David L. Hildebrand, Ph.D., Philosophy

Spring 2011 Phl 1020 Ethics and Society

Philosophy 1020: ETHICS AND SOCIETY 

Spring 2010 Dr. David Hildebrand (hilde@yahoo.com)
PHIL 1020-007 TR 11:00a-12:15 p.m. at MC 04  

Click here to skip to readings/assignments calendar

PLEASE BE AWARE: Most of our course resources are at Blackboard, here.

Course Description: 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, drug use, sexual morality, and consumerism. Our goal will be to gain a better understanding by reading, thinking, and talking carefully and critically.
Course Objectives:
1. Familiarization. Gain a good sense of what is at stake in issues of course.
2. Comprehension. Be able to comprehend the arguments offered by various philosophers.
3. Critical analysis. Be able to criticize those arguments by pointing out where they lack evidence, make an unreasonable leap, hold a false assumption, etc.
4. Demonstration of (1) - (3) through exams, writing.
5. Verbalization. Be able to summarize a philosophical position, without notes, using your own words. Be able to criticize a position this way.
6. 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.
Required Texts: The textbook is 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. TEXTBOOK: Social Ethics: Morality and Social Policy 7th edition, Ed. Mappes and Zembaty (McGraw Hill)
2. ONLINE. There will also be required readings on Blackboard www.blackboard.cudenver.edu (BLACKBOARD)
Blackboard/Website: There are two online sites related to this course. Familiarize yourself with them right away. Both will offer you access to information about the course such as study questions, announcements, grades, extra credit assignments.
1. The first and most important one is our course Blackboard site: https://blackboard.cuonline.edu. On this page are INSTRUCTIONS TO ENROLL. Please make sure you enroll right at the beginning of the class.
2. The second site is my home page at http://www.davidhildebrand.org. Here there are a variety of general study tips and resources in philosophy.
Time Management and Expectations about Reading/Understanding Material
Time Per Week: Many of us have responsibilities that compete with this class. Though I am sympathetic, these will not excuse poor attendance or late work. If short term, non-emergency illnesses or other contingencies create problems with attending class or completing assignments in a timely manner, students must notify me before class time by leaving a message on my office telephone. I will discuss the matter with students during the next class meeting or schedule an appointment at that time if needed. I will only consider an extension if I receive notification prior to the class or deadline except in cases of documented emergency.

: 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.

Philosophy needs to be re-read. Unlike some fiction, philosophy needs to be read slowly and deliberately. Don't rush through it -- think about issues as they are raised, going back and forth if necessary. And if you're burning out, take a break. You will find that a text can seem quite different the second time through. Thomas Kuhn, a noted philosopher, wrote
When reading the works of an important thinker, look first for the apparent absurdities in the text and ask yourself how a sensible person could have written them. When you find an answer, ...when these passages make sense, then you may find that more central passages, ones you previously thought you understood, have changed their meaning. (from The Essential Tension, p. xii.)

Nietzsche wrote, "In the midst of an age of 'work', that is to say, of hurry, of indecent and perspiring haste, which wants to 'get everything done' at once, including every old or new book: -this art [philosophy] does not so easily get anything done, it teaches to read well, that is to say, to read slowly, deeply, looking cautiously before and aft, with reservations, with doors left open, with delicate eyes and fingers." (Dawn, Preface)

Course Requirements/Evaluation:
• Attendance----200 points or 20 % Each unexcused absence will deduct 8 points from the total.
• Exam 1 ---- 250 points or 25 % (covering material up to first exam)
• Exam 2 ---- 250 points or 25 % (covering material after first exam)
• Exam 3 ----300 points or 30% (covering material after second exam)
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. PLEASE NOTE: Each unexcused absence from required class days will lower your final attendance average by 8 points. [E.g. If you miss 5 classes your attendance grade would be 200 – 40 (8 x 5) = 160.]

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 or information needed for exams. Each SEMINAR DAY will focus on the material of the time since the last SEMINAR DAY, usually about three 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. Students who attend SEMINAR DAY have, in the past, done better on exams than those who do not attend.
EXAMS: Likely a mixture of short answers, multiple choice, and essay. NO MAKE-UP EXAMS WILL BE GIVEN WITHOUT EXTENUATING CIRCUMSTANCES AND ARRANGEMENTS MADE PRIOR TO THE EXAM. A ZERO WILL BE GIVEN FOR ANY MISSED EXAM NOT ARRANGED FOR IN ADVANCE. "Extenuating circumstances" include severe medical problems; talk to me about which other circumstances would count as "excusable."

