• A-S 3900: Humanitarian Intervention

    A-S 3900: Humanitarian Intervention

    Course Description:   From the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, to the Rwandan genocide in 1994, to the Arab Spring in 2011, the norms governing humanitarian intervention have been subjected to intense scrutiny and debate. This discussion is complicated by the multitude of stakeholders affected, the politicization of intervention, and the wide variety of forms intervention can take—from traditional UN peacekeeping to NGOs to full-fledged military engagement. Where the just war tradition turns to cases of individual self-defense in search of  moral principles that govern national self-defense, humanitarianism finds its moral basis in other-defense. This course will explore how to apply principles of just war theory to humanitarian intervention. Using the Responsibility to Protect as our conceptual framework, we will evaluate the morality of unilateral humanitarian wars of the cold war era, UN peace keeping operations of the early 1990s, and contemporary humanitarian aid.

    Course Syllabus (Spring 2018)

  • PHIL 3140/GIST 3500: Ethics of War

    PHIL 3140/5700: Ethics of War

    Course Description:  There has been a long, intellectual tradition in thinking about the moral justification of war, ranging at least from Thomas Aquinas’s writings in the 13th century to Michael Walzer’s Just and Unjust Wars to contemporary work by Jeff McMahan and others. The tradition draws distinctions between the justice of war itself (jus ad bellum), restrictions on our conduct within war (jus in bello), and our obligations following the conclusion of war (jus post bellum).  The contemporary advent of terrorism arguably challenges central tenets of this just war tradition, replacing the doctrine of preemption with that of prevention, blurring the distinction between civilians and combatants, accelerating both the speed and potential damage of attacks, and so on. How, if at all, should these features of terrorism lead to a revision of just war principles? Finally, consider modern military technologies, including weaponry, robotics, drones, cyber, and warfighter enhancement. Do these alter the state of play such that traditional just war principles become displaced? Or can these principles accommodate novel technologies?  [This course has been run under different course codes but has the same description; either title has substantial units on both just war theory and the ethics of emerging weapons technologies.]

    Course Syllabus ([Phil 5700] Spring 2014, [PHIL 3140/GIST 3500] Spring 2018)

    @ University of Michigan [Phil 430:  Topics in Ethics:  Ethics of War].  Course Syllabus (Fall 2010)

    @ University of Wyoming [Pols 4710].  Course Syllabus (Fall 2016)

    @ University of Notre Dame.  Course Syllabus ([PHIL 20628:  Ethics of Emerging Weapons Technologies] Spring 2017, [PHIL 20422:  Just War Theory] Fall 2017)

  • PHIL 318: Business Ethics

    PHIL 318: Business Ethics

    Course Description:   The course has four main goals.  First, it will provide a general introduction to ethical theory and, more importantly, the tools of ethical decision-making and problem-solving. Second, the course will acquaint students with the generally-accepted ethical standards in the business world.  Third, it will give students a chance to think through various positions on several controversial ethical, political, and public policy issues related to the business world.  Finally, the course will encourage students to develop an ethical perspective on business activities—a perspective which emphasizes the balancing of economic goals with other important values, including moral values.

    @ Central Michigan University.  Course Syllabus (Fall 1A 2015, Fall II 2015, Fall 2016)

  • PHIL 3340: Biomedical Ethics

    PHIL 3340:  Biomedical Ethics

    Course Description:  Biomedical ethics has Ancient roots, dating at least to Hippocrates in the 5th century BCE.  Its moral foundations are typically held to rest on four separate—yet sometimes competing—values:  autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence, and justice.  In the first few units of this course, we consider these values and their application to a range of healthcare practitioners.  In the next set of units, we consider these values in specific contexts, including clinical medical ethics, informed consent, research ethics, and preventative care and testing.  We then turn to more abstract philosophical discussion of abortion and end-of-life care before more broadly considering the structure and distribution of both healthcare and other scare medical resources.  The last few units cover topics that have emerged more recently in biomedical ethics, including diversity and pluralism, race, and globalization.  The course concludes with optional modules on both mental illness and the opioid epidemic.  No previous coursework in moral philosophy is required for this course; fundamental concepts will be explained as they become relevant.

    Online Course Syllabus (Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Summer 2019, Summer 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Summer 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022, Sumer 2022, Fall 2022)

    @Northern Michigan University [PL 185, Medical and Bioethics].  Course Syllabus (Spring 2019).

    [This course was completely rewritten for Fall 2018.  Below is the description and syllabi from previous offerings.]

