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Christine L. Williams, Chair CLA 3.306, Mailcode A1700, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-232-6300

Sheldon Ekland-Olson

Ph.D., University of Washington

Professor
Sheldon Ekland-Olson

Contact

SOC 352D • Boundaries And Dilemmas-Honors

46273 • Fall 2014
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm CLA 1.302D
(also listed as LAH 350 )
show description

This is a research and writing course designed to explore moral imperatives, violation of these imperatives, and perhaps most interestingly how we justify such violation. 

 Why is the title of the course Boundaries and Dilemmas? A good deal of the semester will be spent on how communities establish boundaries to determine lives more or less worthy  of protection and support than others. We will also spend time on how communities weigh one imperative against another when confronted with moral dilemmas.

  The first portion of the course will offer quick overviews of specific questions. With these overviews in hand, you will be asked to choose a specific topic, such as physician assisted suicide, capital punishment, eugenics, or war. You will be asked to develop a set of ideas consistent with the general framework developed in the early sessions of class. You and I will meet one-on-one to discuss your ideas. You will then be asked to make a 15 (or so) minute presentation to the class. 

 I consider the material we cover to be very important. The assigned paper will be graded with high standards, as will the class presentation. Both will require substantial work. You will love it! 

There is one assigned book:  WHO LIVES, WHO DIES, WHO DECIDES.

I see class discussions as very important to the success of this class.

 0% of your grade will come from class participation, primarily from postings on Discussion Board. Attendance is required. More than three absences will lower your grade one full point -- A to B, B to C etc. I know this is tough, but so am I.... Never fear, I will make every effort to ensure classes are worth attending.

 This course is designed to hone various communication skills. Individually, you will be asked to write a 16-20 page paper on a topic of your choice. This paper will be handed in for initial grading and editorial comment. Your grade on the initial draft will constitute 40% of your final grade. The paper will be handed back to you for revision. You will be asked to hand in the revised version at the end of the semester. This final version of the paper will be graded and will also constitute 40% of your grade.

 I look forward to many lively and fruitful discussions throughout the semester.

SOC 352M • Boundaries And Dilemmas-Honors

46490 • Spring 2014
Meets TTH 930am-1100am CLA 0.118
(also listed as LAH 350 )
show description

Description:

WELCOME TO CLASS!

This is a research and writing course designed to explore moral imperatives, violation of these imperatives, and perhaps most interestingly how we justify such violation. 

Why is the title of the course Boundaries and Dilemmas? A good deal of the semester will be spent on how communities establish boundaries to determine lives more or less worthy  of protection and support than others. We will also spend time on how communities weigh one imperative against another when confronted with moral dilemmas.

 The first portion of the course will offer quick overviews of specific questions. With these overviews in hand, you will be asked to choose a specific topic, such as physician assisted suicide, capital punishment, eugenics, or war. You will be asked to develop a set of ideas consistent with the general framework developed in the early sessions of class. You and I will meet one-on-one to discuss your ideas. You will then be asked to make a 15 (or so) minute presentation to the class. 

I consider the material we cover to be very important. The assigned paper will be graded with high standards, as will the class presentation. Both will require substantial work. You will love it! 

Texts:

There is one assigned book:  WHO LIVES, WHO DIES, WHO DECIDES. 

Grading and Requirements:

I see class discussions as very important to the success of this class.

20% of your grade will come from class participation, primarily from postings on Discussion Board. Attendance is required. More than three absences will lower your grade one full point -- A to B, B to C etc. I know this is tough, but so am I.... Never fear, I will make every effort to ensure classes are worth attending.

This course is designed to hone various communication skills. Individually, you will be asked to write a 16-20 page paper on a topic of your choice. This paper will be handed in for initial grading and editorial comment. Your grade on the initial draft will constitute 40% of your final grade. The paper will be handed back to you for revision. You will be asked to hand in the revised version at the end of the semester. This final version of the paper will be graded and will also constitute 40% of your grade.

I look forward to many lively and fruitful discussions throughout the semester.

SOC 352M • Boundaries And Dilemmas

46250 • Fall 2013
Meets TTH 1230pm-200pm CLA 2.606
show description

WELCOME TO CLASS!

 

This is a research and writing course designed to explore moral imperatives, violation of these imperatives, and perhaps most interestingly how we justify such violation. 

Why is the title of the course Boundaries and Dilemmas? A good deal of the semester will be spent on how communities establish boundaries to determine lives more or less worthy  of protection and support than others. We will also spend time on how communities weigh one imperative against another when confronted with moral dilemmas.

This course is designed to hone various communication skills. Individually, you will be asked to write a 16-20 page paper on a topic of your choice. This paper will be handed in for initial grading and editorial comment. Your grade on the initial draft will constitute 40% of your final grade. The paper will be handed back to you for revision. You will be asked to hand in the revised version at the end of the semester. This final version of the paper will be graded and will also constitute 40% of your grade.

