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Phil 130: Morality and Society Spring 1996

Professor Christian Perring

Office 1333 POT Phone 7-7171 Office Hours: TR 4-5 p.m. or by appointment


Notes on Readings

This course has a couple of main goals: First, to develop your skills at forming your own moral views as rationally and carefully as possible. Second, to introduce you to some important current debates in ethics, and to some of the most historically influential views in ethics.

The form of the teaching will be lectures in which discussion is encouraged and sometimes insisted upon, combined with some occasions where the class will split up into smaller discussion groups, and also will have structured debates. Note that in the section on sexuality we will be discussing pornography and the class will be viewing some forms of pornography.

The reading assignments for each week will be about 15-25 pages. (Philosophy texts need to be read at least twice for clear comprehension.) There will be 7 surprise quizzes during the semester which will make up a total of 10% of your grade. Each student will have to participate in a debate, which will be worth 10%. In addition there will be a two page paper (15 %), a 70 minute mid-term exam (or optional take-home exam) (25%), and one 4 page paper (25%). Students will be required to write drafts for both papers. Credit can also be gained for useful class participation, and there may be occasional extra credit options. It is your responsibility to make sure you have your own copy of any draft or paper that you hand in, in case the copy you give me gets mislaid.

Attendance in class is required. It constitutes 15% of your grade. If you miss more than 10 classes without excuse you get no credit. If you attend all but two classes, you get the full 15%, and for evey class missed after that you lose 1.5%. It is your responsibility to make sure you are signed in on the class list each time you come. All writing assignments must be completed on time in order to pass the course. Your written work should be in grammatical English, with correct spelling. Persistent errors will reduce your grade. You are expected to read assignments before each class and be ready to discuss them. You may be called on in class to explain one of the readings. Out of class work should average about 10 hours per week.

I may have to cancel some classes due to job interviews and conferences. I will give you at least a week's warning when this happens. For each class missed, you should write one or two pages of summary of the main ideas of the assigned reading for that day. I will read this, and so long as it is coherent is roughly correct (and is not just a summary of the notes I gave you) then you will get attendance credit for that day.


January 11: First day of class

January 31: last day for drop class with no record on transcript

March 8: Last day to withdraw

March 11-16: Spring Break

April 25: Last day of class

May 3: Last day of semester

May 6: Grades due

2-page paper due: Tuesday Feb 13.

Mid-term exam: Thursday March 21.

4-page paper due: Tuesday April 29.

Book: Thirteen Questions in Ethics edited by Bowie, Higgins and Michaels. (HBJ, 1992)

Readings: (dates are only approximate, and texts may be changed)


January 16: Sigmund Freud: On Inclination Toward Aggression

18: Hannah Arendt: Violence, Power, and Bureaucracy

Virginia Held: Violence, Terrorism, and Moral Enquiry

23: Ernest van Der Haag: On Deterrence and the Death Penalty

Albert Camus: Reflections on the Guillotine

25: Blanche McCrary Boyd: The Enormous Mother: Reflections on Susan Smith (from Village Voice). Debate on death penalty for Susan Smith.

Capitalism and Justice

Jan 30: John Hospers: Profits and Liberty

Andrew Carnegie: Wealth

February 1: Robert Nozick: The Entitlement Theory

6: Peer evaluation of first paper drafts

8: John D. Jones: Poverty as a Living Death

Peter Marin: Helping and Hating the Homeless

13: Dan E. Beauchamp: Public Health as Social Justice

15: Albert Z. Carr: Is Business Bluffing Ethical?

20: Lisa H. Newton: Reverse Discrimination as Unjustified

Tom L. Beauchamp: The Justification of Reverse Discrimination

22: Debate on Reverse Descrimination/Affirmative Action

27: Christopher Stone: The Culture of the Corporation

Barbara Ehrenreich: The Intelligensia vs. the Suits

29: Michael Harrington: Corporate Collectivism: A System of Social Injustice

March 5: Peter Singer: Famine, Affluence, and Morality

Debate on Third World Aid

7: John Rawls: Justice as Fairness

21: Midterm Exam

Sex and Sexuality

26: Richard Wasserstrom: Is Adultery Immoral?

28: Robert C. Solomon: Sex, Contraception, and Conceptions of Sex*

April 2: Lois Pineau: Date Rape: A Feminist Analysis*

Antioch College Code of Conduct, Princeton University Rules and Regulations

4: No Class

9: Debate on Date Rape Regulations

11: John Stuart Mill: The Authority of Society Over the Individual*

16: Catherine MacKinnon: Sex and Violence

G. L. Simons: Is Pornography Beneficial?*

23: Peer Evaluations of final paper drafts