Introduction to Ethics


Instructor: Dr. Elizabeth Scarbrough

Course Number: PHI2066-U03A

Office: Department of Philosophy, DM 340B

Course Location: GL 166

Course Time: Summer T/Th 2:40-6 pm


Phone: 305-348-2485

Office hours: T/Th 1:30-2:30pm



Course Description:  This class is a brief introduction to moral theory and applied ethics. We will pair historical readings with contemporary insights into those reading. The first part of the course will focus on three big moral theories: Utilitarianism, Kantianism, and Virtue Ethics. These theories present accounts of what makes an action right or wrong, what makes a person virtuous or vicious, and what role an ethical theory should play in a good life. Some of the applied ethical topics discussed will include: whether we have an obligation to follow the law, our obligations to global famine relief, abortion, animal rights, and oppression.


Learning Objectives:  Your skills will be developed and tested in three ways:

  1. Reading Comprehension: involves close reading all the assigned texts;
  2. Philosophical Writing: involves completing a variety of written assignments designed to teach you how good philosophical writing differs from other familiar types of writing (this is a Gordon’s Rule course);
  3. Class Discussion: involves actively, respectfully engaging with your peers and instructor about philosophically complex, abstract theories that have implications for how we should make choices and live our lives.

Success in this course requires you to prepare yourself for class discussion by reading critically, to defend your own views with reasons and arguments, and to give a good faith effort to develop your philosophical skills, both verbally and in writing.


Required Texts:

  •  Cahn, Steven M., ed. Exploring Ethics: An Introductory Anthology, 4thEd (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017).[1] This book is required and you must bring it to class.  All other texts will be placed in a shared folder on our Canvas site.
  • Twice during the semester you will be required to watch a movie. Some of these movies are available for free through our library, some are not. Therefore you should expect to rent 1 or 2 movies during the semester for a cost of approx. $2 a piece (SD) = $4. Rentals available through iTunes, Google, Amazon, etc.

Evaluation Criteria:    

Attendance and Participation 15 points: You are required to attend class sessions. Attendance includes being awake, alert, and prepared. There will be group discussions and group work in class.  You are being graded on the quality of your contribution to the class. Additionally, I have a “no cell phones” policy in class. If I catch you on your cell phone, you will be marked absent for the day. 1 point of your attendance score is allocated for our PEER REVIEW DAY on 6/12.

Writing Assignments: 55 points: This is a GORDON RULE course and as such you must have at least three writing assignment and must write a minimum of ten pages. There are three types of writing assignments in this class: Smaller Writing Scaffolding Assignments, Journal Entries, and a Final Paper. Both the Smaller Writing Scaffolding Assignments and Journal Entries are designed to help you accomplish your final paper.


  • Small Scaffolding Writing Assignments: Total: 30 points total

Writing and Introduction                                  5 points

Writing an Exegesis                                          10 points

Writing an Argument                                        6 points

Writing a Conclusion                                       4 points

Outline of a paper                                            5 points

More information will be given on your small writing assignments.


  • Journal Entries: Each entry 6 points / 2 entries total 12 points total

Twice in the semester you will be asked to watch a movie an apply our philosophical readings to that movie. These journal entries will accomplish two things: First, you must give a brief summary of the movie (half a page to a page). Then you must apply the movie to one of our philosophical readings. More information on this (and all other assignments) can be found on our blackboard site and will be explained in class.


  • Final Paper: 15 points

Your final paper will be based on your paper outline. Your final paper should be 4-5 pages long. Topics for final papers will be handed out in class.

All writing assignments will be handed in on TURN IT IN (which can be accessed through Canvas)

Quizzes 15 points:There will be 8 in-class quizzes. They are all noted in the syllabus. The quizzes cannot be made up if you are absent that day (unless documented illness or emergency). You can earn up to 16/15 points on these quizzes as each quiz is worth 2 points.


Final Exam 15 points: A final exam will be held the day after our last class. This exam will be cumulative.


Missed Classes:  You can miss one class without penalty. After that, your participation score will go down one point per absence.   If you miss a class, it is your responsibility to obtain lecture notes from another student. You may not make up in class quizzes, exams, participation credit, or draft revisions without prior consent of instructor or documented illness/emergency.[2]In cases of documented illness or emergency, contact me as soon as possible to make arrangements.


Class Etiquette:   I expect you not to disrupt me, or other students, during class. If you are disruptive, I will ask you to leave the class, Disruptions may include texting on your phone, surfing the internet, talking with other students (not about course material), reading the paper, watching videos, doing work for other classes, etc. Disruptions will lower your participation grade. I expect you to treat other students (and their opinions) with respect. Additionally, you cannot record me or your fellow classmates without prior consent.


Grading Policy:  You are graded on the merit of your work (not your effort). If you believe you have been graded unfairly, I am willing to look over your work again, but be aware that I will re-evaluate it and provide you with a new grade. This means that there is a chance that your grade may go down because I may decide that I was too generous the first time.   Late written work will be penalized at 1 point a day (or part of a day) unless you have made prior arrangements with me.


Academic Misconduct:       Academic misconduct includes cheating, plagiarism, and unauthorized collaboration with other students on assignments. Academic dishonesty disadvantages honest students, and is clearly unfair to hardworking students. Instructors have a duty, therefore, to protect honest students, and to insure that they are not disadvantaged by dishonest students. For more information, see FIU’s Academic Misconduct policy (Section 2.44). There are serious consequences for academic misconduct, including suspension and expulsion from the university. All students suspected of plagiarism will be reported to the Office of Academic Misconduct and receive a “0” on their assignment.


