PHI 3601 (01)  [[90261] ETHICS  Fall 2013  PC 214


     Copyright © 2013 Bruce W. Hauptli


Course Web-site:


The web-site has a copy of the syllabus, extensive lecture supplements for each of the readings and lectures, and other information relevant to the course.  It will be updated throughout the semester.  Students are encouraged to provide me with suggestions and comments about the content, and I am grateful for help in correcting the inevitable typos and grammatical errors! 


Course Description:


What is intrinsically good?  What ought we to do?  How are moral claims justified?  Competing views of major ·philosophers ·are considered. ·This semester, the course will concentrate upon an examination of the moral theories of Hobbes, Mill, Kant, and Aristotle. 


Course Objectives:


In this course students should become familiar with the problems, positions, arguments, and methodologies of the philosophers studied.  They also should strengthen their ability to interpret texts; they should enhance their ability to provide balanced exposition and examination of philosophical problems, positions, and methodologies; and they should fortify their understanding of the philosophical activity of criticism of doctrines and things commonly taken for granted. 


The course focuses the students’ attention on inquiry and analysis; seeks to extend their abilities to adopt critical perspectives; and it endeavors to connect the philosophical problems, positions and methodologies studied with the concerns and methodologies of other disciplines, as well as of our culture generally.  The lectures, readings, papers, and exams are integrated in a manner intended to promote these objectives.  In all of these activities students will be encouraged to interact analytically with, and respond critically to, the primary and secondary texts studied.  Students will also be encouraged to endeavor to assimilate the ideas studied with those they have previously studied. 




Ethical Theory: Classic and Contemporary Readings (sixth edition), eds. Louis Pojman and James Fieser (Boston: Wadsworth: 2011); ISBN: 9780495808770.  The text is available in the FIU Bookstore on the University Park campus, and can be rented from the publisher. 






1. Pojman's Introduction to “What Is Ethics?”


Ethical Egoism:


Recommended Reading: Pojman's Introduction to “Morality and Self-Interest”

2. Feinberg's “Psychological Egoism”

3. Selections from Hobbes' Leviathan

Suggested Readings: Richard Taylor’s “On the Socratic Dilemma,” and David Gauthier’s “Morality and Advantage”




Recommended Reading: Pojman's Introduction to “Utilitarianism”

4. Selections from Mill's Utilitarianism

5. Williams' “Against Utilitarianism”

6. Nozick’s “The Experience Machine”

Suggested Readings: Singer’s “Famine, Affluence, and Morality,” and Parfit’s “What Makes Someone’s Life Go Best?”


Kantian Ethics:


Recommended Reading: Pojman's Introduction to “Kantian and Deontological Systems”

7. Selections from Kant's Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals

8. Taylor's "Value and the Origin of Right and Wrong"

9. Foot’s “Morality As A System of Hypothetical Imperatives”

10. Ross’ “What Makes Acts Right?”

Suggested Readings: O'Neill's “Kant's Formula of the End In Itself and World Hunger.” Thomson’s “Killing, Letting Die, and the Trolley Problem,” Nagel’s “Moral Luck,” and Nielsen’s “Against Moral Conservatism”


Aristotelian Ethics:


Recommended Reading: Pojman's Introduction to Virtue-Based Ethical Systems”

11. Selections from Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics

12. Mayo's "Virtue and the Moral Life"

13. Frankena’s “A Critique of Virtue-Based Ethics”

14. Schaller’s “Are Virtues No More Than Dispositions To Obey Moral Rules?”

Suggested Readings: Wolf's “Moral Saints,” and Pojman's “In Defense of Moral Saints”



Requirements and Policies:


The following requirements and policies will apply for this course, and students should read them carefully as I adhere rather strictly to them.  I do not accept claims to ignorance in their regard.  I apologize in advance for the length, tone, and specificity of this discussion, but irksome experiences over time have shown that it is wise to clearly specify these items. 


1. Regular class attendance is required: after the first two class meetings attendance will be taken via a roll sheet which will be passed around the class soon after class has begun—the roll sheet will quickly circulate and students who arrive after the roll sheet has circulated will need to explain (immediately after class) their lateness to have their attendance count that day.  Students must attend for the whole class period, and those who leave before the class period is over will be counted as absent.  Students who miss no more than one class will have their course grade raised by one third of a letter grade (B to B+, etc.).  Students who miss three classes will have their course grade lowered by one third of a letter grade (C+ to C, etc.), students who miss five classes will have their course grade lowered by two thirds of a letter grade (C+ to C-, etc.), students who miss seven classes will have their course grade lowered by one letter grade (C to D, etc.), additional absences will be treated according to this progression. 


