Philosophy 223G: Ethics
O'Donnell Hall 227
Jean-Paul Vessel firstname.lastname@example.org
J-P's Office: Breland 324
J-P's Office Hours: Tu 2:45-4:15 PM, and by appt.
Can Manny the "K" resist leaning the consequentialist way?
- This is the official PHIL 223 web site. Here you will find the syllabus,
handouts, study guides, reading assignments, written homework assignments,
news, and other relevant information. I'll try to keep this thing up to date,
but no guarantees! Suggestions and comments are most welcome, whether you
are a PHIL 223 student or a visitor. Please email email@example.com
News and Assignments (The "Living"
- Tues., Dec. 5: The Final Exam commences
at 1:00 PM.
- Mon., Dec. 4: Michelle will be leading a special study for the Final Exam at 5:30 PM in the common area (or lobby) on the first floor of Breland Hall. Anyone who attends will receive some extra credit.
- Final Reading Assignments: Chapter
8 of Elements of Moral Philosophy ("Are There Absolute Moral Rules"), and Selections A,
B, C, E and F from Kant's Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals in
the Feldman anthology (41-47 and 49-53)
- Thurs., Nov. 30: Wrap your mind around these handouts on Kantian Preliminaries and the Second Formulation of Kant's Categorical Imperative. We'll formulate a few versions of the Second Formulation of Kant's Categorical Imperative before submitting each to critical scrutiny. You'll have to do something like that on the final exam.
- Tues., Nov. 28: We'll complete our discussion of Objections to Classical Utilitarianism. Which would you prefer: A head transplant? (Thanks, Elba!) Or a body transplant? We'll go Kantian today. Hang in there, folks. Close out the semester strongly in all of your courses! And master EVERYTHING on this Study Guide for the Final Exam.
- Thurs., Nov. 16: Objections to Classical Utilitarianism.
- Reading Assignment: "The Debate over Utilitarianism" (Chapter 8 in Elements)
- Tues., Nov. 14: Classical Utilitarianism. Understand our current position in the course's
dialectic. Ethical theories are theoretical responses to the Socratic question:
How ought we to live our lives (from a moral perspective)? Each of the preliminary
and popular responses was rejected as unsatisfactory. So we moved to an ancient
view--ethical egoism--exploring objections against it while being introduced
to the consequentialist family of ethical theories. If any objection to ethical egoism hits the mark, then
morality requires us to treat others with some degree of moral respect. But
now the question is this: To what extent does morality require us to assist
others and why? How ought we to treat ourselves and why? Classical Utilitarianism
is a theoretical
response to these questions. Get Socratic. If you're moved to act morally, then a theoretical
articulation of morality is required to justify your moral stance in various
contexts: action, moral defenses, moral accusations, and other contexts in
which moral argumentation transpires.
- Thurs., Nov. 9: Be prepared for an in-class quiz on the new readings on utilitarianism. We'll investigate a final argument against ethical egoism before diving into Classical Utilitarianism.
- Reading Assignments: The selection
from J.S. Mill's Utilitarianism in the Feldman anthology (28-40) and "The Utilitarian Approach" (Chapter 7 in Elements)
- Tues., Nov. 7: We'll investigate the "Invisible Hand" Argument for EEh before turning our attention to some of these Objections
to Ethical Egoism. If time permits, we might even jump into Classical Utilitarianism.
- Thurs., Nov. 2: Enter Ethical Egoism. First, we'll dedicate
some time to Formulating Ethical Egoism. Then we'll
examine a series of arguments both for and against the view anchored in self-interest.
You don't want to be a metaphysical monstrosity. Be prepared for a short in-class quiz on the "Ring of Gyges" thought experiment. Wrap your mind around this handout on Cultural Relativism.
- Reading Assignments: "Ethical
Egoism" (Chapter 5 of Elements) and the first five or six pages of Book II of Plato's Republic (available on-line and in libraries everywhere). Focus primarily upon Glaucon's accusations and the "Ring of Gyges" thought experiment.
- Thurs., Oct. 26: Your Take Home Quiz on Your Favorite Moral Reformer is due by the beginning of class. We'll focus our attention on the possibility of an moral reformer who is not mistaken and its implications regarding cultural relativism. If time permits, we might even jump into ethical egoism.
- Take Home Quiz on Your Favorite Moral Reformer:
Identify someone you believe to be a moral reformer. Do a bit of research
on that person's exploits. In ONE PAGE explain as clearly
as you can what this person did and why you believe that he or she is a moral
reformer. Try to develop some conception of what a moral reformer is. No quiz will be accepted unless it is typed. No quiz will be accepted
after 1:10 PM on Thursday, October 26. Be sure to include a bibliographical entry and cite appropriately.
- Reading Assignment: "The Challenge of Cultural Relativism" (Chapter 2 in Elements)
- Tues., Oct. 24: Cultural relativism. Can you state the three assumptions required
to get CR up and running? Can you explain precisely why each
of them is required in the construction of CR, especially the second assumption?
