Phil 102B F16: Schedule and Syllabus

Please Note the New Date for Exam 1

Please Note the New Date for Exam 2

Philosophy 102B: Introduction to Philosophy: Values

Fall 2016

CRN 62699 MW 9:35-11:00 Location: SB-212

Instructor Information  

Dr. Ian M. Duckles
Office Hours: MW 12:30-2:00, TTH 10:00-11:00
Office: SB 311-H
Phone: 619-388-2294

Course DescriptionThis course provides an introductory study of the aims, methods, types and problems of philosophy focusing on values and their place in an individual's daily life. Materials for this survey may be drawn from classical and contemporary thinkers. Students are encouraged to articulate, analyze, and evaluate their own beliefs/positions in the context of meaningful philosophical inquiry regarding value theory. This course is for anyone interested in the origin and justification of values and their application to everyday life.Associate Degree Credit & transfer to CSU. CSU General Education. IGETC. UC Transfer Course List. 

Course Objective
This course will introduce you to some of the major ethical theories and apply these theories to a host of contemporary problems chosen by the class.

Student Learning OutcomesStudents who complete PHIL 102B will be able to:

  1. Critical Thinking: Think critically in reading, writing, and/or speaking about the aims, methods, types, and problems of philosophy and philosophical inquiry at an introductory level, with a focus on values and their place in an individual’s life, thereby identifying problems, theses, arguments, evidence and conclusions;
  2. Communication: Write or speak about the aims, methods, types, and problems of philosophy and philosophical inquiry at an introductory level, with a focus on values and their place in an individual’s life, thereby addressing problems, formulating theses, making arguments, analyzing and weighing evidence, and deriving conclusions;
  3. Self-awareness and Interpersonal Skills: Demonstrate an ability to analyze one’s own beliefs/positions in the context of meaningful philosophical inquiry regarding value theory;
  4. Global Awareness: Articulate similarities and contrasts among cultures, times, and environments, demonstrating an understanding of cultural pluralism.

Textbooks: There is one text required for this class:

  • Exploring Ethics: An Introductory Anthology, 3rd edition. Steven M. Cahn ed. Oxford University Press, 2014
    ISBN: 9780199946587
Reading assignments can be found on the schedule.

Schedule: (topics and important dates included): Homework will be due daily and assignments will be announced in class. Do not be concerned if we fall ahead or behind on this schedule. The most important goal is that everyone understand the concepts and problems. This schedule is subject to change. All changes will be announced in class and posted on the course website. In order to make the course accurately reflect student interests and concerns, the material for the later part of the course will be selected by students. All readings come from Exploring Ethics.

Week 1: Introduction

Monday, August 22: Introduction, What is Philosophy

Wednesday, August 24: Chapter 1, "Morality and Moral Philosophy" (pp. 2-5); Chapter 4, "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" (pp. 27-43)

Week 2: Challenges to Morality

August 29: Chapter 5, "How Not to Answer Moral Questions" (pp. 45-49); Chapter 6, "God and Morality"

August 31: Chapter 7, "The Challenge of Cultural Relativism" (pp. 54-66); Chapter 9, "Egoism and Moral Skepticism" (pp. 71-82)
Homework Due: In Chapter 6, the following dilemma is raised, "Are actions right because God says they are right, or does God say actions are right because they are right?" Briefly explain how Socrates answers this dilemma. 

Week 3

September 5: NO CLASS!! Labor Day

September 7: Chapter 10, "Happiness and Immorality"
Homework Due: What is the difference between psychological and ethical egoism? What are some of the major problems with psychological egoism? 

Week 4

September 12: Continue Discussions
Homework Due: How does Rachels respond to ethical egoism?

September 14: Continue Discussions
Homework Due:
Look at the two lives described on pages 88-89. Which life would you choose? Why?

Week 5: Exam

September 19: Review for Exam

September 21: FIRST EXAM

Week 6: Moral Theories

September 26: Chapter 12, "The Categorical Imperative" (pp. 98-109)

September 28: Chapter 14, "Utilitarianism" (pp. 114-125)

Week 7: Moral Theories

October 3: Chapter 16, "The Nature of Virtue" (pp. 135-140)

October 5: Extra Day

Week 8: Moral Theories

October 10: Chapter 18, "The Ethics of Care" (pp. 144-149); Chapter 19, "The Social Contract" (pp. 150-157)
Homework Due: Come up with an American virtue along the lines described by Aristotle. Be sure to articulate the function of an American and then define your virtue in relation to that function. Also, be sure to specify a vice of excess and a vice of deficiency. 

October 12: Chapter 20, "A Theory of Justice" (pp. 158-163)
Homework Due: What do you think of Hobbes' claim that without a government to enforce laws human life would be "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short"? 

Week 9: Moral Theories

October 17: Watch Film in Class

October 19: Continue Film and Discuss

Week 10: Exam

October 24: Review for Exam

October 26: Second Exam

Week 11: Food Inc.

October 31: Watch Film in Class Food Inc., Introduction of Paper Topic

November 2: Continue Film, discuss paper writing.  

Week 12: Capital Punishment

November 7: Read "The Morality of Capital Punishment" by Berns (pp. 311-315)

November 9: Read "The Death Penalty as a Symbolic Issue" by Nathanson (pp. 316-323)
Homework Due: Bring a copy of your Thesis Statement to class. 

Week 13: Capital Punishment

November 14: Watch Film in Class, The Thin Blue Line

November 16: Continue and discuss film.

Week 14: Thanksgiving

November 21: NO CLASS!! Thanksgiving

November 23: NO CLASS!! Thanksgiving

Week 15: Death and the Meaning of Life

November 28: Read Nagel, "Death" (pp. 435-443)

November 30: TBD, Bring two copies of a draft of your paper to class for in-class peer-editing. 

Week 16: Death and the Meaning of Life

December 5: Read Taylor, "The Meaning of Life" (pp. 446-456)

December 7: Read Wolf, "Meaning in Life" and Vitrano, "Meaningful Lives" (pp. 457-464), Final Paper Due

Week 17: Finals

December 12:  Review for Final

December 14: Final Exam

Assignments: Your grade in the course will be based on your performance on the following assignments:

  • 20% Exam 1
  • 20% Exam 2
  • 20% Final Exam
  • 10% Final Paper: This due the penultimate day of class. Though only worth 10% of your grade in the course, failure to complete this assignment or the associated pre-writing will result in an F in the course. More information on this assignment will be provided later.
  • 10% Homework and In-Class Exercises: These are due at the start of the class for which it is assigned. Late assignments will not be accepted.
  • 20% Pop Quizzes: These will be given at the start of class and will cover the previous classes material. They cannot be made-up if missed, but I will drop the lowest quiz score.

Grade Scale:

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

Student Responsibility to Drop/Withdraw
: It is the student’s responsibility to officially add, drop, or withdraw from the course stated in the class schedule. Failure to do so can result in a failing grade.

Attendance: During the first two weeks of class, students will be dropped for any absence. Starting during the third week, students may be dropped for missing two classes. In addition, students who arrive unreasonably late or leave unreasonably early will be marked absent.

Professionalism: It is assumed that students will conduct themselves in a professional manner with a positive attitude. An open mind is one of the most important tools required for success in academia. If a student is negative and feels as is there is nothing of value to be gained by the college experience or this course, he or she will not do well in this course.

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.

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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 and all the readings. The homework will be collected every time, and spot-checked, and the readings will help you understand the course material.
  3. Be prepared to spend time outside of class working on class material, doing readings, homework, preparing for quizzes and exams, etc.
  4. Ask questions if you don't understand something.
  5. 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!