Dr. Shannon Kincaid's SS-630 Course Page

Ethics: Theories of Good Life

SS630-section: G (3 credit hrs)

Shannon Kincaid, Ph.D.

Spring Semester, 2004

Course Description:

This course serves as an introductory survey of the diverse philosophical approaches to questions of morality and ethics. Through the analysis of classical and contemporary texts, as well as some of the important ethical dilemmas facing modern society, students will be introduced to the concepts of value, duty, moral judgment, obligation, and justice. Theorists discussed in class will range from the ancient Greek and Eastern perspectives, divine command theories, classical and modern Western ethics, and contemporary perspectives (including feminism, cultural perspectives, and the relativistic critiques of ethics). Students will also develop their capacity to analyze abstract concepts, to think critically about moral problems, and to write clearly.

Course Objectives:

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  • Understand historical and contemporary approaches to ethics and morality
  • Apply effective critical thinking strategies to ethical perspectives and dilemmas
  • Differentiate among (and understand the relations between) various axiological doctrines
  • Critically analyze the philosophical assumptions underlying contemporary moral issues
  • Research and debate complex ethical issues
  • Understand the basic framework for effective argumentation

Required Textbooks and Readings:

  • Gregory, Wanda Torres, and Giancola, Donna. 2003. World Ethics. Belmont: Thomson Wordsworth.
  • Approximately 2 copies of the New York Times.
  • Other short essays and handouts will be provided in class or on the course website.

Course Requirements:

Areas Points
1 Midterm Examination 25
1 Final Examination 25
1 Journal (6-8 entries) 5
1 Group Presentation 5
1 Term Paper (6-10 pages-proposal, rough draft, final draft format) 30
Attendance and Class Participation 10
Total Points: 100 Points

Polices on Grading and Attendance:

  • Attendance is MANDATORY. Unexcused absences (after 4) will be assigned a five percent reduction in the overall course grade.
  • Please be punctual, as excessive lateness will be penalized. Every two “latenesses” will be counted as one absence. Also, any student who is more than 15 minutes late for class will be marked as absent.
  • There will be NO late assignments accepted without a written excuse
  • Readings MUST be completed prior to class. The instructor reserves the right to conduct periodic checks (including random checks of individual preparedness, as well as short, unannounced quizzes) to ensure required readings are completed on time
  • All essays (both on exams and in written assignments) will be graded on argumentative clarity and structure, use of assigned readings in citation and reference, and effective responses to potential objections. Cheating and plagiarism in any form will not be tolerated.
  • Students are expected to participate in classroom discussions and debates. Failure to do so will result in grade reductions assigned at my discretion.
  • Disruptive behavior (lateness, lack of respect for other students and their ideas, cell-phone use, failure to follow basic rules of classroom etiquette) will NOT be tolerated.

Course Outline: (See course schedule for dates of readings and discussions)

  1. Course Introduction
    1. Course Introduction, Overview, Handouts, etc.
    2. What is Philosophy?
    3. An Introduction to Argumentation and Logic.
  2. Foundations of Ethics
    1. Types of Ethical Theories: Normative, Descriptive, and Meta-ethical Perspectives
    2. Critiques of Ethics: Marx and Nietzsche
    3. Religion and Ethics: The Mosaic Tradition (Judaism, Christianity, Islam)
  3. Ancient Theories of Ethics
    1. The Ancient Greeks
    2. The Asian Traditions
  4. Classical European Ethical Theory
    1. Hedonism and Utilitarianism
    2. Deontology
  5. Twentieth Century Western Approaches to Ethics
    1. G.E. Moore
    2. John Rawls
    3. Alasdair MacIntyre
    4. Feminist and Cultural Approaches to Western Ethics