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Course Requirements


Judgment about the progress of your work is based on the quality and depth of critical and constructive thinking exhibited in quizzes, homework, tests, discussion list, and papers.  Your course grade is determined by averaging the points you achieve from the following scores:

(1)    Test 1: The Problems of Ethics and The Good (20%)

(2)    Test 2: Egoistic Theories (20%)

(3)    Test 3: Utilitarianism and Kantian Ethics (20%)

(4)    Test 4: Comprehensive Final (variable 0-60%)

(5)    Quizzes and Homework: best 10 of 13 grades (20%) with participation in the ethicshelp Majordomo Discussion List  (10% of each Quiz and Homework grade)

(6)    Book Review (5%)

(7)    On-Line Paper (10%) and On-Line Reviews of Papers (5%

Your final course grade is assigned according to your final average.  You can access your grades at any time on the philosophy server at http://philosophy.lander.edu/ethics/ ¾just click on “Ethics Grades” and enter the username and password you were given in class.  Grades are usually posted before papers are returned in class.  If you lose your password, for security reasons, please inform your instructor immediately.  You will be given a new password in class.  For security reasons, no password can be issued via e-mail or telephone. 

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Tests in this course are usually a combination of objective, short answer, and essay questions. They are based on questions emphasized in class and are usually a combination of the use of key concepts and methods. They are based on questions from the reading assignments, but unlike the quizzes, the tests are neither based on memorized facts nor based on objective information derived from memorized arguments. Instead, the emphasis given in tests is on the operation and active transformation or manipulation of the concepts learned. Some particularly difficult questions are often included for optional extra credit. 

Quizzes and Homework 

In-class quizzes and homework cover short topics requiring conceptual understanding. Some quizzes are announced in advance, and some quizzes are not announced in advance. The quizzes are designed to last no more than ten minutes each. The specific topic of the quiz is thoroughly discussed in class in advance of the quiz or is given as a homework assignment. In general, you are not notified in advance which homework assignments are handed in; hence, you should attempt all assignments. Late homework assignments are not accepted since solutions are discussed in class. At least three of these grades are dropped before averaging in order to allow for normal required student absences and avoid the problems of scheduling make-up quizzes. For this reason, there are no make-ups (including taking quizzes early) for missed quizzes or missed homework.  The rationale for this policy is explained in the Ethics FAQ.

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Book Review

The book review consists of your considered answers to the questions found in the “Book Review Data Format” section of this syllabus.  The book you choose to review should reflect an area of interest to you and should be practical and non-academic in nature.

One main reason for choosing a popular book is to demonstrate that the philosophical concepts of this course are influential in popular works in psychology, sociology, political science, and religion.  The most important parts of the review are your list of the significant ideas you draw from the book and the passage you choose as an insight into the author’s thoughts.  Your writing should be a helpful, concrete, specific, and practical description of the contents of the book rather than an abstract summary statement of general import.  Examples of reviews will be discussed in class.

Online Paper and Online Reviews of Papers

From the topics listed in the “Ethics Paper Topics” section of this syllabus, accessible from the Ethics Homepage, choose a subject that interests you.  Your paper should reflect reasons for your considered position on the topic and can consist of one argument or several arguments for your point of view.  There are no length requirements—the length of the paper is dependent upon the subject chosen.  I recommend you seek ideas or suggestions for your papers or comments by posting to the ethicshelp discussion list.


Your reviews of other ethics papers on-line are to be your thoughtful responses to the topic being argued.  The review can be any length and should present your reasoned agreement or disagreement with the author.


Your paper and reviews will be published on the Internet by means of the following steps.


(1)   Word-process your paper at home, in the Lander Computer Lab, or in the Logic Lab and copy it on a virus-free floppy 1.44 MB disk.  (As you feel more confident in this process, you might choose to type your paper or comments directly on the form.)

(2)   Cut and Paste the paper into the form at http://philosophy.lander.edu/papers/index.html and click the submit button.


Although Web publishing might seem daunting at first, I will be glad to explain the procedure with you individually in the Logic lab and will be at your side as you become familiar with the process.  Please do not hesitate to ask for help.  Step-by-step instructions are given later in this syllabus.

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Majordomo Mailing List--ethicshelp

The philosophy mailing list ethicshelp is an important part of our ethics course.  ethicshelp is a forum where you can discuss, argue, and debate any issue relating to a philosophical topic.  Your ideas are automatically sent via e-mail to other members of the list.  You are encouraged to post questions, problems, or answers on any topic relating to philosophy, and you are especially encouraged to try out your philosophical ideas and theories.  In addition, ethicshelp is a good place to seek information about test questions, interesting readings, or a pre-evaluation of your philosophy papers.

