Michael I. Blake
Philosophical consideration of some of the main moral problems of modern society and civilization, such as abortion, euthanasia, war, and capital punishment. Topics vary.
This course provides students with the tools needed to analyze the moral basis of currently controversial issues. Topics covered include abortion, homosexuality, criminal punishment, and free speech. The focus of the course is on the development of analytic skills, in the analysis of both moral theory and issues of moral practice. TEXT: "Disputed Moral Issues: A Reader", Mark Timmons (2nd edition).
Student learning goals
(1) What the main methods of philosophical argument are.
(2) What the main forms of ethical theory look like.
(3) How to apply these theories to disputed issues in contemporary life.
General method of instruction
I will be lecturing for part of each session, with the remainder devoted to classroom discussion; mandatory sections with TAs will continue the discussion in a smaller format.
Class assignments and grading
Three small papers: one redescribing the argument of someone else, using only your own words; two papers making your own arguments against the arguments you have read in class.
One final examination, requiring you both to identify certain factual ideas and applying them in a brief essay.
A sheet will be provided on which the criteria for grading are described; they include both the quality of your arguments and the clarity with which you present them.