You might have to on an upcoming exam. We'll investigate the primary argument for the plausibility of CR before attacking CR with the Reformer's Dilemma. Rachels claims that there are three moral rules enforced by virtually every society. What are they?
- Thurs., Oct. 19: Exam 1 is officially scheduled to commence at 1:10 PM. Bring some good pens. I won't
be accepting any exams in pencil.
- Wed., Oct. 18: Michelle will be leading a special study for Exam 1 at 5:00 PM in the common area (or lobby) on the first floor of Breland Hall. Anyone who attends will receive some extra credit.
- Tues., Oct. 17: We'll complete our discussion of virtue-vice theory before discussing the structure of Exam 1, which will take place on Thursday. Master everything in this Study Guide for Exam
1. Absolutely everything!
- Thurs., Oct. 12: Aristotle and virtue-vice theory will occupy our attention. Exam 1 is tentatively scheduled to take place on Thursday, October 19. Master EVERYTHING in this Study Guide for Exam
1. 40% of your overall grade in the course is at stake. And wrap your mind around this handout on Popular
Theological Approaches to Morality. Here's one on the Problem of Evil.
- Tues., Oct. 10: Your Aristotle Quiz is due by the beginning of class. We'll complete our investigation of DCT and Plato's Euthyphro before taking a quick look at a couple of prominent principles in classical Natural Law Theory. Then we'll dive into the virtues and vices.
- Aristotle Quiz: Identify some passage in our Aristotle reading that sparks your interest (or at least is such that you understand it clearly). Write a brief, concise summary of the selected passage. Then provide some kind of commentary upon the passage. Consider responding to one of these questions: Is there some portion of the passage that is particularly difficult to understand? Is anything in the passage susceptible to an objection? Is there something in the passage that might lead to further theoretical concerns? Describe. Explain. This quiz should be short: 1-2 pages long. Include a bibliographical entry and cite appropriately. No quiz will be accepted unless it is typed. No quiz will be accepted after 1:10 PM on Tuesday, October 10.
- Reading Assignments: "The Ethics of Virtue" (Elements: 157-172) and Aristotle's "The Nature of Moral Virtue" (Feldman: 134-148)
- Note that we will not be meeting as a class on Thursday, October 5. I'll be out of town traveling then. We'll return to class action on Tuesday, October 10. Please get to work on your Aristotle quiz.
- Tues., Oct. 3: We'll complete our investigation of DCT and Plato's Euthyphro before taking a quick look at a couple of prominent principles in classical Natural Law Theory.
- Thurs., Sept. 28: Your Take Home PEEing Quiz is due by the beginning of class. We'll complete our investigation of preliminary objections to divine psychology theories of morality before going Platonic. Please bring the Feldman anthology (containing Plato's Euthyphro) to class.
- Reading Assignment: The opening passages of Book VII of Plato's Republic, and--for those interested in the nature of serious moral commitment--Plato's Apology. Both are available in most libraries.
- Take Home PEEing Quiz: PEE an argument against GR. Use these Step-by-Step Instructions
on How to PEE while doing the quiz. Be sure to provide a rationale for each of the premises. And keep those rationales separate: Don't lump rationales together in one big heap of slop. The quiz is due by 1:10 PM on Thursday, September 28. No late quizzes will be accepted. All quizzes must be typed.
- Tues., Sept. 26: We'll focus our attention on Divine Psychology theories of morality. First we'll investigate preliminary objections against Divine Psychology theories, then we'll go Platonic. Your Take Home PEEing Quiz is due by the beginning of class on Thursday, Sept. 28.
- Thurs., Sept. 21: We'll PEE another argument against GR. Then we'll turn our attention to divine psychology theories of morality. Wrap your mind around these Step-by-Step Instructions
on How to PEE. Be able to PEE every argument we investigate in class.
- Tues., Sept. 19: Collective PEEing will transpire. We'll PEE arguments against 10C, then we'll direct our attention to a theory based on the Golden Rule. Master the PEEing procedure. Be able to PEE every argument we investigate in class. Be prepared for an in-class quiz on Baby Logic and the Background
- Thurs., Sept. 14: Today we'll complete our investigation of the fundamental concepts of the normative behavior before engaging in collective PEEing. Learn to PEE. Learn to love to PEE!! Just you wait and see: I'll be PEEing all over the whiteboard! Do you know anything about the Ten Commandments? What about the Golden Rule? I sure hope so.
- Tues., Sept. 12: Your Take-Home Quiz on either the Ten Commandments or the Golden Rule is due by the beginning of class. We'll complete our investigation of the nature of moral philosophy before diving into the fundamental concepts of the normative ethics of behavior, so please bring this Background
on NEB handout to class.
- Thurs., Sept. 7: We'll complete our investigation of the nature of philosophy before setting our sights on ethics itself. Get to work on your Take-Home Quiz on either the Ten Commandments or the Golden Rule.
