Spring 2013
01/14/2013 - 05/12/2013

Course Information

Section 006
M 19:30 - 22:10
RVSG 8100
Atietie Tonwe

Office Hours

  • M W
    Riverside Campus
    10:25A.M - 10:55A.M
    1:25P.M. - 1:55P.M.
    6:15P.M. - 7:15P.M (Mondays Only)

Course Requirements

Course Description:

Students will be introduced to the principles of morality through a critical examination of  various ethical theories and their application to contemporary moral problems.


Required Text

Boss, Judith A., Analyzing Moral Issues, 6th Edition, McGraw-Hill 2013 [ISBN:978-0-07-803844-0]

            In addition to the above textbook, some readings may be available online or handed out in class.

Course Subjects

Course Schedule


Readings and Activities:


Mon, 14 Jan


Welcome; Going Over Course Syllabus



Meet and Get Acquainted: Who am I? Why am here? Here: Which here? Here here?  As in why am I here in this class? In this world? In this body? Or, as in what I am running from or toward? Etc.

Mon, 28 Jan(No Class on Mon, 21 Jan: MLK Day)

Moral Philosophy: Is there a right way to live?

What is the good life? Is happiness the chief goal of life? Or, is the good life getting what you want? Maybe none of the Above? If none, then is there a right way to live? If there is, can we know it?




Mon, 04 Feb

  pp. 1-15 Understanding Moral Philosophy  (Relativism in Ethics: [pp.1–11]; Moving Beyond Ethical Relativism [pp. 11–15])

What is moral philosophy? What is the purpose of moral theories? Why rely on theories when there is religion?



Supplemental material: the sophists versus Socrates (in-class reading of Euthyphro)

Mon, 11 Feb


Supplemental Material: the Epicureans; the Stoics; the Skeptics; St. Augustine


pp. 18 – 41 Universal Moral Theories

A Survey (Supplemental Material)

Mon, 18 Feb

 pp. 18 – 41  Universal Moral Theories

A Survey (Supplemental Material)



The Big Picture: Connecting the Dots; Key Terms

Mon, 25 Feb

 pp. 42-47, Aristotle, from Nicomachean Ethics


In-Class Reading and Discussion: Analyzing and Assessing Virtue Ethics




Mon, 04 Mar

   pp. 47-49, Ayn Rand, from The Fountainhead              

In-Class Reading and Discussion: Analyzing and Assessing Ethical Egoism


   pp. 50-51, Jeremy Bentham, from An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation; pp. 52-54, John Stuart Mill, from Utilitarianism             

In-Class Reading and Discussion: Analyzing and Assessing Utilitarianism

Mon, 18 Mar Feb (No Classes Week of Mon, March 11 thru Sat 16: Spring Break)

  pp. 54-59, Immanuel Kant, from Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysic of Ethics

 In-Class Reading and Discussion: Analyzing and Assessing Deontology (Ethics of Duty)




Mon, 25 Mar

Immanuel Kant (continues)

Lecture (Kant, Hume, and Utilitarians); The Big Picture: Connecting the Dots










Mon, 01 Apr

Thomas Hobbes’s Leviathan (handout); John Rawls, from A Theory of Justice; pp. 62 -64 John Locke, from Two Treatises of Civil Government

(First Half of Class) Analyzing and Assessing Social Contract Theories




Mon, 08 Apr

Hobbes, Rawls, and Locke continue

Readings and Discussions of Social Contract Theories continue


Moral Issues

A Survey and Introduction to Underlying Assumptions and Concepts

Mon, 15 Apr


Student Presentation; Student Debate; Class Discussion



Student Presentations; Student Debate; Class Discussion

Mon, 22 Apr

Drug and Alcohol Use; War and Terrorism

Student Presentations; Student Debate; Class Discussion




Mon,  29 Apr


 The Big Picture: Connecting the Dots; Review for Final Exam




Mon, 06 May

Final Exam (Comprehensive)

Covers Material for the Entire Course; Same Time, Same Room

Student Learning Outcomes/Learning Objectives

Philosophy 2306 is an introductory course. As such it does not require the student to have prior familiarity with the subject matter of philosophy. However, many of the concepts and issues that the course systematically and critically explores are drawn from everyday life. If you have ever thought long and hard about a pending choice, because you wanted to do the right thing but were not quite sure what criteria to use or that your criteria were adequate, then you will find much that we seek to clarify and better understand in this course to be familiar and relevant. But the course material includes more than concepts and issues involved in moral dilemmas. We live in society. Therefore, we have different kinds of relationships. With these relationships come responsibilities and expectations. So, we may sometimes question their worthiness or fairness – even if they are self-imposed. Philosophers have grappled with such questions for the past 2500 years. And this course will introduce you to some of those questions, including major issues that have come out of that tradition. We will cover such topics as the nature of knowledge, the objectivity or relativity of truth, human nature, the nature of self, including ethical theories. But, our emphasis and focus always will be, first, to use our deepened and critical grasp of these concepts and moral theories to inform our understanding of moral and political value, including contemporary moral problems; and, second, to critically evaluate our own and today’s prevalent values and the kinds of commitments and relationships that they sustain – whether in the home, in the place of learning, in the workplace, in the political space, or in that inner space where we experience and relate to self.







Course Objectives:

1.      After completion of PHIL 2306, students will be able to demonstrate improvement in critical thinking skills.

2.      After completion of PHIL 2306, students will be able to demonstrate improvement in their understanding of the major approaches to ethics and their application to contemporary moral problems in society. 






