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COURSE DESCRIPTION

OBJECTIVES

REQUIRED TEXTS

ASSESSMENT TECHNIQUES

COURSE SCHEDULE

THIRD ESSAY (MOVIE PAPER)


VALUES AND ETHICS 

SPRING 2002

“But so long as virtue is not rewarded here on earth, ethics will, I fancy, preach in vain.”
-Sigmund Freud, Civilization and its Discontents

COURSE DESCRIPTION

"A study of ethics and values from a comparative and structural basis to include origin and base of formulation" (From the RSU Bulletin, 2000-01).

COURSE OBJECTIVES

The course is divided into three sections. In the first, we study several classic theories of ethics and morality, focusing on select works from Plato, Aristotle, Kant, and Mill. In the second, we look at some more recent treatments of ethics, focusing on such challenges as relativism and nihilism. In the third and longest section, we discuss the best arguments relating to significant contemporary ethical problems, including such issues as capital punishment, euthanasia, abortion, violence, and religious belief. Beginning Fall 2001.

REQUIRED TEXTS

  • Cahn and Markie, Ethics: History, Theory, and Contemporary Issues. Oxford University Press (Second Edition).

  • MacIntyre, Alasdair, A Short History of Ethics. Notre Dame Press (Second Edition).

All texts are available at the RSU Bookstore in Claremore

 

ASSESSMENT TECHNIQUES

This course will emphasize discussion and writing. I will regularly suggest questions pertaining to the material we will be discussing in the following class. Students should come to class prepared to address these questions. Always bring to class the book we are discussing.

There will be three three-page critical essays, an in-class midterm exam, a group presentation, and a final exam. Students will be assigned to a group by the professor during the second week of the semester.

All essays must be typed and double-spaced, with margins of 1.25 inches. Unexcused late work will be penalized 10% per day. All essays are due at the beginning of the class period. In general, each essay is due the first class period after we finish discussing the work or philosopher in question (see below). Further details on the nature of these essays, as well as of the midterm and final exams, will be given in class.

This may seem like a great deal of writing, particularly for an introductory course. The readings, while generally short, are often challenging. Understand, though, that philosophy is something that you as the student must engage in, an activity to be embraced rather than a list of facts to be digested. This requires a good deal of work on your part, but it is well worth it.

STANDARDS OF ACHIEVEMENT               

Every student’s final grade will be earned via the following:

Essays                        30% (each essay=10%)

Exams                        30% (each exam=15%)

Presentation               20%

Participation               20%

Course Schedule

 

UNIT I: A SHORT HISTORY OF ETHICS?

 

Jan 15  T            Introduction

Jan 17  Th          The Call of Ethics: Plato, Apology (Defense of Socrates) (p. 16-33);                           MacIntyre, Chapter 1 (p.1-4)

Jan 22  T            Religion and Ethics: Plato, Euthyphro (p. 5-16)

Jan 24  Th          Plato, Republic, Books 1 & 7 (p. 44-65, 102-7)

Jan 29  T           First Essay Due (Plato)

Jan 31  Th          Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics, (p. 130-146)

Feb 5   T           Augustine, Enchiridion... (p. 176-184)                

Feb 7   Th          Aquinas [hand-out]

Feb 12 T            Kant, Fundamental Principles..., Section One (p. 290-6)

Feb 14 Th          Kant, Fundamental Principles..., Section Two (p. 296-304)   

Feb 19 T            Mill, Utilitarianism, (selections)                                          

Feb 21 Th          Mill, Utilitarianism, (selections)

UNIT II: PHILOSOPHICAL CHALLENGES

Feb 26 T           No reading-- review three main moralities                            

Feb 28 Th        Second Essay Due

Mar 5   T          Kierkegaard

Mar 7   Th        Nietzsche, various works, (p. 399-407)    

Mar 12 T          Midterm Review

Mar 14 Th           MIDTERM EXAM

Mar 18-22       NO CLASS—SPRING BREAK

Mar 26 T         Rachels, The Challenge of Cultural Relativism (p. 645-62)

Film and Discussion: Woody Allen’s Crimes and Misdemeanors

Mar 28 Th       Crimes and Misdemeanors (continued)

Apr 2   T         Camus, Sisyphus and Sartre, Existentialism is a Humanism (p. 434-450)            

                         Third Essay Due

UNIT III: MODERN MORAL PROBLEMS

Apr 4   Th        How Not to Answer Moral Questions [hand-out]; Drugs

                        Jimmy, Christina, Blake; Bobbi, Marshall, Jenn

Apr 9   T          Abortion (p. 739-81)

                        Cheryl, Mike, Tyson; Andrea, Bob, Lydia              

Apr 11 Th        Death Penalty (p. 840-59)

                        Heather, Luke, Lisa; Jenn, Greg, Josh H.

Apr 16 T          Go to Meyer Lecture in the Auditorium at 10:30 am

Apr 18 Th        Sex & Violence, Television & Movies

                        Katie, Marshall, J, Josh W.; Sara, Christina, Mike, Stephanie

Apr 23 T          Euthanasia (p. 782-804)    

                        Rebecca, Lydia, Bobbi; Bob, Josh H., Shawnda

Apr 25 Th        Marriage and Divorce

                        Heather, Katie, Sara; Tyson, Luke, Sean

Apr 30 T          Affirmative Action (p. 860-83)

                        Josh W., Jimmy, Greg; Stephanie, Cheryl, Blake

May 2  Th        Cloning

                        Rebecca, Lisa, Andrea; Sean, J, Shawnda

May 6-10         FINAL EXAM             Exact day and time to be announced.

 

THIRD ESSAY ASSIGNMENT:

For the third critical essay, you will be an ethnographer, someone who systematically records human cultures. I want you to study the particular values and ethics of a sub-culture, a group of people of a particular type who seem to share a certain perspective on life. To find such a sub-culture, choose one of the following movies. Your assignment in the third essay is two-fold: first, describe in detail the values, the ethic, the perspective on life of the group in question; and second, evaluate those values (judge their morality) from the perspective of one of our philosophers thus far (Aristotle, Kant, Mill, or Nietzsche). All essays should be 3-4 full pages, due at the beginning of class Tuesday, April 2nd. This will take a good deal of time and effort, so do not leave it for the last minute.

 

Godfather

Platoon

Saving Private Ryan

Fight Club

Point Break

Reservoir Dogs

Cruel Intentions, Dangerous Liaisons

Shawshank Redemption

Lord of the Flies

Outsiders

Animal House

Sense and Sensibility

Clueless

Kids (?)

Unforgiven

A Clockwork Orange

American Pie

House Party

 

MICHELANGELO
The Last Judgment
Fresco
The Sistine Chapel

 

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