Prof. David Haslett

24 Kent Way, Rm. 205

Home phone:  366-8579


Fall, 2002










This course has two objectives.  The first is to provide some insight into (1) the nature of moral justification in general, and (2) what solutions to contemporary moral problems are most justified.  The second main objective is to sharpen your skills at critically examining and debating moral problems and, in general, at coming to well thought-out solutions of your own.





Your work in this course will consist of the following:  1.  reading assignments; 2.  class participation; and 3.  three tests.  These are explained below.



1.  Reading Assignments


The weekly reading assignments are not long.  Also, most of the reading is not difficult, if read carefully and with patience.  Class discussion each week will presuppose that all of the readings have been completed by everyone.  To benefit fully from this course, it is essential that you read the assignments and attend class regularly.  WARNING:  Many of the ethical views argued for in the readings may not be justified.  It is up to you to read critically, and, with the aid of class discussion, distinguish between the views that are justified and those that are not.  In this type of class, incidentally, it is possible to learn as much, or even more, from views that are not justified.


The required texts are the following:


a.  Morality and Moral Controversies, ed. by John Arthur (referred to here as "A")


b.  Social and Personal Ethics, ed. by William H. Shaw (referred to here as "S").



2.  Class Participation


Class participation consists of the following:

  a.  Answering questions I ask in class about the readings and topic for the day.             


  b.  Asking questions about, or disagreeing with, views I present during class.  Since some of these views may not be justified, I especially encourage you to express any disagreement you may have with them   The more differing viewpoints we have expressed in class, the more interesting the discussion, and more we are all likely to learn.


3.  Each test will consist of multiple choice questions that cover all material assigned since the last test.  These questions will come not just from the readings, but also, to a large extent, from class lectures and discussions.  Taking good notes is therefore important.   The dates for each test are set out below. 




Note:  Our discussion of the topics below will often carry over into the following class meeting


Wednesday, Sept 4: Introduction



Friday, Sept. 6:  Religion & Relativism


Shaw, “The Nature of Morality” (S, pp. 2-14)



Monday, Sept 9:  Dogmatism


            No new assignment



Wednesday, Sept. 11:  (1)  Disobeying the Law,  (2) Terrorism,


            1.  Plato, “Crito” (A, pp. 333-38)


            2.  Frey & Morris, “Terrorism” (A, pp 106-11)



Friday, Sept 13: (1) May Government Ever Ignore  Human Rights? (2) Theories of Ethics


            1.  Dworkin, “Taking Rights Seriously  (A, pp. 338-45)


            2.  Shaw, “Normative Theories of Ethics  (S, pp. 15-19 only)



Monday, Sept. 16:  Theories of Ethics


            Shaw, “Normative Theories of Ethics” (S, pp. 19-28 only)



Wednesday, Sept 18:  Theories of Ethics


            Shaw,  Normative Theories of Ethics” (S, pp.  28-35)



Friday, Sept. 20:  Homosexuality


            1.  Finnis, “What’s Wrong with Homosexuality? (A, pp. 558-60)


            2.  Mohr, “Gay Basics:  Some questions, Facts, and Values” (A, pp. 570-79)


            3.  Bennett & Sullivan, “Same-Sex Marriage, A Debate” (A, pp. 612-14)        



Monday, Sept. 23:  Sexual Ethics


1.  Pineau, “Date Rape:  A Feminist Analysis” (A, pp. 580-88)


2.  Paglia, “An Interview About Date Rape” (A, pp. 588-91)



Wednesday, Sept. 25:  Adultery


Martin, “Adultery and Fidelity” (S, pp. 301-8)



Friday, Sept. 27:  Aid to the Starving


            Singer, “Rich and Poor” (S, pp. 455-63)



Monday, Sept. 30  Euthanasia


1.  Gay-Williams, “The Wrongfulness of Euthanasia” (S, pp. 96-104)


2.  Rachels, “Active and Passive Euthanasia” (S, pp. 100-104)

Wednesday, Oct. 2:  Euthanasia


    Brandt, “Defective Newborn and the Morality of Termination” (A, p. 253-60)


Friday, Oct. 4:  Is There a Duty to Die?


    Hardwig, “Is There a Duty to Die?” (S, pp. 119-27)



Monday, Oct. 7:  FIRST TEST



Wednesday, Oct. 9:  Animals


1.  Singer, “The Place of Nonhumans in Environmental Issues” (S, pp. 175-81)


            2.  Engel  Why You Are Committed to the Immorality of Eating Meat” (S. pp. 212-20)



Friday, Oct. 11:  Killing Innocent People


            No new reading assignment



Monday, Oct. 14:  Should the U.S. Attack Iraq?


