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Phil 321: Social Ethics
Sect. 01

Spring Semester, 2014
7:45 AM - 9:05 AM
KIPJ217A

Schedule

Last updated on Thursday, March 27, 2014 6:05 AM

CMI = Contemporary Moral Issues, 4th Edition

Week

Date

Day

Topic/Assignments, etc.

Note:  All assignment are due on the day on which they are listed.

 

Introductory Matters

Week 1

Jan. 28

Tuesday

Introduction

Mentioned in Class

  • Andrew Solomon, Far from the Tree.  Excellent in depth study of families in which the children fall "far from the tree."  Chapters on childen with disabilities, children of rape, childen who kill, etc.  Solomon has a superb ability to listen and undersand those whom he is describing.
  • Steve Almond, "Is it immoral to watch the SuperBowl?" New York Times, Jan. 24, 2014.

 

Jan. 30

Thursday

Defining Moral Problems: Everyday Moral Reasoning; Overview of Moral Theories

Notebook imageJournal assignment: write a short essay (1-2 pages) in which you describe a contemporary moral issue that you think is the most 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? 

Reading icon Required reading: Hinman, "The Ethics of Consequences," eReserve

 

Overview of Moral Theory

Week 2

Feb. 4

Tuesday

Ethical Theory: Overview, Utilitarianism

Presentation icon Presentations

Reading iconRequired reading: Hinman, "The Ethics of Consequences," eReserve.

Journal iconJournal assignment: Note: three students will be asked to present their paper in class.    Be ready to volunteer!

Week

Feb. 6

Thursday

Analyzing an Argument

Video icon What, if anything, is wrong with wanting to have the perfect baby?  Michael Sandel, "The Case against Perfection," Chautauqua Institution (7-17-08).  We will be discussing this video in Week 4, but right now simply note Sandel's arguments and try to categorize them as utilitarian, deontological, or character-based arguments.

Reading iconRequired reading: Sandel, "What's Wrong with Perfection"  (See eReserve copy with my analysis.)

Week 3

 

Feb. 11

 

Tuesday

 

Ethical Theory: Rule-based approaches to morality

Presentation icon Presentations

Reading iconRequired reading: Hinman, "The Ethics of Duty." eReserve.

Journal iconJournal assignment: write a two-page essay in which you apply deontological moral theory to an ethical issue of your choice.  Be sure to state what version of deontology you are using.  Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of this approach.  Note: three students will be asked to present their paper in class.  Be ready to volunteer

Ethical Theory: Character-based approaches to morality

Presentation icon Presentations

Reading iconRequired reading: Hinman, "The Ethics of Character."  (eReserve)

Journal iconJournal assignment: write a two-page essay (typed, double-spaced) in which you apply character-based ethical approaches to the problem of world hunger.  Explain what the virtue theorist finds morally interesting.  Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of this approach.  Note: three students will be asked to present their paper in class.    Be ready to volunteer!

 

Part One.  Ethics of Life and Death

 

Cloning, Genetic Manupulation, Regenerative Medicine

Week 4

Feb. 13

Thursday

Designing Humans: Shaping Our Children through Genetic Manipulation

Reading iconRequired Reading:

  • 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." (on eReserve)  This replaces the introduction to the ethical issues in your textbook.
  • "Sandel, "Enhancement--with commentary."  (on eReserve); this provides you with a model of how to analyze a philosophical article.

The octuplets case

Case Studies: Liver Cancer, Down Syndrome

Video iconView "Embryo Screening", New York Times video

Journal iconView Down Syndrome, New York Times video

Reading iconRead: Amy Harmon, " Prenatal Test Puts Down Syndrome in Hard Focus." New York Times, May 9, 2007.

  • "Genetic Enhancement."  Religion & Ethics Newsweekly, August 17, 2007.  Bob Abernathy, host. includes interviews with Michael Sandel and Greg Stock.