There is one assigned book:  WHO LIVES, WHO DIES, WHO DECIDES.  The first portion of the course will offer quick overviews of specific questions. With these overviews in hand, you will be asked to choose a specific topic, such as physician assisted suicide, capital punishment, eugenics, or war. You will be asked to develop a set of ideas consistent with the general framework developed in the early sessions of class. You and I will meet one-on-one to discuss your ideas. You will then be asked to make a 15 (or so) minute presentation to the class. 

I consider the material we cover to be very important. The assigned paper will be graded with high standards, as will the class presentation. Both will require substantial work. You will love it! 

 I see class discussions as very important to the success of this class. 20% of your grade will come from class participation, primarily from postings on Discussion Board. Attendance is required. More than three absences will lower your grade one full point -- A to B, B to C etc. I know this is tough, but so am I.... Never fear, I will make every effort to ensure classes are worth attending.

I look forward to many lively and fruitful discussions throughout the semester.

SOC 352M • Boundaries And Dilemmas-Honors

45835 • Spring 2013
Meets TTH 930am-1100am CLA 0.120
(also listed as LAH 350 )
show description

Contains a Writing Flag

Course Description

This is an advanced research course designed to explore policy issues linked to universal moral imperatives, violation of these imperatives, and perhaps most interestingly how we justify such violation. The objective is to help students develop research skills in a topic of significant policy importance.  In some ways, this course is an advanced, research oriented follow-up to Life and Death Decisions, offered at the lower division.  This lower division course, while helpful, is not a prerequisite.   Two imperatives will be chosen for attention: 1) Life is sacred and should be protected. 2) Suffering, once detected should be alleviated. The class will be spent exploring how exclusionary boundaries and moral dilemmas play a central role in the justification of violations.As time permits, five specific topics will be explored: 1) Eugenics and mandated sterilization 2) Abortion 3) Neonatal care 4) Euthanasia and Physician Assisted Suicide 5) War.  The class will be spent exploring how exclusionary boundaries and moral dilemmas play a central role in collective justification of violations of these universal imperatives.  Attention will focus on the important role a sense of injustice and implied assessments of legitimacy play in guiding social change.  Finally, we will focus on how scientific knowledge and associated technological advances stimulate the evolution of moral systems.

Grading Policy

Individually, you will be asked to write a 16-20 page paper on the chosen topic. This paper will be handed in for initial grading and editorial comment. Your grade on the initial draft will constitute 40% of your final grade. The paper will be handed back to you for revision. You will be asked to hand in the revised version at the end of class. This final version of the paper will be graded and will also constitute 40% of your grade.

The remaining 20% of your grade will come from class participation. In addition to in-class discussions and assignments, you will be asked to write amongst yourselves, via Discussion Board, about various assigned topics throughout the semester. Attendance is required. More than three unexcused absences will lower your grade one full point -- A to B, B to C etc. I know this is tough, but so am I.... Not to fear, I will make every effort to ensure classes are worth attending.

Texts

There is no assigned text.  Readings from numerous sources such as Edmond Cahn’s  The Sense of Injustice; Edwin Black’s War Against the Weak; Helga Kuhe and Peter Singer’s Should the Baby Live?; and  Wesley Smith’s Culture of Death.  Will be assigned.

 

SOC 308 • Life-And-Death Decisions

45470 • Fall 2012
Meets TTH 930am-1100am WCH 1.120
show description

Description:

Course will cover a range of ethical questions related to issues of life and death.  Classes are divided into four topics:  1) General Value and Definitional Issues;  2) Issues of Creation; 3) Issues of Termination; 4) Comparative Summary

 

Required Texts:  Required course readings will be selected from subset of the following:

A FRAMEWORK FOR ETHICAL DECISION MAKING:

  • http://www.scu.edu/ethics/practicing/decision/framework.html

MORAL DILEMMAS:

  • http://www.iep.utm.edu/e/ethics.htm

WHEN DOES HUMAN PERSONHOOD BEGIN?

  • http://www.religioustolerance.org/abo_when.htm
  • http://www.lifeissues.net/writers/irv/irv_04person1.html
  • http://www.scu.edu/ethics/publications/submitted/Perry/personhood.html

GENERAL CURRENT DEVELOPMENTS

  • http://www.lifenews.com/

PERSONHOOD BIBLIOGRAPHIES

  • http://www.tc.umn.edu/~parkx032/B-PERSON.html
  • http://www.columbia.edu/~syw10/personhood.html

TIME.COM

  • http://www.time.com/time/2001/stemcells/

AMERICAN ASSOCIATION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF SCIENCE

  • http://www.aaas.org/spp/cstc/issues/cloning.htm

AMERICAN BIOETHICS ADVISORY COMMISSION

  • http://www.all.org/abac/person.htm
  • http://www.all.org/abac/cloning.htm

STEM CELL RESEARCH AND APPLICATIONS

  • http://www.aaas.org/spp/sfrl/projects/stem/main.htm
  • ActionBioscience.org
  • http://www.actionbioscience.org/biotech/mcgee.html
  • ActionBioscience.org - Primer On Ethics and Human Cloning
  • CNN article (interactive) http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2001/stemcell/
  • Remarks by President Bush http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2001/08/20010809-2.html
  • Stem Cells: Changing the Debate on Cloning http://discover.npr.org/features/feature.jhtml?wfId=1249176

