Skip to main content

PHL 201: Ethics in America

Course Description

This course will focus on examining contemporary ethical conflicts and providing grounding in the language, concepts, and traditions of ethics. Students will be provided with the intellectual tools to analyze moral dilemmas in the fields they choose to pursue and in the society in which all of us live. (3 credits)

Prerequisite

  • None

Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs)

Students who successfully complete this course will be able to:

  1. Identify moral forms of reasoning used by people in making ethical choices:
    • Consequentialism (act and rule utilitarianism)
    • Deontology (obligation)
    • Virtue
    • Justice (utilitarian, libertarian & egalitarian)
    • Professional Ethics
  2. Demonstrate confidence in describing moral/ethical positions based on the above moral theories/forms of moral reasoning;
  3. Demonstrate familiarity with and understanding of the writings of historical and contemporary moral philosophers in support of their positions on ethical issues;
  4. Describe and identify how particular moral situations often involve dilemmas (i.e., competing values, principles, obligations);
  5. Provide well-reasoned, documented, and articulate positions on contemporary moral/ethical issues

General Education Outcomes (GEOs)

Please check the applicable GEOs for this course, if any, by outcomes at GEO Category Search, or by subject area at GEO Discipline Search.

Course Activities and Grading

Assignment(s)Weight

Moral Forms & Moral Theory Exercise

15%

Case Postings and Discussions – 5 cases

50%

Research Paper

20%

End of Course Exercise

15%

Total

100%

Required Textbooks

(Available through our online bookstore)

  • Olen, Jeffrey, Vincent Barry and Julie Van Camp. Applying Ethics: A Text With Readings. 11th ed. Thomson/Wadsworth Publisher, 2015. ISBN-10: 1285196775 or ISBN-13: 9781285196770

Other Resources

Students are encouraged to search the internet for additional information that supplements the text readings. Works of great philosophers are now available on the internet. For example, go to a search engine, type in “Immanuel Kant” and you will find websites that include copies of his work, Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals. Additional materials will be posted in Blackboard.

Course Schedule

Please note this course schedule is broken down by learning units. This syllabus will be used for both the 8 and 15 week versions of the course. Assignment due dates will be posted in the course.

UnitSLOsReadings and ExercisesAssignment(s)

1

1-5

Topics: Ethical Theory & Forms of Moral Thoughtfulness

  • Learning objectives:
    • Become familiar with different historical ethical theories in Western civilization.
    • Be able to identify moral forms of thoughtfulness (deontology, consequentialism, virtue, justice and professional ethics) in the context of ethical cases/decisions.
    • Become more aware of one’s own approaches to and positions on contemporary ethical situations/issues.
  • Readings:
    • Chapter 1: Moral Reasons (this includes overview of moral/ethical theory and select writings from Aristotle, Kant, Mill, Rawls and Held).
    • Lecture notes for Unit One
    • "Moral Forms of Thoughtfulness,” by Michael Hartwig (available in the course shell)
  • Read assigned chapters
  • Participate in the Discussions
  • Review the Lecture material
  • Complete Moral Forms of Thoughtfulness Exercise
  • Introduce yourself and reason you are taking the course. Include an example of an ethical dilemma that challenges you. Identify some resources you would like to learn to resolve the dilemma. (graded)

2

1-5

Topics: Human Sexuality and Ethical Behavior

  • Learning objectives:
    • Identify the main characteristics and sources of traditional sexual morality.
    • Identify the main characteristics of a libertarian approach to sexual morality.
    • Explore arguments about sexual orientation and how they impact contemporary debates about sexual morality, sexuality education, and rights for gay men, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people.
    • Demonstrate ability to think critically about contemporary sexual ethical issues – contextualizing issues in their historical and cultural context.
  • Readings:
    • Chapter 3: Sexual Morality in the textbook.
    • Lecture notes for Unit Two
    • Articles posted by Dr. Hartwig (available in the course shell)
  • Read assigned chapters
  • Participate in the Discussions
  • Review the Lecture material
  • Upload response to Scientific Study of Sexuality article.
  • Upload notes on assigned Readings
  • Post responses to Case 1 and respond to at least two of your classmates.