Stock-Fukuyama debate

 Presentation icon Presentation

Video iconStock-Fukuyama Debate on-line in RealVideo and available in transcript from from the Cato Institute. This is an excellent resource.

Additional Resources

Week 4

Feb. 18

Thuesday

Stem Cell Ethics & Regenerative Medicine

Video iconVideos

Presentation iconPresentations:

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.
  • 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.
  • "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
  • Michael J. Sandel, "Embryo Ethics: The Moral Logic of Stem-Cell Research," NEJM 351;3 (www.nejm.org , July 15, 2004) (eReserve)
  • Shari Roan, "Infertility patients caught in the legal, moral and scientific embryo debate," Los Angeles Times, October 6, 2008.

Additional resources:

Video icon Videos

Journal iconJournal 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).

 

Gattaca

Week 5

Feb. 20

Thursday

Envisioning the Future: Gattaca

In the news:

Video icon Video: Gattaca

Timeline: Steps toward Gattace

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

Week 5

Feb. 25

Tuesday

Discussion: Gattaca

Presentation iconPresentation: Genetic Technologies

Eugenics

Presentation iconPresentation on Eugenics

In the News:

Week 5

Feb. 27

Thursday

Discussion of Gattaca

Week6

March 4

Tuesday

Review for mid-term exam

Week 6

March 6 Thursday

Mid-Term Exam

  • Turn in four journal entries for the first part of the semester. These must be printed out and turned in at the beginning of the exam period.

Possible long essay questions (to be posted at 12:30 PM, Thursday, March 4, 2014):

  • The movie Gattaca presents numerous ethical issues about the moral dimensions of reproductive technologies.  Write an essay in which you discuss these moral issues, bring into the discussion the relevant course materials (readings, videos, class lectures and discussions).   Don’t hesitate to dazzle me with your knowledge, insight, and argumentative skills.
  • What's wrong with enhancement?  Write an essay in which you develop and defend your answer to this question, showing a grasp of the relevant course materials (readings, videos, class lectures and discussions) and comparing and contrasting deontological and consequentialist approaches to this question.  Don’t hesitate to dazzle me with your knowledge, insight, and argumentative skills.

Material for short answer questions (may be changed slightly)

  • Readings
    • CMI, Chapter One and Introduction (Overview of Ethical Theories) 
    • Sandel, "Enhancement--with commentary."  (on eReserve);
  • Presentations
    • Overview of Ethical Theories
    • Utilitarianism
    • Rule-based Approaches
    • Genetic Technologies
    • Steps toward Gattaca
  • Videos
    • Embryo Screening (NYT)
    • Gattaca
  • Classes
    • Class lectures and discussions

Previous exam  (updated)

  March 11 Tuesday Spring Break
 

Abortion

Week 8

March 13

Thursday

Spring Break

Abortion

Reading iconRequired Reading: CMI, Chapter 2

Qualtrics survey Surveys

In the news:

Presentation icon Presentation: Abortion

 

Journal iconJournal 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?

Presentation icon Presentation: The Concept of Personhood

Return of mid-term exams; guidelines for grade appeals

Week 7 Marhc 18 Tuesday

 

Week 9

March 20

Thursday

Conclusion: Abortion & Contraception

In the news:


 

End-of-Life Decisions

Week 8

March 25

Tuesday

Euthanasia & End-of-Life

Video icon Moyers, "A Death of One's Own"

Presentation icon Presentation on End-of-Life Issues

Reading icon: Required Reading: CMI, Chapter Three

Recommended: reading

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

 

Week 9

March 27

Thursday

Euthanasia & End-of-Life

Video icon Moyers, "A Death of One's Own"

Presentation icon Presentation on End-of-Life Issues

Reading icon: Required Reading: CMI, Chapter Three

Recommended: reading

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

 

Week 9

April 1

Tuesday

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

Presentation icon Presentation on the Principle of Double Effect

Week 10

April 3

Thursday

Punishment and the Death Penalty: Sr. Helen Prejean

Video iconTalk by Sr. Helen Prejean on "Dead Man Walking"

Week 10

April 8

Tuesday

 

 

Punishment & the Death Penalty

Week 11

April 10

Thursday

Punishment

Reading iconRead:

Video icon Video:

WWW iconSome useful staistics:

Presentation icon Presentation on Capital Punishment

Video icon Watch first half of "Dead Man Walking"

Week 11

April 15

Tuesday

Capital Punishment

Video iconVideo: Dead Man Walking

California Death Penalty

In the news:

Journal iconJournal entry on issues in punishment or capital punishment.