            Wasserstrom, “On the Morality of War” (A, pp. 111-20)



Wednesday, Oct. 16:  Abortion

1.  Roe v. Wade,  The Constitutional Right to an Abortion” (A., pp. 190-94)


2.  Wolf-Devine, “Abortion and the Feminine Voice” (S, pp.165-73)


3.  Marquis, “An Argument that Abortion is Wrong” (S, p.144-52)



Friday, Oct. 18:  Abortion


1.  Thomson, “A Defense of Abortion” (A, pp. 195-203)


2.  Warren, “On the Moral and Legal Status of Abortion  (A, pp. 204-10)      



Monday, Oct. 21:  Abortion


            Harris, “Fathers and Fetuses” (A, pp. 228-34)



Wednesday, Oct. 23:  Selling Babies


            Posner, “Selling Babies  (A, pp. 625-30)



Friday, Oct. 25:  Licensing Parents,


            Lafollette, “Licensing Parents  (A, pp.  637-44)



Monday, Oct. 28:  Cloning and Genetic Engineering


            1.  Robertson, “Cloning Human Beings” (S, pp. 294-98)


            2.  Dworkin,  Playing God:  Genes, Clones, and Luck” (A, pp. 260-66)



 Wednesday, Oct. 30  (1)  Paternalism, (2) Surrogate Motherhood

1.  Mill, “On Liberty” (A, pp. 368-70 only)


            2.  JFK Memorial Hospital v. Heston, “Requiring Medical Treatment” (A, 377-80)


            3.  Steinbock, “Surrogate Motherhood as Prenatal Adoption” (A, pp. 616-24)



Friday, Nov. 1:  Drugs


Szasz, “The Ethics of Addiction:  An Argument in Favor of Letting Americans Take

Ant Drug They Want” (A, pp. 380-88)    



Monday, Nov. 4:  Drugs


    Goodin, “Permissible Paternalism:  Saving Smokers from Themselves” (S, pp. 241-47)



Wednesday, Nov. 6:  Drugs


            No new assignment



Friday, Nov. 8:  SECOND TEST



Monday, Nov. 11:  Gun Control


1.  Dixon, “Handguns and Violent Crime” (S, pp. 408-15)


2.  Polsby, “The False Promise of Gun Control” (S, pp. 417-23)



Wednesday, Nov. 13:  Capital Punishment


1.  Shaw, “Punishment and the Criminal Justice System” (S. pp. 431-38)


2.  van den Haag, “The Ultimate Punishment: A Defense”   (S, pp. 439-45)


            3.  Godwin, “Comparing Human Lives” (A, pp. 243-44)



Friday, Nov. 15:  Capital Punishment


    Reiman, “Justice, Civilization, and the Death Penalty” (S, pp. 446-54)



Monday, Nov. 18:  Free Speech and Pornography


1.  Mill, “Of the Liberty of Thought and Discussion” (A, pp. 417-20)                


2.  Longino, “Pornography, Oppression, and Freedom” (A, pp. 436-41)



Wednesday, Nov. 20:  Flag Burning and Inflammatory Language


1.  Texas v. Johnson, “Flag Burning as Constitutionally Protected” (A, pp. 421-24)


2.  Lawrence and Gunther, “Prohibiting Racist Speech on Campus:  A Debate” (A, pp.



3.  Dershowitz, “Political Correctness, Speech Codes, and Diversity” (A, pp. 434-35)



Friday, Nov. 22:  Affirmative Action


1.  Rachels, “Reverse Discrimination” (A, pp. 531-34)


2.  Murray, “Affirmative Racism” (A, pp. 523-31)



Monday, Nov. 25:  Affirmative Action


            Aleinikoff, “A Case for Race-Consciousness” (S, pp. 390-400)



Wednesday, Nov. 27:  Reparations


            Arthur, “Racism and Reparations” (A, pp. 534-49)



Friday, Nov. 29: Thanksgiving Holiday



Monday, Dec. 2:  Equal Opportunity


            Haslett, “Is Inheritance Justified?” (S, pp. 490-98)



Wednesday, Dec. 4:  Welfare


            Isbister, “Welfare and Social Justice” (S, pp. 480-89)  



Friday, Dec. 6:  Welfare


            No new assignment



Monday, Dec. 9


Ellison v. Brady: “Sexual Harassment” (A, pp. 465-69)



Wednesday, Dec. 11


            Bok, “Can Higher Education Foster Higher Morals?” (S, pp. 500-509)



Thursday, Dec. 19, 10:30-1:30:  THIRD TEST