Department of Philosophy Ryerson University PHL 503 Moral Philosophy: Classical and Modern Fall 2009 Section 011 Robert Murray 413 Jorgenson Hall 979-5000 ext. 6160 email@example.com: Please use email to make appointments, ask for more information, to express any of your concerns, or course management issues more generally. Philosophy is best discussed in person during office hours or lecture discussions. Lecture notes, essay topics, etc. will be posted on blackboard. Office Hours: Mondays 1:30-4:00, Thursdays 12:00-2:00, Fridays 10:00-12:00. Appointments can be made for other times and on other days. Course Description: This course is an upper-level, liberal studies elective. We will study several moral theorists in the western tradition. In particular, we will read and discuss selected writings from Aristotle, Thomas Hobbes, David Hume, Immanuel Kant, and John Stuart Mill. In light of the world-views of their day, these philosophers aimed to understand and explain the basis of our moral convictions. Their different moral theories are premised on different theories of the self, human nature, the universe, and our place in it. Together they represent part of an intellectual history running from classical Greece, through the scientific revolution, and well into the early modern period. Their writings still raise the same questions: how is are moral convictions related to human nature, social construction, the search for happiness, religion, a social contract, moral sentiment, or reason? We will be interested to read Hobbes, Hume, Kant, and Mill as responses to the scientific revolution, which seemed to many to have important implications for moral theory. Although we study a tradition, we will be mindful of the relevance of its ideas to us in our times. You will be required to address the philosophical questions raised in this course and to articulate your views on them in your essays and final exam. I will expect the content of your essays and exam to have strong logical connections with the course readings, lecture discussions, and the general approach employed in the course for articulating and evaluating philosophical positions. As you would expect, you will be graded accordingly. Course Approach: Although these are pressing issues, we should approach them in an informed and judicious manner. Ideally, we would commit ourselves to philosophical attitudes only after careful and informed deliberation. It is too late for that, of course, as our attitudes are already largely formed. For the purposes of this course, however, we will adapt an attitude of Socratic reserve, until such time as our own attitudes are shown to be warranted. The development of our explications and arguments might seem slow and painstaking at times, but that is the way of Philosophy. Indeed, if our philosophical attitudes are to be fully informed and inclusive, then we would have to understand and articulate the attitudes we disagree with, the very ones which challenge our own positions. Course Delivery: The lectures are based on the course readings, and they will be conducted in a so-called Socratic style. We will attempt to articulate the essential insights, concepts, and arguments of the text through lectures, questions, and discussions. Class Participation: You are encouraged but not required to contribute to the classroom discussions. If you want to contribute to classroom discussions, be mindful of your peers. Done properly, contributing to classroom discussions develops and practices important skills for professional careers, including the capacity for rational and reasonable dialogue about charged and complex issues. If you would rather not contribute to the classroom discussions, however, bear in mind that you sufficiently demonstrate your involvement in a course by thinking your way through the course material and expressing your thoughts privately on your essays and final exam. In fact, most of us should think more and say less. Attendance: Attendance is not monitored, but given the difficulty of the reading material, and your busy schedules, it is difficult to do well in this course without attending regularly. Rather than trying to figure out the readings on your own, you would make far more efficient use of your time to regularly attend the lectures. Required Texts: You will need a copy of (1) Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. The bookstore has ordered a copy translated by Martin Ostwald and published by Prentice Hall. You will also need a copy of (2) Thomas Hobbes’ Man and Citizen, (3) David Hume’s Inquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals, and (4) John Stuart Mill’s Utilitarianism. The bookstore has ordered copies of (2)-(4) from Hackett Publishing. I will also give you a small set of readings from Immanuel Kant. Any version of these readings will do, but the ones cited above will be more convenient in terms of citations during the lectures. Course Requirements: Your first essay of 1000-1300 words is worth 30% and is due by class on Friday, October 16; your second essay of 1300-1600 words is worth 35% and is due by class on Friday, November 20. A two hour comprehensive exam worth 35% will be scheduled during the exam period. You are required to submit copies of your essays to turnitin.com and hard copies of your essays to me. Those who are not going to use turnitin must inform me in writing before the essay due date and provide an electronic copy of their essays as well as a hard copy. Late essays can be submitted in the essay drop box on the fourth floor of Jorgenson Hall across from the elevators. Essay Topics and Exam Questions: The first essay topics will be available by the end of the week of Sept. 28; the second essay topics will be available during by the end of the week of October 26. Examples of the sorts of questions you will be asked on your final exam will