 

Week 12

April 17

Thursday

No Class: Holy Thursday

Just War

Visit to Hoehn Family Gallery: "Goya's Disasters of War; A Legacy in Print"

Just War Theory; Humanitarian Intervention; Torture

Presentation icon Presentation

Reading icon Required Reading:

  • CMI, Chapter on war
  • Hinman, eReserve overview on just war theory

Jus post Bellum: Justice and Reconciliation

Video icon 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.

Week 12

April 22

Tuesday Continuation: War
 

Torture

Week 13

April 24

Thursday

Torture

Humanitarian Intervention; Torture

Presentation icon Presentations

Additional Resources:

The Geneva Conventions

Video icon Video on the ethics of torture

  • "Torture and the War on Terror."  Case Western Reserve University. Note: the papers from this conference are available on eReserve for our course in the folder "Torture."
    • Moderator: Professor Robert Lawry, Case School of Law; Director, Center for Professional Ethics, Case
    • "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

Week 13

April 29

Tuesday

Thanksgiving Vacation--no class

Week 14

May 1

Thursday

Video iconVideo: Saving Private Ryan (justice in war)

Torture

Presentation icon Presentations

Video icon Video on the ethics of torture

  • "Torture and the War on Terror."  Case Western Reserve University. Note: the papers from this conference are available on eReserve for our course in the folder "Torture."
    • Moderator: Professor Robert Lawry, Case School of Law; Director, Center for Professional Ethics, Case
    • "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

Week 14

May 6

Tuesday

Privacy and Surveillance

Reading iconRead:

  • Hinman, "CyberEthics: An Introduction to the Moral Issues"
  • "Esse est indicato in Google: Ethical and Political Issues in Search Engines," IRIE, International Review of Information Ethics, Vol. 3 (6/2005), 19-25 (eReserve)
  • Hinman, "Searching Ethics."  Web Searching: Interdisciplinary Perspectives.
 

Ethics in CyberSpace

Week 15

May 8

Thursday

Privacy and Surveillance

Journal iconJournal entry on any of the issues discussed in class relating to ethics in the virtual world.

Week 15

May 13

Tuesday

Last day of class -- concluding comments, individual conferences

Possible material for short-answer questions:

Contemporary Moral Issues:

  • CMI, Chapter 2: Abortion
    • An Introduction to the Moral Issues
  • CMI, Chapter 3: Euthanasia
    • An Introduction to the Moral Issues
  • CMI, Chapter 4: Punishment and the Death Penalty
    • An Introduction to the Moral Issues
  • CMI, Chapter 5: War
    • An Introduction to the Moral Issues
    • Nancy Sherman, "Solders' Moral Wounds"

PowerPoints: (only portions presented in class)

  • Abortion
  • Ethics and Personhood
  • Euthanasia
  • Principle of Double Effect
  • Punishment
  • Capital Punishment
  • Just War Theory

 Videos

  • Moyers, “A Death of One’s Own”
  • “Dead Man Walking”
  • "Saving Private Ryan"

Other:

  • Oregon Death-with-Dignity Reports

Possible Long-Essay Questions:

  • [to be posted immediately after last class meeting].
 

Final Exam

 

May 20

Tuesday

Final Exam  -  please bring a BLACK PEN!

  • 8:00-10:00 AM

Journals: Please turn in three journals on any of the topics/readings in the second half of the semester.