Phil 321:
Social Ethics
(Goes to the Movies)

Fall Semester, Mondays, 2011

Last updated on Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Schedule

Sept. 12

Monday

Introduction. Social Ethics. Ethical Theory: Overview

  • Schedule
  • Course requirements
  • Journals
  • Classroom conduct

Ethical Theories

  • Utilitarianism
  • Rule-based theories
  • Character-based theories

Readings:

Trivia: Who likes the beach?

Journal #1:

  • Discuss the three main approaches to ethical theory and describe your own position in relation to each of these.

Sept. 19

Monday

Topic #1: Cloning and Reproductive Technologies, Part One

  • Read CMI, Chapter One
  • "Making Laws about Making Babies," New York Times, Sept. 13, 2011. (also on eReserve)
  • Hinman, "Chapter 01.  Reproductive Technology.  An Introduction to the Moral Issues." (emailed to you and on eReserve)  This replaces the introduction to the ethical issues in your textbook.
  • "Sandel, Enhancement--with commentary."  (emailed to you and on eReserve)

Video

PowerPoint presentations:

Case Studies: PGI for Cancer Gene; Down Syndrome

Resources:

Recommended on eReserve:

  • "Girl or Boy? As Fertility Technology Advances, So Does an Ethical Debate." Grady, D.
  • "There is No Me Without You." Shapiro, D.
  • "Wanting Babies Like Themselves, Some Parents Choose Genetic Defects." Sanghavi, D.M.
  • "Can Science Resolve the Ethical Impasse in Stem Cell Research?" Snyder, E.Y., Hinman, L.M. and Kalichman, M.W. Nature Biotech
  • Stem Cell Reviews: Volume 1, Number 4
  • President's Council on Bioethics

Journal #2:

  • Describe your position on the morality of the use of PGD to use genetic selection prior to implanting embryos.

Sept. 26

Monday

Cloning and Reproductive Technologies, Part Two

Gattica

Recommended:

  • Gerard Mannion, "Genetics and the Ethics of Community."  Heythrop Journal, 2006.  (eReserve)

Journal #3:

  • Write an essay in which you discuss the ethical issues arising in "Gattica," relating them to our course readings and discussions.

 

October 3

Monday

Topic #2: End-of-Life Issues, Part One

Read CMI, Chapter Three

Recommended: reading

Journal #5: End-of-Life Decisions

  • Write an essay, showing an awareness of our course readings, in which you discuss what a "good death" would be for those you love.

 

October 10

 

Mid-Term Exam

Short Answer questions will cover:

  • Hinman, "Chapter 01.  Reproductive Technology.  An Introduction to the Moral Issues." (emailed to you and on eReserve)  This replaces the introduction to the ethical issues in your textbook.
  • Sandel, "What's Wrong with Enhancement--with commentary."  (emailed to you and on eReserve)
  • Hinman, "End-of-Life Decisions" (PDF--on eReserve and emailed to you)
  • Hinman, "Mstters of Life and Death," sections on "killing and letting die" and "principle of double effect."
  • Sandel, "What's Wrong with Enhancement?"
  • Rachels, "Acrtive and Passive Euthanasia"
  • Gawande, "Letting Go" (eReserve)
  • "Embryo Screening", New York Times video
  • Gattaca
  • Gawande video on end-of-life decisions
  • PowerPoints:
    • Ethical Theory: Overview
    • The Ethics of Genetic Manipulation
    • Euthanasia/End-of-Life Decisions

Long Essay Question . Click here for grading rubric for the long essay..  Here are the two possible questions:

  • Consequentialist and deontological approaches to moral questions sometimes yield quite different answers. Write an essay, showing a critical awareness of the class readings and lectures and discussions, in which you discuss the relative strengths and weaknesses of both deontological and consequentialist approaches to the question of genetic enhancement. Be sure to include a discussion of the relevant course materials.
  • Write an essay critically applying the ideas in your readings and other course materials to the movie "Gattaca." In your discussion, be sure to state and defend your own position on the issues discussed and to highlight the difference between consequentialist and deontological approaches to these issues.

 

October 17

Monday

Topic #2: End-of-Life Issues, Part Two

Return of Mid-Term Exam

Euthanasia

  • Bill Moyers, "A Death of One's Own" (Note: This video is available at the Reserve Desk at Copley Library as a two-hour reserve, listed under Professor Elston's Sociology 101.)
  • Notes on Moyers video

Journal #6: Moyers, "A Death of One's Own"

  • Write an essay in which you discuss the ways in which the ethical concepts discussed in this section of the course are illustrated in Bill Moyers' video, "A Death of One's Own."