GRADES: I use the plus/minus system. There are 1000 possible points for this class. An "A" will be a body of work achieving at or above 930 points; an "A-" will be 900-929 points; a "B+" is 870-899 points, etc. 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.

Course Policies

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 (such as on exams) or using sources/experts not permitted by an assignment. The CU handbook has a more complete description of plagiarism and academic dishonesty. Anyone caught violating the rules of an exam or an assignment can expect a failing grade for the assignment and possibly the course as well.

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: Laptops are not permitted. 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 "unexcused 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 9:45 – 10-45 a.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.
Remember, course help is available at my web address: http://DavidHildebrand.org 

COURSE SCHEDULE: Readings, Assignments, and Topics

(SE) = Social Ethics 7th edition; other readings online at Blackboard
Topic/Chapter Readings/Assignments Big Picture/Question
18 Introduction to Course: Ethical situations, the role of theories in practice
No readings; IN CLASS: Hildebrand Keynote: Thinking About Ethics
Syllabus—careful review
Ethical theory and practice
Distraction, Critical studying and thinking
--- Reading: Bill McKibben "You just have to turn it off" (online) "Critical Thinking: Evaluating Reasoning, " "Critical Thinking: Questioning Reading and Writing,"
IN CLASS: Part I: Hildebrand Keynote on Distraction
QUESTION: What do we need to do to think carefully and critically? How do we create the conditions for such thinking and what do we do once the conditions are ready?
25 Critical thinking
--- Reading: "Growing Up Digital, Wired for Distraction" (New York Times)
IN CLASS: Part II: Hildebrand Keynote on Distraction
SUGGESTED: Podcasts on Blackboard with Carr and Lanier.
QUESTION: What do we think we gain by multi-tasking? What do we lose?
(SE) textbook’s abortion introduction; Blackmun (Roe v. Wade)
Abortion and the law; situations and possible stakes involved in abortion decision. QUESTION: Why is abortion legal?
1 Abortion
--- Reading (SE) Pope JP II
The Catholic position on abortion. QUESTION: why is the fetus a person from conception?
3 Abortion
--- Reading (SE) Warren
A pro-choice position raising a deep metaphysical issue: when does a “life” become a “person”? Q: Do we need to decide this issue to judge what to do about abortion?
Q: Would society be better or worse if abortion was generally restricted or illegal? How does the definition of a "person" enter into the moral debate over abortion? Can its importance in the debate be reconsidered and downgraded?
10 Abortion
--- Reading (SE) Marquis
An anti-choice position that argues that whatever a fetus is, if it’s a person to be, it cannot be killed. Q: How does Marquis’s “future-like-ours” criterion help him make his case?
15 Abortion
--- Reading (SE) Margaret Olivia Little, The Morality of Abortion
Stepping aside from the “personhood” question to ask, Q: How do the particular situations of women affect how the fetus is valued? Should situations and relationships be able to determine the value of a fetus?
17 Exam Review & Exam
Review the readings and bring questions to class. The exam will take place after a 30 minute review, during the last 45 minutes of class.
and Drugs
--- Reading (SE) Mill; pages on “Liberty-Limiting Principles” Pp. 219-220. Look, also at pp. 274-76 at section entitled, “Drug Laws, Legalization, and the Principle of Legal Paternalism.”
Defining the limits of government intervention in private matters. Q: What is Mill's "Harm Principle" and how is it supposed to guide a society's conduct? Are there circumstances where it would be justified for the government or society to interfere with the self-regarding actions of a rational, competent adult?
--- Reading (SE) Introduction, Chapter 6, Drug Control and Addiction; Thomas S. Szasz, The Ethics of Addiction
How addiction affects personal conduct and well-being. Q: Is it ethical to be addicted to something? How can we tell?
1 Drugs
--- Reading (SE) Robert E. Goodin, Permissible Paternalism: Saving Smokers from Themselves
Restraining individual’s behavior “for their own good.” QUESTION: Is Goodin making a persuasive case for paternalism in the cases of some smokers?
QUESTION: When is intervention in individual behavior justified? Is there really any such thing as purely “self-regarding” conduct?
Balancing Interests: Individual and Society (sexual morality)
--- Reading (SE) Introduction to Sexual Morality chapter; Vincent C. Punzo, Morality and Human Sexuality
Casual sex and the construction of human identity. Q: Why is casual sex dangerous according to Punzo?
10 Balancing Interests: Individual and Society (sexual morality)
--- Reading (SE) Thomas A. Mappes, Sexual Morality and the Concept of Using Another Person
Sexual behavior is neither moral nor immoral—harm is separate consideration, altogether. Q: Why does Mappes believe sexual acts, in themselves, cannot harm?
15 Balancing Interests: Individual and Society (sexual morality)
--- Reading (SE) Corvino
Homosexuality and morality. QUESTION: What arguments are put forward against homosexual conduct, according to Corvino and what are his responses?
QUESTION: How do our sexual choices shape our identity? Can sexual conduct that results in no direct harm be evaluated morally? Why or why not?
22&24 Spring Break
29 Exam Review 30 minutes; Exam 2 in class (45 minutes)
Review the readings and bring questions to class. The exam will take place after the review, during the last 45 minutes of class.
--- Reading Schor, Schor_Overspent_American_Reading_1.pdf (ONLINE) -- THIS IS A SUBSTITUTION FROM OUR PAPER SYLLABUS.
--- Reading Suggested: Domhoff, Who Rules America_Wealth_Income_and_Power 2010.pdf
The environment in which we make choices has a lot to do with the freedom of those choices. QUESTION: According to Schor, what forces contribute to Americans' choice to consume—even to the point of debt, overwork, and unhappiness? According to Domhoff, how have the profits of consumption been distributed? Has America become more or less fair in the way wealth and income are distributed?
5 Consumerism: advertising and happiness)
--- Reading: Schor_Overspent_American_Reading_2.pdf (ONLINE) -- THIS IS A SUBSTITUTION FROM OUR PAPER SYLLABUS.

