debate.
You will be graded on the strength of your arguments, the knowledge you show on the topic and your
ability to present your arguments in a way that helps other students understand the relevant issues.
Do not read out your presentation or any other part of the debate. If you do read, you will
automatically lose 5 of the 20 marks.
You may occasionally refer to notes.
Handouts are forbidden.
If you are at a loss as to what arguments have been made on the topic, see the Encyclopaedia of Philosophy (a reference book in the library) for a start. See me, if you need to do so, well in advance, for additional advice. Some of the topics require knowledge of factual information. Ensure that you know this information. Once you have an idea of what issues are at stake and of some of the arguments that have been presented on the topic, you should spend time thinking for yourself on the topic. What do you think the truth Structure of Debates
Be concise: You don’t have time to verbally meander around. a) Pro side: one strong argument in favour of the claim. (Speak for up to two minutes.) b) Con side: objection to the above argument. (Speak for up to thirty seconds.) c) Pro side: response to the above objection. (Speak for up to thirty seconds.) d) Con side: objection to above response or a second objection to the pro side’s original argument. e) Pro side: response to the second objection. (Speak for up to thirty seconds.) Repeat steps one through five above, beginning with the con side this time. Pro and con sides now address points put to them by the class. SCHEDULE
You are expected to have done the readings before the class in which they are covered. Jan. 11: administration
Jan 13: metaethical theories
1 St. Q: characterize whichever of the following positions I pick and present a strong objection to
it: objectivism, relativism, subjectivism, emotivism, teleological, deontological, ethical egoism,
psychological egoism, utilitarianism, virtue ethics contractarianism.
Jan 18: Issue: Euthanasia and suicide ; Reading: Active and Passive Euthanasia
2 St/ Q: Under what circumstances is suicide immoral?
Jan. 20: Cont’d
3 St. Q: Is active euthanasia morally worse than passive euthanasia? Explain.
Jan. 25: Issue: Abortion; Reading: In Defense of Abortion and Infanticide
4. St. Q: In plain English, describe Tooley’s second argument against the modified potentiality
Jan. 27: Theory: Self interest versus morality; Reading: The Supremacy of Moral Reasons
5. St. Q.: Why does Baier think that one should enter into the theoretical task of deliberation?
Feb. 1: Cont’d
Feb 3: Theory: Moral Relativism; Reading: Moral Relativism Defended
6. St. Q.: Harman’s view is that in the second hereditary slave society, it isn’t true that the slaves
ought to be freed. How does the moral repugnance of this view form the basis of an objection to it? Feb. 8: Cont’d
Feb. 15: Theory: Kantianism; Reading: Good Will, Duty and the Categorical Imperative
7. St. Q: Describe Kantianism.
Feb. 17: Cont’d
Feb. 24: Theory: Pluralistic Deontology; Reading: Prima Facie Duty
1. St. Q.: Describe Ross’s view.
Mar. 1: Theory: Utilitarianism; Reading: The Structure of Ethics and Morals
2. St. Q.: What role does universalizability play in Hare’s argument in The Structure of Ethics and
Mar. 3: Cont’d
Mar. 8: Theory: Utilitarianism; Reading: Issues for Utilitarians
3. St. Q: Explain Sidgwick’s view on what the utilitarian should say about an act which is morally
morally right but which may set a bad example to others. Mar. 10: Cont’d
Mar. 15: Theory: Virtue ethics; Reading: After Virtue
4. St. Q.: Can MacIntyre specify the human good clearly enough to aid in the resolution of value
Mar. 17: Cont’d
Mar. 22: Theory: Contractarianism; Reading: A Theory of Justice
5. St. Q.: Describe Rawls’ position.
Mar. 24: Cont’d
Mar. 29: Theory: Contractarianism; Reading: Why Contractarianism?
