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Effective: Late Fall 8-Week, 2018/2019

PHIL 330: Ethics

Course Description

Examination of various moral philosophers’ attempts to prescribe ethical norms applicable to all mankind.

Prerequisite: Junior standing

Proctored Exams: Midterm and Final



Syllabus Contents

Textbooks

Required

  • Aristotle (translated by Terence Irwin). Nicomachean Ethics. Hackett Publishing, 1999.
    • ISBN-978-0-87220-464-5
  • Kant, Immanuel (translated by H.J. Patton). Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals. HarperCollins College Division, 2009.
    • ISBN-978-0-06-176631-2
  • Mill, John. Utilitarianism. 2nd edition. Hackett Publishing, 2001.
    • ISBN-978-0-87220-605-2

MBS Information

Textbooks for the course may be ordered from MBS Direct. You can order

For additional information about the bookstore, visit http://www.mbsbooks.com.


Course Overview

PHIL 330 is an overview of philosophical or theoretical ethics. Philosophical ethics involves the systematic attempt to answer two different, though related, questions using reason-based inquiry and argumentation.

The first question is an academic question: What makes some acts (or ways of living) right/moral/good and other acts (or ways of living) wrong/immoral/bad? That is to say, academic philosophers are interested in discovering and clearly explaining what the right-making feature or features of moral acts are.

Answering this question, of course, informs the attempt to answer a second, fundamentally human, question: How ought I to live?

While we will touch on the second question during this course, for the most part our focus will be on looking at answers to the first. There are three basic approaches to answering this question: consequentialism, deontology, and virtue ethics. We will study the principal proponent of each of these approaches.



Technology Requirements

Participation in this course will require the basic technology for all online classes at Columbia College:
  • A computer with reliable Internet access
  • A web browser
  • Acrobat Reader
  • Microsoft Office or another word processor such as Open Office

You can find more details about standard technical requirements for our courses on our site.


Course Objectives

  • To understand three basic approaches to philosophical ethics, i.e., consequentialism, deontology, and virtue theory.
  • To evaluate theoretical approaches to ethics in order to formulate a personal approach to ethics that is coherent and defensible.

Measurable Learning Outcomes

  • Read classic philosophical prose (specifically classical theoretical ethics) for critical understanding.
  • Explain the three basic approaches to philosophical ethics, i.e., consequentialism, deontology, and virtue ethics.
  • Formalize sophisticated philosophical arguments found in theoretical ethics.
  • Identify problems and weaknesses in the basic approaches to theoretical ethics.
  • Analyze and provide criticisms of sophisticated philosophical arguments found in theoretical ethics.
  • Formally present possible solutions to problems found in theoretical ethics.

Grading

Grading Scale
Grade Points Percent
A 90-100 90-100%
B 80-89 80-89%
C 70-79 70-79%
D 60-69 60-69%
F 0-59 0-59%
Grade Weights
Assignment Category Points Percent
Reflection Posts (4) 20 20%
Reading Comprehension Questions (6) 30 30%
Midterm Exam (1) 25 25%
Final Exam (1) 25 25%
Total 100 100%


Schedule of Due Dates

Week 1
Assignment Points Due
Reflection Post 1 5 Sunday
Mill: Reading Comprehension Question 1 5
Week 2
Assignment Points Due
Mill: Reading Comprehension Question 2 5 Sunday
Proctor Information N/A
Week 3
Assignment Points Due
Kant: Reading Comprehension Question 3 5 Sunday
Week 4
Assignment Points Due
Reflection Post 2 5 Sunday
Midterm Exam 25
Week 5
Assignment Points Due
Kant: Reading Comprehension Question 4 5 Sunday
Week 6
Assignment Points Due
Reflection Post 3 5 Sunday
Aristotle: Reading Comprehension Question 5 5
Week 7
Assignment Points Due
Aristotle: Reading Comprehension Question 6 5 Sunday
Week 8
Assignment Points Due
Reflection Post 4 5 Saturday
Final Exam 25
Total Points 100

Assignment Overview

Reflection Posts

You will participate in a total of four discussions throughout the session. Please see the Schedule of Due Dates and/or the Course Schedule sections of this syllabus for specific weeks. In each discussion, you are asked to thoroughly answer the question posed, showing your familiarity with the readings and course topics, and reply to at least one of your classmates’ original postings. In order to receive full credit, your response posting must be reflective and engage your classmate in a meaningful discussion.

