I. COURSE GOALS: This course will be based on T.M. Scanlon's recent book, What We Owe To Each Other. In his book, Scanlon articulates and defends a contractualist (or social contract) account of at least one part of ethics. We will contrast Scanlon's ethical theory with the anti-theory views of Bernard Williams in his book, Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy. We will also read selections from various other philosophers. The course is designed to generate informed discussion of some of the main outstanding issues in contemporary ethics. Students will present and defend positions on these issues both orally and in writing.
This seminar will also provide background for Scanlon's visit
to U.W. as Stice Lecturer during the first week of Spring Quarter
2000. There will be an optional meeting of the seminar with Scanlon
in attendance during that week.
II. COURSE REQUIREMENTS:
1. Class Attendance. The class meets each Th from 3:30 to 6:20 pm in the Philosophy Conference Room (Savery 331). Everyone is expected to do the assigned readings in advance and to attend class and to participate in the discussion.
2. Email Accounts and Email Assignment. All students are required to have an electronic mail account. Your first assignment (worth 5 points) is to send me an email message with your name, student ID number, email address, and a brief statement of your background in philosophy. My email address appears above. Once you have an email account, please feel free to use it to contact me whenever you would like to. You can usually count on having a reply from me within 24 hours. I will use email to broadcast general course announcements, so you should check your email at least weekly.
3. Course Readings. See the separate handout of Reading Assignments. You are expected to have done the assigned readings in advance of the first class session of the week in which they are to be discussed. There are two required texts and several articles on electronic reserve.
A. Required Texts. Available for purchase at the University Book Store: (a) T.M. Scanlon, What We Owe To Each Other; (b) Bernard Williams, Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy.
B. Electronic Reserves. You must use a U.W. computer or have a U.W. connectivity kit to access Electronic Course Reserves. Go to the online U.W. Library Catalog (http://catalog.lib.washington.edu/search/) and choose Course Reserves under my name or for PHIL 540. You can then select the article you want to view.
4. Weekly Written Assignments. Each week except the first week and the week that you make your presentation to the seminar, you are expected to turn in a short (1-2 page) written reflection on the week's readings. To obtain full credit for the writing assignment, you must be in class to discuss it, except if you have an excused absence. Even late work receives half credit, so please turn in all assignments.
WARNING: TO OBTAIN FULL CREDIT FOR THE WEEKLY
WRITTEN ASSIGNMENT, YOU MUST ATTEND CLASS ON THE DUE DATE
PREPARED TO DISCUSS IT AND YOU MUST TURN IT IN TO ME AT THE END
OF THE CLASS IN WHICH THE TOPIC IS DISCUSSED, UNLESS THE ABSENCE
5. Discussion Leader and Paper. Each student in the class will lead an approximately one-hour discussion. Each student must sign up for a discussion session by the end of class on Thursday, Jan. 13. Sign-ups will be on a first-come, first-served basis, so the earlier you sign up, the greater your choice of topics. Discussion leaders will prepare medium-length (5-page) papers on their discussion topic. Each week I will expect the discussion leader for the week to submit a draft of the paper to me and to make an appointment to discuss the draft with me on the Tuesday or Wednesday before the Thursday discussion. This will enable me to make suggestions for improving the paper and to plan how to fit the discussion of the paper into the seminar session.
The discussion leader will be expected to prepare enough copies of the paper for everyone in the seminar and to place the copies in the PHIL 540 envelope in the Philosophy Department Office (Savery 345) by 10 am on the day of the discussion. Students in the seminar are expected to read the discussion leader's paper before the seminar.
6. Term Paper. Each student is required to prepare a term paper (10-15 pages). Any of the issues discussed in the course could be the basis for a term paper. I will provide many suggested term paper topics during the course. All term paper topics must be discussed with me and approved on or before the end of class on Thursday, March 2nd (though you are encouraged to talk to me about your term paper before that date). You are strongly encouraged to submit a draft of your term paper to me for comments, before you prepare the final version. The last time to submit a draft for comments is 4:30 pm on Friday, Mar. 10 (though you are encouraged to submit them before that date). Drafts submitted by the deadline will be returned on or before Monday, Mar. 13. TERM PAPERS ARE DUE AT THE PHILOSOPHY DEPARTMENT OFFICE, SAVERY 345, AT 4:30 P.M. ON THURSDAY, MARCH 16. Reasonable extensions of time will be granted, if they are requested in advance of the deadline. I DO NOT INTEND TO GRANT ANY INCOMPLETES, EXCEPT IN CASES OF GENUINE EMERGENCIES.
IN PREPARING ANY WRITTEN WORK FOR THIS COURSE, PLEASE BE SURE TO CONSULT THE PAPER GUIDELINES (HANDED OUT SEPARATELY).
III. EXTENSIONS OF TIME. Extensions of time should be requested
in advance of the deadline. Unexcused, late work will be
penalized. However, late work still earns partial credit. The
last time to submit late work is 4:30 pm on Wed., Mar. 17. I DO
NOT INTEND TO GRANT ANY INCOMPLETES, EXCEPT IN CASES OF GENUINE
IV. 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.
V. GRADES. Grades will be based on total points (out of
a total possible of 515 points) as follows: Email assignment
(5 points); weekly written assignments (160 points); performance
as discussion leader and related paper (100 points); term paper
(250 points). Your contribution to discussion in class can improve
your grade, but cannot lower it.
VI. COURSE EVALUATION. The course evaluation will take place during the final meeting of the seminar on March 9. The course evaluation is your opportunity to evaluate my performance and to provide suggestions for improving the class.