    PHIL 3340: Biomedical Ethics [Old]

    Course Description: Biomedical ethics is composed of two separate fields:  bioethics and medical ethics.  Bioethics is the study of the ethics of life (and death), and includes familiar topics such as abortion, cloning, stem cell research, allocation of scarce medical resources, and euthanasia.  We shall spend approximately the first two-third of the course on these issues.  For the last third of the course, we shall discuss topics in medical ethics, which is concerned with “micro” issues such as the moral underpinnings of doctor-patient relationships as well as “macro” issues such as the structures of medical institutions or the duties that societies have to provide health care for those in need.  No previous coursework in philosophy is required for this course and fundamental concepts in moral philosophy (e.g., consequentialism and deontology) will be explained as they become relevant.  This is a course on theoretical (as opposed to clinical) bioethics.

    On-Campus Course Syllabus (Fall 2005, Spring 2006)

    Online Course Syllabus (Fall 2008, Summer 2009, Spring 2010, Summer 2010, Fall 2010, Summer 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Summer 2012, Summer 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Summer 2014, Summer 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Summer 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Summer 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Summer 2018)

    @ University of Michigan [Phil 160, Moral Principles and Problems/Phil 356, Issues in Bioethics].  Course Syllabus (Fall 2010)

    @ University of Alaska [Phil 302, Biomedical Ethics].  Online Course Syllabus (Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016)

  • PHIL 518: Professional Ethics

    PHIL 518:  Professional Ethics

    Course Description:   This course explores what distinguishes professionals, both conceptually and ethically.  After these general investigations, it focuses on ethical dimensions and dilemmas for five professions in particular:  accounting and finance, engineering, journalism, law, and medicine.

    @ Central Michigan University.  Course Syllabus (Spring 2016, Summer 2016, Fall 2016)

  • PHIL 5700:  Environmental Philosophy

    PHIL 5700:  Environmental Philosophy

    Course Description:  This seminar explores foundational questions in environmental philosophy.  We will consider conceptual approaches to the environment, as well as to the relationship between humans and the environment.  We will also consider different approaches to protecting the environment, principally between the contrastive approaches of conservation and preservation.  Finally, we will consider the philosophical underpinnings of food and agriculture, including foraging and hunting.  Primary focus will be given to classic texts, as opposed to contemporary scholarship.

    Course Syllabus (Spring 2017)

  • PHIL 6000: War, Terrorism, and Torture

    PHIL 6000:  War, Terrorism, and Torture

    Course Description: There has been a long, intellectual tradition in thinking about the moral justification of war, ranging at least from Thomas Aquinas’s writings in the 13th century to Michael Walzer’s contemporary classic, Just and Unjust Wars. The contemporary advent of terrorism arguably challenges central tenets of the just war tradition, replacing the doctrine of preemption with that of prevention, blurring the distinction between civilians and combatants, accelerating both the speed and potential damage of attacks, and so on.  How, if at all, should these features of terrorism lead to a revision of just war principles?

    In the war on terror, much controversy has emerged over the use of torture.  The Third Geneva Convention protects prisoners of war against torture, but there are at least two ways around this convention:  either by denying that it applies or else conceiving of torture in such a way  that hostile measures nevertheless fall short of it.  Should it apply?  And what is torture?  Independently of the historical and legal status of torture, we can ask whether it could be morally justified.  In particular, imagine that the torture of a terrorist will reveal actionable intelligence that is necessary for the protection of innocents.  If so, is torture permissible?  Regardless, are such scenarios anything other than philosophical fiction?

    Course Syllabus (Spring 2009)

  • PHIL 6310: Memory

    PHIL 6310:  Memory

    Course Description:  This seminar explores the ethical, legal, philosophical, and scientific dimensions of memory.  The first set of unit surveys these dimensions, as well as the related topics of remembering, forgetting, and false memories.  The second set of units looks at more purely philosophical topics, including personal identity and external memory.  We then explore amnesia, before turning to collective and historical memories.  What does it mean for “us” to remember the Holocaust—or the Civil War?  Should atrocities be remembered or forgotten?  Does forgiveness require forgetting?  The last series of units looks at applications, including memory dampening as a prospective treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder or rape, the fallibility of eyewitness memory, and Europe’s so-called right to be forgotten.

    Course Syllabus (2018)

  • PHIL 6310: Ethical Theory

    PHIL 6310:  Ethical Theory

    Course Description:  We will read three books related to ethical theory.  Grandstanding is about the use (and abuse) of moral language.  The Philosophical Baby spans a range of issues, many of which are related to cognitive science and moral psychology.  The Soil Will Save Us is a foray into environmental ethics, covering everything from regenerative approaches to agriculture to mitigation of climate change.  Students may write research papers on any of these topics—or other related areas.

    Course Syllabus (Fall 2021)