The philosophical study of ethics relates to a systematic assessment of how we ought to act. This course will introduce the student to some key concepts of ethical theory and help one to utilize these concepts for normative decisions in everyday life. Our target is to evaluate our perceptions, beliefs, desires, fears; and to find a key for understanding our participation in life. Rights, justice, fairness, but also authenticity, personhood, and a sense of humanity these are real issues for each of us to cope with in an on-going process of character building and in appreciation of what it means to be a life-long learner. The course does not provide ready-made answers for ethical queries, but it enhances our capacity for informed judgment of value related decision making. It will be absolutely necessary to come to all classes and to be informed about classroom activities. Three major ethical theories are in the forefront of our discussions: virtue ethics, deontological ethics, and utilitarian ethics. Their applied relevance will be discussed in panel presentations about contemporary ethical issues. [Satisfies GE category C 3: Philosophy and Values.]

Key for Intersession and Summer School

First Exam 15%, Second Exam 20%, Final Exam 20%, Position Statement 15%, Panel 15%, Participation and Relevant Contributions to in-class Activities 15%, from a total of 400 pts.

Required Text

The Moral of the Story by Nina ROSENSTAND, Mayfield Publishing 2003.

Ethics without Ontology by Hilary PUTNAM, Harvard 2004.

Course Requirements

The final grade is based on the six performance aspects listed above under "key".

First, Second, and Final Exams
For the most part there will be a short essay from a selection of topics, plus a section of picky multiple choice questions over readings and lectures; questions will relate to historical events, to concepts, and to key terminology.

Position Statement

Follow the topical instructions announced in class. Format: 3 pages, double-spaced and typed in 12 pt. Times font, 1 inch margins on all four sides, stapled, no cover page or folder or clear cover. The assignment must be well written, showing a high degree of English proficiency and analytical skills, authentic and honest, and if needed crediting the ideas, words, and works of others. There are no extensions to the posted due date.

Panel Discussion
Each student will be assigned to join a panel group for exploring a selected topic. The group has one hour presentation/discussion time. Each panel will receive a handout with guidelines and instructions on how to research a given topic. Present a philosophically sound report (12 minutes). The group will then lead a discussion with the class. The discussion will focus on applied dimensions of the project. On the day of your presentation you will submit a typed summary (250 words) clearly specifying what it is that the class should have learned from you. Primary target is the application of ethical theory for every-day-life situations.

You will receive up to 30 points for attendance and up to 30 points for active participation. Two absences are free, all additional absences will result in a deduction of 3 points per session.

There are no make-ups for any of the exams, except in very severe cases of emergency. You need to communicate with the instructor early and within the posted guidelines. Lack of communication within 24 hours of the due date will result in a loss of both re-scheduling and late submission. There are no extra credit assignments.

It is helpful to schedule approximately 4 hours of active studying per week outside the classroom to receive a CR or a C grade. For every grade step add two additional hours per week.

Grade requirements and description of grades

F failure 199 pts. and below, or with proven plagiarism.

D barely passing 200 pts.

C average 250 pts. Indicates adequate fulfillment of requirements, and average, but not notable work.

B very good 310 pts. Is earned by fulfilling the course requirement with more than adequate scholarship.

A- outstanding 350 pts.

A outstanding 375 pts., To earn an A or A-, the student must demonstrate outstanding scholarship above and beyond fulfilling all the course requirements.

CR same as grade C- (230 pts.) or better.

W Withdrawal prior to the posted deadline.

I Incomplete. Only in exceptional cases. Has to be removed within one calendar year.


Reading assignments must be completed before the class period on which day they are listed. Be patient with your reading skills. Continuous practice of reading will improve both your ability to focus your thoughts as well as strengthen your reading performance.

Phil s-302 is consistent with G.E. goals and objectives (click here for the G.E. mission statement). At the conclusion of this course, the student will have:

1. conducted an overview of the major ethical theories from Socrates to Rawls, and become acquainted with some great figures of Western ethical theory.

2. learned the basic concepts of the ethical lexicon and demonstrated familiarity with the main topics of this field.

3. improved communication skills and research ability in philosophy.

4. reflected upon the meaning of life, vitality of nature, and everyday personal questions about life, love, happiness, success, and death.

5. achieved a higher appreciation for the vastness and complexity of philosophical issues, and developed the necessary intellectual honesty and modesty when dealing with these issues. with these issues.


(1) Students with disabilities must communicate all requests for special accommodations during the first three days of class.
(2) All exams can be reviewed throughout one calendar year and will be recycled thereafter. (3) Preferred contact is office visit, then phone message, lastly by e-mail <>. (4) Please visit the following hyperlinks for SSU policy information: Grade Appeal Procedures Policy, Cheating and Plagiarism Policy, Campus Diversity Vision Statement.