Safely file this document for the duration of this semester. The philosophical study of ethics relates to a systematic assessment of how we ought to act. This course will introduce the student to some key concepts of ethical theory and how to apply these concepts for normative decisions in everyday life. Our target is to evaluate one's perceptions, beliefs, desires, and fears; and to find a key for understanding our participation in life. Rights, justice, fairness, but also authenticity, personhood, and a sense of humanity—these are real issues for each person to reflect upon, in an on-going process of character building, and in appreciation of what it means to be a human being. The course does not provide ready-made answers for ethical queries, but it enhances one's capacity for informed judgment on value related decision-making. Since the systematic assessment of ethical values is challenging to your worldviews, it is necessary to attend all classes and it is your responsibility to be informed about classroom activities. Four major ethical theories will be addressed in the lectures: virtue ethics, deontological ethics, utilitarian ethics, and existentialism. Their applied relevance is demonstrated in focus-group debates and is subject for class discussions. Cell phones must be turned off during session. No computers. [Satisfies GE category C 3: Philosophy and Values.]
Key for regular semester courses
First Exam 15%, Second Exam 20%, Final Exam 20%, Panel Presentation 15%, Panel Evaluation 15%, Participation and Relevant Contributions to in-class Activities 15%, from a total of 400 pts.
The Moral of the Story by Nina ROSENSTAND, McGraw-Hill 2009.
The final grade is based on the six performance aspects listed above under "key".
First, Second, and Final Exams
For the most part there will be a short essay from a selection of topics, plus a section of picky multiple choice questions over readings and lectures; questions will relate to historical events, to concepts, and to key terminology.
Each student will be assigned to join a panel group for exploring a selected topic. The group has one hour presentation/discussion time. Each panel will receive specific guidelines and instructions on how to research a given topic. Present a philosophically sound report (10 minutes). The group will then lead a discussion with the class. The discussion will focus on applied dimensions of the project. Prior to your presentation (no extension!) you will submit a typed summary (250 words) in narrative format, clearly specifying what it is that the class should have learned from you, and why this is relevant. Primary target is the application of ethical theory for every-day-life situations.
Follow the topical instructions announced in class, discuss your reasons for ranking the panels, and demonstrate the topical relevance of the panels you have ranked as the two best (exclude your own panel). Format: 3 pages, double-spaced and typed in 12 pt. Times font, 1-inch margins on all four sides, stapled, no cover page or folder or clear cover. The assignment must be well written, showing a high degree of English proficiency and analytical skills. If you were absent on a panel day it is your responsibility to acquire information from your classmates about the topics covered and the presentation skills of the panelists. There are no extensions to the posted due date. Any delay will result in a deduction of 5 pts per calendar day. Helpful information is at http://www.sonoma.edu/programs/writingcenter.
You will receive up to 30 points for attendance and up to 30 points for active participation. Two absences are free, all additional absences will result in a deduction of 3 points per session.
There are no make-ups for any of the exams, except in very severe cases of emergency. In such a case, a message must be left in my office or by voice mail within 48 hours after the due date. No message -- no make-up. There are no extra credit assignments.
It is helpful to schedule approximately 4 hours of active studying per week outside the classroom to receive a CR or a C grade. For every grade step add two additional hours per week.
Grade requirements and description of grades
F failure 199 pts. and below, or with proven plagiarism.
D barely passing 200 pts.
C average 250 pts. Indicates adequate fulfillment of requirements, and average, but not notable work.
B very good 310 pts. Is earned by fulfilling the course requirement with more than adequate scholarship.
A- outstanding 350 pts.
A outstanding 375 pts., To earn an A or A-, the student must demonstrate outstanding scholarship above and beyond fulfilling all the course requirements.
CR same as grade C- (230 pts.) or better.
W Withdrawal prior to the posted deadline.
I Incomplete. Only in exceptional cases. Has to be removed within one calendar year.
Reading assignments must be completed before the class period on which day they are listed. Be patient with your reading skills. Continuous practice of reading will improve both your ability to focus your thoughts as well as strengthen your reading performance.
At the conclusion of this course, the student will have:
1. conducted an overview of the major ethical theories from Socrates to Rawls, and become acquainted with some great figures of Western ethical theory.
2. learned the basic concepts of the ethical lexicon and demonstrated familiarity with the main topics of this field.
3. improved communication skills and research ability in philosophy.
4. reflected upon the meaning of life, vitality of nature, and everyday personal questions about life, love, happiness, justice, success, and death.
5. achieved a higher appreciation for the vastness and complexity of philosophical issues, and developed the necessary intellectual honesty and modesty when dealing with these issues. with these issues.
Note: (1) Students with disabilities must communicate all requests
for special accommodations during the first three days of class. (2) All exams
can be reviewed throughout
one calendar year and will be recycled thereafter. (3) Preferred contact is
office visit, then phone message, lastly by e-mail <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
(4) Please visit the following hyperlinks for SSU policy information: Grade
Appeal Procedures Policy, Cheating
and Plagiarism Policy, Campus
Diversity Vision Statement.