Professor Gary Jason, PhD | Introduction to Ethical Theory

Introduction to Ethical Theory

Course Syllabus

PH 120: Introduction to Ethical Theory               Office: Humanities 311-H

Spring 2006, MW 1-2:15 pm                                    Office Hours: 9-9:50 am

Teacher: Dr. Gary Jason                                        Monday through Thursday

email: (and by appointment)

Office Phone (Toll free): 888-231-8183               Office FAX (toll free): 888-252-9256

Home: 949-492-8650                                              Home fax: 949-492-4531

Website: This site has your grades, my policy on cheating, all class handouts, bulletins, textbook errata, class code of conduct, and links to other sites of use. Log on ASAP to familiarize yourself with it.

Required Texts: (1) Ethics (2nd ed) William Frankena

(2) Ethics (9Th ed) Oliver Johnson

(3) Student Study Guide

**All texts are in stock at the Little Professor Bookstore off-campus, 725 North Placentia Ave, Fullerton, CA phone: 714-996-3133

**The lectures will be based upon Frankena, with expansion from Timmons and Birsch. The readings from Johnson, supplemented by some handouts.

Recommended (for additional reading, not for buying):

(1) Ethics: A Contemporary Introduction Harry Gensler

(2) Moral Theory: A Contemporary Overview Joseph DeMarco

(3) Ethics: Discovering Right and Wrong Louis Pojman

(4) The Moral of the Story: An Introduction to Questions of Ethics and Human Nature Nina Rosenstand

(5) Introductory Ethics Fred Feldman

(6) Ethical Insights: A Brief Introduction Douglas Birsch

(7) Moral Theory: An Introduction Mark Timmons

Course Description: In this course we will survey the major issues and positions in ethical theory, and read selections from the major moral philosophers, with the goal of making the student broadly familiar with this branch of Philosophy. No prior courses in philosophy are required or assumed (“no prerequisites”).

Course Objectives: The aim of this course is to familiarize the student with the branch of Philosophy variously known as Ethics, Ethical Theory, and Moral Philosophy. In particular, we will survey such major views as:

  • Egoism
  • Deontologism
  • Utilitarianism
  • Free Will and Determinism
  • Theories of Virtue
  • Hedonism
  • Metaethics

Our readings will cover such major thinkers as: Aristotle; Kant; Sartre; Bentham; Mill; Hobbes; Campbell; Epicurus; Ayer; and Sumner.

GE Learning Goals: PH 270 is a course intended to help the student achieve the core competencies of General Education. By meeting the course objectives, the student will be able:

  • To use the knowledge learned about theories of moral obligation to enable better judgments about what is right to do;
  • To use the knowledge learned about theories of moral worth to enable better assessments about what traits are admirable in any person;
  • To use the knowledge learned about theories of nonmoral worth to get clarity about what things are desirable in a human life;
  • To use the knowledge learned about metaethics to be clear about the meaning of ethical language and the justification of ethical claims;
  • Additionally, this course helps the student achieve the GE Writing Requirements by giving the student extensive practice in analyzing selections from the major writers in ethics, and writing short essays about them..

Grading scale: cutoffs: A+ = 97%; A = 94%; A- = 90%; B+ = 87%; B = 84%; B- = 80%; C+ = 77%; C = 74%; C- = 70%; D+ = 67%; D = 64%; D- = 60%.

Assessment Procedures: In addition to doing the required readings and attending regularly (with no more than 4 missed classes), the student will take an essay-format midterm and final exam on the lectures covering the Frankena text, and will write short homework assignments based upon selections from Johnson’s anthology.

The weighting:

  1. Midterm based upon lectures on Frankena Chaps 1-3 = 30%;
  2. Final based upon lectures on Frankena Chaps 4-6  = 40%;
  3. Short papers based upon selections from Johnson’s anthology = 30%.

The tests will have short essay questions, based upon lectures. The short papers will be short response questions based upon the readings.



**Rule on attendance: any student missing more than 4 classes will either withdraw or fail the course.

**There are no “extra credit” assignments, and no HW is accepted late. (You can fax or email HW to me, or drop it off at the Philosophy office where the secretary can sign and date it.) I give make-up exams (which are graded to higher standards) only when there is a signed doctor’s note or other proof of illness or other emergency.

Class Conduct:

Students are expected to:

  • Show up for class on time
  • Leave early only when prior permission has been granted
  • Talk only as part of class discussion
  • Refrain from making disrespectful or harassing remarks
  • Turn off all pagers, beepers, and cell phones before class. NO IPODS ALLOWED!!!
  • You may bring coffee or other beverages, but please no food

Teacher is expected to:

  • Start class on time
  • End class on time
  • Spare the students irrelevancies, such as his political opinions or personal life
  • Encourage questions and class participation
  • Keep regular offices hours and be otherwise accessible

Policy on Cheating: Any student who cheats at any time in my class will receive an “F” for the entire course, and I will turn the incident over to the Chairperson of the Department for whatever further action is required by the University. For further explanation, visit my website.

Topics covered:

#1: The nature of philosophy

#2: Seven distinctions key to understanding Ethical theory

#3: Egoism

#4: Act deontologism

#5: Single Rule deontological theories

#6: Multiple rule deontological theories

#7: Consequentialism

#8: Frankena’s theory

#9: Theories of virtue

#10: Theories of happiness

#11: The problem of free will

#12: Metaethics I: theories of meaning

#13: Metaethics II: justification of ethical claims/relativism

Anticipated Schedule:  **Rough only**

1/31, 2/2 #1: The nature of  Philosophy

#2: Seven Key Distinctions


Frankena pp. 1-17

2/7, 2/9 #3: Egoism

Reading for #3: Hobbes

Frankena pp. 17-23

Johnson pp. 146-160

2/14, 2/16 Reading for #3: Nietzsche

#4: Act Deontologism

Johnson pp. 264-273

Frankena pp. 23-25

2/22 Reading for #4: Sartre

#5: Single rule deontological theories

Johnson pp. 310-319

Frankena pp. 28-33

2/27, 3/1 Reading for #5: Kant

#6: Multiple rule deontological theories

Johnson pp. 193-217

Frankena pp. 25-28

3/6, 3/8 Reading for #6: Ross

#7: Utilitarianism, Bentham

Johnson pp. 293-309

Frankena pp. 34-43

3/13, 3/15 Readings for #7: Bentham, Mill

#8: Frankena’s own theory of moral obligation

Johnson pp. 218-226, pp. 238-263

Frankena pp. 43-60

3/20, 3/22 REVIEW




3/27, 3/29 HOLIDAY Spring Break
4/4, 4/6 #10: Theories of virtue

Readings for #10: Aristotle

Frankena pp. 61-73

Johnson pp 56-94

4/11, 4/13 Readings for #10: Hursthouse

#11: Theories of Happiness

Johnson pp. 454-469

Frankena pp. 79-94

4/18, 4/20 Readings for #11: Epicurus, Aquinas, Jason, Epictetus Johnson pp. 95-99; pp. 121-132;

SSG; Johnson pp.100-114

4/25, 4/27 #9: The problem of free will

Reading for #9: Campbell

Frankena pp. 73-78


5/2, 5/4 #12: Metaethics I: Theories of meaning

Reading for #12:  Ayer

Frankena pp. 95-108


5/9, 5/11 #13: Metaethics II: Justification/relativism Frankena pp. 109-116
5/16, 5/18 Readings for #13: Sumner, Brown, Pinker




Monday  5/22  *2:30-4:20 pm FINAL EXAM N/A