Contemporary Moral Issues
Instructor: Valerie Philbrick-DeBrava Office: James Blair 132 Email: email@example.com Office Hours: MWF 9:00-10:00 Phone: (804) 642-4621 Course Times: MWF 10:00-10:50 (01) Course Location: James Blair 201 MWF 11:00-11:50 (02) Course Description: Philosophy 215 is designed to improve our understanding of the moral issues our twenty-first-century society faces. As both a survey of these issues and their attendant controversies, and as an introduction to moral philosophy, this course teaches us how respected thinkers have rigorously explored such topics as capital punishment, social inequality, and environmental responsibility. Simultaneously, this course equips us to formulate and argue our own positions on these topics, whether through writing, discussion, or debate. Required Texts: The required anthology for this course is the 4th edition of Emmett Barcalow’s Moral Philosophy: Theories and Issues (ISBN-13: 978-0-495-00715-9). Additionally, we will read John Stuart Mill’s Utilitarianism and the 1868 Speech on Capital Punishment (ISBN-13: 978-0-87220-605-2) and Plato’s Protagoras (ISBN-13: 978-0-87220-094-4). As the schedule of readings and assignments shows, we will also delve into a range of supplemental newspaper articles, philosophical essays, and book excerpts, all of which will be posted on Blackboard (http://blackboard.wm.edu). Goals of the Course: By taking Contemporary Moral Issues, students will: learn how to read difficult philosophical texts and gain an understanding and appreciation of important arguments in the field; learn how to express their thoughts in writing clearly and concisely (students will have the opportunity to attain this goal through response papers, quizzes and essays); learn how to evaluate the arguments they encounter and to build arguments of their own; assume an active and responsible role in the classroom, whether during lectures, discussions, debates, or other group activities; and respectfully engage with views contrary to their own.
1 mid-term essay – 10% of your final grade
1 final essay – 25% of your final grade
4 response papers – each of these brief and informal papers is worth 5% of your final grade 6 quizzes – each of these short quizzes is worth 5% of your final grade class participation (including one oral presentation on one of the assigned response papers) – 5% class attendance – 10% of your final grade
Miscellaneous Information: All essays and response papers are due at the beginning of class on the assigned due date. Late papers will be marked down a letter grade for each day that they are late. Remember that class attendance has an inevitable impact on the quality of your written work. As for laptops, they are permitted in class since you may wish to consult our Blackboard readings online, rather than print them out and bring them to class. Just remember to be responsible in your internet use and keep your focus on our work. Honor Code: Information about William & Mary’s honor code is available at http://www.wm.edu/offices/deanofstudents/services/studentconduct/honorcode. The section on plagiarism can be found on page 52. GER 7: Philosophy 215 is a GER 7 course. At the end of the syllabus you will find a description of the GER 7 criteria.
Schedule of Readings and Assignments
(All chapter numbers refer to Moral Philosophy: Theories and Issues) Course Introduction
8/27 – The issues, the theories, and the texts; guidelines for writing ethics papers Morality and Moral Reasoning
8/29 – Chapter 1
Natural Law and Divine Commands
9/1 – Chapter 2
9/3 – Book II of Plato’s Republic - BB
9/5 - *Quiz #1
Moral Relativism and Moral Egoism
9/8 – Chapter 3; “Rape Case, in Public, Cites Abuse by Armed Groups in Afghanistan.” The New York Times, June 1, 2012 – BB 9/10 – Chapter 4; Case Studies: “McWane, Inc.” and...
Cited: page) as required by the Modern Language Association guidelines.
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