Phil 102 – Contemporary Moral Problems
Instructor: Dr. Tablan Ph.D
Winter Quarter 2012
Office: R230 K
Class times: MW 12:30-2:40 p.m.
Office Phone: 425-564-2074
Office Hours: M/W 5:10 – 6:45 p.m.
Provides philosophical consideration of some of the major moral problems and controversies that divide contemporary American society such as abortion, euthanasia, gay marriage, war, and genetic engineering. Moral issues will be discussed and analyzed using classical and contemporary ethical theories. Fulfills social science or humanities credit at BC.
After completing this course, students should be able to:
1. Recognize and use basic philosophic vocabulary (e.g., “supererogatory,” “consequentialism,” “virtue,” etc.) in in-class and take-home essays, short answer tests, or matching quizzes.
2. Recognize, assess, and be able to use appropriate deductive and inductive argument strategies and tactics. For instance, students should be able to recognize an argument as fallacious or logically successful, and be able to explain how the truth or falsity of premises impacts a given argument.
3. Distinguish good evidence for a position from bad evidence. For example, students should be able to explain in a one-page essay why a philosopher has failed to support his or her position on the issue of euthanasia.
4. Explain in an essay the arguments for and against a specified position. For example, students should be able to write a four-page take-home essay explaining the reasons for and against accepting the Pro-Choice side of an abortion debate.
5. Analyze philosophic concepts in writing. For instance, students should be able give an analysis of concepts such as Justice, Personhood, or the Good. Analyses should include an adequate definition and considerations of potential counterexamples.
6. Accurately and informatively explain the topics discussed by the philosophers studied. For instance, students studying John Stuart Mill should be able to write a one-page essay explaining what he means and how he defends himself when he argues for a maximum amount of personal liberty in the academic environment.
7. Identify, distinguish, and explain the different schools of thought in Ethics (e.g., Divine Command Theory, Cultural Relativism, Ethical Egoism). This may be assessed via short answer tests.
8. Write argumentative essays containing clear thesis claims, strong arguments for the theses, reasonable consideration of opposing views, and conforming to the presentation/writing standards set forth in the “BCC Philosophy Writing Guidelines.”
Course Requirements and Grading Scheme
In-class Participation (5%); Assignments (5%); Class activities and Quizzes (15%);
2 Philosophical Essays (30%); Mid-Term Exam (20%); Final Exam (25%)
100-Point Grading Scale
A- 91 - 94
B+ 87 - 90
F below 60
About the Requirements:
Reading Assignments: Being a text-based course, it is the students’ responsibility to do their own reading of the assigned texts. Instructional procedure will take the form of commentaries, interpretations, explanations, applications, problem-solving activities, and critical questions on some of the major points and difficult passages of the text. It will not be a paragraph-by-paragraph lecture of its content. All students are required to have a copy of the course textbook and to bring it to class every meeting ( Vaughn, Lewis. 2009 Contemporary Moral Arguments: Readings in Ethical Issues USA: Oxford University Press).
In-class Participation: Discussion is a very important part of the course. Students are expected to bring to class insights, issues, interpretation, comments, critiques, and questions regarding the required readings for the purposes of information sharing, argument, and informal debate. People learn in different ways. Some learn by thinking out loud while others need to listen a while before forming their own conclusions. However, even for more reserved students, classroom discussion is an important way to think through questions and ideas. While I do not give graded recitation, I shall take your regular attendance and consistent thoughtful engagement in class as the basis for in-class participation.
Classroom Attendance: It is your responsibility as students to attend all classes on time. Class attendance is monitored but not graded. Poor attendance may affect your grade because if you miss class, you miss the discussions, important announcements, active learning exercises, group activities, and the opportunity to ask questions and get answers. If you miss class, it is your responsibility to update yourselves with missed assignments and readings. You are likewise accountable for any announcements, changes in syllabus or class calendar, and schedules of exams and quizzes whether you have been attending class or not.
