David L. Hildebrand, Ph.D., Philosophy

Spring 2007 Phl 1020 Ethics and Society


Dr. David Hildebrand

PHIL 1020-001 TTh 1:00 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. (PLAZA M206)

Please note: this syllabus is subject to change at professor's discretion.


All who live in this world must choose what to do. Yet to live in the world we must live with people. When we make choices involving people we are engaged in ethical activity. Ethical debates arise from those situations where there is disagreement about: 1) how we should treat others and 2) the reasons (or arguments) for treating them in one way rather than another. This course will examine specific ethical theories as well as more concrete issues such as abortion, the death penalty, sexual morality, and the effect of consumerism on ethical inquiry, etc. Our goal will be to gain a better understanding by reading, thinking, and talking carefully and critically.

Course Objectives:

Familiarization. Gain a good sense of what is at stake in issues of course.

Comprehension. Be able to comprehend the arguments offered by various philosophers.

Critical analysis. Be able to criticize those arguments by pointing out where they lack evidence, make an unreasonable leap, hold a false assumption, etc.

Demonstration of (1) - (3) through writing.

Verbalization. Be able to summarize a philosophical position, without notes, using your own words. Be able to criticize a position this way.

Conversation and Debate. Be able to discuss issues in a focused and informed way with others in the class. This will involve listening closely to their points, then responding in a way that moves the discussion ahead.

Time commitment

To do well in this class (get an A or B) plan on spending A MINIMUM of twice the time out of class on our readings and studying.

This comes out to at least 5 hours a week.

(This time minimum does NOT guarantee a good grade. It is just a first step toward doing well--see website tips for other hints.)


I. Required Texts: Available at Auraria and Big Dog Textbooks (1331 15th Street). Also, if you desire, online (see, for example, http://used.addall.com). If you buy your book online, make sure (1) that it is the correct edition, and (2) that you have it in time for class. See also http://www.bigdogtextbooks.com here in Denver.

1. (SE) Social Ethics: Morality and Social Policy 6th OR 7TH edition, Ed. Mappes and Zembaty (McGraw Hill, 2002)

2. Online. Occasionally there will be readings at one of the following places:

(a) on my website: www.davidhildebrand.org (DH)

(b) at our blackboard site BLACKBOARD

(c) at Auraria library online reserves


II. Course Requirements:

Attendance/Participation 20%---- First Exam 20 % ----Second Exam 25 %--- Final Exam (comprehensive) 35 %

Please note: While unlikely, all course requirements are subject to change at the discretion of the instructor.

Blackboard/Website: There are 3 online sites related to this course (see above). Familiarize yourself with them right away. They will offer you access to information about the course such as study questions, announcements, grades, extra credit assignments. The most important one is our course Blackboard site. Please make sure you enroll right at the beginning of the class.

Readings: It is expected that you have done the readings before we discuss them. As you read, copy out important points and questions you have onto a separate sheet of paper. (These will help you with your short reflection papers.) You may also want to note problem passages (e.g., with a "?" or "Q.") in your text as you read. These are good points for class discussion. You should come to each class able to discuss the main issues of the reading and you could be asked during class to present the main points to the class. Your well-prepared participation is crucial for a successful class. Please see the Tips for Understanding Philosophy and for Writing Philosophy Papers on my home page. See also this page for tips on participating and reading. Very important: please set aside about 10 minutes shortly before class to look back over (skim-review) the readings and whatever you have written for that day.

Attendance/Participation Intellectual inquiry requires verbal discussion as much as written argument. There will be ample opportunity for active and well prepared participation, which I value and which will affect the final grade.

Attendance is part of participation. This class includes about a half dozen seminar days where attendance is optional. This means that for the remaining class days attendance is absolutely required except in cases of medical illness or emergency. An absence may be excused, exams may be made up, or homework may be turned in late only if (1) the absence has been approved in advance by the professor or (2) the absent student can document illness or emergency. Documents about absence must be brought to professor within one week of returning to class.

Course participation grades are not automatic. They are based on oral contributions to the collective learning experience of the class as a whole in terms of asking pertinent questions, answering questions correctly or, at least, provocatively, making insightful observations, and offering other meaningful expressions of interest in the material that help encourage learning. There will be ample opportunity for active and well prepared participation, which I value and which will affect the final grade. "Participation" must include the following: class attendance, ability and willingness to contribute to class discussion and group activities; these activities will also influence "participation" : e-mail dialogue, extra-credit (when assigned) etc.

Seminar Days: On your schedule of classes (below) you will see days marked as “seminar days.” These are not "regular" class meetings and will cover no new readings. Each seminar day will focus on the material of the time since the last seminar day, usually about two class meetings. Their purpose is to facilitate more intense discussions with those who have informed themselves by carefully doing the readings. Seminar day attendance is optional, though recommended; those who are not interested in attending can be assured that there will be no penalties: no attendance taken, no quizzes, no new material covered. You have the day off. However, attending will be highly beneficial to learning the material and can help your overall participation grade. The requirement for any student attending seminar day will be to have read the material fairly closely and be ready to participate in a conversation about the material. It is likely that those attending seminar days will need to spend less time preparing for exams.

