David L. Hildebrand, Ph.D., Philosophy

Spring 2008 Phl 1020 Ethics and Society


Dr. David Hildebrand  PHIL 1020-007 TTh 1:00 p.m. TO 2:15 p.m. (MOD 001)

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




Course Requirements/Evaluation:

Attendance/Participation 10%

Exam 1 25%

Exam 2 25% (covering material after first exam)

Final exam 40% (take home, comprehensive)

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 This class includes seminar days where attendance is optional. This means that for the remaining class days attendance is absolutely required (and will be taken) except in cases of illness, emergency, or special circumstances. 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. Unexcused absences from required class days can lower your final average by a letter grade or more.

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. Except for the last one, 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. Students who attend seminar day have, in the past, done better on exams than those who do not attend.

Every student attending seminar day must:

WRITE: one reading comprehension quiz question about material since last seminar day or test. This may be True/False, multiple choice, or short answer. We will go over these in class. Their purpose is to give us a sense of our reading comprehension. These will not become part of your actual class grade—they are for diagnostic purposes only.

WRITE: One comment (a paragraph) about material since last seminar day or test. This might be something you enjoyed, disagreed with, found puzzling, or just found interesting enough to discuss. These will be jump-off points for discussion.

have read the material fairly closely

be ready to participate in a conversation about the material.

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/ Academic Dishonesty 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.

Academic dishonesty is the intentional disregard of course or university rules. This may include (but is not limited to) collaborating with others when rules forbid or using sources/experts not permitted by an assignment. The CU handbook has a more complete description of plagiarism and academic dishonesty.

Grades: 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. I have set out my standards of what a grade means on my FAQ section of my website.

Access, Disability, Communication: The University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center is committed to providing reasonable accommodation and access to programs and services to persons with disabilities. Students with disabilities who want academic accommodations must register with Disability Resources and Services (DRS), 177 Arts Building, 303-556-3450, TTY 303-556-4766, FAX 303-556-2074. I will be happy to provide approved accommodations, once you provide me with a copy of DRS’s letter. [DRS requires students to provide current and adequate documentation of their disabilities. Once a student has registered with DRS, DRS will review the documentation and assess the student’s request for academic accommodations in light of the documentation. DRS will then provide the student with a letter indicating which academic accommodations have been approved.]

Students called for military duty: If you are a student in the military with the potential of being called to military service and /or training during the course of the semester, you are encouraged to contact your school/college Associate Dean or Advising Office immediately.

Course Communication: In addition to announcements made and written handouts distributed in class, I may need to contact you between classes, which I'll do through individual and group email messages. One of the requirements for this course is that you maintain an email address, check it regularly for messages, be sure it is working, and let me know if you change your email address. You are responsible for any messages, including assignments and schedule changes, I send you via email. You also may contact me via email, in addition to seeing me during office hours or calling me.

Civility and Technology: Turn off beepers and cell phones during class. Text messaging, web surfing, and other electronic distractions may result in expulsion from class and will be counted as an "absence" from class. Students who are speaking deserve your attention and respect as much as I do. Listen to one another. Adherence to the Student Conduct Code is expected.


Contact Information and Office Hours

Phone : 303-556-8558

E-mail: hilde@yahoo.com; Website: http://davidhildebrand.org

Office and Hours: Plaza M108; Hours TTh 12-1 p.m. or by appointment.

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 note: All course requirements are subject to change at the discretion of the instructor.

Course help is available at my web address: http://DavidHildebrand.org, especially here and here.


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.



22 Introduction to Course: Ethical situations, the role of theories in practice

24 Ethical theory1 (Rachels, ONLINE) "What is Morality?" + "Does Morality Depend on Religion?"

29 Ethical theory1 (Rachels, ONLINE) Utilitarianism

31 Seminar Day No new readings


5 Ethical theory2 (Rachels, ONLINE) Kantianism

7 Ethical theory3 (Rachels, ONLINE) Kantian/Duty ethics, continued (no new reading)

12 Seminar Day No new readings

14 Abortion1; Biological facts, Legal Issues; Catholic Position (SE) textbook’s abortion introduction; Blackmun (Roe v. Wade), Pope JP II

19 Abortion2 (SE) Warren

21 Seminar Day No new readings

26 Abortion3 (SE) Marquis

28 Abortion4 (SE) Sherwin


4 Seminar Day exam review –

6 Exam 1 in class

11 Consumerism1 Schor, Overspent American (Read all up to p. 67; ONLINE)

13 Consumerism2 Film, Advertising and the End of the World –

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

20 Death penalty1 (SE) Intro, Justices Stewart, Marshall




1 Death penalty2 (SE) Primoratz

3 Death penalty3 (SE) Nathanson

8 Seminar Day No new readings

10 Exam 2 in class

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

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

22 Seminar Day No new readings

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

29 Sexual Morality4 (SE) Mappes


1 Sexual Morality5 (SE) Corvino;

6 Seminar Day No new readings

8 Last Class: Wrap up Take home distributed

13 FINAL DUE Take home due OVER BLACKBOARD and on paper BY May 13 at 12 noon.

Last updated Dec 02, 2010 01:32:PM