be available by the end of the week of November 16. If you are not clear about what is expected of you ask for clarification. Evaluation Scheme: Essays will be evaluated not only with respect to their content, but also with respect to their manner of exposition. Essays are to be clear, complete, concise, organized, and thoughtful. It is important to demonstrate clarity of organization and expression, persuasiveness of reasoning, grammar, and syntax. More complete instructions will be included with the essay assignments. Length Restrictions: You must provide a word count for the body of your essay, including quotations. One mark is taken off your essay for every 1-50 words over the limit. The point of this exercise is to force a judicious editing and efficiency of expression in your essays. If you want to include more information in your essays, you can always use footnotes or endnotes, which do not factor into word counts. Final Exam: There will be a two-hour final exam during the exam period worth 35%. The exam will be cumulative and will require short answers (4-8 sentences) and short essay-style answers (200-400 words). The format of the final exam and sample questions will be posted by the tenth week of classes. Help: Anyone having trouble understanding the course readings or lectures is encouraged to raise the relevant questions during the lectures or to visit me during office hours. Anyone feeling anxious about his or her essay is encouraged to visit me during office hours with either an essay outline or draft. Anyone feeling anxious about the final exam is invited to do the sample questions and visit me during office hours. Penalties: Late essays are subject to a late penalty of 3 percentage points per day—the weekend counts as one day. The penalty for plagiarism is 0 for the essay, a letter to the registrar’s office, and a failure in the course. Students are reminded that they are required to adhere to all relevant University policies including the student code of conduct. Faculty Course Survey: A Faculty Course Survey will be provided or posted. These surveys provide students with an opportunity to evaluate several aspects of a course and to provide feedback its instructor. Any changes in this course outline must be discussed in class and agreed upon. Tentative Schedule: Weeks starting the date of: Readings and Course Information: 1. Sept. 8 Introduction 2. Sept. 14 Aristotle Nicomachean Ethics Book One (1-5, 7-9, 13) 3. Sep. 21 Aristotle Book Two, Book Three (1-5) 4. Sept. 28 Aristotle Book Five (you needn’t read), Book Six First Essay Topics Available 5. Oct. 5 Aristotle Book Eight (1-4, 7, 9-11) 6. Oct. 12 Hobbes Man and Citizen (On Man, pp. 35-85) First Essay Due on Friday Oct. 16—worth 30% 7. Oct. 19 Hobbes Man and Citizen (On Man) 8. Oct. 26. Hobbes Man and Citizen (The Citizen, chap. 1, pp. 109-33) Second Essay Topics Available 9. Nov. 2 Hume An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals 10. Nov. 9 Hume An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals 11. Nov. 16 Kant (class hand out) Second Essay Due Friday, Nov. 20—worth 35% Format of Final Exam and Sample Questions Available 12. Nov. 23 Mill Utilitarianism 13. Nov. 30 Mill Utilitarianism There is a two hour class on Friday, December 4. Two-hour comprehensive exam scheduled during exam period—worth 35% Course Management Policies: Alternate Arrangements for Missed Deadlines: Proper Notice: Students shall inform their instructor, in advance, when they will miss an assignment deadline for (1) medical or (2) compassionate reasons. When circumstances do not permit this (e.g., in an emergency) the student must inform the instructor as soon as possible. Alternate arrangements may include the setting of a make-up test or extending a deadline. Ryerson University’s complete policy concerning alternate arrangements for medical and compassionate reasons may be found at www.ryerson.ca/senate/policies/pol134.pdf. Medical Considerations: In order for alternate arrangements to be made on medical grounds, the student must supply the instructor with a Ryerson Medical Certificate, or a letter on letterhead from a physician with the student declaration portion of the Ryerson Medical Certificate attached. The Ryerson Medical Certificate may be found at www.ryerson.ca/senate/forms/medical.pdf. Compassionate Considerations: In order for alternate arrangements to be made on compassionate grounds, the student must supply the instructor with documentation supporting the claim, where possible. Religious and Spiritual Observance: Students who need alternate arrangements because of religious or spiritual observances should consult policy 150 ww.ryerson.ca/senate/policies/pol150. Some examples of circumstances that typically fail to qualify for consideration are: extra- curricular activities, employment obligations, multiple deadlines, and computer malfunctions. Academic Misconduct: Ryerson University’s Student Code of Academic Conduct treats cheating and plagiarism (the misrepresentation of somebody else’s work or ideas as your own) as forms of academic misconduct. For detailed information concerning academic misconduct and the relevant penalties, see www.ryerson.ca/senate/policies/pol60.pdf or http://www.ryerson.ca/senate/student/. Additional information will be given on the essay assignments. Students should be aware that it is their responsibility to know Ryerson’s policy on academic misconduct. This policy will be strictly enforced in this course. Ignorance of the policy will not be accepted as an excuse. Students should be aware that the instructor reserves the right to conduct an oral examination on the contents of any submitted assignment. Grade Appeals: You have the right to appeal your assignment and course grades. For information see http://www.ryerson.ca/senate/student.
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