Safe Zone Statement: I am part of the Safe Zone Ally community here at FIU. This means I am part of a network of trained FIU faculty/staff/students who are available to listen and support you in a safe and confidential manner. As a Safe Zone Ally, I can help connect you with resources on campus to address problems you may face that interfere with your academic and social success on campus as it relates to issues surrounding sexual orientation/gender identity. My goal is to help you be successful and to maintain a safe and equitable campus.

Commitment to Disability Access:  It is my moral and legal obligation to provide students with disabilities accommodations to help them succeed in my classroom. I take this responsibility seriously. You need not disclose to me your disability, but I can work with you to provide accommodations to help you succeed. You may also choose to work with the Disability Resource Center. The Disability Resource Center collaborates with faculty to provide inclusive learning environments. More information may be found at the DRC’s website:



5/8 & 5/10


Introduction /

Obligation to Follow the Law




Movie: I am not your Negro (Peck, 2016)


Topic: Introductions!


Reading assignment: None.


Due: Nothing.



Topic: Obl. Follow Law



Crito, Plato (p. 6)

-Letter, MLK (p. 27)


Due: Nothing but you could hand in journal #1 on the movie “I am not your negro” and either Crito or Letter.



5/15 & 5/17


Utilitarianism /

Obligation to the Global Poor (as a Utilitarian)




Movie: Pride (Warchus, 2014)


Topic: Utilitarianism



Utilitarianism, Mill (p. 118)

-Strengths and Weaknesses, Pojman (p. 130)


Quiz 1


Due: Introduction assignment (TURN IT IN) by 11:59pm.


Topic: Famine Relief



-Singer, “Famine Affluence and Morality,” (p. 264)


Quiz 2: Singer expense report


Due: In-class (printed out) EC expense sheet (in lieu of quiz).



5/22 & 5/24


Kantianism /

Obligation to the Global Poor (as a Kantian)






Movie: A Clockwork Orange(Kubrick, 1971)


Topic: Kantianism



-Kant, The Categorical Imperative (p.102)

-O’Neill, A Simplified Account of Kant’s Ethics (p. 114)


Quiz 3


Due: Exegesis assignment (TURN IT IN) by 11:59 pm.


Topic: Famine Relief



-O’Neill, “Kantian Approaches to Some Famine Problems” (PDF)



Quiz 4



-One journal entry must be completed by this class.




5/29 & 5/31


Animal Rights





Movie: Blackfish (Cowperthwaite, 2013)


Topic: Animal Rights



-Singer, “All Animals are Equal” (PDF)

– Wallace, “Consider the Lobster” (PDF)


Quiz 5

Due: Argument assignment (TURN IT IN) by 11:59pm.


Topic: Animal Rights



-Regan, “The Case for Animal Rights” (p. 352)


Quiz 6



6/5 & 6/7








Movie: Cider House Rules

(Hallstrom, 1999)


Topic: Abortion



-Thomson, “A Defense of Abortion” (p. 186)

-Marquis, “Why Abortion is Immoral” (p. 223)



Due: Conclusion assignment (TURN IT IN) by 11:59pm.


Topic: Abortion



-Driver, Virtue Ethics (p. 145)

-Hursthouse, “Virtue Theory and Abortion” (p. 232)



Quiz 7


Course Eval Day




6/12 & 6/14 & 6/15*










Movie: Persepolis (Satrapi, 2007)



-Young “Five Faces of Oppression” (PDF)


Quiz 8


Peer Eval Day – don’t miss! Bring a hard copy of your paper outline to class.



Due: Paper outline (TURN IT IN) by start of class.



-Hay, “A Feminist Kant?” (PDF)



Due: Your second journal must be completed by today before class.

*Paper / Final Exam Friday

CHECK LIST OF ASSIGNMENTS (in order of due date)


Quiz 1: Utilitarianism                                                       ___ / 2 points possibleDate: 5/15

Introduction Assignment                                                   ___/ 5 points possible             Date: 5/15

Quiz 2: Singer Expense Report (hand in)                          ___/ 2 points possible             Date: 5/17

Exegesis Assignment                                                         ___/ 10 points possible           Date: 5/22

Quiz 3: Kantianism                                                          ___/ 2 points possible             Date: 5/22

Quiz 4: Kant on Famine                                                   ___/ 2 points possible             Date: 5/25

Journal Entry #1[3]                                                             ___/ 6 points possible             Date: 5/25

Quiz 5: Animal rights day 1                                             ___ / 2 points possibleDate: 5/29

Argument Assignment                                                       ___/ 6 points possible             Date:5/29

Quiz 6: Animal Rights day 2                                            ___/ 2 points possible             Date: 5/31

Conclusion Assignment                                                     ___ / 5 points possibleDate: 6/5

Quiz 7: Abortion                                                               ___ / 2 points possibleDate: 6/7

Quiz 8: Oppression                                                           ___/ 2 points possible             Date: 6/12

Paper Outline                                                                    ___ / 5 points possibleDate:6/12

Second Journal last chance                                                ___ / 6 points possibleDate: 6/17

Final Paper                                                                       ___ / 15 points possible          Date: 6/18

Final Exam                                                                       ___ / 15 points possible          Date: 6/18

Participation Score                                                            ___ / 15 points possible          Continuous

Final Score (104 pts possible)                                                                        ___ / 100 points[4]

[1]There are on-line resources associated with this text. Please visit:

[2]Documented illnesses/emergencies do not include car trouble, work schedules, or family trips/vacations.

[3]This is the latest possible date to hand in your first journal entry. You must write on the movie / paper assigned for that week and class (you cannot go back to past weeks).

[4]Your score is out of 100 points. There are 104 points possible in this class. Count those 4 extra points as Extra Credit.