October 24

Monday

Topic #3: Punishment & the Death Penalty, Part One

Read: CMI, Chapter Four

PowerPoint Presentations

Resources

Journal #6: Punishment & the Death Penalty

  • Write an essay on the morality of the use of the death penalty in the United Sates.

Journal #6: Punishment & the Death Penalty

  • Write an essay on the morality of the use of the death penalty in the United States.

October 31

Monday

In the news:

Topic #3: Punishment & the Death Penalty, Part Two

Video:

Some useful staistics:

Journal #6: Punishment & the Death Penalty

  • Write an essay on the moral issues raised by the movie Dead Man Walking.

Nov. 7

Monday

Sr. Prejean talk at USD

  • Note: You may attend this lecture and write a 2 page response paper as a substitute for one of your journal entries.

Jesuit Volunteer Corps presentation (5 minutes)

Discussino: Dead Man Walking and the Ethics of Capital Punishment

Conclusion: Ethics of Capital Punishment

eReserve:

  • Liptak, "Does Death Penalty Save Lives?" NYT, November 18, 2007
  • Sunstein, "Is Capital Punishment Morally Required?" Stanford Law Review, 2006
  • John Paul Stevens, "Our Broken System of Criminal Justice," New York Review of Books, November 10, 2011
  • Richard A. Serrano, "Finding Forgiveness on Death Row," LAT, October 21, 2011.
  • Liptak, "Overriding the Jury in Capital Cases," NYT, July 11, 2011.
  • Richard A. Oppel, Jr., "Tough Sentences Help Prosecutors Push for Plea Bargains," NYT, September 25, 2011.
  • Andrew Cohen, "The Death Penalty. Why We Fight for Equal Justice," The Atlantic, September 21, 2011.

Mark Kleiman, "When Brute Force Fails"  C-SPAN, Octobr 23, 2009

Topic #4: War, Part One

Lecture: Just War Theory

Nov. 14

Monday

Topic #4: War, Part One

Lecture: Just War Theory

Lectures: Virtue Ethics

Nov. 21

Monday

Topic #4: War, Part Two
Movie: Glory

Nov. 28

Monday

Just War Theory; Torture

  • PowerPoint: Torture
  • Video: "Torture and the War on Terror."  Case Western Reserve University.
    • Moderator: Professor Robert Lawry, Case School of Law; Director, Center for Professional Ethics, Case Western
    • "Defining Torture" – Professor David Sussman, University of Illinois
    • "Exceptionalism: Torture American Style"– Professor Henry Shue, Oxford University
    • "Torture: Morality and Convention" – Professor Jeff McMahan, Rutgers University
    • Notes on Sussman, Shue an McMahan

 

Dec. 5

Monday

Topic #5: World Hunger

Dec. 12 Monday Topic #6 (conclusion)

Dec. 19

2:00-4:00 PM

Monday

Final Exam

Possible long-essay questions:

  • It is often difficult to draw the line between passive and active euthanasia. Write an essay in which you present your position on (a) where the line should be drawn and (b) which of these are morally acceptable. To illustrate your points, use the Moyers' video, "A Death of One's Own," and be sure to refer to the course readings and other relevant material.
  • Imagine that you have been asked by the current governor to be part of a panel that will make recommendations to him about whether California should eliminate the death penalty. At the first meeting, each participant is supposed to present his or her initial recommendations. Write an essay in which you present your position on the continuation of the death penalty in California. Be sure to include a critical consideration of the materials on this topic in the course on social ethics that you took as an undergraduate at USD.

Possible short answer question material:

    • PowerPoints
      • Punishment
      • Death Penalty
      • Just War Theory
      • Torture
      • World Hunger
      • Virtue Ethics
    • Videos
    • Readings
      • Gelernter, "What do murders deserve?"
      • Reiman, "Against the Death Penalty"
      • Dershowitz, "Is there a tortuous road to justice?"
      • Walzer, "The Argument about Humanitarian Interventio"

Turn in Three Journals at the beginning of the exam on any of the following topics:

  • Moyers' video "A Death of One's Own"
  • Punishment
  • Death Penalty
  • Sr. Prejean talk at USD
  • Dead Man Walking.
  • Glory
  • Just War Theory
  • Torture
  • World Hunger