Department of Philosophy

PHL. 210, Moral Philosophy

Semester: Fall, 2015
When: Tues, Thurs, Fri. - 11:00,1:00
Office Hours: T, Th, & F 10, 12, or by appointment
Instructor: Dr. Christopher Perricone
Office: Spellman Hall, 2nd floor
Phone: 914-637 2765

Course Objectives and Description
Required Text
Grading Criteria
Course Outline

Course Objectives and Description

Moral Philosophy is a course which presupposes the student has basic philosophic skills and knowledge. It is both an advance from the Introduction to Philosophy and foundational in so far as it introduces the student to moral reasoning, connects moral reasoning to its metaphysical and epistemological presuppositions, and to the content of moral issues. This course will offer students a general introduction to philosophy by exploring the nature of moral reasoning as it has been developed in some of the most important texts in the history of western philosophy. Students will be encouraged to develop their critical skills when examining and evaluating philosophical arguments. The class will be conducted both as lecture and discussion. At the end of this course, students should have a better understanding of the methods of ethical reasoning. They will understand better the concepts of justice, happiness, power, and duty. One also hopes that they will gain a better understanding and toleration for their fellow human beings.

Required texts & Learning Goals

Plato, The Republic, trans. Cornford, Oxford UP.

Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, trans. Ross, Oxford UP.

Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, online.

Immanuel Kant, Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysic of Morals, trans. Beck, Library of Liberal Arts.

Minimally after completing Moral Philosophy a student will:
1.understand the nature of moral reasoning and the metaphysical and epistemological foundations upon which that reasoning is expressed.
2. know some moral positions and the arguments against those positions.
3. recognize, express, and analyze arguments in philosophical texts.
4. read and interpret philosophical texts.
5. summarize and explain difficult ideas and concepts.
6. write philosophical essays that have coherent theses and reasonable supporting arguments
7. understand different intellectual perspectives and thus be able to understand that different people will define issues in different ways.
8. develop a sense of the value and limits of philosophy.
9. develop a reflective attitude and sensitivity to the subtleties and complexities of moral judgments

Grading Criteria

Assessment Tools : examinations will have either a muliple choice, short answer, or essay format, or some combination thereof. Students will be notified in advance which format to expect. Class participation will also be taken into consideration.

College Policy for all courses and students: (full explanations of policy may be found in the College Catalog)

Plagiarism:  Is the unauthorized use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author/person and the representation of them as one's own original work.  Iona College policy stipulates that students may be failed for the assignment or course, with no option for resubmission or re-grading of said assignment.  A second instance of plagiarism may result in dismissal from the College. 

Cheating and plagiarism subvert both the purpose of the College and the
experience students derive from being at Iona. They are offenses which harm the
offender and the students who do not cheat.
The Iona community, therefore, pledges itself to do all in its power to prevent
cheating and plagiarism, and to impose impartial sanctions upon those who harm
themselves, their fellow students, and the entire community by academic
Sanction and Appeals: At the beginning of each semester, professors shall state
their policy with regard to intellectual dishonesty on the syllabi and course
requirement forms they distribute. This policy shall include the penalty to be
imposed when cheating or plagiarism is discovered; penalties may include failure
for a given assignment or failure in the course. Students who are given a failing
grade as a result of cheating, plagiarism or academic dishonesty are not
permitted to withdraw from the class. Faculty members will report all incidents
of cheating and plagiarism to the dean. After the first offense the student will
be required to complete an instructional program on intellectual dishonesty.
After the second offense, the student will no longer qualify for a degree with
honors, and the student may be suspended from the college. In any allegation of
intellectual dishonesty, every effort will be made to ensure justice; in all cases,
educational assistance rather than adversarial proceedings will be sought.
If, in conformity with this policy, a sanction is imposed, students may appeal first,
to the professor who discovered the offence; second to the department chair; and
third to the academic dean of the division involved. The decision of the academic
dean is final. A student has the right to appeal the academic dean's decision to
the provost if, and only if, the sanction involves a suspension from class or
dismissal from the College. In such appeals, the decision of the provost is final.


Attendance:  All students are required to attend all classes.  Iona has an attendance policy for which all students are accountable.  While class absence may be explained it is never excused.  Professors may weigh class absence in the class grade as they see fit.  Failure to attend class may result in a failure of the class for attendance(FA), when the student has missed 20% or more of the total class meetings.  The FA grade weighs as an F would in the final official transcript.

Course and Teacher Evaluation(CTE):  Iona College now uses an on-line CTE system.  This system is administered by an outside company and all of the data is collected confidentially.  No student name or information will be linked to any feedback received by the instructor.  The information collected will be compiled in aggregate form by the agency and distributed back to the Iona administration and faculty, with select information made available to students who complete the CTE.  Your feedback in this process is an essential part of improving our course offerings and instructional effectiveness.  We want and value your point of view.*
NOTE* You will receive several emails at your Iona email account about how and when the CTE will be administered with instructions how to proceed.

Course outline

Week 1: Intro. to philosophy

Week 2: Republic, Books I and IV - the idea of rational justice in a rational society.

Week 3: Republic cont'd.

Week 4: Nicomachean Ethics, Books I, II, X - the idea of moral virtue and the idea of happiness as the aim of the good life.

Week 5: Nicomachean Ethics, cont'd.

Week 6: Review

Week 7: Mid-term exam

Week 8: Leviathan, Sec. 10-18 - man as egoist; justice as might makes right.

Week 9: Leviathan, cont'd.

Week 10: Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysic of Morals, Preface, Sec. 1 and 2 - the possibility of absolute moral rules in a non-religious context.

Week 11: Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysic of Morals, cont'd

Week 12: Summing up

Week 13: Final exam