Your grade will be based on your class attendance record; your performance on 5 pop quizzes; 1 term paper and a comprehensive final exam (final exam covers material for the entire course) for a combined total score of 110points.


Total Possible Score:

45 points: Final Exam

25 points: Pop Quizzes: 5 pop quizzes @ 5 points each (quizzes may come as one or a combination of the following formats: short essays, multiple-choice or fill-in-the-blank).

10 points: Term Paper

26 points Attendance: 2 points per class meeting except for the first day (Jan. 14) and last day of class (May 06, Final Exam.), for a total of 13 class meetings.

4 points: 2 optional extra-credit activities at 2 points each.

Total Possible Score: 110 points

Note: You should bring a scantron form 882-E and sharpened #2 pencils to class every day we meet.




1. Failure to submit a term paper will be penalized by a drop of one letter grade. (In other words, if your total score added up to the grade of a “B,” you would be awarded a “C” for the course – one letter grade lower for not submitting a term paper. 2. A term paper of fewer than 5-pages will be scored out of drastically reduced points calculated to reflect the number of pages by which it falls short and the effect that, that has on the overall quality and completeness of the paper. 3. See course calendar below for important dates. Scheduled dates on the calendar may, however, be changed at the discretion of the instructor. 4. Note: quizzes, final exam, and other assignments may cover handouts and assigned readings not discussed in class.  5. Your final grade is based on a point scale of 100. The extra 10 points in the total possible score for the course is meant to mitigate any detrimental effect the “No Make-Up” policy stated in this syllabus could have on your grade. 6. Because a major objective of this course is to improve student critical thinking and understanding of its subject matter, the instructor may consider other factors such as steady and demonstrable improvements in both student critical thinking and performance on tests and writing assignments in determining the student’s final grade. 7. Finally, because class participation is to this course what a physical exercise regimen is to the development of a muscle, chronic class absences are bound to adversely affect student learning in this course; therefore, a student's attendance record will be considered in assigning his or her final grade for the course. Missing 6 class meetings will automatically result in the student's grade being dropped by one letter grade.  Missing over 6 class meetings is grounds for being dropped from the course by the instructor or for forfeiting any chance of passing the course.  On the other hand, very solid, near-perfect attendance record may improve a student's chances for earning a higher grade in the course.



 Except as already stated or implied, students’ final grade will be determined as follows:


90 points and above: A

80 – 89  ------B

70 – 79  ------C

60  – 69  ------D

59 points or lower: F



Because class discussion is a critical part of this course, students are strongly encouraged to attend all class meetings.Pop quizzes will be designed with the aim to both enhance and assess students’ real-time classroom experience and understanding of concepts and issues being discussed. Hence, there are no make-ups for quizzes, as that will defeat their stated purpose.




A grade of F indicates serious and extensive errors in the understanding of the material.


A grade of D indicates many errors or serious omissions in understanding. Work shows poor organization or focus. The ambiguity in written and oral expression forces one to guess at the meaning.



A grade of C indicates accurate understanding of the material with some focus, structure, and little ambiguity.


A grade of B indicates that the standards for C are met, and that the work is well organized, thoughts are clearly and accurately presented, understanding of the material is precise, and there is no ambiguity.


A grade of A  indicates that the conditions for B are met, and the work shows an understanding of the material sufficient to allow the student to raise new questions, generate new insights, or propose new approaches.  The work uses good examples and the ideas are expressed with originality of thought and expression.


More on Participation and Attendance

Lecture: Class discussion is doing philosophy. And, giving you ample opportunity to do philosophy is a critical way this course aims to achieve its stated Learning Outcomes. Of course, you will read the textbooks and other assigned readings for the course and learn from them on your own. You may even come up with interesting ideas of your own to some of the questions we consider in this course, such as: What is the meaning of life? Is there a right way to live? What is the nature of the good life? What values should guide the conduct of my life?  Do I have any responsibilities to myself? to others? to society? to the earth? If so, what are they? Or, is it all just a jungle out there and a dog eat dog world? These, clearly, are questions of universal significance – questions that every rational human being asks sooner or later. And just as significant is the fact that the answers / conclusions we reach become integrated into our “philosophy” of life – notions / ideas that we have adopted as reflecting the way the world really is and hardly ever question. Who we are and how we live our life is in no small measure the result of our understanding of ourselves, of our world, and of our place in it. We form ideas and the ideas we form in turn form us. Ideas matter! Yet, some ideas are more developed than others. This course emphasizes doing philosophy because, by participating in class discussions, you will not only improve your critical thinking skills and deepen your understanding of the topic of discussion, but also you will have opportunity to test the strength of some of your long-held ideas and the values they sustain.And it is for these and other benefits to be derived from participating in class discussions that you are strongly encouraged and expected to attend all class meetings.


Participation in discussion:Please participate in class discussion. Your ideas matter. You are not expected to have thought out their every detail before you may contribute them to class discussion. Sometimes those ideas you're least sure of turn out to be catching and end up stimulating the discussion. Even then, make a practice of critically thinking of what you're about to say. This will ensure that your contribution is likely to be worthwhile and relevant, and helps the dialogue along. As with evaluating your own ideas so also with reading the assigned materials. You are expected to do more than just look over them before you come to class. Often you will have to read the text two or three times before you are able to have a good idea of what its thesis, its main claim, is. Only then will you be able to appreciate and critically evaluate the arguments presented to support it. Yet, without a favorable environment for effective dialogue, all preparation is to naught. The free and open give and take of doing philosophy requires mutual respect. Please be respectful in class.