Instructor: Jeffery Nicholas
Office: Anselm 130
Office Hours: M: 2:30 – 4:30, Tu: 1 – 3,
W: 11 – 12, F: 10 – 11;
And by appointment
As we learn from Aristotle, the purpose of studying ethics is, not simply to learn theory, but to become better practitioners of living the good life. The objectives of this course reflect this understanding of this ethics class.
We will begin with a study of moral reasoning and the elements that are essential to reasoning about any ethical problem. Then we will examine the central texts in the history of ethics in the Western tradition. This study will allow us to question the divorce in modern ethics of morality from everyday human action that will lead us back to virtue ethics. Thus, we will conclude our study with a renewal of Aristotelian ethics in Alasdair MacIntyre’s Dependent Rational Animals.
The major work in our class will involve reasoning over moral case studies and in-depth research into a specific moral problem. Aside from case studies, students will engage in a major research project that will consummate in a team debate and a 10-page research paper.
As a class in moral philosophy, the arguments and topics discussed here must remain at the level of philosophy and rely on philosophical concepts, methods, and argumentation, as opposed to the specific methods and argumentation style of the discipline of theology.
1. Moral Reasoning
2. Alasdair MacIntyre, Dependent Rational Animals.
3. Selections from Baird, History of Philosophy
i. Nichomachean Ethics
ii. Kant: Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals
iii. Mill: On Utility
iv. Nietzsche: Genealogy of Morals
• Edwards, Anne M. Writing to Learn: An Introduction to Writing Philosophical Essays, 2000.
1. To develop as critical thinkers and moral reasoners
2. To develop as writers
3. To learn the basic rudiments and figures of the following major Western ethical traditions: virtue ethics, utilitarianism, deontology, natural law theory, and care ethics.
4. To learn the basic arguments for and against the moral permissibility of certain actions/laws/beliefs including.
5. To develop sensitivity to the needs of others, and to expand one’s commitment to a culture of life
6. To undergo the challenging task of examining one’s own beliefs and conscience
7. To increase one’s understanding of and commitment to the good life.
A. 2 Group Case Studies 20%
B. Midterm Essay Exam 15%
B. Research Project
1. Annotated Bibliography 15%
2. Group Debate 15%
3. Rough Draft 15%
3. Research Paper 20%
An “A” in this course represents “an honor grade” and signifies that the student has taken the initiative to seek out knowledge and apply his/her learning to his/her personal experiences and demonstrates that in class work.
Note that this is an ethics course. Plagiarism will not be tolerated. Anyone caught violating academic integrity in any way shall fail the course – because that shows a failure in understanding ethics.
A. Group Case Studies
1. Students will work in their debate groups for this project.
2. Each group will work cooperatively together to develop an essay for the assigned case study.
v. NB: You will write ESSAYS not answers to questions.
4. Case Studies should follow the steps given in class.
4. Each case study must:
i. Briefly summarize the case
ii. Address the moral issues and principles relevant to the case (essential)
iii. Answer the central questions
1. laying out the options
2. values & moral principles
3. defending your position
5. Refer to any principles discussed in the book or any principles discussed in class lecture that apply to the case.
6. All cases will be submitted on-line. No case study may exceed 1000 words.
7. The cases will be graded for thoroughness and clarity, and argumentation based on the moral principles.
8. All members of the group are responsible for the case and each will receive the same grade for the work.
9. Case studies should be e-mailed to the professor and the whole team in the body of an e-mail message (not as an attachment).
10. No study should not have seen the final case study before submitted to the professor. Students are not permitted to complain to the professor about their grade because they did not see the final case study or did not have a chance to participate in writing the case study. This is a TEAM project.
11. If a student on the team disagrees with the team’s decision, s/he may submit a one-page (250-500 word) minority opinion, using proper philosophical argumentation to explain her/his disagreement with the group. This paper will be graded separately then the group paper.
B. Research Project:
Students should treat the research project as a preliminary exercise in writing their capstone project in senior year. You will follow the same steps: prepare an annotated bibliography, a polished draft, and a final draft that reflects the comments of the instructor on the earlier draft. Students are encouraged to seriously consider using their ethics paper as a background for their capstone project.
