Approved by Faculty Senate

University Studies Course Approval:

 Department Program: Philosophy Department

Course Number: 130

Number of Credits: 3

Course Title: Moral Problems

Catalog Description:

130 - Moral Problems - 3 S.H.

A practical course in ethics, involving concrete issues and their impact on the individual, society, and social policy. Topics may include: Abortion, euthanasia, sexuality and sexual morality, feminism, welfare, capital punishment, pornography and censorship, animal rights, world hunger, war and terrorism. Offered each year.

This is an existing course that has previously been approved by A2C2.

 

Department Contact Person for this course: Kevin Possin

 

Email: kpossin@winona.edu

 

The proposed course is designed to satisfy the requirements in:

 

Unity and Diversity—Contemporary Citizenship

 

 

 

MORAL PROBLEMS

PHIL 130

University Studies—Contemporary Citizenship

 

 

The purpose of the Contemporary Citizenship requirement in University Studies is to provide students with the ability to participate as effective citizens in a democratic, multicultural, and global society. Courses in this area will focus on developing the skills and knowledge base to enhance students' ability to make effective decisions, pursue personal well-being, work collaboratively with others, and/or participate effectively in professional or civic responsibilities....

Moral Problems is dedicated to the development of ethical reasoning skills that enhance the student's ability to participate intelligently as a public-minded citizen in a democratic society and to effectively assess social policy, make ethical decisions, and perform civic responsibilities.

Topics may include: Abortion, euthanasia, sexuality and sexual morality, feminism, welfare, capital punishment, pornography and censorship, animal rights, world hunger, war and terrorism.

 

 

a. use critical thinking to analyze contemporary issues;

This course is dedicated to developing ethical reasoning skills and critical thinking skills that are particularly employed in addressing ethical questions arising in daily life and life in a democracy. Issues addressed may include: Abortion, euthanasia, sexuality and sexual morality, feminism, welfare, capital punishment, pornography and censorship, animal rights, world hunger, war and terrorism.

 

 

b. demonstrate effective oral and/or written communication of ideas, informed opinions, and/or values;

There are a maximum of 5 short papers on assigned questions or topics. These papers must be keyed in.

These writing assignments are designed to assess the students’ understanding of the course content and to develop critical thinking skills at identifying, constructing, and evaluating ethical positions, arguments, and criticisms.

 

 

c. identify, find, and use tools of information science related to contemporary issues;

The writing requirement for this course involves the use of word processing. Emailing the instructor is encouraged.

 

 

d. demonstrate the ability to work effectively independently and/or in collaborative problem-solving groups;

Students' responsibilities and objectives:

For all of the issues studied in this course, Students are personally responsible for knowing all

1) positions,

2) arguments for positions,

3) criticisms of arguments, and

4) criticisms of positions,

 

discussed in class. Knowing all this is simply what it is to know one’s way around the topics and debates covered by this course. This will amount to a wealth of material, for the simple reason that issues in ethics are not as easy as they first appear. This knowledge will be demonstrated by means of writing assignments.

Students are also encouraged to find study partners.

 

 

e. identify principles and applications of personal, civic, and/or economic responsibility; understand personal responsibility for lifestyle choices;

The entire course is dedicated to these issues of figuring out one what ought or ought not to do, from an ethical point of view, and the project of ethically assessing social and political policies.

 

 

 

 

MORAL PROBLEMS

PHIL 130

Curriculum, Outcomes, Policies, and Requirements

University Studies—Contemporary Citizenship

 

 

Kevin Possin (please call me Kevin)

kpossin@winona.edu

Minne 324

457-5662

Office Hours: TBA.

 

 

Curriculum:

Two ways to study fundamental questions in ethics:

Ethical Theory: What makes any action right/wrong?

The study of the nature of right/wrong.

The study of ethical principles.

Applied Ethics: Which actions are right/wrong?

What specifically ought I to do/not do?

 

This is a course in Applied Ethics. We will not study ethical theories, subsuming particular cases under those theories/principles, to draw conclusions about what ought to be done in specific cases. Instead, we will use the method of argument from analogy. From such arguments we can then assemble what principles we need. [If you are interested in the study of ethical theories, please consider also taking PHIL 230 Moral Theory.]

[Introduction to Argument from Analogy—see also the Self-Defense manual.]

Topics: 1) Abortion

2) Pornography

3) Welfare

 

 

Means of evaluation:

There will be no in-class exams in this course. Exams are too artificial to test you on the knowledge and critical-thinking skills you should be developing in this course.

There will be a maximum of 5 short papers on assigned questions or topics. These papers must be typed. You will have about a week to do each one. We will have no official final exam; the final paper will be due at the time the final exam would have been given. I also reserve the right to give quizzes or homework, if I find that the class is not keeping up with reading assignments.

These writing assignments are to assess your understanding of the course content and to develop your skills at identifying, constructing, and evaluating ethical positions, arguments, and criticisms.

