Phil 102B S17: Schedule and Syllabus

Philosophy 102B: Introduction to Philosophy: Values

Spring 2017

CRN 04657 MW 12:45-2:10 Location: SB-212

Instructor Information  

Dr. Ian M. Duckles
Office Hours: MWF 8:30-9:30, 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.

Course 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.

Requisites and Advisories: Advisory: ENGL 101 with a grade of "C" or better, or equivalent or Assessment Skill Level R6/W6; or ENGL 105 with a grade of "C" or better, or equivalent or Assessment Skill Level R6/W6.

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. Students should check the course website (this one) regularly. All readings come from Exploring Ethics.

Week 1: Introduction

Monday, January 30: Introduction, What is Philosophy

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

Week 2: Challenges to Morality

February 6: Chapter 5, "How Not to Answer Moral Questions" (pp. 45-49); Chapter 6, "God and Morality"
Homework Due: Write no more than one page answering the following questions: 
In your opinion, is there such a thing as an unjust law? Why or why not? If you do think that there can be unjust laws, what makes them unjust? 

February 8: Chapter 7, "The Challenge of Cultural Relativism" (pp. 54-66); Chapter 9, "Egoism and Moral Skepticism" (pp. 71-82)
Homework Due: In Chapter 6, what is the Euthyphro Dilemma? How is this dilemma resolved? 

Week 3: Challenges to Morality

February 13: Chapter 10, "Happiness and Immorality"
Homework Due: Write about a page responding to the following questions: What do you think of the story of Gyges. Do you think that if we could be freed from the consequences of immoral action that we would have no reason to be moral? What would you do if you had the Ring of Gyges?


Week 4: Challenges to Morality

February 20: NO CLASS!!

February 22: Continue Discussions
Homework Due: How does Rachels respond to the ethical egoist?

Week 5: Exam

February 27: Review for Exam


Week 6: Moral Theories

March 6: Chapter 12, "The Categorical Imperative" (pp. 98-109)

March 8: Chapter 14, "Utilitarianism" (pp. 114-125)
Homework Due: What does Kant mean when he writes, "Act in such a way that you always treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person if any other, never simply as a means but always at the same time as an end." 

Week 7: Moral Theories

March 13: Chapter 16, "The Nature of Virtue" (pp. 135-140)
Homework Due: From Chapter 15 in the text, articulate one problem with Utilitarianism. How might a utilitarian respond to this problem? 

March 15: Continue Discussions

Week 8: Moral Theories

March 20: 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. To do this you first need to think about what the function of an American citizen is. That is, what is the characteristic activity of an American, what is the thing that defines and differentiates Americans from everyone else in the world? Then identify a virtue (a quality or characteristic that allows one to carry out this function to the highest degree), the emotion or appetite that virtue is concerned with, and the vices of excess (too much of that emotion or appetite) and deficiency (not enough of that emotion or appetite). 

March 22: Chapter 20, "A Theory of Justice" (pp. 158-163)
Homework Due: What are the advantages and disadvantages of an absolute monarch? What are the advantages and disadvantages of a democracy? 

Week 9: Spring Break!!

March 27: NO CLASS!!

March 29: NO CLASS!!

Week 10: Moral Theories

April 3: Watch Film in Class, Crimes and Misdemeanors

April 5: Continue Film and Discuss

Week 11: Exam

April 10: Review for Exam

April 12: Second Exam

Week 12: Food Inc.

April 17: Watch Film in Class Food Inc., Introduction of Paper Topic

April 19: Continue Film, discuss paper writing.  

Week 13: Capital Punishment

April 24: Read "The Morality of Capital Punishment" by Berns (pp. 311-315)

April 26: Read "The Death Penalty as a Symbolic Issue" by Nathanson (pp. 316-323)
Homework Due: Bring a thesis statement for your paper to class. 

Week 14: Capital Punishment

May 1: No Class. Attend one of the May Day Events on Campus and discuss the ethical issues around May Day and Labor. A link to events and topics can be found here

May 3: Continue and discuss Capital Punishment.
Homework Due: Write a 1-2 page discussion of some ethical issue surrounding labor and May Day. 

Week 15: Posthuman and the Meaning of Life

May 8: Post- and Transhumanism, readings to be announced

May 10: Post- and Transhumanism Continued;
Homework Due: Bring three copies of a draft of your paper to class for in-class peer-editing. 

Week 16: Posthuman and the Meaning of Life

May 15: Read Taylor, "The Meaning of Life" (pp. 446-456)

May 17: Read Wolf, "Meaning in Life" and Vitrano, "Meaningful Lives" (pp. 457-464), Final Paper Due

Week 17: Finals

May 22:  Review for Final

May 24: 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 and Pre-Writing: 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/WithdrawIt is the student’s responsibility to drop all classes in which he/she is no longer attending. It is the instructor’s discretion to withdraw a student after the add/drop deadline (April 14) due to excessive absences. Students who remain enrolled in a class beyond the published withdrawal deadline, as stated in the class schedule, will receive an evaluative letter grade in the class.

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 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 academic accommodations should discuss options with their professors during the first two weeks of class. You should also contact DSPS. DSPS can be found at or they can be contacted by phone at 619-388-2780.

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!
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Subpages (1): May Day Topics