1. Annotated Bibliography
a. Students MUST do outside research for their project: they must have at least three scholarly – NON Website – sources that address the MORAL issues and debates of their topic from a philosophical perspective. That is, three philosophical sources on top of what we discuss in class and on top of the factual sources the student will use for the paper. Encyclopedias and dictionaries DO NOT count as sources, but should be used as background information and for reference material.
b. Students will read these sources.
c. They will then prepare a bibliography that lists the author, source, date etc. of the material.
d. They will then annotate the material using the annotated bibliography cards available on Moodle. Annotations include:
i. Summary of the source, that pays particular attention to the CONCLUSION of and REASONS for the conclusion of the author.
ii. An analysis of the source: is it trustworthy, does it have any bias? Does the student agree or disagree with the source? Why or why not?
iii. A discussion of how the source will be used in your paper. (In other words, you should be writing the paper as you annotate the source!)
iv. At least 1/2 page single space for each source.
e. Annotated Bibliographies will include
i. The Bibliography
ii. The Annotations
iii. A Thesis Statement
iv. An outline of the paper.
f. Properly prepared annotated bibliographies are, in fact, rough drafts of the research paper broken into the different sources materials.
a. Students will select their topic and position on the topic from a drawing. NB: the position is for the debate only. The student may take any position s/he chooses for his/her paper.
b. Debates will occur toward the end of the semester.
c. Your research paper is preparation for your presentation.
d. Debates involve the following format
i. Five Minute Opening Statement from each side.
ii. Two minute rebuttal from each side
iii. Five minute question and response from each side.
iv. 10 minutes of questions from the rest of the class and other attendees.
e. Debates will be graded for
iv. Strength and Passion for Argument
3. Research Paper
a. Students will write a seven – ten (7 – 10) page research paper on their topic.
b. All research papers are argumentative papers. That means the student MUST take a stand on the moral issue and defend it in the paper. Papers that do not have a clear thesis statement in the introduction will receive 50 points (out of 200) on the paper.
i. This does not mean the paper is a rant or just the student’s opinion. The student must develop a well-argued position using appropriate philosophical argumentation and recourses, supported by established facts. Keith Oberman or Bill O’Reilly type hyperbole will not be tolerated.
c. Students will submit at least a seven (7) page POLISHED draft of the paper for comments. This draft is worth 20% of your final grade – make sure it is well done.
d. Students will then rewrite their paper cognizant of the comments by the professor. Papers that do not make substantive changes based on the comments from the professor will do poorly on their papers.
e. Papers will be graded for
M 10: Syllabus/Introduction
Moral Reasoning 1- 30
W 12: Moral Reasoning 1- 30
F 14: Moral Reasoning 30-48
M 17: Moral Reasoning 48 - 71
W 19: Moral Reasoning 71 - 93
F 21: Moral Reasoning 93 - 117
M 24: Nichomachean Ethics Bk 1
W 26: Nichomachean Ethics Bk 2
F 28: Nichomachean Ethics Bk 3-6
Group Case Study 1 Due
M 31: Nichomachean Ethics Bk 7
W 2: Nichomachean Ethics Bk 8-9
F 4: Nichomachean Ethics Bk 10
M 7: Kant: Deontology
W 9: Kant: Deontology
F 11: Kant: Deontology
M 14: Bentham & Mill: Utilitarianism
W 16: Mill: Utilitarianism
F 18: Mill: Utilitarianism
M 21: Nietzsche’s Critique of Ethics
W 23: Nietzsche’s Critique of Ethics
F 25: Nietzsche’s Critique of Ethics
Group Case Study 2 Due
M 28: Contemporary Emotivism (reread Moral Reasoning 26 – 28)
W 2: Contemporary Intuitionism
F 4: Moral Motivation and Contemporary Ethics
M 7: Annotated Bibliographies
Due by Noon
W 9: Ash Wednesday: No Classes
F 11: Midterm Exam
M 14: -- F 18: Spring Break
M 21: Dependent Rational Animals 1-29
W 23: DRA 29—63
F 25: DRA 63 - 99
M 28: DRA 99 - 129
W 30: DRA 129 - 147
F 1: DRA: 147 - 167
M 4: First Polished Drafts of Research Papers Due by Noon
No Class: Practice Debates
W 6: Debate 1:
F 8: Debate 2:
M 11: Debate 3:
W 13: Debate 4:
F 15: Formation Symposium: No Classes
M 18: Debate 5:
W 20: -- M 25: Easter Break
W 27: Debate 6:
F 29: Debate 7:
M 2: Debate 8:
SATURDAY May 7: Graduation