Tuesday, May 16, 2017

College Ethics

A draft of a questions-based TOC for Bob Fischer’s College Ethics: A Reader on Moral Issues that Address You book.

(See Bob’s post here: A Surprisingly Overlooked Gap in Philosophy (guest post by Bob Fischer at Daily Nous)



Note: some of these questions seem to presume some background knowledge on the topic, whereas others do not. It’d be better if none did.

Part I. Sex and Relationships
1. Is it wrong to be homosexual or have homosexual sex?
Reading: Why Shouldn't Tommy and Jim Have Sex? A Defense of Homosexuality, John Corvino

2. Is it wrong to have sex or engage in other sexual behaviors with someone who is just a friend?
Reading: What's Love Got to Do with It? Epicureanism and Friends with Benefits, William O. Stephens

3. Is casual sex wrong? Does casual sex “objectify” someone, and is that wrong?
Reading: Virtue Ethics, Casual Sex, and Objectification, Raja Halwani

4. Does casual sex (uniquely) harm women?
Reading: Sexism in Practice: Feminist Ethics Evaluating the Hookup Culture, Conor Kelly

5. What actions violate sexual privacy? What shouldn’t be shared?
Reading: Sexual Privacy, Laurie Shrage and Robert Stewart

6. Does a broad definition of “date rape” harm both men and women?
Reading: Date Rape's Other Victim, Katie Roiphe

7. When does drinking alcohol impair consent and so contribute to rape?
Reading: Alcohol and Rape, Nicholas Dixon

8. How persistent can someone be in seeking a romantic relationship?
Reading: Just Pushy Enough, Anne Barnhill

Part II. Abortion

9. Some say that abortion is a “personal choice.” What does that mean? Are they right?
Is Abortion a Question of Personal Morality?, Julie Kirsch

10. When would it be wrong to have an abortion? When would it be not wrong to have an abortion?
Reading: Abortion, John Harris and Søren Holm

11. When, if ever, might having an abortion make someone a worse person? When, if ever, might the choice to have an abortion be one that a good person would make?
Virtue Theory and Abortion, Rosalind Hursthouse

Part III. Sexism, Gender, and Racism

12. What are different types of sexism? What are different types of feminists and what do they think should be done to address sexism?
Reading: Sexism, Ann E. Cudd and Leslie E. Jones

13. Is watching pornography wrong? Is making pornography wrong? Is pornography harmful?
Reading: A Sensible Antiporn Feminism, A.W. Eaton

14. What is a woman? Can someone born male become a woman? (What is a man? Can someone born female become a man?)
Reading: What Makes a Woman?, Elinor Burkett

15. How different are trans-gendered people from cisgendered people? E.g., how different is a trans-gendered woman from a cis-gendered woman?
Reading: Trans Persons, Cisgender Persons, and Gender Identities, Christine Overall

16. “Covering” is trying to hide certain characteristics associated with one’s racial or ethnic background. Is it bad to have to cover? Is it wrong when others encourage covering, intentionally or unintentionally?
Reading: The Pressure to Cover, Kenji Yoshino

17. What is racism? What makes an individual a racist? What makes a society racist?
Reading: Racism: What It Is and What It Isn't, Lawrence Blum

18. Is racism different for different racial groups? How should different racisms be addressed?
Reading: Latino/as, Asian Americans, and the Black-White Binary, Linda Martin Alcoff

19. What is “implicit bias” and what should be done to address it?
Reading: Racial Cognition and the Ethics of Implicit Bias, Daniel Kelly and Erica Roedder

20. What are some bad ways of accusing someone of prejudice? What are some better ways?
Reading: How Not to Accuse Someone of Prejudice, Emrys Westacott

Part IV. Affirmative Action in Admissions

21. Can any groups of people deserve special preference in college admissions?
Reading: The Meaning of "Merit," William G. Bowen and Derek Bok

22. Is racial preference in college admissions, i.e., affirmative action, unfair?
Reading: Does Your "Merit" Depend upon Your Race? A Rejoinder to Bowen and Bok, Stephan Thernstrom and Abigail Thernstrom

Part V. Speech and Protest

23. How does hate speech harm, and who does it harm? Should hate speech be regulated or not allowed?
Reading: Words That Wound, Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic

24. Can hate and discriminatory speech be restricted without endorsing censorship?
Reading: Campus Speech Restrictions, Martin Golding

25. Should students ever be able to avoid ideas and arguments that they find offensive? If so, when?
Reading: The Coddling of the American Mind, Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt

26. Should students be warned of potentially offensive class materials?
Reading: Why I Use Trigger Warnings, Kate Manne

27. If you are treated unjustly, should you protest? Does protesting show that you respect yourself?
Reading: Self-Respect and Protest, Bernard R. Boxill

28. Should we protest injustices, especially in cases where our protesting  won’t correct the wrongdoing? Why?
Reading: Symbolic Protest and Calculated Silence, Thomas E. Hill, Jr.

