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Philosophy 2: Ethics (Section #1630)

Santa Monica College

Summer 2015 Course Syllabus (6/22-7/30/15)

Professor Steven Kaufman (KAUFMAN_STEVEN@SMC.EDU)

MTWTH 10:15-12:20

Office Hours Are By Appointment Only

Required Texts (2):(1) Ethics For Modern Life by Abelson and Friquegnon

2) The Elements of Moral Philosophy by James Rachels

* used copies of each text should be available for purchase at the SMC

as well as from A&R books on Pico Blvd.

*This Syllabus Serves As A Binding Contract. Please Read The Policies Stated Carefully And
Be Sure That You Understand What Is Expected Of You.

Course Description: This course is an INTENSIVE introductory-level survey of some of the

more relevant moral theories and issues of concern not only to Philosophers, but to non-
Philosophers, as well. You can expect this class to move at a faster pace, and more work
assigned on a nightly basis, than an average semester-length course. The class will be divided
into two parts (refer to the schedule below). There will be an emphasis on written and verbal
expression in this class. Students will be expected to come to class every meeting and be
prepared to discuss assigned readings and topics listed on the schedule. No previous background
in Philosophy will be assumed on the student's part.

Course Objectives: (a) To gain a basic familiarity with ethical theories and current ethical
issues. (b) To write and sustain a clear and coherent argument against or in support of a
particular ethical position. (c) To develop critical thinking skills by analyzing the arguments of
many different Philosophers.

Student Learning Outcomes (3):

Upon completion of this course, students will:

1. Exhibit strong academic behaviors including regular attendance, timeliness, participation in

class activities, and adherence to the College Honor Code.

2. Demonstrate through oral and written work knowledge of the main topics in normative ethics
and meta-ethics: the nature of ethical theory (moral philosophy), significant ethical theories, and
the problems encountered in the continuing quest for a satisfactory ethical theory for
contemporary society.

3. Be proficient in the research, analytical, and communication skills necessary

to present, orally and in writing, compelling and original arguments that, when

given a scenario of action by some agent in a particular context, evaluate the

morality of the action from the perspective of the moral theories studied and

the relevance of the moral considerations of consequences/utility,

rights/duties/ virtue/vice.

eCompanion: The instructor will use a learning resource called eCompanion for emailing and
posting important announcements, recommendations, required readings, and/or course-related
documents. It is important for each student to have an SMC email address and for each student
to check it regularly.

Make-up/Late Policy: The instructor will NOT allow for make-up quizzes or for late paper
submissions under any circumstances. Please refer to the schedule for important dates. In the
event that you see yourself unable to attend on a scheduled quiz or due date, please contact the
Professor immediately to discuss the matter. Please note the Professor will drop any student who
misses two consecutive class meetings. Students arriving late to class (late=10 minutes or more)
on scheduled exam dates, for whatever reason, may be subject to a one-grade penalty deduction.

Requirements For Passing This Class : 1000 points possible

1. Current Events Type-Ups (please see below) 10/20/30% of overall course grade

2. Midterm Exam (Open book/note-blue/green exam book is required) 20% of overall course

3. Cumulative open book/note final exam on 2/12. (Paper to be provided- scantron or blue/green
examination book is not required) 20% of overall course grade

Scale: 1000-900 points A 899-800 points B 799-700 points C 699-600 D 599 points and
below F

Etiquette and Conduct Policy: Please be sure to turn off your cell phones, pagers, etc., before
coming into class. Please clear any possible late arrivals to class with me, first. As this class is
bound to raise potentially controversial and sensitive subjects to some students, please recognize
that each person has a right to his/her opinions and this class is a forum for expression of
reasoned views/opinions. This means insulting behavior or language is not to be tolerated in
class towards any student. Loud, disruptive, or confrontational students may be asked to leave
the class. If you are unsure as to what constitutes potentially disruptive behavior, please feel free
to ask me. If you miss class, be sure to get the reading assignments and notes from a classmate.
Emailing the Professor for missed assignments may not yield a very satisfying outcome.
Therefore, exchanging contact information with other students in this class is a very good idea. It
is strongly recommended that each student consult the SMC Honor Code for further clarification
on (in) appropriate classroom behaviors.

Cell Phones/Lap Tops/Tablets et al Policy: I will not allow for laptops to be used for note-taking
or for texting while class is in session. If you choose to use a digital version of the texts for this
class, you will not be allowed to use these while in class.

Disability Policy: I am happy to comply with any requests from students with learning
disabilities. Be sure to go to the Disabled Students Center on campus (DSC) to fill out the
appropriate paperwork should you feel you will need additional accommodations.

***Cheating And/Or Academic Dishonesty Of Any Type Will Not Be Tolerated. Not Only
Should It Be Embarrassing To Be Caught Cheating In An Ethics Class, But Any Student Caught
Cheating Will Receive A FAIL Grade For The Assignment.

***Attendance: Students missing two or more consecutive class meetings without prior
notification given to the instructor will be dropped from the course. Students missing three or
more class meetings may be dropped from the course, as well.

Current Events Type-Ups: Each student is required to turn in three separate 1-2 pp typed and
double-spaced report on a current newsworthy event that is relevant to a topic covered in
class. Any form of published media is fine. Each student is to turn in a copy of the news article
along with the type-up. I will call for and collect papers every Thursday at the start of class
beginning with the first week and up to the fifth week. Papers will not be accepted for credit
during the last week of the course. Students arriving late to class or absent on that Thursday will
not be eligible to receive credit for that weeks type-up. Note: each student has to turn in only
three type-ups. Each student will have five chances to turn in a type-up for credit. There
should not be any excuse for failing to turn in three type-ups. I will not accept more than three
type-ups for extra credit.

Weekly Schedule of Topics (Subject to change- specific reading assignments to be provided in


Weeks 1,2 and 3) Ethical Theory

Week 1 (6/22-6/25) Introduction, policies, overview of the course, what is philosophy? what is
ethics?, is ethics a science?, normative/descriptive distinction, intrinsic and instrumental values?
what is an argument?- a brief but useful look at critical thinking and logical reasoning. Why be
good? Why are humans generally drawn towards good actions? Moral theories considered:
ethical subjectivism, relativism, absolutist moral views (divine command, natural law,
evolutionary theory)
Week 2 (6/29-7/2) Moral theories considered- Utilitarianism, The Ethics of Famine Relief
(application of Utilitarianism), Rational Absolutism, Genetic Engineering and Cloning
(application of Rational Absolutism).

Week 3 (7/6-7/9).Moral Theories Considered- Egoism, Social Contract Theory, Virtue-Based

Ethics. What is 'Moral Luck'? Is it possible to be morally (un) lucky???? Review for midterm

Weeks 4,5 and 6) Applied Ethics

Week 4 (7/13-7/16) Midterm exam in class on Monday 7/13. Applying moral theories to select
topics- Euthanasia (physician-assisted suicide), abortion, capital punishment.

Week 5 (7/20-7/23) Film to be screened in class one day this week (details tba). Moral Issues
Considered- Environmental Rights, Animal Rights, Food Ethics

Week 6 (7/27-7/30) Moral Issues Considered- The right to privacy debate, affirmative action
(fairness vs equality?), review/wrap-up, final exam.

* The cumulative final exam is open book/note and will be given in class on Thursday 7/30.
Blue/green examination books are not required. Scantron forms are not required. The exam will
consist of approximately 20 objective short answer and true/false questions. Paper will be
provided for this exam.