Contemporary Social and Moral Issues
David G. Danielson contact
This is a course on ethics. We will examine in depth the complexity of Ethical issues and decisions. We will look at the philosophic grounds for making certain ethical decisions. Most of the time we will examine and discuss a variety of practical ethical concerns, situations that call for an ethical response.
The course will consist of some lectures, in-class discussions of issues and discussion of articles written on these issues. During the course you will be participating in small/large group discussions. And you will participate as a member of a group project.
The goal of this course is not to try and change anyone's views about any of these issues. Rather it is an attempt to broaden our understanding of the issues, and gain an awareness of the complexity of the decisions connected with these issues. Since the topics are connected very closely with values and beliefs, the class is designed to allow persons to hear other points of view as well as express their own views.
For a copy of the Syllabus click here.TTH Class,
An article entitled “Everybody Does It.” This is about cheating.
Cheating 9/7/12 NYT
This is a link to the Josephson Ethics Institute http://josephsoninstitute.org/
The readings for the class are listed on the syllabus which you can download above. The readings for each week ought to be read before the first class of the week. This will allow discussion on the topics. The homework assignments are due on Thursdays except where indicated in class.
Ethical Theories – Here are links to very good explanations of the theories. Dr. Sandra LaFave’s site.
(Here is a review of Guitar Hero 3 which is relevant to Mill.)
Archived interview with William Irvine on Stoic Happiness
Aristotle's Virtue Ethics
A podcast on Aristotle's concept of Happiness
Morality and Science
David Eagleman on The Brain and the Law
Reading Each Other's Minds Rebecca Saxe
Each student will write a summary of one of the articles we read on one of the topics, e.g. Euthanasia, and read the summary to me in the office. The summary should be two pages long and all in your own words. Do not quote the original article. Bring two copies of the summary, one for me, one for you. I want a summary, not an essay.
The Service Learning assignment is an opportunity for you to work in some area that is related to Ethics, or deals with a moral issue. These can be quite broad in interpretation. The goal is for you to find some place to work for 7 - 10 hours which will broaden your awareness of services and opportunities in the community. There are several websites below that can aid you in finding service opportunities. While you are working, please record your experiences in the notebook. At the end of the semester, there will be two options for the assignment. 1) Write a 1 - 2 page summary of what you did, where you did it, and what you learned. or 2) Give a short presentation on what you did etc. on the date of the final exam.
An good way to find out Service Learning opportunities
http://www.volunteermatch.org/ another site is
and another at http://www.goserv.ca.gov/index.asp
Here is a nice distinction between Helping and Serving. by Rachel Naomi Remen M.D.
Our Basic Human Pleasures: Food, Sex, and Giving, Nicholas Kristof
Required Text: Today's Moral Issues, Bonevac Amazon (Correct edition)
Recommended Text: How to Get the Most Out of Philosophy, Soccio (ABE Books)
Recommended Text: Ethical Insights: A Brief Introduction, Birsch (ABE Books)
You will also need to keep a philosophy notebook. We will be discussing this in class regularly. Some days, the 1st 10 minutes of each class will be spent writing.
There is also a website devoted to The Work of Byron Katie. It's well worth looking at for a way to avoid suffering.
Below are some websites that may be of help during the semester.
This is a link to Ethics on the Web. http://commfaculty.fullerton.edu/lester/ethics/ethics_list.html
This is a link to a Philosophy Encyclopedia. http://plato.stanford.edu/
This is a link that has a comprehensive list of philosophy websites. http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/philinks.htm
Interesting Prison Story
Frontline Video "The Last Abortion Clinic"
A Good Exit (Harper's Magazine)
Suicide Tourist Frontline Video
Cyber War (New Yorker article 11/1/10)
Why We Fight (Documentary well worth watching.)
Dodd-Frank Defanged, Gary Rivlin
Inside the Meltdown - Frontline
Who Shredded our Safety Net - Mother Jones
Sex Slaves - Frontline
Child Prostitution NOW program
A site that has a slide show of lynching photos. Here.
A = 1000 - 900
A good reference on Plagiarism is located HERE
Please make an effort to be on time. Arriving late disrupts the learning environment. If you need to leave a little earlier please do so. The classroom will always be open early so there will be a place to come and study, read, or write in the notebook.
Date of last update1/12/11
Direct Questions or comments about this page to firstname.lastname@example.org
This page was developed and is maintained for the Collegeof San Mateo by the Philosophy Dept.