Excuses will only rarely be accepted for the first absence, and only extraordinary excuses will be accepted for any third or subsequent absences.  In short, multiple excuses for any individual are viewed with ever-increasing skepticism.  Only verifiable excuses will be allowed, and they must be presented to me in person—messages on my voice mail do not count as excuses.  Excuses should be presented as soon after the absence as possible (students who wait till the end of the semester to offer excuses for early absences need to meet a high burden of verification for the absence to be excused).  Please note that I check with Doctors’ offices, hospitals and funeral homes; and I will only rarely accept work-related excuses (which should be offered before the absence). 


2. Appropriate conduct is expected in class: I expect students to turn off portable phones and muted any distracting watch and  computer alarms or sign-sounds.  Courteous consideration for others is a fundamental element in the classroom.  I expect students to refrain from engaging in private conversations, noisy snacking, and only in the case of emergencies should students momentarily leave the classroom while class is in session.  In short, students are expected to comport themselves in a manner which does not interfere with instruction and learning.  Disruptive behavior will not be tolerated. 


3. Regular reading is assumed: students who do not do their readings will have difficulty with the requirements and students who do not attend class will have difficulty with their readings.  I strongly recommend that students do the readings several times—at least once before the class in which they will be discussed and once after the class.  Extensive lecture supplements are available on-line through my web-site, and I am available during my Office Hours to discuss readings, paper topics, etc. 


4. Papers, examinations, and deadlines: because writing as a form of critical inquiry is conducive to facilitating critical reflection on central topics both in philosophy and generally in all areas, students in this course will be required to write two critical, analytical or expository philosophy papers each of which should be approximately 2,000 words long (equivalent to eight double-spaced typewritten pages of 250 words per page).  This indication of length is meant as a guide to the student—papers much shorter than the indicated length are unlikely to have adequately addressed one of the assigned topics.  Papers may, of course, be longer than the indicated length.  The papers should


address an assigned topic in a manner that clearly displays its purpose, thesis, or controlling idea,

clarify the relevant elements of the philosopher’s theory so that they can be understood by other students taking such philosophy courses,

support the thesis with adequate reasons and evidence,

show sustained analysis and critical thought,

be organized clearly and logically, and

show knowledge of conventions of standard written English. 


The papers should be typed and are due in my office by 4:15 P.M. on the following dates: Monday, October14 and Monday, November 25. 


A supplement entitled “Writing Philosophy Papers” is available on the course web-site.  It further describes in detail what my expectations are (as well as clarifying what critical, analytical or expository philosophy papers are like).  This supplement also provides a list of “grader’s marks” which I employ in grading papers and exams.  I provide detailed comments regarding the compositional, expository, and the critical elements of such papers, and I review the comments from earlier papers prior to reading later ones so that I can assess continuing progress and problems.  Paper topics will be distributed so that students have at least two weekends to work on their papers, and the topics will be directly related to the readings, lectures, and discussions in the course prior to the assignments. 


There will also be two closed book and closed notes in-class essay exams: a midterm on Friday, October 11, and a final exam, during the period assigned by Registration and Records for this course.  The examinations will be in-class objective essay exams.  They will be designed to assess the students’ understanding of the philosophical theories, positions, topics, and methodologies studied.  Sample study questions will be distributed in advance of the exams so that students have an opportunity to organize their thoughts and integrate the readings and lectures around sample questions designed to indicate what they are expected to have mastered.  A supplement entitled “Writing Essay Exams for Professor Hauptli” is available on the course web-site. 


Together the papers are worth 60% of the grade (30% each) and the exams are worth 40% (20% each).  Students must submit all papers and take all exams to pass the course—that is, failure to complete any of the course requirements will result in a grade of F for the course.  Therefore, students who do not turn in a paper or take an exam on time must nonetheless submit that paper or take a make-up exam if they wish to pass the course (grades higher than an F are given only for performance and accomplishment; and late papers and make-up exams may demonstrate these, while unfulfilled requirements demonstrate neither).  An incomplete will not be assigned simply because work is late.


5. Grading Scale: in grading papers and exams, and in calculating the course grade, I use the following scale:







































The “split” grades (B+/A-, for example) are assigned when the work is between the indicated grades.  Of course, these split grades can not be used for the ultimate course grade, and thus the grades for the various individual papers and exams are calculated using the percentages indicated above (and adding or subtracting the appropriate fractional consideration in accordance with the attendance policy).  For the overall course grade the above point equivalents constitute the minimum necessary to receive the indicated grade (thus students must earn at least a 3.67 to receive a course grade of A-). 