All of your postings to the discussion board must be written formally. The formal rules of proper English and grammar apply for these submissions, and points will be deducted for misspellings, incomplete sentences, poor sentence structure, etc. Since our written words are our sole source of communication in this course we must strive for clarity with everything we write. Please take the time to edit your work and write with professionalism and academic sophistication. The way you present your ideas will heavily influence the way your ideas are received not just in this class, but everywhere in the real world. Learn to improve your writing through this course.


Reading Comprehension Questions

You will complete a total of six reading comprehension assignments. The questions are based on the three books written by Mill, Kant, and Aristotle. There will be two questions per book. Each of you will be assigned a specific question. You must post your question and answer in the Discussions area by midnight Sunday. These questions will serve as the pool from which I will construct the final exam.

Be sure to read all of the Reading Comprehension Questions and the responses offered, although you need not respond to one another’s posts. You should compile answers to all of the questions on your own as the course progresses and use them to  study for the midterm and final exam.


Exams

Midterm Exam

The proctored Midterm Exam will consist of five essay questions drawn from the pool of reading comprehension questions. You will have 120 minutes to complete your exam. The exam opens on Monday at 12:01 am CT and closes on Sunday at 11:59 pm CT. Only one attempt is allowed.

Final Exam 

The proctored Final Exam will consist of five essay questions drawn from the pool of reading comprehension questions. You will have 120 minutes to complete your exam. The exam opens on Monday at 12:01 am CT and closes on Saturday at 11:59 pm CT. Only one attempt is allowed.



Course Outline

Click on each week to view details about the activities scheduled for that week.

Week 1: Introduction and Utilitarianism
Learning Resources

Readings

  • Mill’s Utilitarianism pp. 6-20
  • Lecture: "The Question Posed"
  • Lecture: "Knowing and Doing"

Multimedia

  • Video: Euthyphro Question
  • Video: Defining Utilitarianism
Reflection Post 1

Students choose one:

  • The study of ethics is philosophical in nature; it is the attempt to determine the right and wrong features of our acts.  But it could have practical implications as well.  Take some time to think about what those might be.  Present your conclusions here in a careful and articulate manner.
  • For the philosopher, "because God said so" is an unsatisfactory answer to the question "why is act X moral (or immoral)?" Carefully explain why that is so.
  • The lecture "Knowing and Doing" says "One might believe that in order to live well and good, the child does not require a better answer to his question than the one offered." Do you believe this?  In other words, do you believe that it is possible to live a moral life without knowing why it is a moral life?  Or do you believe that to live morally you are required to have a philosophical basis for your beliefs about ethics?
Mill: Reading Comprehension Question 1
Each of you will be assigned a specific Reading Comprehension question. You must post your question and answer in the Discussions area. Be sure to read all of the Reading Comprehension Questions and the responses offered, though you need not respond to one another’s posts.
Week 2: Utilitarianism and Mill’s Argument for Hedonism
Learning Resources

Readings

  • Mill’s Utilitarianism, pp. 20-26 and pp. 35-41

Multimedia

  • Video: Proof for Hedonism
Mill: Reading Comprehension Question 2

Each of you will be assigned a specific Reading Comprehension question. You must post your question and answer in the Discussions area. Be sure to read all of the Reading Comprehension Questions and the responses offered, though you need not respond to one another’s posts.

Proctor Information
Submit your proctor form to the appropriate Dropbox folder by the end of the week. Remember to “Save” the form before placing it in Dropbox. See the Content area for more information.
Week 3: Kant’s Ethics
Learning Resources

Readings

  • Kant’s Groundwork pp. 61-73

Multimedia

  • Video: Maxims
Kant: Reading Comprehension Question 3
Each of you will be assigned a specific Reading Comprehension question. You must post your question and answer in the Discussions area. Be sure to read all of the Reading Comprehension Questions and the responses offered, though you need not respond to one another’s posts.
Week 4: Reflection on and Assessment of Utilitarianism
Learning Resources

Readings

  • Mill’s Utilitarianism pp. 6-26 and pp. 35-41
  • Kant’s Groundwork pp. 61-73
  • Lecture: "Schiller's Criticism"
Reflection Post 2

Students choose one:

  • Consider again the Pleasure Machine mentioned in the reading questions from Week One. Would you get in the machine?  Carefully explain why or why not.
  • Utilitarianism is a deceptively simple moral theory that has quite a bit of intuitive appeal.  But it also has its share of problems.  How plausible do you find this account of the right making feature of acts?  Clearly and carefully explain your answer.
  • J.S. Mill's view is that there is no sense of good beyond what people think is good.  Whatever anyone thinks is good for its own sake, Mill calls that "happiness."  Therefore, only happiness, i.e., whatever we think is good for its own sake, is good for its own sake. Do you think this is true?  Carefully explain why or why not.
Midterm Exam

The proctored Midterm Exam will consist of five essay questions drawn from the pool of reading comprehension questions. You will have 120 minutes to complete your exam. The exam opens on Monday at 12:01 am CT and closes on Sunday at 11:59 pm CT. Only one attempt is allowed.

