Introducing Moral Problems (Autumn 2013)

This page provides resources for Introducing Moral Problems, taught for Cardiff University’s Centre for Lifelong Learning during autumn 2013. The course assumes no prior knowledge of philosophy.

Note that the official course page is on Learning Central and that all enrolled students should access content there.

Course Packet

Introducing Moral Problems (Autumn 2013) Course packet excluding readings subject to copyright. Links to those sources are available in the reading schedule where available. Designed for duplex printing with binding on left.

Module Assessment

Case Study

Case Study

Paper

Paper Topics

Slides

§1 Matters of Life & Death

§2 Killing & Letting Die

Killing & Letting Die: Trolley Problems

  • Thomson, ‘The Trolley Problem’ (1985)
    • The trolley problem videos are linked from the relevant slides. You can access them by clicking on the picture corresponding to each of the 4 variations. Alternatively, see Practical Ethics which includes both a link to the PBS interactive and links to the individual YouTube videos.

Killing & Letting Die: Euthanasia

  • Rachels, ‘Active and Passive Euthanasia’ (1975)

§3 Abortion

Abortion: Judith Jarvis Thomson, ‘A Defense of Abortion’

  • Thomson, ‘A Defense of Abortion’ (1971)
  • Handout. Mostly greyscale slides. 2×4 up.

Abortion: Margaret Olivia Little, ‘Abortion, Intimacy, and the Duty to Gestate’

  • Little, ‘Abortion, Intimacy, and the Duty to Gestate’ (1999)
  • Handout. Mostly greyscale slides. 2×3 up. Excludes slides which just repeat discussion questions.
  • Note that these slides include a formal introduction to the following philosophical terms: ‘argument’, ‘premise’, ‘conclusion’, ‘sub-argument’ and ‘sub-conclusion’. They also present arguments in ‘standard form’ i.e. with each statement numbered and logic clarified. The short horizontal lines mean ‘therefore’.

§4 Moral Community & Moral Status

Moral Community & Moral Status: Hare, ‘What is Wrong with Slavery?’

  • Hare, ‘What is Wrong with Slavery?’ (1979)
  • Handout. Mostly greyscale slides. 2×3 up. Excludes slides which just repeat discussion questions or serve only to mark transitions.
  • Note that these slides include a reminder of the terminology introduced in the previous class and a formal introduction to the following philosophical terms: ‘logical form’, ‘valid’, ‘invalid’, ‘sound’ and ‘unsound’. Together with the previous lecture’s coverage, this introduces a set of evaluative criteria for assessing the quality of arguments. That is, we can use these ideas to decide whether a given argument is a good one. Since we ought to be convinced by good arguments but not poor ones, this has significant implications for what we ought to believe – and, just as important, what we ought not be convinced by.

Moral Community & Moral Status: Singer, ‘Speciesism and Moral Status’

  • Singer, ‘Speciesism and Moral Status’ (2009)
  • Handout. Mostly greyscale slides. 2×3 up. Excludes slides which just repeat discussion questions or serve only to mark transitions.

§5 Varieties of Deception

Varieties of Deception

  • Saul, ‘Just Go Ahead and Lie’ (2012)
  • Webber, ‘Liar!’ (2013)
  • Optional extra: Rees, ‘Better Lie!’ (forthcoming)
  • Optional extra: Frankfurt, ‘On Bullshit’
    • Harry G. Frankfurt, The Importance of What We Care About: Philosophical Essays (CUP, 1988). Reprinted as On Bullshit (Princeton University Press, 2005).
  • Handout. Mostly greyscale slides. 2×3 up.

§6 Love

Love

  • Grau, ‘Love, Loss and Identity in Solaris‘ (forthcoming)
  • Optional extra: the DVD 2003 release of Soderbergh’s 2002 film is available from the library.
  • Handout. Mostly greyscale slides. 2×3 up.

§7 Terrorism & Civil Liberties

Terrorism & Civil Liberties

  • Waldron, ‘Security & Liberty’ (2003)
  • Privacy resources (as mentioned in class).
  • Handout. Mostly greyscale slides. 2×3 up.

Resources / Links

I’ve posted some resources / links which may be useful, interesting or amusing. Since this collection was created some time ago, some of the links may be broken. I’ve already weeded out one but would welcome further corrections.
I’ve started a new section on the resources / links page for links specifically concerned with practical ethics which should be of particular interest. Please let me know of any interesting resources I might add.

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