6. Extensions and late work: I indicate the due dates for the papers and the exam dates above.  Moreover, I hand out paper topics so that students generally have at two weekends to work on their papers, and I hand out sample exam questions in advance of examinations.  There should, then, be little call for extensions.  Before the due date I will consider reasonable requests for extensions.  Note, however, that excuses do not guarantee extensions, and excuses offered after due dates are far, far less successful than those offered before due dates.  If I grant an extension to a student, that extension will establish a new due date, and that date must be met (or in extraordinary circumstances, an additional extension may be arranged [but only when it is requested prior to the (extended) due date]).  Please note that requests for extensions must be made directly to me—neither my secretary nor your doctor may grant extensions for this course, and last minute calls to my voice-mail provide no assurance of extensions.  On and after the due date, only an extraordinary request will be accepted (acceptable examples: hospitalization on due date, extremely serious personal problem, death in the immediate family; unacceptable examples: running out of time, and flat tires). 


Papers are due in my office by 4:15 P.M. on the due date—papers turned in after 4:15 will be treated as if they were turned in the next day.  The additional time on the due date beyond the time when the class meets is offered so that students who need additional time that day may attend class on the due date, and avoid suffering from the provisions of the attendance policy noted above.  Students who turn their papers in at the office rather than in class should give them to the Department secretary so that the date and time may be noted on the papers.  Papers submitted after 4:15 but before 4:15 P.M. the next day will receive a one-third decrease in grade (example: B+ changes to a B), papers turned in two days late will receive a two-thirds grade decrease, additional days will be treated according to this progression, but papers turned in between 4:15 on Fridays and 9:00 on Mondays will be counted as turned in on Monday morning, and will be assessed a "double penalty" for each weekend day).  A paper turned in one week late, then, would receive a 9/3 grade reduction (an A paper would, thus, receive a D because of the unexcused lateness). 


Clearly, students have a strong incentive to contact me if they are going to be unable to turn their papers in on time—failure to do so may have serious consequences in terms of the course grade.  If your paper is late, and you haven’t secured an extension it makes sense to speak with me (after class, in my office, or on the phone).  When I am provided with a good reason, I will seriously granting an extension even after the due date—this stops the penalties from continuing to pile on to those already assessed for the lateness. 


Note that unless I have explicitly granted you an incomplete, all late papers and midterms must be turned in by the last class of the semester (prior to Finals Week)—assignments which are not turned in as of that time will be considered undone, and the penalty for having not done any of the requirements for the course is a course grade of “F.”  Note, also, that I will not accept any but the most extraordinary of excuses for missing or being late for the Final Exam. 


7. “Pass/Fail" grades:


In the absence of a University-wide policy, students in my courses must earn a grade of C- or better to receive a "Pass" if they have selected the Pass/Fail grading option. 


8. Plagiarism and academic misconduct: when you engage in plagiarism you present as your work the opinions or arguments of someone else.  Plagiarism is dishonest since the plagiarist offers for credit what is not her or his own.  It is also counter-productive because it defeats a purpose of education—the improvement of the student’s own powers of thinking, reasoning, and expression.  Plagiarism may even occur when one expresses another’s sequence of ideas, arrangement of material, or pattern of thought in one’s own words.  We have a case of plagiarism when a sequence of ideas is transferred from a source to a paper without a process of digestion, integration, criticism, and inquiry in the writer’s mind and without acknowledgment (I have borrowed this statement with permission, from the FIU English and Sociology/Anthropology Departments’ descriptions of plagiarism).  Academic misconduct occurs when the norms of inquiry are violated.  Examples include students who present false Doctors’ notes, who pretend that they have a family or medical emergency, or who seriously hinder other students’ scholarly activities.  I assign a course grade of F when I confront cases of plagiarism or academic misconduct, and I bring such students before the appropriate disciplinary body (the processes are set forth in the Student Handbook).  The minimal penalty I seek for students found guilty of plagiarism through the process is an F in the course, the provision that the University’s “Forgiveness Policy” may not be used to expunge that grade, and such students are placed on Academic Probation for the remainder of their undergraduate careers at FIU (so that a second such act usually results in expulsion from the University). 


Students should be aware that it is not hard for professors to spot many cases of plagiarism.  In a recent academic year, for example, I caught and charged a total of six students for plagiarism and all it took to catch them was a simple web search!  The University’s policies on Academic Misconduct and Code of Academic Integrity may be found on the FIU website at:


9. A Note To Students Taking Multiple Courses With Professor Hauptli:


As you know, I provide detailed comments regarding the compositional, expository, and the critical elements of your papers.  In order to facilitate my goal of enhancing your ability to provide balanced exposition and examination of philosophical problems, positions, and methodologies; in I will review the comments from earlier papers prior to reading later ones so that I can assess continuing progress and problems.  Since you have already taken a course (or several courses) from me, I will review my comments on your papers from prior semesters before reading your papers for this course so that I can more carefully assess your continuing progress and identify any continuing problems. 


Office Hours:


Mondays and Fridays, 2:30-4:00; and by appointment


Office: DM 341D

Mail Box Location: DM 340A (the room is open from 9:00-5:00)

Phone/Voice Mail: 305-348-3350


I check both voice and E-Mail several times a day, and I return my calls.