Part VI. Drugs and Drinking

29. Which, if any, drugs, should be (or remain) illegal?
Reading: An Argument for Drug Prohibition, Peter de Marneffe

30. Why do some argue that that drug use should be legalized?
Reading: Drug Prohibition Is Both Wrong and Unworkable, Tibor R. Machan

31. Is it wrong to get drunk? When and why? Is encouraging and accepting heavy drinking, and all that comes with it, wrong?
Reading: The Morning After: Hangovers and Regrets, Thomas Vander Ven

32. Do fraternities do wrong? Is it wrong to (try to) join a fraternity?
Reading: The Dark Power of Fraternities, Caitlin Flanagan

Part VII. Consumer Ethics

33. Is it wrong to download books and music, for free? Is it wrong to steal these materials?
Reading: Download This Essay: A Defense of Stealing E-Books, Andrew T. Forcehimes

34. Do copyright law make illegally downloading materials wrong?
Reading: A Response to Forcehimes's "Download This Essay: A Defense of Stealing E-Books," Sadulla Karjiker

35. Is it wrong to not donate to help starving people and other people in absolute poverty?
Reading: The Singer Solution to World Poverty, Peter Singer

36. Is it wrong to buy clothes and other products made in sweatshops and abusive conditions?
Reading: Women Shopping and Women Sweatshopping: Individual Responsibility for Consumerism, Lisa Cassidy

37. It is wrong to eat meat? Is it wrong to raise and kill animals to eat them?
Reading: Puppies, Pigs, and People: Eating Meat and Marginal Cases, Alastair Norcross

38. Do individuals have moral obligations to help the environment?
Reading: It's Not My Fault: Global Warming and Individual Moral Obligations, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong

39. Does a person with integrity work to help the environment? If so, what is required?
Reading: Climate, Collective Action, and Individual Ethical Obligations, Marion Hourdequin

Part VIII. Sports

40. Should colleges and universities have NCAA-regulated sports teams (that is, not intramural or recreational teams)?
Reading: The Role and Value of Intercollegiate Athletics in Universities, Myles Brand

41. Do NCAA-regulated college sports teams justify their financial cost? (What programs and facilities at schools justify their costs, and which don’t?)
Reading: On the Role and Value of Intercollegiate Athletics in Universities, J. Angelo Corlett

Part IX. Gaming, Music, and Humor

42. Is it wrong to play violent video games?
Reading: Defending the Morality of Violent Video Games, Marcus Schulzke

43. Is it wrong to do actions in a “virtual world” that would be wrong to do in real life, such as murder and assault?
Reading: The Gamer's Dilemma: An Analysis of the Arguments for the Moral Distinction Between Virtual Murder and Virtual Pedophilia, Morgan Luck

44. Is it wrong to sing along to violent, disrespectful and abusive music?
Reading: The Ethics of Singing Along: The Case of "Mind of a Lunatic," Aaron Smuts

45. When can humor be morally problematic?
Reading: The Negative Ethics of Humor, John Morreall

Part X. Dishonesty, Enhancement, and Extra Credit

46. When and why is cheating wrong?
Reading: Why Is Cheating Wrong?, Mathieu Bouville

47. Is it cheating to use cognitive-enhancing drugs, like Ritalin, on tests and assignments?
Reading: Enhancement and Cheating, Rebecca Roache

48. When is it wrong to use cognitive-enhancing drugs? When, if ever, might it be not wrong?
Reading: Ideals of Student Excellence and Enhancement, Gavin G. Enck

49. Why do some students plagiarize? Why is plagiarism wrong? What can be done to reduce plagiarism?
Reading: The Role of Cultural Values in Plagiarism in Higher Education, Nina C. Heckler and David R. Forde

50. Is it wrong for instructors to use anti-plagiarism checking software?
Reading: A Moral Case Against Certain Uses of Plagiarism Detection Services, J. Caleb Clanton

51. Is it wrong for instructors to offer extra credit opportunities?
Reading: Seven Arguments Against Extra Credit, Christopher A. Pynes

Part XI. The Aims of Education

52. Should college be free? If not, how much should students have to pay?
Reading: Should Students Have to Borrow? Autonomy, Well-Being, and Student Debt, Christopher Martin

53. What is the ultimate goal of education? Knowledge? Wisdom? Something else?
Reading: From Knowledge to Wisdom: The Need for an Academic Revolution, Nicholas Maxwell

54. What should education be be like in a global community?
Education for Citizenship in an Era of Global Connection, Martha Nussbaum

55. What should you expect from a college education? What should you expect of yourself in college?
Claiming an Education, Adrienne Rich
Other ethical issues especially relevant to college students:
  • Should guns be allowed on college campuses?
  • Is it wrong to use animals for dissections, psychology labs, research and other purposes in education?
  • Should students be able to provide guidance on the running of their schools? To what extent?


An assignment TBA, involving:
  • Interviewing some other folks on these questions;
  • Evaluating their answers;
  • Teaching them something from the corresponding article.

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