Tutorials and Consultation: Every reasonable effort will be made to assist you for any problems or difficulties you may encounter with any aspect of this course. I will never be offended by your questions or comments about papers, class schedule, reading materials, class discussions, grading, study habits and so on. For brief consultations, you can see me after class. Emails are the most efficient means by which we can communicate outside the classroom. It is strongly advised that you get an acknowledgement that I have received your email. Save a copy of my email acknowledgement for your reference. Every student is required to have a public email (I will not send blind carbon copy to anyone). While I send class updates and class assignments though email from time to time, this is only as a form of courtesy. This is not an online course. All announcements and assignments should be given in class.
Tentative Course Outline and Reading Assignments
(This schedule is for planning purposes only. It may be changed by the instructor depending upon the students’ interests, the ability of the class to absorb the materials, and the composition of the class.)
MORAL REASONING pp. 1 to 15 (week 1)
1. Ethics and the Moral Domain
2. Ethics, Law, and Religion
3. Moral Relativism
4. Moral Arguments
MORAL THEORIES pp. 53 to 65 (week 2 – 3)
1. Why Moral Theories?
2. Important Moral Theories
4. Kantian Ethics
5. Natural Law Theory
6. Rawls's Contractarianism
7. Virtue Ethics
8. The Ethics of Care
9. Feminist Ethics
ABORTION (week 4 – 5)
1. Mary Anne Warren: On the Moral and Legal Status of Abortion pp. 114 to 119
2. Stephen Schwarz: The Being in the Womb Is a Person pp. 119 to 130.
3. John T. Noonan, Jr.: An Almost Absolute Value in History pp. 154 to 157.
EUTHANASIA AND ASSISTED SUICIDE (week 6 – 7)
1. Daniel Callahan: When Self-Determination Runs Amok pp. pp. 265 to 269.
2. John Lachs: When Abstract Moralizing Runs Amok pp. 270 to 273.
3. James Rachels: Active and Passive Euthanasia pp. 283 to 287
4. Winston Nesbitt: Is Killing No Worse Than Letting Die? pp. 287 to 290.
GAY MARRIAGE (week 8)
1. Sam Schulman: Gay Marriage--and Marriage pp. 246 to 252
2. Jonathan Rauch: For Better or Worse? pp. 253 to 258.
GENETIC ENGINEERING AND CLONING (week 9)
1. Dan W. Brock: Cloning Human Beings: An Assessment of the Ethical Issues Pro and Con pp. 334 to 344
2. Søren Holm: A Life in the Shadow: One Reason Why We Should Not Clone Humans pp. 345 to 347
WAR, TERRORISM, AND TORTURE (week 10)
1. War, Terrorism and Torture pp. 396 to 405
2. Douglas P. Lackey: Pacifism pp. 407 to 414
3. Michael Walzer: The Legalist Paradigm pp. 424 to
HEALTH CARE (week 11)
1. Economic Justice: Health Care pp. 547 to 558.
2. Norman Daniels: Is There a Right to Health Care and, if so, What Does it Encompass? pp. 559 to 565
3. Allen Buchanan: The Right to a Decent Minimum of Health Care pp. 566 to 567.
ECONOMIC JUSTICE AND GLOBAL OBLIGATIONS
1. William W. Murdoch and Allan Oaten: A Critique of Lifeboat Ethics pp. 688 to 696
2. Peter Singer: Famine, Affluence, and Morality pp. 698 to 705.
1. I have a little difficulty in hearing so please speak slowly, loudly and clearly whenever you talk in class.
2. Before coming to class, students must have enough sleep and rest. Take a cup of coffee/tea, or soda that has caffeine. Eat lightly. Some people get sleepy after eating a heavy meal. Eating during class is not allowed.
3. All written assignments or papers are due at the beginning of the class on the submission date. Lack of access to a computer and/or computer glitches are not acceptable excuses for failing to hand in assignments on time. Late submission for any requirement, for whatever reasons, is subject to a substantial grade reduction – 10% deduction for every meeting. If you cannot come to class, you can submit your paper in advance or ask one of your classmates to do it. Late papers cannot be left in my faculty mailbox without my permission. No late requirements will be accepted one week after the due date.