For this aspect of the course, you will need an e-mail account.  All new and returning students have Lander e-mail accounts based upon your user name and password (your 4-digit PIN number issued to you when you registered for classes).  If you do not know your PIN number and password, please see a lab assistant at the help desk on the second floor of Laura Lander Hall. The lab assistant will help you find your user name and password and explain how to use the Web-based e-mail.  

The Office of Computing Services has set up a server whereby you can check your e-mail on the following web page: http://student.lander.edu/webmail, or you can accesses your mail with a 3.5” Eudora Email Diskette available for purchase at the University Bookstore.  Many students set up web e-mail accounts with a free Internet service such as http://www.hotmail.com.  An extensive list of free e-mail account directory is provided at http://www.emailaddresses.com

For one of the purposes of this course and to encourage you to become conversant with the tools of the everyday world, a requirement of our course is for you to post a minimum of ten messages during the semester as part of your course grade.  In order to reduce bandwidth on the  network at Lander, your posts need to be distributed over the course of the semester, rather than at the end of the course.  For this reason, the scoring for this aspect of the course is somewhat arbitrary.  One point of each quiz is determined by whether  you have posted at least one message to ethicshelp prior to that quiz.  In other words, if you choose not to post a message prior to a quiz, the highest grade obtainable on that quiz is 9 out of 10 points.

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The most convenient way to join ethicshelp is to type in the following URL (Address) in your browser (i.e., Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, Netscape Navigator, or Opera): http://philosophy.lander.edu/ethicshelp/index.html .   Type in your e-mail address in the form at the left and click the "submit query" button.  You will receive on-screen confirmation of your subscription.  That’s all there is to it.

To submit a message to ethicshelp, just send an e-mail to ethicshelp@philosophy.lander.edu as in the following example:

If you wish to receive a copy of your own post, be sure to cc a copy to yourself¾otherwise you will not receive a copy, even though you are a member of the discussion list.  If e-mail is new to you, please stop by the Logic Lab in M33 during office hours, and I will be most happy to show you how to use Lander’s web-based email, how to sign up for ethicshelp, and how to send e-mail.


When you post messages to ethicshelp, for full credit, please observe the following guidelines: 


(1)   Include a clear and precise subject line.  When responding to a previous message, type your subject-line with a “Re: “ before the subject given in the subject-line of the previous message.  For example see the screenshot above concerning “Re: Bentham’s Argument.”  A simpler way to respond to a previous message is by clicking “Reply to All” in your e-mail client; this click will automatically set the subject –line of your e-mail. Please note that if you just click "Reply" your message will be sent only to the writer of the previous message and not to the ethicshelp list.

(2)   Spam, chain letters, flaming are expressly prohibited and, if repeated, could result in the sender’s suspension from the list.

(3)   Finally, as is usual with e-mail etiquette, do not use all capital letters in your posts and include all text in the post—i.e., do not use attachments to your e-mail.

(4) Configure your e-mail client so that your full name appears in the "From: " box.  In some cases, you might find it easiest to type in your name in front of your e-mail address in the "From: " box and place the e-mail address in angle brackets like this:  
< user@host.com >


All messages to the ethicshelp discussion list are archived and are accessible from the Ethics Homepage.

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Grade Evaluation

Your final course grade is assigned according to your final average.

     An A (above 90 points) reflects approximately three or more hours of study per class period and represents a great deal of time, thought, and effort.
     A B (above 80 but below 90 points) reflects approximately two hours of study per class period and represents above average time, thought and effort.
     A C (above 70 but below 80 points) reflects approximately one hour of study per class period and represents average time, thought, and effort.
     A D (above 60 but below 70 points) reflects cramming for examinations and represents minimum time, thought, and effort.
     An F (below 60 points) reflects very little time, thought, and effort and represents below college level work.
     An FA reflects attending fewer that 75% of class meetings.
     An INC can only be given in cases of sudden illness or emergency.

Your General Responsibilities

Our course is not difficult if you keep up with the assigned work.

  • Come to class prepared. 
  • Take notes in class and take notes on assigned reading. 
  • Attempt all homework problems assigned.
  • Ask questions.  Seek help at the first signs of difficulty.Ethics Homepage
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