 

 

 

Students' responsibilities and objectives:

For all of the issues studied in this course, you are responsible for knowing all

1) positions,

2) arguments for positions,

3) criticisms of arguments, and

4) criticisms of positions,

discussed in class. Knowing all this is simply what it is to know your way around the topics and debates covered by this course. This will amount to a wealth of material, for the simple reason that issues in ethics are not as easy as they first appear.

Attendance is required: You are permitted 3 absences, more than which could affect your grade—1/3 of a grade drop per absence. So your strategy should be to use your absences wisely (viz., for times of illness or athletic events if you are on a WSU team). If you miss class, it is your responsibility to get someone's notes. The rationale for this attendance policy is that the course is simply too difficult to master without the aid of class lectures and discussions.

 

 

Suggestions for Success:

In light of the wealth of information and arguments covered in this course, I recommend the following:

1) Keep up with the readings. Read the assignments both before and after class discussions. The reading assignments will be short, but reading philosophy is different than reading any other subject; it's much more dense, efficient, and involved. So read the assignments multiple times.

2) Take good notes in class. If you have trouble taking notes, tape record the classes and review them.

3) Review your notes. If there is a gap in your notes, see me immediately.

4) Ask questions in class. There is no such thing as a dumb question. " Will you run that past me again?" is a perfectly good question. If you do happen to ask a stupid question, it is my job to make it sound profound, and I will gladly do this for you.

5) See me the minute you have trouble comprehending the material. Each class period builds on previous ones.

6) Don't go to secondary sources for help. See me instead. Secondary sources are very inefficient means of gaining access to the topics discussed in class. Look at it this way: if a secondary source were so good, it would have made our reading list.

7) Get a study partner for review of notes, discussions of topics, and strategizing on assigned papers. All I require with respect to working on papers together is that study partners do their final writing of the papers separately. Failure to do this is plagiarism and will receive an 'F' for both the paper and the course.

 

 

Texts:

Mappes and Zembaty, Social Ethics, 4th Edition

Moral Problems Required Course Supplement

Self-Defense: A Student Guide to Writing Position Papers

 

 

Reading assignment:

Roe v. Wade , Mappes and Zembaty, Social Ethics pp. 39-45.

 

 

 

 

All course activities and assignments simultaneously address all University Studies’ required course outcomes in Moral Problems 130, in the following ways:

 

 

The purpose of the Contemporary Citizenship requirement in University Studies is to provide students with the ability to participate as effective citizens in a democratic, multicultural, and global society. Courses in this area will focus on developing the skills and knowledge base to enhance students' ability to make effective decisions, pursue personal well-being, work collaboratively with others, and/or participate effectively in professional or civic responsibilities....

Moral Problems is dedicated to the development of ethical reasoning skills that enhance the student's ability to participate intelligently as a public-minded citizen in a democratic society and to effectively assess social policy, make ethical decisions, and perform civic responsibilities.

Topics may include: Abortion, euthanasia, sexuality and sexual morality, feminism, welfare, capital punishment, pornography and censorship, animal rights, world hunger, war and terrorism.

 

 

a. use critical thinking to analyze contemporary issues;

This course is dedicated to developing ethical reasoning skills and critical thinking skills that are particularly employed in addressing ethical questions arising in daily life and life in a democracy. Issues addressed may include: Abortion, euthanasia, sexuality and sexual morality, feminism, welfare, capital punishment, pornography and censorship, animal rights, world hunger, war and terrorism.

 

 

b. demonstrate effective oral and/or written communication of ideas, informed opinions, and/or values;

There are a maximum of 5 short papers on assigned questions or topics. These papers must be keyed in.

These writing assignments are designed to assess the students’ understanding of the course content and to develop critical thinking skills at identifying, constructing, and evaluating ethical positions, arguments, and criticisms.

 

 

c. identify, find, and use tools of information science related to contemporary issues;

The writing requirement for this course involves the use of word processing. Emailing the instructor is encouraged.

 

 

d. demonstrate the ability to work effectively independently and/or in collaborative problem-solving groups;

Students' responsibilities and objectives:

For all of the issues studied in this course, Students are personally responsible for knowing all

1) positions,

2) arguments for positions,

3) criticisms of arguments, and

4) criticisms of positions,

 

discussed in class. Knowing all this is simply what it is to know one’s way around the topics and debates covered by this course. This will amount to a wealth of material, for the simple reason that issues in ethics are not as easy as they first appear. This knowledge will be demonstrated by means of writing assignments.

Students are also encouraged to find study partners.

 

 

e. identify principles and applications of personal, civic, and/or economic responsibility; understand personal responsibility for lifestyle choices;

The entire course is dedicated to these issues of figuring out one what ought or ought not to do, from an ethical point of view, and the project of ethically assessing social and political policies.