Week 5: Kant's Ethics
Learning Resources

Readings

  • Kant’s Groundwork pp. 74-101
  • Lecture: "What a Piece of Work is Man"

Multimedia

  • Video: Two Tests for Consistency
Kant: Reading Comprehension Question 4

Each of you will be assigned a specific Reading Comprehension question. You must post your question and answer in the Discussions area. Be sure to read all of the Reading Comprehension Questions and the responses offered, though you need not respond to one another’s posts.

Week 6: Aristotle's Ethics and The Nature of Happiness
Learning Resources

Readings

  • Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, pp. 1-27

Multimedia

  • Video: The Good Life for Humans
Reflection Post 3

Students choose one:

  • Kant's view is diametrically opposed to utilitarianism.  At least one of these views must be incorrect.  What do you think? Which of these views is more plausible?
  • Kant's view is based upon a particular view of the kind of thing that you and I are.  If he is correct, then it is both thrilling and sobering to realize that one is such an entity. Spend some time reflecting on his view.  What are your reactions?
  • According to Kant, suicide to avoid suffering and unhappiness is strictly immoral.  Do you agree?
Aristotle: Reading Comprehension Question 5
Each of you will be assigned a specific Reading Comprehension question. You must post your question and answer in the Discussions area. Be sure to read all of the Reading Comprehension Questions and the responses offered, though you need not respond to one another’s posts.
Course Evaluation
Please evaluate the course. You will have an opportunity to evaluate the course near the end of the session. A link sent to your CougarMail will allow you to access the evaluation. Please note that these evaluations are provided so that I can improve the course, find out what students perceive to be its strengths and weaknesses, and in general assess the success of the course. Please do take the time to fill this out.
Week 7: Virtues
Learning Resources

Readings

  • Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, pp. 27-33 

Multimedia

  • Video: Virtues
Aristotle: Reading Comprehension Question 6
Each of you will be assigned a specific Reading Comprehension question. You must post your question and answer in the Discussions area. Be sure to read all of the Reading Comprehension Questions and the responses offered, though you need not respond to one another’s posts.
Week 8: Reflection
Learning Resources

Readings

  • Kant’s Groundwork pp. 74-101  
  • Aristotle’s Ethics, pp. 1-33

Multimedia

  • Video: Virtue vs. Continence
Reflection Post 4

Students choose one:

  • View the lecture "Virtue vs. Continence" in the content area.  What do you think?  Is it more laudable to be virtuous or continent?  That is, is it better to be the moral saint or the moral hero?
  • Aristotle's view is that happiness just is living virtuously.  Do you agree?  Do most of us just have it wrong about what happiness and the happy life really is?
  • At this point you have studied the three approaches to moral theory.  Which do you find most convincing?
Final Exam

The proctored Midterm Exam will consist of five essay questions drawn from the pool of reading comprehension questions. You will have 120 minutes to complete your exam. The exam opens on Monday at 12:01 am CT and closes on Saturday at 11:59 pm CT. Only one attempt is allowed.



Course Policies

Student Conduct

All Columbia College students, whether enrolled in a land-based or online course, are responsible for behaving in a manner consistent with Columbia College's Student Conduct Code and Acceptable Use Policy. Students violating these policies will be referred to the office of Student Affairs and/or the office of Academic Affairs for possible disciplinary action. The Student Code of Conduct and the Computer Use Policy for students can be found in the Columbia College Student Handbook. The Handbook is available online; you can also obtain a copy by calling the Student Affairs office (Campus Life) at 573-875-7400. The teacher maintains the right to manage a positive learning environment, and all students must adhere to the conventions of online etiquette.

