Philosophy Courses

TAMUCC Philosophy Courses Stefan Sencerz
Philosophy Introduction to Ethics Lecture Notes

Syllabus (Fall 2017)  

Homework, quick updates, etc 

A term paper assignment

The 5th homework is due Oct 30 (M) or Oct  31 (T) (depending on when your class meets).  Extra scantrons next to my office door (FC 261). 

A REMINDER ABOUT THE SECOND TESTThe date for the test is postponed to November 01 or November 02 (depending on when your class meets). The material for the 2nd test: Rachels, Chapters 5-8, lectures 3-4 (including reviews for these lectures); homeworks 4-5. Objective questions will be very similar to questions on these reviews and homeworks.

There will be one essay question. I will give you  at least two options and you will write on one of them.

Essay Topic #1:

  1. Critics claim that utilitarianism is too demanding. Briefly state and explain the act utilitarian principle and explain why critics raise this problem.
  2. What are supererogatory acts? Define and explain this concept using a clear and appropriate example. In your example, clearly identify both an obligatory act and a supererogatory act. Explain!
  3. Can there be supererogatory acts if act-utilitarianism is true? Why or why not? Explain both the utilitarian theory and its implications for the problem of supererogatory acts.
  4. Sketch some theory (a version of deontology or some modification to utilitarian theory) that would allow for supererogatory acts. Explain!

Essay Topic #2: Suppose that a surgeon discovers that there is a perfect match between one of his patients and five other people who need organ-transplants. If he releases his patient, these five people will die. He can kill his patient, however, harvest his organs and use them to save these five people. What should he do?

  1. Briefly state and explain the act utilitarian principle.
  2. Explain what this principle seems to imply about this case. Is this implication plausible or not?
  3. Consider how a consequentialist could respond to this problem. In particular, consider all relevant alternatives that the doctor has (including hidden. Furthermore, consider both the short and the long term consequences of doctor's actions. How do they help a consequentialist to deal with the problem of justice?
  4. Briefly explain how a deontologist, who base his ethics on the idea of respect, could handle this case. In particular, what does it meant to treat someone with respect and not to use him/her merely as a means? 

Essay Topic #3:

  1. What is (counts as) an intrinsic value. Define this concept and give an example of something that is intrinsically valuable. Explain your example.
  2. What is (counts as) an instrumental value? Give an example of something that has instrumental value only but does not have intrinsic value. Explain your example.
  3. Is it true that only pleasure is intrinsically good and only pain is intrinsically bad? Explain. In your answer, explain the isolation test and then apply this test to some convincing examples of intrinsically good things.
  4. Mill claims that some pleasures are more valuable than others, they have higher quality. Using a convincing example, explain what he means by this and his reasons (arguments) for his claim.

 

A REMINDER ABOUT THE FIRST TEST: The date for the test is postponed to October 02 or October 03 (depending on when your class meets). The material for the 1st test: Rachels, Chapter 1-2, lectures 1-2 (including reviews for these lectures); homeworks 1-3. Objective questions will be very similar to questions on these reviews and homeworks.

There will be one essay question. I will give you  two options and you will write on one of them.

Option 1: Baby Theresa case from chapter 1. What is at stake in this case? What is the "benefits and no-harms" argument? What is this argument supposed to show? What are internal problems for consequentialism? How can a consequentialist solve these problems? What is an argument "from respect" (that ought NOT to use persons merely as a means)? What is it supposed to show? What does it mean to use someone merely as a means? How does it apply to this case?

Option 2: What is Cultural Ethical Relativism (CER)? How 5 theses / claims (mentioned by Rachels and discussed in class) help us to understand this view? What do these theses imply? (Be prepared to explain them using examples). How can we argue in support CER? How good/bad are these arguments? How can we argue against CER? How good/bad are these arguments?

Lecture 1: What Is Morality? 

Additional resources:

  Lecture 2: The Challenge of Cultural Relativism 

Additional resources:

 

 Lecture 3: Psychological and Ethical Egoism  

Additional resources:

 Lecture 4: Utilitarianism 

Additional resources:

 

Lecture 5: ´╗┐Deontology, Kant, and Ethics of Respect for Persons

Additional resources:

 

Extended Examples of using ethical theories:

Euthanasia

Marijuana

Capital Punishment

Nonhuman Animals