Professor Talbott                                                                                                 Autumn 2013

Office:  Savery 387                                                                                             Philosophy 440A:  Ethics   

Phone:  543-5095                                                                                                WF:  1:30 – 3:20 pm

Email:                                                                                  SAV 132

Office Hours:  Thursday 3:30 – 5:30 and by appointment         




PHILOSOPHY 440A:  ETHICS (5 Credits/“W” Credit


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:  In the first half of the course, the main issue to be discussed will be:  What are we doing when we make a moral judgment?  In the second half of the course, we will discuss various substantive ethical theories, including utilitarian ethics, social contract ethics, virtue ethics, and feminist ethics.  This course will teach the interpretation and understanding of difficult philosophical texts.  Students will be taught to explain and critically evaluate difficult philosophical texts orally and in writing.  In addition to making you conversant with the literature in philosophical ethics, this course aims to deepen your understanding of what is involved in making a moral judgment and to give you the tools to be a more reflective moral reasoner.  Students who successfully complete the course will earn "W" credit for the course.


                II. Course Readings.  There is one required text, Louis P. Pojman, Ethical Theory (6th ed.) and one required course reader.  The text and the reader are available for purchase at the University Book Store.  Except for the first class, readings should be done before class on the day they are due.


                III. Course Requirements.

                1.  CLASS PREPARATION AND ATTENDANCE.  The class meets WF from 1:30 to 3:20 pm in SAV 132.  Everyone is expected to do the assigned readings in advance and to attend and to participate in the discussions.   

                2. EMAIL ACCOUNT.  You are required to check your U.W. email account regularly.  I will use email to broadcast general course announcements.  You can use email to ask me 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 appears above. 

3.  END-OF-CLASS QUESTIONS (1-5 Points Each).  At the end of each class except the day of the midterm exam, you will be asked to give a written answer to a question on the readings or the discussion in lecture.  These assignments will provide practice for writing answers to exam questions.  Answers to end of class questions may not be turned in late, unless the absence is excused.  All answers to end of class questions for excused absences must be submitted before the Final Exam.  If you are present or have an excused absence and receive less than 1/2 credit for your answer to an end-of-class question, you may resubmit for up to 1/2 credit.  All resubmits must be received before the Final Exam.

                4.  PAPERS.  You are required to turn in two 5-7 page papers during the quarter.  The paper topics are posted on the PHIL 440 Web site.  Each paper is worth 100 points.  You will post a draft introduction to your paper (worth 10 points) on the PHIL 440 Canvas site, vote by email for the best introduction, and then submit the final version of your paper to the PHIL 440 Canvas site.  See the paper topic descriptions on the PHIL 440 Web site for more information.  Papers that are turned in late will be penalized, unless the lateness is excused.   

                There is a separate handout of Paper Guidelines.  Please make sure you review the Paper Guidelines before turning in your papers.  PAPERS THAT DO NOT COMPLY WITH THE GUIDELINES WILL BE PENALIZED.  Undergraduates—especially those who have not taken an upper level philosophy course before—are encouraged to have a draft of your paper read by one of the tutors in the Philosophy Writing Center (SAV 362). 

                5.  MIDTERM AND FINAL EXAM.  There will be a Midterm Exam in class on Wednesday Oct. 25.  Review questions for the exam will be distributed in advance.  The Final Exam will be held on Monday Dec. 9 at 2:30 in SAV 132.  Final Exam Review Questions will be distributed in advance.  There will be a review session in class before each exam. 

                6.  TERM PAPER OPTION.  With my permission, undergraduates may substitute a term paper (10-15 pages) for the Final Exam; philosophy graduate students must do the term paper.  Term papers may be an extension of one of the shorter papers.  Term paper topics must be approved by me on or before Friday Nov. 22.  If you do a term paper, it is highly recommended that you turn in a draft for my comments.  Drafts are to be submitted as email attachments by midnight on Wednesday Dec. 4.  Final term papers are to be submitted as email attachments by midnight on Wednesday Dec. 11. 

NOTE:  Please bring a pen and a blank exam book with no missing pages to all exams. 


                IV. Course Web Site.  All handouts, transparencies, and end-of-class questions 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.  Your grades will be recorded on the PHIL 440 Canvas site.


V. 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.


                VI. Extensions Of Time.  Extensions of time should be requested in advance of the deadline.  Unexcused, late work will be penalized.  .  I am generally willing to give extensions of time for any good reason.  Except in cases of genuine emergency, I do not give Incompletes.


                VII. Grades.  Grades will be based on points earned as follows:  (1) End-of-Class questions (approx. 60 points).  (2) Short papers (220 points—110 points each (10 points for introduction; 100 points for final paper).  (3) Midterm Exam (100 points).  (4) Final Exam (100 points).  Grades will be assigned at the end of the course based on total points earned as follows:  96% = 4.0; 95% = 3.9; 90%= 3.5; 80% = 3.0; 65% = 2.0; and 50% = 1.0.  Your contribution to discussion in class can improve your grade, but cannot lower it. 


                VIII. Course Evaluation.  Friday Dec. 6 in class.  The course evaluation is your opportunity to evaluate my performance and to provide suggestions for improving the course.


                IX. Return of Final Exams.  Unless other arrangements are made, the in-class portion of the Final Exam will be available for pick-up in the Philosophy Department Office (SAV 361) during the first week of winter quarter.  If you would like your Final Exam to be mailed to you, please provide me with a stamped, self-addressed envelope for mailing.  




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