Phil 330 F10: Schedule and Syllabus

Philosophy 330: Ethics
Fall 2010
CRN 4023    Thursday 6:00-8:50    Location: Serra Hall 314

Instructor Information 
    Dr. Ian M. Duckles
    Office: Founders Hall 168A
              Office Hours: Thursday 5:00-6:00 or by appointment

Course Objectives
Students should be able to:
  1. Describe the main tenets of the major ethical theories (Utilitarianism, Kantianism, etc.) in essay form.
  2. Identify specific moral problems and apply these theories to them.
  3. Identify the ethical principles that are important for their own activities, and examine those principles in light of the views encountered in the course
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.

Assignments: Your grade in the course will be based on your performance on three types of assignments:
  1. Weekly Journal Entries: Each week a two-page journal entry reflecting on the past weeks readings and discussions will be due. More information on this assignment will be announced in class. These journals will collectively be worth 10% of your grade.
  2. Essay: There will be a final essay (4-6 pages) due on the last day of class. It will be worth 20% of your grade. More information on this assignment will be announced in class.
  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 50% of your grade in the course.
  4. Final Exam: The final exam will be comprehensive, and count for 20%


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
September 2: Introduction, Aquinas, “The Natural Law”; Hume, “Morality is Based on Sentiment”; Shaw, “Ethical Relativism”; Mill, “Utilitarianism” (pp. 27-44).

Week 2
September 9: Kant, “The Categorical Imperative”; Aristotle, “Happiness and Virtue"; Rawls, “A Theory of Justice”; Grimshaw, “The Idea of a Female Ethic” (pp. 44-73).

Week 3
September 16: Rawls, "A Theory of Justice"; Grimshaw, "The Idea of a Female Ethic." FIRST MIDTERM ASSIGNED (Take-home exam)

Week 4
September 23: Drugs and Addiction Introduction; Mill, "On Liberty" PDF Download.

Week 5
September 28: 

September 30: Dworkin, "Paternalism" PDF DownloadSzasz, "The Ethics of Addiction" (pp. 281-288)

For next week, write a journal in which you consider why we have the drug laws in the US that we do. What purpose or goal is the law trying to achieve? Do the laws we have actually achieve those goals? Also, please obtain a copy of the CA Voter Information Guide for the November 2, 2010 election. These are readily available in a variety of locations and online at We will focus on the material for Proposition 19.

Week 6
October 7: USDEA, "Speaking Out Against Drug Legalization" (pp. 289-298) PDF Download
Shapiro, "Addiction and Drug Policy" (pp. 298-304)

For next week, write a journal in which you explore the arguments  and rebuttals in the CA Voter Guide for and against Proposition 19. In particular, pay attention to the factual claims about the Proposition made by each side. Are these claims true? Does the argument misrepresent something in the Proposition? What is your opinion about this Proposition? The voter guide can be obtained at the link above. 

Week 7
October 14: 
Capital Punishment, an Introduction; US Supreme Court, Gregg v. Georgia (pp. 200-209), Kant, "The Retributive Theory of Punishment (pp. 210-212) SECOND MIDTERM ASSIGNED (Take-home exam)

Week 8

October 21: Continue Death Penalty, watch film in class, The Thin Blue Line.

Week 9
October 26: 

October 28: Ernest van den Haag, "The Ultimate Punishment (pp. 212-217), Jeffrey H. Reiman, "Justice, Civilization, and the Death Penalty" (pp. 218-228)

Week 10
November 4: 
Ethics of Food and US Food Policy. Watch Film in Class Food Inc. Introduction of Paper Topic.

For next week, pick a topic we haven't discussed in class and explore the morality of that topic using one of the philosophers we have studied in class.

Week 11
November 11: 
Ethics of Food and US Food Policy. Lecture on Corn

Week 12
November 18: Introduction to Homosexuality and Same Sex Marriage; Vatican Statement on Sexual Ethics (PDFNussbaum, "Gay Rights" (pp. 242-248). Selection of Paper Topic Due in Class


Week 14
December 2: 
Jordan, "Is It Wrong to Discriminate on the Basis of Homosexuality?" (pp. 248-257); Rauch, "Who Need Marriage?" (pp. 257-266). Three copies of Rough Draft Due in Class for Peer Editing

Week 15
December 9: Homosexuality and SSM Continued. 
Final Paper Due 

The remaining content will be determined in class by students.

The Final Exam is due Thursday, December 16 at 10:00 PM via email.

Academic Integrity and Conduct: Plagiarism, cheating and poor student conduct will not be tolerated. Students are expected to familiarize themselves with the USD Integrity Policy. This can be found at

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities: Students with disabilities who may need accommodations in this class are encouraged to notify the instructor and Disability Services. Information can be found at