Exams: Likely a mixture of short answer, multiple choice, and essay. Bring a blue book to each in class exam. The final exam is take home and it must be typed. NO MAKE-UP EXAMS WILL BE GIVEN WITHOUT EXTENUATING CIRCUMSTANCES AND ARRANGEMENTS MADE PRIOR TO THE EXAM. Such circumstances include severe medical problems; talk to me for the full list of acceptable excuses.

Plagiarism: Plagiarism is a form of stealing. It occurs when an author uses the words or ideas of others as if they were the author’s own original thought. (It may include word-for-word copying, interspersing one’s own words with another’s, paraphrasing, inventing or counterfeiting sources, submitting another’s work as one’s own, neglecting quotation marks on material that is otherwise acknowledged.) Plagiarism is often unintentional. It can be avoided by always acknowledging one’s debt to others by citing the exact source of a quotation or paraphrase. Since plagiarism is such a serious violation of academic honesty, the PENALTY for it will be an AUTOMATIC “F” FOR THIS COURSE. The CU handbook has a more complete description of plagiarism and academic dishonesty.

Grades: For CU, I use the plus/minus system. Values for those letters, as well as the policies regarding other grades such as Incomplete, are available in the CU Academic Policies and Regulations section of the handbook.

Contact Information

 III. Contact Information and Course Help

Email and Web: hilde@yahoo.com; http://davidhildebrand.org

Phone: 303-556-8558

Office location: Plaza M-108-H

 Office hours: TTh 2:15-3:15 p.m., and by appointment. Let me know what you need and I’ll do everything in my power to help you do well.

 Purpose: I strongly encourage you to participate by dropping by during office hours. We can talk about the class readings and lectures, exams and papers, your progress, or just philosophy in general. Note: If you are a student with a disability, I will make myself available to discuss appropriate academic accommodations. Before accommodations will be made, you may be required to provide documentation. Students with disabilities will be accommodated. Students with disabilities are required to register disabilities with the UCD Disability Services Office, and are responsible for requesting reasonable accommodations at the beginning of the term. PLEASE FEEL FREE TO CONSULT WITH ME about your progress in the class, or about how you think the class is going. (I try to be a very open-minded teacher! We should not wait until the course is over before we improve things—but, you must speak up!).

Schedule of Readings

 This reading schedule will give you a rough idea of what we’re going to read and when.

Any changes will be announced in class and you are responsible to know what is coming up.

Key: (SE) = Social Ethics; all else is either a film or online at Auraria or on Blackboard. SE page numbers refer to 6th edition.


16 Introduction to Course: Ethical situations, the role of theories in practice--No readings

18 Ethical theory1--(Rachels, ONLINE) "What is Morality?"

(Rachels, ONLINE) "Does Morality Depend on Religion?"

23 Ethical theory1--(Rachels, ONLINE) "The Utilitarian Approach"

25 Seminar Day: No new readings

30 Ethical theory2--(Rachels, ONLINE) Kantianism "Are There Absolute Moral Rules?"


 1 Ethical theory2 Kantian/Duty ethics, continued

6 Seminar Day: No new readings

8 Abortion1; Biological facts, Legal Issues; Catholic Position

(SE) textbook’s abortion introduction; Blackmun (Roe v. Wade), Pope JP II

13 Abortion2 (SE) Warren

15 Seminar Day: No new readings

20 Abortion3--(SE) Marquis

22 Abortion4--(SE) Sherwin

27 Seminar Day: exam review (bring your questions)

 Extra material (strongly recommended) at: :

Roe vs. Wade Anniversary (1998) discussion (RealAudio file) plus a euthanasia discussion

See also this Frontline report: "Abortion Clinic"

What should embryos be called?Clump of cells or "microscopic American"? (Salon.com article, Feb. 5, 2005


 1 Exam 1 in class

6 Consumerism1 Film, Advertising and the End of the World. See lecture on Blackboard

8 Consumerism2--Schor, Overspent American (Read all up to p. 67; ONLINE)

13 Consumerism3--Schor, Overspent American (p. 67 to end; ONLINE)

15 Seminar Day: No new readings



27 Death penalty1--(SE) Intro, Justices Stewart, Marshall

29 Death penalty2-- (SE) Primoratz

 Extra material (strongly recommended) at:

The Bible and the Death Penalty (P. Gathje)

An Interactive Map of Death Penalty Facts

Another death penalty map of the United States (for higher resolution version, click here)

Some key arguments, pro and con

How does each execution method actually work?

 Death Penalty discussion, 2002 (RealAudio file)--Scroll down the page


 3 Death penalty3-- (SE) Nathanson

5 Seminar Day: No new readings

10 Exam 2 in class

12 Sexual Morality1--(SE) Mill, On Liberty (214-217)

17 Sexual Morality2--Killing Us Softly3 (FILM, 34 min.); discussion

19 Seminar Day: No new readings

24 Sexual Morality3-- (SE) Introduction (157-170); Punzo

26 Sexual Morality4---- (SE) Mappes


 1 Sexual Morality6--(SE) Corvino

3 Final class, wrap up and review; take home distributed


Take home due OVER BLACKBOARD and on paper BY May 8 at 12 noon.

Last updated Dec 02, 2010 01:57:PM