Phil 102B S11: Schedule and Syllabus

Philosophy 102B: Introduction to Philosophy: Values

Spring 2011

CRN 05402 TTH 5:00-6:20 PM Location: H-104

Instructor Information  

Dr. Ian M. Duckles
Office Hours: By Appointment

Course Objectives: My goal in this course is to briefly introduce you to some of the major, western ethical theories, and then explore in some detail how these ethical theories apply to contemporary problems that confront us as human beings and as citizens of the world. My hope is that this will lead you to see the importance and relevance of ethical inquiry, and the ways in which such inquiry helps you to lead an authentic and meaningful human existence.

Methodology: In an effort to make the class more effectively reflect your own interests, much of the course will be designed by the students. After the introductory material is covered in the first few weeks, students will then vote on which topics they want to read about and discuss next. Our text has eight topics from which to choose. 

Texts: There is only one text for the class, and all readings are from it. The text is:

Contemporary Moral Problems, 9th edition. James E. White ed. Thomson-Wadsworth, 2009. 
Reading assignments can be found on the schedule. You can also use the 8
th edition of the text. Special accommodations for users of the 8th edition will be presented in class.

Assignments: Your grade in the course will be based on your performance on three types of assignments:

  1. Weekly Quizzes: Almost every week there will be a quiz at the beginning of class on the material we covered the previous week. These quizzes will collectively be worth 20% of your grade. These quizzes cannot be made up if missed.
  2. Class Participation: This is worth 10% of your grade and is based on attendance and participation in class activities. Student who are very tardy or who leave early will be considered absent.
  3. Exams: In addition to the first midterm, there will be an exam for each unit covered in class. Each exam will count the same for a total of 40% of your grade in the course.
  4. Final Exam: The final exam will be comprehensive, and count for 20%
  5. Final Project: All students will complete a final project during the last few weeks of the course. Though this project is only worth 10% of your grade, failure to complete the project will result in an F in the course. More details about the project will be announced in class and on this site at a later date.  

Grade Scale:

    ≥ 90 = A
    ≥ 80 = B
    ≥ 70 = C
    ≥ 60 = D
    < 60 = F

Academic Integrity and Conduct: Mesa College students are bound by the Student Code of Conduct, Policy 3100.  In this course, cheating, plagiarism, disruptions of instructional activity, fraud and/or lying will result in, at a minimum, a grade of “F” for the assignment/test with no make up permitted.  Any of these infractions may result in an “F” for the course as well and formal disciplinary action by the Dean of Student Affairs as described in the code (as published in the catalog or online).

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities: Students with disabilities who may need accommodations in this class are encouraged to notify the instructor and DSPS. DSPS can be found at or they can be contacted by phone at 619-388-2780.


All readings can be found in Contemporary Moral Problems 9th edition. James E. White ed. Thomson-Wadsworth, 2009. Page numbers refer to this edition. Reading assignments are subject to change and are expected to be completed for the day on which they are assigned.

Week 1: Introduction

Tuesday, January 25: Introduction
Thursday, January 27: Aquinas, "The Natural Law" (pp. 29-30)

Week 2: Introduction

February 1: Hume, "Morality is Based on Sentiment" (pp. 31-34)
February 3: Mill, "Utilitarianism" (pp. 38-44)

Week 3: Introduction

February 8: Extra Day
February 10: Kant, "The Categorical Imperative" (pp. 47-52)

Week 4: Introduction

February 15: Aristotle, "Happiness and Virtue" (pp. 53-61)
February 17: 
Extra Day

Week 5: Introduction

February 22: Review
February 24: 

Week 6: Gay Rights and Same-Sex Marriage

March 1: Introduction
March 3: Vatican Statement on Sexual Ethics (PDF)

Week 7: Gay Rights and Same-Sex Marriage

March 8: Nussbaum, "Gay Rights" (pp. 242-248)
March 10: Jordan, "Is It Wrong to Discriminate on the Basis of Homosexuality?" (pp. 248-257)

Week 8: Gay Rights and Same-Sex Marriage

March 15: Rauch, "Who Needs Marriage?" (pp. 257-266)
March 17: Extra Day

Week 9: Gay Rights and Same-Sex Marriage

March 22: Extra Day
March 24: Extra Day

Week 10: Gay Rights and Same-Sex Marriage

March 29: Review for Exam

Week 11: Abortion

April 5: Introduction to Abortion
April 7: Supreme Court, Roe v. Wade (pp. 89-97)

Week 12: Abortion

April 12: Noonan, "An Almost Absolute Value in History" (pp. 98-103)
April 14: Warren, "On the Moral and Legal Status of Abortion" (pp. 117-123; skip Section I)

Week 13: Spring Break!!

April 19: NO CLASS
April 21: NO CLASS

Week 14: Food Ethics (Essay)

April 26: Introduction of essay Prompt, Watch Film in Class Food Inc.
April 28: Discussion of Food Ethics

Week 15: Abortion

May 3: Thomson, "A Defense of Abortion" (pp. 103-112)
May 5: Marquis, "An Argument that Abortion is Wrong" (pp. 131-141)

Week 16: Abortion

May 10: Extra Day
May 12: In-Class Peer Editing (Bring two copies of your rough draft to class)

Week 17: Abortion

May 17: Review for Final
May 19: 
FINAL EXAM (Final Paper Due)

TEN TIPS FOR SUCCESS IN THIS COURSE (Thanks to Professor June Yang):

  1. Be optimistic about your ability to learn from the textbook, the instructor, and each other.
  2. Do all homework. It will be collected every time, and spot-checked.
  3. Do all assigned reading.
  4. If you find you fall behind in your understanding, contact the instructor.
  5. Be prepared to spend at least two hours per hour spent in class in order to master this material. If you do not, you probably will not receive a grade of C or better.
  6. Have confidence in your ability to do the work.
  7. Use all resources at your disposal.
  8. Remember that you are gifted with more education and intelligence than many persons on this planet. If you try, you are sure to get it, or at least most of it!
  9. Remember that we are all here to learn.
  10. Remember that you are being trained, or acquiring a skill. Studying, like anything else, is a craft, i.e. an activity. No one is born a good student; we must all transform ourselves into excellent students.