SUGGESTED READING: Hildebrand Lecture about media and advertising (ONLINE)
IN CLASS: Film—Part I: Advertising and the End of the World
To understand issues of happiness, it helps to understand how the construction of our pictures of happiness and moral action happen. Q: How is a portrait of happiness constructed by advertising? What is that portrait?
7 Consumerism: advertising and happiness
--- Reading: McKibben “Reversal of Fortune”
IN CLASS: Film—Part II: Advertising and the End of the World
Q: Our economic and media systems press upon us a view of happiness as consumption. How does this affect our environment and, consequently, future conditions for happiness and ethical action?
QUESTION: How does our priority on consumption challenge our ability to act ethically regarding others? How does organize our society? How does consumption affect our ability to choose well for ourselves? stopp
14 Consumerism: advertising and autonomy
--- Reading: Lippke, “Advertising and the Social Conditions of Autonomy” (ONLINE)
Some argue that we are "free" to resist advertising. Indeed, it is important that we be able to resist it, because otherwise we're not free—or "autonomous." Autonomy is a crucial basis for moral agency. Q: To what degree is our autonomy constrained by advertising? Why is autonomy important?
19 Consumerism: media, advertising and democracy
--- Reading : Bagdikian, "Democracy and the Media" (from The Media Monopoly), "Critical Thinking: Questioning Bias and Propaganda"
IN CLASS: Part I: Hildebrand keynote on democracy
Looking deeply at the ways our autonomy is conditioned requires we go beyond just advertising to look at institutions in our culture, such as the news media. QUESTION: What roles have news media played in strengthening or weakening our ability to play a significant role in governing ourselves? How have our abilities to reason been helped or hindered?
21 Consumerism: advertising and happiness)
--- Reading: Bagdikian, "Common Media for an Uncommon Nation" (Preface of New Media Monopoly)
Suggested: Economist Democracy Index 2008
IN CLASS: Part II: Hildebrand keynote on democracy
QUESTION: What changes in media would benefit democratic and ethical inquiry and critical thinking?
QUESTION: How does the priority we place (personally and economically) on consumption challenge our ability to act ethically regarding others? How does organize our society? How does consumption affect our ability to choose well for ourselves?
28 Exam review & Exam
Review the readings and bring questions to class. The exam will take place after the review, during the last 45 minutes of class
3 No class
Good luck with your finals!
5 No class
Good luck with your finals!


Last updated Mar 21, 2011 03:51:PM