3

1-5

Topics: Reproductive Technologies and Ethics

  • Learning Objectives:

    • Become familiar with different types of reproductive technologies that exist.
    • Identify main ethical questions associated with those technologies.
    • Become competent at outlining main ethical arguments about the moral-ontological status of the embryo/pre-embryo.
    • Develop a moral position on contemporary ethical issues associated with cloning, abortion and in-vitro fertilization.
  • Readings:
    • Chapter 4: Abortion & Chapter 6: Genetic Engineering, Stem Cell Research and Human Cloning in the textbook
    • Lecture notes for Unit Three
  • Read assigned chapters
  • Participate in the Discussions
  • Review the Lecture material
  • Upload notes on moral ontological status of fetus/embryo
  • Upload notes on assigned readings
  • Post responses to case 2 and respond to at least two of your classmates

4

1-5

Topic: Ethics at the End of Life

  • Learning Objectives:

    • Become familiar with and competent at distinguishing the various categories of euthanasia (active, passive, voluntary, involuntary, physician assisted suicide, withdrawal of life support).
    • Be aware of different legal aspects of living wills, advance directives, do-not-resuscitate orders.
    • Identify criteria for determining death.
    • Demonstrate ability to articulate arguments about when we have an obligation to preserve life and what the limits to that are.
    • Demonstrate appreciation for the competition between the value to respect autonomy and the value of preserving life/doing good for others.
    • Identify main ethical arguments for and against different approaches to end-of-life decisions and develop your own position.
  • Readings:
    • Chapter 5: Euthanasia and End-of-Life Decision in the textbook
    • Lecture notes for Unit Four
  • Read assigned chapters
  • Participate in the Discussions
  • Review the Lecture material
  • Upload definitions of Euthanasia
  • Upload notes on assigned readings
  • Post responses to Case 3 and respond to at least two of your classmates

5

1-5

Topics: Ethics of War, Terrorism, Peace and Civil Order

  • Learning objectives:
    • Become familiar with the principles in the traditional “just war theory.”
    • Become familiar with the principles in the traditional “justice in war theory.”
    • Develop an appreciation of the complexity of applying these traditional principles to the contemporary international political situation.
  • Readings:
    • Chapter 8: War, Terrorism and Civil Liberties
    • Lecture notes for Unit 5
  • Read assigned chapters
  • Participate in the Discussions
  • Review the Lecture material
  • Look up “just war theory” in Wikipedia.
  • Upload notes on just war theory.
  • Upload updates thoughts on research paper.
  • Post responses to case 4 and respond to at least two of your classmates.

6

1-5

Topic: Social Justice

  • Learning objectives:

    • Become familiar with different theories of justice (egalitarian, libertarian and utilitarian).
    • Identify different ways of thinking about rights (negative, positive, human, civil).
    • Develop an approach to social justice that takes into account respective rights and responsibilities of citizens.
  • Readings:
    • Chapter 9: Welfare and Social Justice and Chapter 11: Animal Rights and Environmental Ethics, esp. article by Paul Taylor
    • Lecture notes for Unit 6
  • Read assigned chapters
  • Participate in the Discussions
  • Review the Lecture material
  • Upload notes on insights from chapter 9.
  • Upload notes on insights from chapter 11.
  • Post response to case 5 and to at least two of your classmates’ postings.
  • Submit End of Course Exercise(summary of learning outcomes)
  • Submit Final Paper

COSC Accessibility Statement

Charter Oak State College encourages students with disabilities, including non-visible disabilities such as chronic diseases, learning disabilities, head injury, attention deficit/hyperactive disorder, or psychiatric disabilities, to discuss appropriate accommodations with the Office of Accessibility Services at OAS@charteroak.edu.

COSC Policies, Course Policies, Academic Support Services and Resources

Students are responsible for knowing all Charter Oak State College (COSC) institutional policies, course-specific policies, procedures, and available academic support services and resources. Please see COSC Policies for COSC institutional policies, and see also specific policies related to this course. See COSC Resources for information regarding available academic support services and resources.