Plagiarism

Your grade will be based in large part on the originality of your ideas and your written presentation of these ideas. Presenting the words, ideas, or expression of another in any form as your own is plagiarism. Students who fail to properly give credit for information contained in their written work (papers, journals, exams, etc.) are violating the intellectual property rights of the original author. For proper citation of the original authors, you should reference the appropriate publication manual for your degree program or course (APA, MLA, etc.). Violations are taken seriously in higher education and may result in a failing grade on the assignment, a grade of "F" for the course, or dismissal from the College.

Collaboration conducted between students without prior permission from the instructor is considered plagiarism and will be treated as such. Spouses and roommates taking the same course should be particularly careful.

All required papers may be submitted for textual similarity review to Turnitin.com for the detection of plagiarism. All submitted papers may be included in the Turnitin.com reference database for the purpose of detecting plagiarism. This service is subject to the Terms and Conditions of Use posted on the Turnitin.com site.

Non-Discrimination

There will be no discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, sexual orientation, religion, ideology, political affiliation, veteran status, age, physical handicap, or marital status.

Student Accessibility Resources

Students with documented disabilities who may need academic services for this course are required to register with the office of Student Accessibility Resources. Until the student has been cleared through this office, accommodations do not have to be granted. If you are a student who has a documented disability, it is important for you to read the entire syllabus as soon as possible. The structure or the content of the course may make an accommodation not feasible. Student Accessibility Resources is located in Student Affairs in AHSC 215 and can be reached by phone at (573) 875-7626 or email at sar@ccis.edu.

Online Participation

You are expected to read the assigned texts and participate in the discussions and other course activities each week. Assignments should be posted by the due dates stated on the grading schedule in your syllabus. If an emergency arises that prevents you from participating in class, please let your instructor know as soon as possible.

Attendance Policy

Attendance for a week will be counted as having submitted any assigned activity for which points are earned. Attendance for the week is based upon the date work is submitted. A class week is defined as the period of time between Monday and Sunday (except for week 8, when the work and the course will end on Saturday at midnight.) The course and system deadlines are based on the Central Time Zone.

Cougar Email

All students are provided a CougarMail account when they enroll in classes at Columbia College. You are responsible for monitoring email from that account for important messages from the College and from your instructor. You may forward your Cougar email account to another account; however, the College cannot be held responsible for breaches in security or service interruptions with other email providers.

Students should use email for private messages to the instructor and other students. The class discussions are for public messages so the class members can each see what others have to say about any given topic and respond.

Late Assignment Policy

An online class requires regular participation and a commitment to your instructor and your classmates to regularly engage in the reading, discussion and writing assignments. Although most of the online communication for this course is asynchronous, you must be able to commit to the schedule of work for the class for the next eight weeks. You must keep up with the schedule of reading and writing to successfully complete the class.

No late assignments or quizzes will be accepted without prior instructor approval.  It is at the discretion of the instructor to accept late assignments and quizzes.

No late discussion posts will be accepted.

Course Evaluation

You will have an opportunity to evaluate the course near the end of the session. A link will be sent to your CougarMail that will allow you to access the evaluation. Be assured that the evaluations are anonymous and that your instructor will not be able to see them until after final grades are submitted.

Proctor Policy

Students taking courses that require proctored exams must submit their completed proctor request forms to their instructors by the end of the second week of the session. Proctors located at Columbia College campuses are automatically approved. The use of ProctorU services is also automatically approved. The instructor of each course will consider any other choice of proctor for approval or denial. Additional proctor choices the instructor will consider include: public librarians, high school or college instructors, high school or college counseling services, commanding officers, education service officers, and other proctoring services. Personal friends, family members, athletic coaches and direct supervisors are not acceptable.


Additional Resources

Orientation for New Students

This course is offered online, using course management software provided by Desire2Learn and Columbia College. The course user guide provides details about taking an online course at Columbia College. You may also want to visit the course demonstration to view a sample course before this one opens.

Technical Support

If you have problems accessing the course or posting your assignments, contact your instructor, the Columbia College Helpdesk, or the D2L Helpdesk for assistance. Contact information is also available within the online course environment.

Online Tutoring

Smarthinking is a free online tutoring service available to all Columbia College students. Smarthinking provides real-time online tutoring and homework help for Math, English, and Writing. Smarthinking also provides access to live tutorials in writing and math, as well as a full range of study resources, including writing manuals, sample problems, and study skills manuals. You can access the service from wherever you have a connection to the Internet. I encourage you to take advantage of this free service provided by the college.

Access Smarthinking through CougarTrack under Students -> Academics -> Academic Resources.


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