Approved by Faculty Senate

University Studies Course Approval:

Revised 1-22-01

 

Department Program: Philosophy Department

Course Number: 230

Number of Credits: 3

Course Title: Moral Theory

Catalog Description:

230 - Moral Theory -3 S.H.

A study of major ethical theories, concepts, and issues; for instance, Kantianism, utilitarianism, ethical relativism, concepts of justice, human rights, moral responsibility, and free will. Offered each year.

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

 

Department Contact Person for this course: Don Scheid

 

Email: descheid@winona.edu

 

Arts & Sciences Core—Humanities

 

 

 

MORAL THEORY

PHIL 230

University Studies—Humanities

 

 

 

 

The purpose of the humanities requirements in the University Studies program is to provide a framework for understanding the nature and scope of human experience. Humanities courses explore the search for meaning and value in human life by examining its expression in cultural forms and texts, literature and the arts.

Moral Theory (230) is a course that explores various philosophical theories about moral values, standards of right and wrong, human nature and the virtues.

 

 

"a. identify and understand specific elements and assumptions of a particular Humanities discipline;..."

The main purpose of this course is to teach students the main elements and assumptions of moral reasoning and moral theory, moral philosophy being a standard humanities discipline.

The course investigates typical value commitments, such as the intrinsic value of pleasure or happiness (hedonism). It investigates various standard moral principles and ideas, including versions of utilitarianism, Kant's moral theory, principles of distributive justice, notions of moral desert, the concept of moral rights (incl. human rights), etc.

Underlying assumptions of moral thought are considered, in particular, free will and responsibility, and the proper scope of moral consideration (e.g. should animals count?).

 

 

"b. understand how historical context, cultural values, and gender influence perceptions and interpretations; ..."

In this class, some attention is given to the historical context in which various philosophers work, as well as feminist and multicultural perspectives. Cultural relativism and moral relativism are taken up in more detail.

 

 

"c. understand the role of critical analysis (e.g., aesthetic, historical, literary, philosophical, rhetorical) in interpreting and evaluating expressions of human experience."

A major focus of the course is on critical analysis of moral reasoning and moral theory. The course takes up the logic of moral reasoning and argumentation and considers the degree to which moral reasoning can or cannot be objective.

 

 

 

Curriculum, Outcomes, Policies, and Requirements

University Studies—Humanities

Syllabus

MORAL THEORY

(Philosophy 230)

Fall Semester 1999

 

Prof. Scheid 11:00-12:20 p.m.; T, Th

Office: 323 Minn� Hall Minn� Hall 110

Phone: 457-5455

 

This course can be taken to count for a University Studies course under the category of "Humanities."

 

 

Textbook and Materials

> John Hospers, Human Conduct, 3rd ed. (New York: Harcourt Brace) 1996.

> James P. Sterba (ed.) Ethics: Classical Western Texts in Feminist and Multicultural Perspectives (New York: Oxford Univ. Press) 2000.

> Additional handout materials will be provided throughout the course (no cost!).

 

 

Course Routine

This is a reading/lecture/discussion type of course. Readings and other assignments will be given on a class-by-class basis.

You are expected to do the readings for each class assignment. Do not skim or speed-read. In many cases, you may have to re-read portions at least a couple of times. Always bring the assigned text or reading to class each day.

 

Quizzes

Brief quizzes may be given in this course on assigned readings and/or material recently covered in class. These may be announced quizzes or "pop" (surprise) quizzes. All quizzes are graded "summarily," that is, they receive only "A," "C" or "F."

 

 

Homework

Written (typewritten) homework exercises will average about one assignment per week. These assignments will usually be limited to two typewritten pages. More detailed instructions will be given on the assignment sheet for each homework assignment.

The homework will be graded summarily (A, C or F). A good-faith effort on homework exercises will normally receive an "A." A "good-faith effort" means, among other things, that the work is neat, complete, and in good English (i.e., grammar, spelling and punctuation are correct). Poor English is not acceptable. Homework written in poor English will receive a "C" or an "F".

Late homework will not be accepted; it is automatically recorded as an "F." However, one homework assignment (the lowest grade) will be dropped automatically at the end of the course.

