Professor Talbott Autumn 2012
Office: Savery 387 Philosophy 338A:
Phone: 543-5095 Philosophy of Human Rights
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org TuTh: 11 – 12:20
Office Hours: Thurs. 3:30-4:30 and by appointment PAA A118
PHILOSOPHY 338A: Philosophy of Human Rights
Sections are WF. TA for sections AC and AF: Michael Ball-Blakely (email@example.com); for sections AD and AE: Scott Clifton (firstname.lastname@example.org ).
Disability Resources For Students. If you would like to request academic accommodations due to a disability, please contact Disability Resources for Students (DRS), 448 Schmitz, (206) 543-8924 (V/TTY). If you have a letter from DRS indicating you have a disability that requires academic accommodations, please present the letter to me so we can discuss the accommodations you might need for the class.
I. Course Goals: This course will provide you with a comprehensive introduction to the philosophy of human rights. The course begins with an overview of the main issues in the conceptualization and justification of human rights. The course then considers the following special topics: Should human rights be understood only negatively, as rights not to be coerced, or they include positive rights—that is, rights to be provided with something (e.g., subsistence, health care, or education). Are human rights culturally relative? We will consider the position that human rights reflect "Western values" and do not apply to societies with different values. We will also consider the potential conflict between women's rights and traditional values; and feminist criticisms of human rights as androcentric. Other questions include: Are gay and lesbian rights human rights? Are human rights individual rights, or do they also include group rights? We will also discuss the new role of the International Criminal Court. Students will have the option of doing service learning with a Seattle-based human rights organization and writing a service learning report or doing a research paper on a human rights issue. An important goal of the course is to enhance your ability to understand complex ideas and arguments, and to be able to explain them and to critically evaluate them in your writing.
II. Service Learning Option. Service learning provides students a unique opportunity to connect coursework with life experience through public service. A limited number of students will have the option of signing up through the Carlson Center (MGH 171) for a service learning opportunity with a Seattle-based organization that deals with human rights issues. The number of sign-ups will be determined by the number of suitable positions that can be found. Service learning opportunities will be explained during the first week of classes. Those who sign up will be expected to work 20-40 hours (i.e., an average of 2-4 hours per week) during the quarter. For more information on the service learning option, see the PHIL 338 Web site.
STUDY QUESTIONS: There are study questions for each course topic. They are posted on the PHIL 338 Web site. The study questions will help you to identify the important issues as you do the readings. They will also serve as review questions for the exams.
IV. Course Requirements.
1. Email Account. You are required to check your U.W. email account regularly. Your TA and I will use email to broadcast general course announcements. You can use email to ask me or your TA questions about the course, including questions about the readings or the discussion in class. You can usually count on receiving a reply within 24 hours. My email address and the email addresses of the TAs appear above.
2. Class Attendance: Students are required to attend all classes.
3. End of Class Questions. At the end of each lecture you will be asked to write a short answer to a question based on the lecture. All good faith answers will earn one point of credit. To get credit for an end-of-class question when you are absent, the absence must be excused. Request excused absences from your TA.
4. Homework Assignments (1-2 pages). There will be four homework assignments. Assignments are posted on the course Web site. To obtain full credit for a homework assignment, you must attend class on the due date prepared to discuss the assignment, unless the absence is excused. Anyone who does not turn in a homework assignment in class on the day it is due can only receive up to one half credit, unless the absence is excused. Anyone who receives less than half credit on a homework assignment may resubmit it to earn up to half credit. All late homework and all homework resubmissions must be turned in before the Final Exam.
5. Final Project. For those who choose the service learning option, your final project will be a 4-5-page report on your service learning, with emphasis on a human rights issue that it addressed. For those who do not choose the service learning option, your final project will involve researching a current human rights issue on the Web and writing a 6-7 page report with a recommendation to the United Nations. You must obtain approval from your TA for the topic of your final project by the end of section on Friday Nov. 16. You must post a draft of your introduction on the GoPost site for your section by midnight on Monday Nov. 26 and vote by email for the best draft introduction by midnight on Tuesday Nov. 27.. Final projects are due in section on Wed. Dec. 5. For more information on the Final Project, see the PHIL 338 Web site.
6. Midterm Exam. The Midterm Exam will be given in section on Wed. Oct. 31. A list of midterm review questions will be distributed in lecture on Thurs., Oct. 18. All questions on the exam will be taken from the review questions (or from parts of the review questions).
7. Final Exam. The Final Exam will take place at 4:30 pm on Wednesday Dec. 12 in PAA A118. Final Exam Review Questions will be distributed in lecture on Thursday, Nov. 29.
NOTE: Please bring a pen and blank exam books with no missing pages to all exams.
V. Course Web Site. All handouts, homework assignments, end-of-class questions, and the text of transparencies used in class will be available on the course Web site (see URL above). So if you are ever absent, you can check the course Web site to find out what you missed.
VI. Academic Integrity. Whenever you turn in any assignment in this course, the understanding is that what you are turning in is your own original work, except to the extent that you explicitly credit others for their contributions. You have an obligation to avoid even the appearance of impropriety, by always attributing any argument or idea that you have borrowed, even if you have modified it, to its source. The source may be written or oral. For example, if an argument was suggested by a fellow student, include that information in a footnote. If it is determined that there has been cheating that involves one student copying another's work on an assignment or exam, if both students were aware of the copying, both will receive zero credit for the assignment or exam, in addition to any other sanctions that might be imposed.
VII. Extensions Of Time. Extensions of time should be requested in advance of the deadline. Unexcused, late work will be penalized. However, it is much better to turn work in late than not to turn it in at all.
VIII. Grades. Grades will be based on points earned as follows: (1) End of Class Questions (20 Points); (3) Homework Assignments (50 Points); (3) Midterm Exam (100 Points); (4) Final Project (110 Points: 10 Points for Draft Introduction and 100 Points for Final Project); (5) Final Exam (200 Points). Grades are based on total points earned, as follows: 96% = 4.0; 95% = 3.9; 90% = 3.5; 80% = 3.0; 65% = 2.0; 50% = 1.0. Your contribution to discussion in class can improve your grade, but cannot lower it.
IX. Course Evaluation. Thursday Dec. 6, in class. The course evaluation is your opportunity to evaluate my performance and to provide suggestions for improving the course.
X. Return of Final Exams. Unless other arrangements are made, Final Exams will be available for pick-up in the Philosophy Department Office, Savery 361, during the first week of winter quarter. If you would like your Final Exam to be mailed to you, please provide your TA with a stamped, self-addressed envelope for mailing.
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