Phil 101 Intro to Philosophy: Ethics (Schlesinger) (S 2015)

PHIL101 Introduction to Philosophy: Ethics Schedule #22444
Room: SH 101
T-TH 8:00-9:15
Steven Schlesinger
Office Location: A&L 436
Office hours: MWF 7:45- 8:45, TTH 9:30- 10:30
Contact Information: Email address: Office Phone: 594-4678
Required Text: The Moral Life, by Pojman and Vaughn, 4th Edition
This text and a handout to be given in class are the basis of all lectures. The book is available at
SDSU bookstore and costs approximately $50.
Statement of Contingency: This syllabus is intended to guide us through the semester. However,
circumstances can change and so I reserve the right to change the syllabus as needed to ensure
that we fulfill the objectives of the course. You will receive full and fair notification regarding
such changes.
This course fulfills the Humanities portion of the Explorations section of the General Education
(GE) Requirements. Among the “seven essential capacities” that the GE program emphasizes,
this course develops in the student the following in particular:
1. Construct, analyze and communicate arguments.
2. Apply theoretical models to the real world.
3. Contextualize phenomena.
4. Negotiate differences.
Among the “Goals” for GE Courses in the Humanities and Fine Arts, this course aims to fulfill
three of them:
Goal 1: Analyze written, visual or performed texts in the Humanities and fine arts with
sensitivity to their diverse cultural contexts and historical moments.
Goal 2: Argue from multiple perspectives about issues in the Humanities that have personal
and global relevance.
Goal 3: Demonstrate the ability to approach complex problems and ask complex questions
drawing upon knowledge of the Humanities.
Catalogue description: Philosophical inquiry, with emphasis on problems of moral value.
Students are encouraged to think independently and formulate their own tentative conclusions
concerning a variety of vital contemporary issues facing individuals and society
Course Objectives: The aim of this course is first to challenge the idea that there is such a thing
as knowledge of right and wrong. Then acquaint the student with the basic principles of several
influential ethical systems; and how these ethical principles can be applied to a variety of vital
contemporary issues facing individuals and society. In addition, this course gives the student the
opportunity to learn and demonstrate important skills necessary to a well-rounded University
education. As well as reading, these skills include listening, note-taking and organizing ideas to
form a coherent understanding of the material as it relates to their lives.
Learning outcomes- Upon completion of the course student will be able to:
1) Show ability to analyze and critically respond in essay form to the Skeptic’s claim that
we cannot know anything about ethics.
2) Show ability to analyze and critically evaluate the idea that ethics is determined by
something other than Human thinking (i.e. God/Religion).
3) Show ability to analyze and critically evaluate the ideas of major ethical theories.
4) Show ability to analyze and critically evaluate the application of ethical theories to
ethical problems.
5) Show ability to analyze and critically evaluate proposals about how to implement these
theories into practice.
6) Show ability to argue from multiple perspectives.
Organization—Lectures in all classes except for periodic in class essay tests. Readings should be
done before class lectures. ALL LECTURES ARE VERY IMPORTANT.
Week 1. Jan 22 Introduction to Course
Jan 27 Relativism Chapter 3, pages 149-211.
Week 2 Jan 29 Moral Objectivism-Chapter 1, pages 11-56
Human Rights
Week 3 Feb 3 Egoism Chapter 8, pages 521-564
Feb 5 TEST: IN-CLASS ESSAY on Relativism and Egoism
Week 4 Feb 10 Introduction to Religion and Ethics- Chapter 7, pages 460-465
Chapter 16 pages 928-937, Chapter 9 pages 566-608
Feb 12 Divine Command Theory
Week 5 Feb 17 Criticism of Divine Command Theory
Feb 19 Summary of Divine Command Theory
Week 6 Feb 24 TEST IN-CLASS ESSAY on Religion and Ethics
Feb 26 Introduction to Utilitarian Ethics Chapter 4, pages 228-248
Week 7 Mar 3 John Stuart Mill on the Higher Pleasures
Mar 5 Act & Rule Utilitarianism
Week 8 Mar 10 TEST: IN CLASS ESSAY on Utilitarian Ethics
Mar 12 Kant and Deontological Ethics-Chapter 5, pages 291-313.
Week 9 Mar 17 Metaphysics of Morals
Mar 19 the Categorical Imperative
Week 10 Mar 24 TEST: IN-CLASS ESSAY on Kant’s Ethics
Mar 26 Virtue Ethics-Chapter 6, pages 374-458
Week 11 Apr 7 Criticism of Action-Based Ethics
Apr 9 Connections between Virtue-Based & Action-Based Ethics
Week 12 Apr 14 A Terrorist Who Claims to be Virtuous; Reading- Trotsky Handout
Chapter 16 pages 937-979
Apr 16 Introduction to Marxist Ethics
Week 13 Apr 21 Marxist Ethical Criticism of Capitalism
Apr 23 Why Communism is Virtuous.
Week 14 Apr 28 A Mad Dog Attacks a Child
Apr 30 TEST: IN-CLASS ESSAY on Trotsky and Virtue Ethics
Week 15 May 5 Return and review Exam 5
May 7 Review for final exam
May 12 Final Exam 8:00-10:00
Each of the 5 exams count equally at 20%
Criteria for grading:
1) Essay should contain a clear line of thought and argument, and each paragraph logically
contributes to the development of that line of argument.
2) The essay exhibits a thorough understanding of the work being criticized and accurately
explicates the author’s response to the reading.
3) The essay takes a critical stance toward the material under examination and the criticisms are
based on firm reasoning that is well supported with relevant evidence.
During your Final exam you may retake any 2 of the 5 exams at one hour each—the new grade
will replace the previous grade.