6. St. Q.: Explain the last paragraph on page 6 of Gauthier’s paper, in words a non-philosophy
Mar. 31: Cont’d
Ap. 5: Issue: Obligations to starving people: Reading: Famine, Affluence and Morality
7. St. Q.: Describe the reductio ad absurdum that can be made against both versions of Singer’s
Ap. 7: Cont’d
Ap. 12: Issue: antidepressants; Reading: Listening to Prozac: A Psychiatrist Explores
Antidepressant Drugs and the Remaking of Self 8. St. Q.:
Ap. 14: Cont’d
Seminar Schedule
Jan. 11/13 - exercise to find out what sorts of things your moral intuition tells you are moral
Jan. 18/20 - overview of the classic ethical theories
Jan. 25/27 - Issue: Legal punishment and free will; Reading: Punishment
Debate/Paper topic: People have free will.
Feb. 1/3 - Issue: Terrorism; Reading: Terrorism and Morality
Debate/Paper topic: Terrorism is always immoral.
Feb. 8 - Issue: The value of culture; Reading: None
Debate/Paper topic: All cultures are worthy of respect. (Note that prima facie, a group of people
can be distinguished from their culture.) Feb. 15/17 – Issue: Culture and genetics; Reading: None
Debate/Paper topic: One’s skin colour or cultural background should not be taken into
consideration when one is being assessed as a possible adopting parent of an infant. Feb. 24 : The value of culture; Reading: None
Debate/Paper topic: All cultures are worthy of respect. (Note that prima facie, a group of people
can be distinguished from their culture.) Mar. 1/3 - Issue: Environmentalism; Reading: Philosophical Problems for Environmentalism
Debate/Paper topic: Environmental values are really aesthetic values.
Mar. 8/10 - Issue: Immoral thoughts?; Reading: Pornography and Fantasy
Debate/Paper topic: Failing to resist having certain fantasies is immoral.
Mar. 15/17 – Issue: Freedom of thought and discussion; Reading: Of the Liberty of Thought and
Debate/Paper topic: Post-secondary students have a moral right to express their racist, sexist or
Mar. 22/24 - Issue: What is sex for?; Reading: Plain Sex
Debate/Paper topic: Sex change procedures should be insured by the medical insurance plan.
Mar. 29/31 - Issue: The value of sexual fidelity; Reading: Monogamy: A Critique
Debate/Paper topic: Sexual fidelity benefits people in a way, or ways, which cannot be duplicated
Ap. 5/7 - Issue: Affirmative Action; Reading: A Defense of Programs of Preferential Treatment.
Debate/Paper topic: Affirmative action is unjust. (Note: claims about what is ‘just’ or ‘unjust’
Ap. 12/14 - Review
Note that failing to follow the following rules may cost you marks.
1. Do not use the first or second person on your exams. Here are two examples of the first person: “We cannot pass students who cannot use the English language adequately,” and “I cannot pass
students who cannot use the English language adequately.” Here is an example of the second person: “You don’t realise that it is not our fault that we were not taught how to write in high
school.” The following are examples of sentences written in the third person. “People cannot pass
the buck forever.” “One will find that a style guide is essential in university.”
3. Do not use a pronoun which disagrees with the noun it refers to. You should try to use gender neutral language in this course, although failure to do so will not result in a lower grade. At first, this effort may result in a number of cases of pronoun disagreement. In many cases, pronoun disagreement can be avoided through the use of plural nouns. Here is an example of a sentence in which the pronoun disagrees with the noun: “A philosopher should not be so picky about English;
they are not English teachers.” Here is the corrected version: “Philosophers should not be so
picky about English; they are not English teachers.”
4. Do not confuse “its” with “it’s.” Since you are not allowed to use contractions, you should never 5. Do not confuse “their” with “there.” 6. Do not add “ly” to “first,” second” and so on. 7. Do not forget possessive apostrophes and do not put them in the wrong place. 8. Do not use abbreviations or a contractions. 9. Do not use “e. g.”; use “for example.” 10. Do not use “etc.”; use “and so on.” 11. Do not use “i.e.”; use “that is.” Better yet, say it clearly the first time. 12. Do not use the upper-case where the lower case is standard. 5% will be deducted from a student’s 13. Do not misspell the following words: Socrates
There are a variety of services available for students to assist them throughout their learning. This information is available in the College Calendar, Registrar’s Office or the College web site at ACADEMIC CONDUCT POLICY
There is an Academic Conduct Policy which includes plagiarism. It
is the student’s responsibility to become familiar with the content of this policy. The policy is available in each School Administration Office, Registration, and on the College web site in the Policy Section.


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