David L. Hildebrand, Ph.D., Philosophy

Spring 2012 Phl 1020 Ethics and Society


PHIL 1020-003 TR 11:00a-12:15 a.m. -- NORTH CLASSROOM 1313

PHIL 1020-007 TR 2:00 - 3:15 p.m. -- NORTH CLASSROOM 1313


Spring 2012 Dr. David Hildebrand (david.Hildebrand@ucdenver.edu)

PHIL 1020-003 & 1020-007 

T/TH 11-12:15 p.m. & 2-315 pm 

Room: TBA

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, consumerism, and the moral standing of animals. 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 the above through exams, verbal responses, and 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.

Required Texts: 

All required readings are posted on Blackboard http://blackboard.cuonline.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: http://blackboard.cuonline.edu. On this page are LOGIN INSTRUCTIONS. 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. Expect to spend approximately 5 hours per week on this course, out of class. 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.

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.

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: 1000 total points can be accumulated for this course:

Attendance 200 points or 20 %.

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)

Time per week you will need to spend  outside of class in order to do well (A or B): 5  hours, minimum (not including exam study)

Attendance This class includes two kinds of sessions: regular class and seminar days. You are required to attend regular class and at least 2 of 5 seminar days. This means that except for three seminar days, attendance is absolutely required (and will be taken). 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 20 points. [E.g. If you miss 5 classes your attendance grade would be 200 – 100 (20 x 5) = 100.]

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. You are expected to raise questions and pointS for discussion on seminar days. There are 5 SEMINAR DAYS and you are required to attend at least 2. So, for example, if you only go to 1 seminar day all semester, you’ll receive 1 absence.  Attendance at all of them is recommended but not required; those who are not interested in attending 2 of the 5 seminar days can be assured that there will be no penalties: no attendance taken, no quizzes, no new material covered. You have the day off. 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 10-11 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.

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

Remember, course help is available at my web address: http://DavidHildebrand.org



(SE) = readings from Blackboard, originally in Social Ethics 7th edition

Date Topic/Chapter Readings/Assignments Big Picture/Question


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

Class Keynote by DH Syllabus—careful review

What is philosophy? What is ethics? How are ethical theory and practice connected?

19 Abortion Biological facts, Legal Issues;  (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?

24 Abortion (SE) Pope JP II The Catholic position on abortion. QUESTION: why is the fetus a person from conception? 

26 Abortion (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?

31 SEMINAR DAY How does the concept of a “person” in the Pope’s and Warren’s arguments function to show that abortion is (a) immoral or (b) moral? Q: Would society be better or worse if abortion was generally restricted or illegal? 


2 Abortion (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?

7 Abortion (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?

9 SEMINAR DAY Marquis and Little both try to make their arguments against and for the permissibility of abortion based without making the “person” concept central. Q. How do their different strategies work? What are the important pivot points of their argument? Whether you agree, overall, with their arguments, what is worth taking away?

14 EXAM 1 Exam Review 30 minutes; Exam 1 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.

16  Drugs. Balancing Interests: Individual and Society

(theory) (SE) Mill, “On Liberty”; “Drug Control-Chapter Introduction” 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?

21 Drugs 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?

23 Drugs (SE) Robert E. Goodin, Permissible Paternalism: Saving Smokers from Themselves  Restraining individual’s behavior “for their own good.” Q: Is paternalism ever justified?

28 SEMINAR DAY QUESTION: When is intervention in individual behavior justified? Is there really any such thing as purely “self-regarding” conduct?


1 Consumerism. Balancing Interests: Individual and Society (advertising and autonomy) Lippke, “Advertising and the Social Conditions of Autonomy” (ONLINE) Autonomy as the basis for moral agency. Q: To what degree is our autonomy constrained by advertising? Why is autonomy important?

6 Consumerism (especially gender fairness, and advertising) Film: “Killing Us Softly4” by Jean Kilbourne; Readings: 

(1) Study guide for film; (2) Ciriello, "The Commodification of Women: Morning, Noon, and Night"(online) Q: Are women/girls under economic, social, or economic pressure that affects their work, identity, and position in society? How does advertising shape self image and how does that feed back into the economy in the form of sexualized labor?

8  Consumerism (especially gender fairness, and advertising) Continued discussion of Kilbourne film and Ciriello article. Review Ciriello article; read: Hildebrand Lecture about media and advertising (ONLINE) The construction of our pictures of happiness and moral action. Q: How is a portrait of happiness constructed by advertising? What is that portrait?

13 Consumerism (advertising and happiness) Film: Part I Advertising and the End of the World; Review: Hildebrand Lecture about media and advertising (ONLINE) The construction of our pictures of happiness and moral action. Q: How is a portrait of happiness constructed by advertising? What is that portrait?

15 Consumerism. (Advertising and happiness) Read: Hildebrand Lecture about media and advertising (ONLINE); Film: Advertising and the End of the World How do the stories told by advertising set the parameters for ethical action? How does advertising shape our identities as members of society? As collective problem solvers?

20/22 Spring Break Spring Break Spring Break

27 Sexual Morality (SE) Vincent C. Punzo, Morality and Human Sexuality  Casual sex and the construction of human identity. Q: Why is casual sex dangerous according to Punzo?

29 Sexual Morality (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?


3 SEMINAR DAY Q. Is sex special, morally? What are the implications of sexual conduct on self-identity? Is there more to the moral implications of sex than harm, as defined by the liberal view?

5 EXAM2 Exam Review 30 minutes; Exam 2 in class (45  min.) Review the readings and bring questions to class. The exam will take place after the review, during the last 45 minutes of class.

10 Ethics and non-humans Food Inc., film-discussion; READ: (SE) Introduction to Chapter 10 on Animals Q: What are the moral, social, and economic implications of our dietary patterns?

12 Ethics and non-humans (SE) Peter Singer, “All Animals are Equal” Discussion of film, and Singer. Q: What do we owe to animals, ethically, and why?

17 Ethics and non-humans (SE) Tom Regan, The Case for Animal Rights.  Animals as bearers of moral rights. Q: Why does Regan think animals have rights? To what treatment do these rights entitle animals? Why?

19  SEMINAR DAY How do Singer and Regan’s approaches to defending the welfare of animals differ? Do you agree with either of them? Both? What would your position be regarding the rights of animals and why?

24 Ethics and non-humans (SE) Rollin  “Environmental Ethics” What is Rollin’s “sentientiest” approach? What must something have to have value for Rollin? 

26 Ethics and non-humans (SE) Aldo Leopold, “The Land Ethic” Leopold seeks to defend more than just individual creatures, but whole ecosystems. How does he argue for this?


1 Ethics for non-humans Summing up: what are the most powerful arguments


 Final Exam due May 8th by 12 noon in Philosophy Dept. office, my mailbox.

Last updated Jan 17, 2012 07:36:PM