Moral Problems


INSTRUCTOR: Bradley Rettler


OFFICE HOURS: Monday 4-5, Tuesday 1-2, and by appointment.

OFFICE: Malloy 111

MAILBOX: Malloy 100



  • Course Syllabus

  • On How to Write Good Philosophy Papers

  • On How To Read Philosophy

  • On How to Understand Philosophy

  • What is a Good Argument?


Schedule and Readings

Aug 28: Course Overview

  • Glossary of Philosophy Terms

Sept 2:Informal Logic

  • Good and Bad Arguments

Sept 4: Formal Logic

  • Validity and Soundness


Moral Theories.

Sept 9: Moral Relativism.

  • Phillipa Foot - Moral Relativism

Sept 11: Consequentialism.

  • Brad Hooker - Consequentialism

Sept 16: Deontology.

  • Larry Alexander and Michael Moore - Deontological Ethics

Sept 18: Divine Command Theory.

  • Louis P. Pojman and James Fieser - Religion and Ethics


Moral Issues.

Sept 23: Torture.

  • Henry Shue - "Torture"

Sept 25: Torture.

  • Jamie Mayerfeld - "In Defense of the Absolute Prohibition of Torture"

Sept 30: Abortion.

  • Judith Jarvis Thomson - "A Defense of Abortion"

Oct 2: Abortion.

  • Don Marquis - "Why Abortion is Immoral"

Oct 7: Immigration.

  • David Miller - "Immigration: The Case for Limits"

Oct 9: Immigration.

  • Chandran Kukathas - "The Case for Open Immigration"

Oct 14: Privacy.

  • David Friedman - "The Case for Privacy"

Oct 16: Privacy. Final Paper Assigned. Two critical reports must have been turned in by now.

  • James Taylor - "A Defense of Big Brother"



Oct 28: Capital Punishment.

  • Louis Pojman - "A Defense of the Death Penalty"

Oct 30: Capital Punishment.

  • Stephen Nathanson - "Why We Should Put the Death Penalty to Rest"

Nov 4: Legalization of Marijuana.

  • Intelligence Squared - "Legalize Drugs", up to 1:04:33

Nov 6: Legalization of Marijuana.

  • Intelligence Squared - "Legalize Drugs", remainder

Nov 11: Profiling. Final Paper Due.

  • Sam Harris - "In Defense of Profiling"

Nov 13: Profiling. Papers Given to Commenters.

  • Bruce Schneier - "The Trouble with Profiling"

Nov 18: Same-sex marriage.

  • US News - "Should Gay Marriage Be Legal Nationwide?" Read the three "yes" essays.

Nov 20: Same-sex marriage. Comments Due.

  • US News - "Should Gay Marriage Be Legal Nationwide?" Read the two "no" essays.

Nov 25: Genetic Engineering. Final Papers Returned. Four critical reports must have been turned in by now.


Dec 2: Gun Control.

  • Meet the Press, "Will Legislation Curb Gun Violence?"

Dec 4: Redistributive Taxation.

  • Intelligence Squared, "Are the Rich Taxed Enough?", up to 1:08:52

Dec 9: Charitable Giving.

  • Peter Singer - "Famine, Affluence, and Morality"

Dec 11: Charitable Giving. Final Final Paper Due.

  • Thomas Crisp - "Jesus and Affluence"

Dec 17: Final Examination: 8am (Section 2) and 4:15pm (Section 1)


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