PHILOSOPHY 102A. SYLLABUS

CONTEMPORARY MORAL PROBLEMS

Teaching Assistants: Tony Roark (email: phil102r) will lead sections AA and AC.

David Shapiro (email: phil102s) will lead sections AB and AD.

I. GOALS AND PURPOSE OF THE COURSE: The main goal of the course is improve your ability to participate in and to critically evaluate moral arguments. We do this by carefully analyzing some of the reasons that have been given or that might be given to support philosophically interesting positions on the issues of university speech codes, drug legalization, environmental ethics, world hunger and over-population, sexual behavior, abortion, euthanasia, and assisted suicide. Because we focus our attention on some particularly difficult moral issues, it would be unrealistic to expect us to resolve definitively the issues that we address. The goal of the course is rather to clarify the various moral positions that might be taken on these issues and, especially, to clarify the reasons that one might have for accepting or rejecting those positions. If the course is a success, you will acquire a greater understanding of moral reasoning; a greater appreciation for moral reasoning: an enhanced ability, both orally and in writing, to defend your moral views with reasons; and an enhanced ability to recognize the strengths as well as the weaknesses of the moral positions of those you disagree with.

II. COURSE READINGS: There is one required text, available for purchase at the University Book Store: Daniel Bonevac, Today's Moral Issues (2nd Edition). Reading assignments are summarized on a separate handout. Reading assignments should be completed by the first lecture at which they are to be discussed.

III. COURSE REQUIREMENTS.

1. Attendance in Class: Students are required to attend all lectures and quiz sections. Lectures are MWF (except Monday, Nov. 11, and Friday, Nov. 29) in CMU 120. Quiz sections are TTh as scheduled (except Thursday, Nov. 28).

2. In-Class Assignments. At the end of each class, you will be asked to write a short response to a question based on one of the topics for that day. Each of these in-class assignments is worth one point of course credit. Answers to in-class assignments may not be turned in late, unless the absence is excused. For your first two excused absences, any reasonable excuse will be accepted. After that, only absences due to serious medical conditions or for other, comparable reasons will be excused.

3. Homework Assignments. Approximately once per week, a homework assignment will be announced in class and distributed via email. Assignments are due at the beginning of the section in which they are to be discussed. To obtain full credit for the homework assignment, you must not only turn it in on time, you must attend the section on the due date prepared to discuss it, unless the absence is excused. Assignments can always be turned in late for up to half credit. Also, if you ever receive less than half credit on an assignment, you can redo the assignment for up to half credit. The last day to turn in late or resubmitted assignments is the last day of class, Wednesday, Dec. 11.

4. Email Account Requirement: Each student is required to have an email account and to check it regularly. Homework assignments, course transparencies, and important announcements will be distributed by email. Also, you can use email to ask the professor or your T.A. any questions you may have on the readings or the lectures or the sections. You will usually receive an answer within 24 hours. Your first assignment (worth 1 point) is to send your T.A. an email message with your name, student ID number, email address, and a brief statement of your background in philosophy. This assignment is due by the beginning of class on Friday, Oct. 4. (PHIL 102 email addresses: Tony Roark = phil102r; David Shapiro = phil102s; Prof. Talbott = phil102t. Note that computers distinguish between the letter "l" in "phil" and the numeral "1" in "102", so be careful when you type these addresses.) If you do not have an email account, the people in the Computing Resource Center, Room 102 of Suzallo Library can show you how to set one up and can show you how to use it.

5. Exams. There will a Midterm Exam and a Final Exam. A list of review questions will be distributed in class before each exam. All questions on the exam will be taken from the review questions (or from parts of the review questions). The exams will be given on the following dates:

(1) Midterm Exam: in lecture on Friday, Nov. 1. Review questions to be distributed in class on Friday, Oct. 25.

(2) Final Exam: Tuesday, Dec. 17, at 2:30 pm in CMU 120. Review questions to be distributed in class on Monday, Dec. 9.

NOTE: Please bring a pen and blank blue books (with no pages missing) to all exams.

IV. EXTENSIONS OF TIME. Extensions of time should be requested in advance of the deadline. Extensions of time should be arranged with your T.A. whenever possible. Unexcused, late work will be penalized.

V. GRADES. Grades will be based on points earned as follows: (1) In-Class Assignments (includes Email Assignment) (50 points); (2) Homework Assignments (approximately 150 points); (3) Midterm Exam (100 points); (4) Final Exam (200 points). Your contribution to discussion in class can improve your grade, but cannot lower it. Unexcused absences can lower your grade.

VI. COURSE EVALUATION. Wednesday, Dec. 11, in class. The course evaluation is your opportunity to evaluate my performance and to provide suggestions for improving the course.

VII. RETURN OF FINAL EXAMS. Unless other arrangements are made with your T.A., Final Exams will be left for pick-up outside the graduate student offices on the fourth floor of Savery Hall on Monday, Dec. 23. If you would like your exam to be mailed to you, please provide a stamped, self-addressed envelope for mailing. If you would like to pick up the exam in person, please write "HOLD" on the inside front cover of your exam blue book. Held exams can be picked up in person from your T.A. in Winter Quarter.