Philosophy 380: Seminar on Consequentialism
MW 2:00-3:50 PM
Office Hours: MW 10-11 AM, Th 12-2 PM, and by appointment
Office: Morse-Ingersoll 210
Texts: Shelly Kagans The Limits of Morality (1989), Brad Hookers Ideal Code, Real World (2000), plus assigned readings available on reserve, many of which will also be available for download at www.jstor.org.
The goal of this class is to familiarize advanced philosophy students at Beloit College with the contemporary philosophical literature on consequentialism. For roughly the last century, no moral theory has been more widely defended than consequentialism. We will begin the semester by considering a strong defense of consequentialism as the sole criterion of rightness, embracing all of the extreme implications that apparently follow from this. Then we will consider different formulations of consequentialism that attempt to blunt the real-world implications of the theory in a variety of ways.
Your grade in the class will be determined as follows:
I. SHORT PAPER (25%)
The first paper assignment will be a 5-8 page paper worth 25% of your overall grade. It will be due in class on Wednesday, October 13th, and the topic of this paper will be assigned.
II. TERM PAPER (50%)
The second paper assignment will be a 10-15 page paper worth 50% of your overall grade. It will be due in class on Wednesday, December 15th, and the topic of this paper will be of the students own choosing, pending approval by the professor. This will involve meeting with the professor outside of class at any point before Thanksgiving break to discuss your proposed topic.
III. PRESENTATION (25%)
In a seminar, students are expected to play an integral role in the classroom proceedings. In this spirit, each student will be required to lead the class discussion once, through presenting the assigned reading for the day. These presentations will occur for each class meeting counting backwards from the end of the semester (excluding the wrap-up day) for as many students as we have in the seminar. During the presentation, you will be expected to explain the main arguments of the reading as well as to respond critically to the selection.
IV. PARTICIPATION (variable)
Beyond your presentations, the seminar format means that students are expected to be significantly engaged with the material during in-class discussion. In this spirit, frequent participation is mandatory. In order to participate meaningfully, two requirements are assumed: one, that students will be prepared by having completed the assigned reading prior to class, and two, that students will attend class regularly. Because this class meets just twice a week, 28 times total for the semester, regular attendance involves being in class for all or almost all of those 28 meetings.
This fourth component of your grade is subjective. Students who fail to meet this participation requirement can expect to have their grade lowered by at least one-third of a grade. Exceptionally outstanding participation may involve a one-third improvement in your grade.
If a situation of prolonged absence is unavoidable, please make sure to contact me about it. Be aware that I may request proper documentation should such a circumstance arise.
What follows is the plan for the semester as I see it now. Reading assignments should be completed before the class that theyre assigned. Note that this schedule is tentative; we may deviate from it as the semester progresses and class discussion takes on a life of its own. If changes are required, they will be announced in class (note that this may affect the material you will be presenting).
Please note, if you have specific physical, psychiatric, or learning disabilities and require accommodations, please provide the appropriate documentation to me early in the semester so that your learning needs may be appropriately met.
9/1: Class introductions
Direct Act Consequentialism
9/6: Kagan, Ch. 1: Against Ordinary Morality
9/8: Ch. 1, continued
9/13: Ch. 1, continued
9/15: Kagan, Ch. 3: Doing Harm
9/20: Kagan, Ch. 4: Intending Harm
9/22: Ch. 4, continued
9/27: Kagan, Ch. 8: The Negative Argument
9/29: Ch. 8, continued
10/4: Kagan, Ch.9: The Positive Argument
10/6: Ch. 9, continued
10/11: Waldron, Kagan on Requirements: Mill on Sanctions
10/13: Bratman, Kagan on The Appeal to Cost; FIRST PAPER DUE
10/18: NO CLASS, FALL BREAK
10/20: NO CLASS, FALL BREAK
10/25: Kagan, Defending Options
Various formulations of consequentialism
10/27: Slote, Satisficing Consequentialism, Part I
11/1: Pettit, Satisficing Consequentialism, Part II
11/3: Adams, Motive Utilitarianism
11/8: Railton, Alienation, Consequentialism, and the Demands of Morality
11/10: NO CLASS, INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM DAY
11/15: Cocking and Oakley, Indirect Consequentialism, Friendship, and the Problem of Alienation
11/17: Mason, Can an Indirect Consequentialist Be a Real Friend?
11/22: Jackson, Decision-Theoretic Consequentialism and the Nearest and Dearest Objection
11/24: Hooker, Ch. 1: Introduction
11/29: Hooker, Ch. 2: What Are the Rules to Promote?
12/1: Hooker, Ch. 3: Questions of Formulation; Ch. 4: Is Rule-Consequentialism Guilty of Collapse or Incoherence?
12/6: Hooker, Ch.5: Predictability and Convention; Ch. 6: Prohibitions and Special Obligations
12/8: Hooker, Ch. 7: Act-consequentialism
12/13: Hooker, Ch.8: Rule-consequentialism and Doing Good for the World; Ch. 9: Help with Practical Problems
12/15: Class Summary; SECOND PAPER DUE