Philosophy Ethics

1. The student will read Chapters 2-13 from Rachels’ book surveying the following nine major moral theories: Cultural Relativism, Subjectivism, Divine Command Ethics, Ethical Egoism, Social Contract Theory, Utilitarianism, Kantian Ethics, Feminism and the Ethics of Care, Virtue Ethics, and the summary ethical viewpoint espoused by Rachels’ called Multiple-strategies Utilitarianism.

2. For each moral theory surveyed, the student will be expected to demonstrate his or her general understanding of the theory (including what the theory states morality consist in, the two or three main arguments for and against the theory, and the names of those philosophers most closely associated with the theory) by successfully completing two moral theories quizzes. Quiz #1 will cover the theories surveyed in chapters 1-6 of Rachels’ book and Quiz #2 will cover the theories surveyed in chapters 7-12.

3. The student will be expected to participate in each of the five weekly Discussion Boards in Module 2. Discussion forum participation will be graded as follows: 1) Each post (original or response) will be worth 5 pts. (providing it meets the other criteria explained below) up to the maximum points assigned for that forum. [For Course Module 2, there are 20 pts. maximum per forum.]; 2) Quality: Maintain a high quality in all your posts; i.e. posts that are relevant, substantial and thoughtful are of high quality. Posts such as “I agree” or “Good thought” are not of high quality.; and 3) Timely: Post early in the week (by Wednesday of each week at the latest) and frequently (on multiple days) for as long as the discussion forum is open and before the due date of the discussion forum passes. [See the Course Syllabus or “Netiquette” section of the course site for details on discussion board expectations and grading.]

4. The student will demonstrate mastery of one of the moral theories surveyed in this module by writing a good philosophical essay of at least 1,250 words. The essay will consist of a detailed summary of the moral theory selected, a discussion of the relative strengths and weaknesses of the theory, a summary of Rachels’ Multiple-strategies Utilitarianism and a comparison of Rachels’ theory to the selected theory, and, finally, a statement of the students preferred moral theory. (See the Course Syllabus for the due date of this essay and the Moral Theories Paper document for complete assignment information.)

In chapter 1, Rachels discusses what he calls “the minimum conception of morality” that he argues is necessary in order to consider an individual to be “a conscientious moral agent.” Many have argued that theories like Cultural Relativism, Ethical Subjectivism and even Ethical Egoism fail to meet this minimum conception of morality.

Consider the minimum standard of morality as explained by Rachels and apply it to the theories covered in this LU. Discuss whether, in your opinion, these theories meet or fail to meet this standard. Of the the theories discussed, does one seem to meet the standard of the minimum conception of morality better than the others?
This is a required Discussion Forum opportunity and will contribute up to 20 points to your Discussion Forum participation grade. Responses must be posted by Sunday, Feb. 4th at midnight to be eligible for credit. Each post (original or response) will be worth 5 pts. up to the maximum points assigned for that forum. [For Course Modules 1 & 2, there are 20 pts. maximum per forum.]

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