 

 

Examinations

Three regular, in-class examinations are required for this course. Exams will cover assigned readings, lectures, and in-class discussions. A brief summary of topics and materials to review for each exam will be given in class. The final exam (Exam #3) will be cumulative, but with emphasis on material covered after the previous exam.

Any student who misses an examination must arrange for a make-up exam as soon as possible. It is the student's responsibility to see about arrangements for any make-up. Make-up exams will be arranged only for students who have documented, excused absences for the day of the original exam. Make-up exams may be written or oral, at the professor's discretion. Written make-up exams usually include essay questions.

 

 

Course Grade

The final grade for the course will be determined approximately as follows.

All Homework and Quizzes: 25%

Exam #1: 20%

Exam #2: 20%

Exam #3: 35%

 

In addition, as a minimum requirement (necessary condition) for passing the course, the student must pass at least two of the three examinations.

 

 

Manners and Decorum

Obviously, talking and other disturbances are not acceptable in class. Other things I find distracting and/or rude include blowing bubble gum, snapping gum, clipping fingernails, snapping pens, and crinkling food bags and candy wrappers.

 

 

Cheating

Discussing homework assignments is OK, so long as the final piece of homework is completely the product of the person who turns it in for credit. All work submitted must be the work of each individual student alone. Submission of a written assignment by a student shall be understood to carry the student's certification that the work was done by that student alone.

Each student is expected to do his/her own work and only his/her own work on all examinations. In accordance with the policy of the Philosophy Department, the best any student can get out of this course for cheating is an "F."

 

 

General Suggestions

Students having difficulty writing good English should seek assistance from the Writing Center, located in Minn� Hall 340. Student tutors are available there to help you with your writing problems.

 

 

The three basic requirements for doing well in almost any college course, including this one, are: regular attendance, on-time completion of all reading and writing assignments, and good note taking in class. Incredibly, the vast majority of students who do poorly do so, not from lack of intelligence or because of some learning disability, but simply because they fail to perform one or more of these basic requirements. Therefore, to get the most out of this course, my advice is:

 

Attend class regularly!

Do all reading and writing assignments!

Take good notes!

 

Statement on University Studies Courses

"University Studies" courses are normally intended to serve either of two main purposes: (i) to develop students' basic skills (such as critical thinking, writing, or math skills); (ii) to broaden students' intellectual horizons, introducing students to new subjects and helping students explore new disciplines. In neither case are University Studies courses necessarily easy.

You should not expect this course to be easy simply because it is listed as a University Studies course. This course is of about average difficulty for a 200-level (i.e., sophomore-level) college course.

The general guidelines for "humanities" designation under the University Studies program are as follows:

Humanities

The purpose of the humanities requirements in the University Studies program is to provide a framework for understanding the nature and scope of human experience. Humanities courses explore the search for meaning and value in human life by examining its expression in cultural forms and texts, literature and the arts. ....

These courses should promote students' abilities to:

(a) identify and understand specific elements and assumptions of a particular Humanities discipline;...

(b) understand how historical context, cultural values, and gender influence perceptions and interpretations; ...

(c) understand the role of critical analysis (e.g., aesthetic, historical, literary, philosophical, rhetorical) in interpreting and evaluating expressions of human experience.

It is intended that these objectives (a, b, and c) are to be achieved more or less simultaneously throughout this course in the following manner:

(a) The main purpose of this course is to teach students the main elements and assumptions of moral reasoning and moral theory, moral philosophy being a standard humanities discipline.

The course investigates typical value commitments, such as the intrinsic value of pleasure or happiness (hedonism). It investigates various standard moral principles and ideas, including versions of utilitarianism, Kant's moral theory, principles of distributive justice, notions of moral desert, the concept of moral rights (incl. human rights), etc.

Underlying assumptions of moral thought are considered, in particular, free will and responsibility, and the proper scope of moral consideration (e.g. should animals count?).

 

(b) In this class, some attention is given to the historical context in which various philosophers work, as well as feminist and multicultural perspectives. Cultural relativism and moral relativism are taken up in more detail.

 

(c) A major focus of the course is on critical analysis of moral reasoning and moral theory. The course takes up the logic of moral reasoning and argumentation and considers the degree to which moral reasoning can or cannot be objective.