Philosophy 240

Fall 2002

Prof. L. Purdy

MacMillan 316



Objectives: to develop skill in reasoning and to consider some contemporary moral problems. A crucial skill will be the ability to evaluate arguments and positions (such that criticism is not taken as a personal attack!). Subsidiary goals are to present material well, think on your feet, and the willingness to critically evaluate your own and others= positions on moral issues.




James R. Rachels, The Elements of Moral Philosophy, 4th edition (EMP)

Anthony Weston, A Practical Companion to Ethics, 2nd edition (PCE)

Anthony Weston, A Rulebook for Arguments, 3rd edition (RA)

James Sterba, Morality in Practice, 6th edition (MP)

*copies on reserve

e: emailed items




Short paper 5%

Quizzes 15%

Midterm 20%

Class participation 10%

Papers & reports 10/10%

Final 30% (Dec. 18, 2-5p m)



Attendence: Expected! Both you and other class members will benefit from attendence as our time will be taken up with critical discussion of readings and issues; ethics is something you learn to do, not just something you learn about. More than 2 unexcused absences will begin to impinge on your grade.



Grading: Emphasis is on understanding issues and quality of argumentation. Excellence requires grasp of both issues and methods covered in reading assignments and class discussions. In particular, you will be expected to understand and take account of critiques of readings provided in class. Class time is limited and we cannot discuss all reading assignments, but you will be expected to have read and understand them.

It is expected that assignments will be ready and handed in on time. The final is comprehensive. Unless you have an extraordinarily good reason, points will be deducted for late work.


Honor Code: adherence to the Honor Code is expected. It seems particularly egregious to cheat in an ethics course. (See Calvin and Hobbes on my door!) You will be expected to follow the guidelines set out in the University of Ottawa plagiarism pamphlet (link on my webpage).




8/29 Introduction

9/3 Doing Ethics EMP, 1; PCE, 1,2;

9/5 Disagreement in ethics EMP, 2-3; e:Warrick

9/10 Constructive disagreement PCE, 3-5

9/12 Reason & argument RA, 1,4; *Levin

9/17 More R & A RA, 10, Appendix

9/19 Religion & ethics EMP, 4

9/24 R&E cont.;

9/26 Egoism EMP, 5,6

10/1 Utilitarianism EMP, 7,8;

10/3 *Donner

10/8 Kant EMP, 9, 10

10/10 Contractarianism EMP, 11; *Held

10/15 October Break

10/17 Review

10/24 Midterm exam

10/29 Bibliographic session with Frankie Anderson in library

10/31 Animals MP, pp.469-73; 61, 63; rec: 65;*Kant,*Walker

11/5 Vegetarianism debate MP, 62: *Adams, *Narveson, e: Weis/Pace

11/7 Contraception *Pope Paul,*Cohen

11/12 Bodily control & feminism MP, 25, 27, *Warren,e: Pollitt

11/14 Euthanasia/PAS *Euthanasia packet

11/19 Euthanasia debate

11/21 Abortion MP, 13-16

11/26 Abortion debate

11/28 Thanksgiving

12/3 War and Iraq debate MP, section 13; e articles

12/5 Punishment debate MP, section 12: Intro, 69,72,74,75

12/10 Pornography debate MP, section 7

12/18 Final Exam, 2-5pm




We=ll divide the class into groups to work on Adebates,@ and each member of each group

will write a short (1250-1750 words, 5-7 pp.) on your topic (due a week after the

discussion, to be handed in at that class). You will argue for the position that seems to

you, on balance, to be strongest (regardless of what you argued for in class). Further

instructions will be provided. I=ve left some time available for topics we jointly choose

during the semester. (As examples, last year we looked at terrorism, female genital

cutting, and cloning. At least one of these optional topics will be used for another

debate.) BTW, I=m using the word Adebate@ for lack of a better one: what I really mean

is a thorough mutual exploration of the topic. Not envisioned is the kind of Awin-at-all-

costs@ approach that rewards rhetoric at the expense of sound argumentation.