4. Email submission is NOT allowed.
5. Students are expected to plan their schedules in advance having the dates of the exam in mind. If you miss a long exam, the only acceptable excuse is serious physical injury/illness and a note from a hospital or doctor. There will be no make-up for missed class activities.
6. It is the responsibility of the students to arrange for make-up work at the convenience of the instructor. All make-up work must be completed within one week upon returning to class.
7. Students who are absent are accountable for all the lectures, handouts, discussions, and announcements that are given during the class
8. An incomplete grade is given only if the student has completed substantial requirements of the course but failed to take the final exam. If an incomplete is granted, the student must complete the academic work according to the BC policy.
9. All returned materials should be kept until the official final grade is given. Back up all written assignments to insure against loss.
10. The use of laptop during class is not allowed without permission from the disability center.
11. No student will be permitted to rewrite a submitted paper. It is understood that all papers submitted are in their final version.
12. Letter grades (A, A-, B+, etc.) are assigned only at the end of the quarter.
13. The final grade is non-negotiable. No extra credit.
Students with disabilities who have accommodation needs are required to meet with the Director of the Disability Resource Center (room B132-G; 425-564-2498 or TTY 425-564-4110) to establish their eligibility for accommodation.
“Cheating, stealing and plagiarizing (using the ideas or words of another as one’s own without crediting the source) and inappropriate/disruptive classroom behavior are violations of the Student Code of Conduct at Bellevue College. Examples of unacceptable behavior include, but are not limited to talking out of turn, arriving late or leaving early without a valid reason, allowing cell phones/pagers to ring, and inappropriate behavior toward the instructor or classmates. The instructor can refer any violation of the Student Code of Conduct to the Vice President of Student Services for possible probation or suspension from Bellevue College. Specific student rights, responsibilities and appeal procedures are listed in the Student Code of Conduct, available in the office of the Vice President of Student Services.” The Student Code, Policy 2050, in its entirety is located at: http://bellevuecollege.edu/policies/2/2050_Student_Code.asp
Bellevue College is committed to maintaining an environment in which every member of the campus community feels welcome to participate in the life of the college, free from harassment and discrimination. We value our different backgrounds at Bellevue College, and students, faculty, staff members, and administrators are to treat one another with dignity and respect. Part of this respect involves professional behavior toward the instructor, colleagues, and the class itself. Disruptive behavior is disrespectful behavior. The Arts and Humanities Division honors the right of its faculty to define "disruptive behavior," which often involves such things as arriving late, leaving early, leaving class and then returning, talking while others are trying to hear the instructor or their group members, doing other homework in class, wearing earphones in class, bringing activated beepers, alarm watches, or cellular phones into class, inappropriate comments or gestures, etc. http://bellevuecollege.edu/about/goals/inclusion.asp
Grading Criteria for Essays
1. Completion of the Requirements 25 points
Answers to the guide questions/paper instructions; accomplishment of the paper’s objective; effective title and conclusion; grammatically correct sentences; footnotes and documentation (when applicable); careful proofreading; appropriate manuscript form; clean typing and printing; pages are numbered and stapled.
2. Quality of Ideas 35 points
New insights, creativity and originality; persuasiveness of arguments; absence of fallacies; appropriate examples; complexity of ideas and arguments; appropriate awareness of opposing views; range and depth of analysis; range and depth of interpretation.
3. Organization and Development 25 points
Clarity of thesis statement (when applicable); logical and clear arrangement of ideas; good development of ideas through supporting details, examples, evidence and quotations from the text; effective use of transition; unity and coherence of paragraph
4. Clarity and Style 15 points
Ease of readability; clarity of arguments and sentence structure; appropriate audience; gracefulness of sentence structure; appropriate variety of sentence structure.