Phil. 321, Sect. 1 & 2

Course Schedule
Fall Semester, 2010
Lawrence M. Hinman, Ph.D.

Dates subject to revision   Back to Syllabus

Sept. 2

Thursday

Introduction

7

Tuesday

Defining Moral Problems: Everyday Moral Reasoning

  • journal guidelines
  • In-class writing assignment: write a short essay in which you describe a contemporary moral issue that you think is genuinely difficult to decide.  Indicate the pro's and con's and explain why you think it is difficult to decide.  What would help to resolve the issue? Writing time: 15 minutes.  Followed by in-class discussion.

9

Thursday

Ethical Theory: Overview, Utilitarianism

  • in class writing assignment: write a brief paragraph in which you describe your own position on a specific moral issue about which you have a definite position.  Begin the essay with, "I think that [x] is morally [right/wrong] because..." and then give three reasons for your position.  Writing time: 5 minutes. 
  • Background reading: Hinman, "The Ethics of Consequences," eReserve.

14

Tuesday

Ethical Theory: Rule-based approaches to morality

16 Thursday

Ethical Theory: Character-based approaches to morality

First Journal Assignment: Write an essay discussing the various major approaches in ethical theory and your own position in this regard.

 

 

Cloning, Genetic Manupulation, Regenerative Medicine

     

21

Tuesday

Shaping Our Children through Genetic Manipulation

  • Read CMI, Chapter One

The octuplets case

Case Studies: Liver Cancer, Down Syndrome

Stock-Fukuyama debate

Additional Resources

Stem Cell Ethics & Regenerative Medicine

Video

PowerPoint presentations:

Recommended on eReserve (password "phil321" without the quotation marks):

  • "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.
  • Katrina Clark, "My Father Was an Anonymous Sperm Donor" Washington Post. December 17, 2006.
  • Peggy Orenstein, "In Vitro We Trust" New York Times. July 20, 2008.

Additional resources:

Second Journal Assignment: Genetic testing has made it increasingly possible to test for genetic traits extremely early in a pregnancy. In some cases the results of these tests may result in abortion, in non-implantation of embryos, or in modification of embryos. What general principles should be used in deciding (a) when such tests can be performed and (b) what actions may be taken as a result of such tests. (2 pages, double-spaced).

23

Thursday

Class cancelled due to illness.

Genetic Enhancement and Designer Babies

In the news:

28

Tuesday

Video: Gattaca

Genetic Enhancement and Cloning (continued)

 

30

Thursday

Gattaca (concl.) Ethics in the news:

Third Journal Assignment: Essay discussing ethical issues in "Gattaca."

Audio of class discussion on Gattaca.


Oct. 5

Tuesday

Class Lecture on Genetic Technologies

PowerPont: Genetic Technologies

In the News:

7 Thursday No class

March 12

Tuesday

Continuation of Genetic Technologies

Eugenics

14

Thursday

Mid-Term Exam

Possible long essay questions: (I will choose one of these for the mid-term exam.):

  • 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 screening and present your own position on this issue.  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.

Previous exam

Journals:.

  • three journal entries, covering topics in ethical theory, genetic technologies and Gattaca.
19 Tuesday

Abortion

PowerPoint

Audio of class lecture

Fourth Journal Assignment: Write an essay discussing your views on the moral status of the embryo. Is it a person? Why, why not? When? How does your view relate to the authors we are considering?

21 Thursday

Abortion, Part II

Return of mid-term exams; guidelines for grade appeals

Stem Cell Research

PowerPoint

Videos

Web Resources

Recommended on eReserve:

Fifth Journal Entry: Ethics of stem cell research

26

Tuesday

Euthanasia & End-of-Life

Read CMI, Chapter Three

Recommended: reading

Fifth Journal Assignment: Write an essay in which you discuss the issues raised by the Moyers' video "A Death of One's Own."

28

Thursday

Euthanasia & End-of-Life (Moyers, conclusion)

Nov. 2

Tuesday

 

4

Thursday

Punishment and the Death Penalty

PowerPoint on Punishment

Read:

  • CMI, Chapter on Punishment
  • Atul Gawande, "Hellhole," New Yorker, March 30, 2009.

9

Tuesday

 

11

Thursday

 

16

Tuesday

Capital Punishment

 

 

18

Tuesday

 

20 Thursday

Capital Punishment

California Death Penalty

Journal entry on issues in punishment or capital punishment.

23 Tuesday

 

25

Thursday

Thanksgiving Vacation

30

Tuesday

Capital Punishment

California Death Penalty

Journal entry on issues in punishment or capital punishment.

Dec. 2

Thursday

Just War

Just War Theory; Humanitarian Intervention; Torture

Read: CMI, Chapter on war

Jus post Bellum: Justice and Reconciliation

Bill Moyers Video with Mark Danner and Bruce Fein (not: this link takes you to the first of the five segments for this on-line video. Links to the remaining four parts are given on the page for part one.

7

Tuesday

Humanitarian Intervention; Torture

PowerPoints

ICRC Report on the Treatment of Fourteen "High Value Detainees" in CIA Custody

Mark Danner, The Red Cross Torture Report: What It Means, New York Review of Books, 56, 7 (April 30, 2009)

Mark Danner, "US Torture: Voices from th Black Sites," New York Review of Books, 56, 6 (April 9, 2009).

New York Times guide to the Torture Memos

Office of Legal Counsel Legal Memoranda (April 19, 2009)

"In Adopting Harsh Tactics, No Look at the Past," NYT, April 22, 2009.

US Senate Final Report on Detainees in U.S. Custody Released April 21, 2009.

Timeline. Senate Intelligence committee. Released April 22, 2009. Washington Post summary. April 23, 2009; Post article.

Thomas Friedman, "A Tortorous Compromise"

 

9

Thursday

Last day of class -- concluding comments

14

Tuesday

Additional office hours: to be posted.

Information for the final exam

Short answer questions will cover:

  • CMI: readings on abortion, end-of-life, punishment & death penalty, war and terrorism
  • eReserve: Gawande, "Letting Go," David Sussman, "What's Wrong with Torture?"
  • PowerPoints: abortion, stem cell research, end-of-life, punishment, death penalty, just war theory, torture
  • Videos: Moyers "A Death of One's Own," Dead Man Walking; Sr. Helen Prejean, Lecture on Dead Man Walking.

Possible long answer questions:

  • Drawing on the course readings, lectures, and other related materials, write an essay in which you critically assess the morality of the decisions made in each of the three cases (Kitty, Jim, and Ricky) presented in Moyers’ “A Death of One’s Own.”

  • Drawing on the course readings, lectures, and other related materials, write an essay in which you critically assess the ethical issues that are presented in “Dead Man Walking.”

Four Journals due on any four of the following topics:

  • abortion
  • stem cell research
  • Punishment and the Death Penalty
  • Dead Man Walking
  • Bill Moyers' video: "A Death of One's Own"
  • Euthanasia readings
  • Punishment/death penalty readings
  • Just war theory/torture
16 Thursday

Final Exam.

  • Section #2: 8:00-10:00 AM
21 Tuesday

Final Exam.

  • Section #1: 8:00-10:00 AM