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PHILOSOPHY 121 – Introduction to Ethics   


Syllabus, Spring 2008


Credit:                        3 Hours


Class Meeting:        TR 11:00-12:20


Instructor:              Ted Stryk, Assistant Professor of English and Philosophy


Contact                Office:  ORBC F113  Ext:  2519

                       Phone (Cell):  865-804-3455

                                    E-mail :

Required Text:        MacKinnon, Barbara: ETHICS: Theory and Contemporary Issues (5th Ed.)


Description:  This course is a critical analysis of the principal ethical theories and their application to the problem of life.




Students will demonstrate the ability to:

1.  Analyze significant primary texts and works of art, ancient, pre-modern, and modern, as forms of cultural and creative expression.

2.  Explain the ways in which humanistic and/or artistic expression throughout the ages expresses the culture and values of its time and place.

3.  Explore global/cultural diversity.

4.  Frame a comparative context through which they can critically assess the ideas, forces, and values that have created the modern world.

5.  Recognize the ways in which both change and continuity have affected human history.

6.  Practice the critical and analytical methodologies of the Humanities and/or Fine Arts.



Objectives:  At the conclusion of this course, the student should be able to:


1.  Identify concepts such as Ethical Reasoning, Moral Relativism, Ethical Egoism, Moral Naturalism, Consequentialism (Utilitarianism), Non-consequentialism/Deontology (Kantianism), Virtue Ethics.


2.  Apply the theories discussed to issues such as Euthanasia, Abortion, Sex, Pornography, Equality, Discrimination, Distributive Justice, Retributive Justice, Terrorism, and Cloning.


3.     Explain how various ethical theories lead to specific positions on issues discussed.


4.     Identify major historical figures in the field of ethics, and identify their contributions to the field.


5.   Present their own views in an informed and rational manner, with emphasis on sound

      logic in their arguments.



Courtesy: Behave in a civilized way.  Respect your fellow students and the professor by listening to what they say and by contributing thoughtfully to the discussion.       After all, insults and rude comments do nothing to convince others that you are right – rather, they have the opposite effect.  Continued uncivil behavior will result in a lower grade.

  Keep your cell phones (and other potentially disruptive gadgets) "silent" and out of sight. Make your comments on topic and to the benefit of everyone in class.    Arrive on time, ready to participate.  If it is absolutely necessary that you arrive late or depart early, be sure to inform me in advance.


Grading:  The student’s course grade will be based on the following:



1. You must attend at least 75% of all class meetings to pass this course.

2. Once you have satisfied the TBR attendance policy, your grade will be determined by the total number of points you earn on your

A. Daily participation and assignments – 35 %

B. Midterm exam – 15 %

C. Final exam – 20 %

D. Term Paper  30 %




Tests:  Students are to be present for all tests.  I rarely accept excuses for missing test dates.  All students caught cheating on a test will receive a failing grade.           Students absolutely must be in attendance for the final exam.  Students arriving significantly late (more than 15 minutes) on a testing date (without prior arrangement) will be required to complete the test by the time the other students finish.  All students who arrive on time will have as much time as they need to complete their test.


Class Attendance:  Regular attendance is expected and students are expected to be on time to class.  After two absences, your participation grade will be cut five points for each additional absence.


Major Paper: Students will be required to write a four to five page paper (Times New Roman 12-point double-spaced) on the philosopher of their choice.  Students must make their selection by the date specified in the course calendar to be submitted for my approval.  Students will also be required to make a brief presentation to the class.


Daily Work:  During each class, I will assign some questions to be answered for the next class period.       Please be thoughtful in your answers. These will be taken up at the beginning of each class period. Late papers will not be accepted. Papers not turned in at the beginning of class (or the point in class during which I take up papers) will be considered late.


Snow Policy:  Should the college close for snow or any other unscheduled reason, students are expected to come to class the following week having done both the readings for both that date and the date missed. As this class meets weekly, this is necessary to remain on schedule. If your campus closes but Oak Ridge does not, a recording of the class session will be available.




I cannot ask you if you have a disability, but if you have any special needs in the class of which I should be aware, please inform me privately and I will do all I can to accommodate you (ex. learning disabilities, medical conditions, or physical needs).  Note that a learning disability will need to be documented through disability services. Occasionally, students will wait until they have failing grades to tell me of a special need.  

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