- Take-Home Quiz on either the Ten Commandments or the Golden Rule: Locate some respectable source containing either the Ten Commandments, the Golden Rule, or some commentary on either of them. Provide a bibliographical entry for the source. Then do the following: State either the Ten Commandments or the Golden Rule. (It's your choice.) Cite your source. Then provide some information relevant to whichever of the two you choose. Relevant information might include historical accounts, attempts to justify the accounts, critical commentary of the accounts (either your own or those of other theorists), contemporary relevance of the accounts, or commentary on recent events connected in some way to the accounts. This quiz should be one page long, no longer. It will be graded for content and style. No quiz will be accepted after 1:10 PM on Tuesday, September 12.
- Tues., Sept. 5: Be prepared for a substantial in-class logic quiz. Master EVERYTHING on the Baby Logic handout. We'll complete our investigation of the nature of philosophy before focussing in on the nature of ethics (or moral philosophy).
- Thurs., Aug. 31: Your Take Home Quiz
on Plato's Euthyphro and your Take Home Plagiarism Quiz are due by the beginning of class. Logic will command our attention, so please bring a hard copy of your Baby Logic handout to class. We may even get to some big questions: What is philosophy? What is ethics? What is morality? Be able to write down the logical forms modus ponens and modus tollens. Read Improving Academic Writing (especially in Philosophy). Be able to list a few strategies the authors suggest will improve your academic writing.
- Here's something on bibliographies. Make your bibliographies and citation practices as clean and tight as possible. Here's the bibliographical information for the .pdf version of Plato's Euthyphro on this website:
Plato. Euthyphro. In Plato: Complete Works, edited by John M. Cooper, 1-16. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., 1997.
- Tues., Aug. 29: We'll complete our final (formal) writing workshop before returning to Baby Logic, so be sure to bring a
hard copy of the Baby Logic handout to class. Be able to write down a sentence containing a split infinitive. Be able to write down grammatically correct sentences containing relative pronouns. Read Improving Academic Writing (especially in Philosophy). Be able to state two ways by which our authors believe you can improve your academic writing. Be able to provide definitions of the terms valid and sound. Your Take Home Plagiarism Quiz and your Take Home Quiz on Plato's Euthyphro are due by the beginning of class on Thursday.
- New Reading Assignment: "Split Infinitive," "which, that, who," and "that" from Fowler's Modern English Usage.
- Thurs., Aug. 24: Our second writing workshop will take place. Then: Classical philosophical methodology and logic. Then: More logic. If
I were you, I'd memorize the definitions of the terms 'valid' and 'sound' on the Baby Logic handout. Be able to write grammatically correct sentences containing dependent clauses and semicolons. Understand the rules governing the legitimate uses of semi-colons. Know what a split infinitive is. Deliver a plagiarism certificate to me. Please get to work on those Euthyphro quizzes. Both are due by the beginning of class on Thursday, August 31.
- Tues., Aug. 22: Logic is on the way. Be sure to bring a
hard copy of the Baby Logic handout to class. Note that an in-class quiz on the assigned readings is bound to transpire. I strongly recommend that each of you understand clearly some of the rules for the appropriate use of commas and semi-colons. Understand the concept of validity. Be able to write down what an independent clause is. Also be able to provide an example of an independent clause. Earn a plagiarism certificate and get to work on your Euthyphro quiz.
- Here's access to your Take Home Plagiarism Quiz. Go to this site: https://www.indiana.edu/~academy/firstPrinciples/index.html. (Or you can go to the old site: https://www.indiana.edu/~istd/plagiarism_test.html.) Take one of the tests. Keep taking the test until you earn a certificate of completion. Print out the certificate and deliver it to me by 1:10 PM on Thursday, August 31. You will receive a 20/20 if I receive your certificate by the due date. You will receive a 0/20 if I do not. If you don't have a complete grasp of the nature of plagiarism, take advantages of the resources in the menu on the side of the plagiarism test page and learn all about it. I will not accept any take-home assignments from people who fail to deliver a plagiarism certificate to me.
- Here's your Take Home Quiz
on Plato's Euthyphro. Quizzes should be typed. The Euthyphro portion of your quiz should be ONE page long, TWO pages at
most. No quizzes will be accepted after 1:10 PM on Thursday, August 31.
- First Philosophical Reading Assignments: "What
is Morality" (Chapter 1 of Elements of Moral Philosophy), Plato's
(pages 14-27 in the Feldman anthology), and Sections 4.1: "The Presumed
Connection between Morality and Religion", 4.2 "The Divine Command
Theory" in Elements, and this selection on philosophy and philosophical tools.
- Welcome Students! Please secure copies of Introduction to Ethics, edited by F. Feldman
and Elements of Moral Philosophy by J. Rachels and S. Rachels.
- Please print out a hard copy of the Baby Logic
handout and bring it to class. Try to get a grasp of the concepts of validity
and soundness. Become familiar with the basic forms of valid inference.
- Preliminary Reading Assignments: Improving Academic Writing (especially in Philosophy) and Bruce Aune's "Punctuation
and Syntax". (You should probably print out a copy of it.) Contained
within the document are style constraints that must be adhered to if you hope
to write in a professional manner. It's long, dry, and not all that philosophical--but
I know you can get through it.
J-P's Philosophy Pages
NMSU Philosophy Department
Astronomy Picture of the Day