 

ABORTION

  • Roe V. Wade http://www.tourolaw.edu/patch/Roe/
  • Ohio ESL http://www.ohiou.edu/esl/project/abortion/
  • NPR: 30th Anniversary of Roe v .Wade http://www.npr.org/news/specials/roevwade

CAPITAL PUNISHMENT

  • The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy- Capitol Punishment http://www.utm.edu/research/iep/c/capitalp.htm
  • "Speech in Favor of Capital Punishment" by John Stuart Mill http://ethics.acusd.edu/Mill.html
  • Furman v. Georgia. http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/conlaw/furman.html
  • Capital Punishment Statistics http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/cp.htm
  • ACLU Execution Watch http://archive.aclu.org/executionwatch.html
  • Illinois Commision on Capital Punishment http://www.idoc.state.il.us/ccp/
  • Death Penalty Information Center http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/article.php?did=404&scid=45
  • 'The Innocents': Someone Else's Crime http://discover.npr.org/features/feature.jhtml?wfId=1258280
  • "The Plea": PBS, Dateline http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/plea/four/cook.html

WAR

  • Just War Theory:
    1. http://www.firstthings.com/ftissues/ft0206/opinion/johnson.html
    2. http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i=20011029&s=falk
    3. http://www.utm.edu/research/iep/j/justwar.htm
    4. http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/pol116/justwar.htm
  • Israeli-Palestinian Conflict http://www.hbo.com/docs/programs/persona/synopsis.html
  • New Yorker Article http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/?040712fa_fact

 

Grading Policy:

20% Class participation and daily assignments

40% Mid-term

40% Final

SOC 352M • Boundaries And Dilemmas

45630 • Fall 2012
Meets TTH 1230pm-200pm BUR 231
show description

Contains a Writing Flag

 

Course Description

This is a research and writing course designed to explore moral imperatives, violation of these imperatives, and perhaps most interestingly how we justify such violation. The standards are high. You will have to work hard and long. You will love it!

We will find ourselves quickly enmeshed in how law and the legal system engage moral considerations. We will come face to face with religion's influence on law. Any discussion of law, morality and religion is incomplete without consideration of interest groups and attendant issues of equality. Interests and equality imply economic relations and power. Power implies coercion, control and conflict. These general topics will be anchored in an exploration of specific topics such as eugenics, abortion, capital punishment, doctor assisted suicide, and war.

The first portion of the course will concentrate on quick overviews of specific questions. With these overviews in hand, you will be asked to break into three or four groups of five (plus or minus). Each group will choose a specific topic, such as physician assisted suicide, capital punishment, eugenics, or war. As a group you will be asked to develop a set of ideas consistent with the general framework developed in the early sessions of class.

Grading Policy

Individually, you will be asked to write a 16-20 page paper on the chosen topic. This paper will be handed in for initial grading and editorial comment. Your grade on the initial draft will constitute 40% of your final grade. The paper will be handed back to you for revision. You will be asked to hand in the revised version at the end of class. This final version of the paper will be graded and will also constitute 40% of your grade.

The remaining 20% of your grade will come from class participation. In addition to in-class discussions and assignments, you will be asked to write amongst yourselves, via Discussion Board, about various assigned topics throughout the semester. Attendance is required. More than three unexcused absences will lower your grade one full point -- A to B, B to C etc. I know this is tough, but so am I.... Not to fear, I will make every effort to ensure classes are worth attending.

Texts

Assigned readings and questions for written discussion, via Discussion Board, will be found on "ASSIGNMENTS."

 

SOC 352M • Boundaries And Dilemmas-Honors

45630 • Spring 2012
Meets TTH 930am-1100am MAI 220C
(also listed as LAH 350 )
show description

Contains a Writing Flag

Course Description

This is an advanced research course designed to explore policy issues linked to universal moral imperatives, violation of these imperatives, and perhaps most interestingly how we justify such violation. The objective is to help students develop research skills in a topic of significant policy importance.  In some ways, this course is an advanced, research oriented follow-up to Life and Death Decisions, offered at the lower division.  This lower division course, while helpful, is not a prerequisite.   Two imperatives will be chosen for attention: 1) Life is sacred and should be protected. 2) Suffering, once detected should be alleviated. The class will be spent exploring how exclusionary boundaries and moral dilemmas play a central role in the justification of violations.As time permits, five specific topics will be explored: 1) Eugenics and mandated sterilization 2) Abortion 3) Neonatal care 4) Euthanasia and Physician Assisted Suicide 5) War.  The class will be spent exploring how exclusionary boundaries and moral dilemmas play a central role in collective justification of violations of these universal imperatives.  Attention will focus on the important role a sense of injustice and implied assessments of legitimacy play in guiding social change.  Finally, we will focus on how scientific knowledge and associated technological advances stimulate the evolution of moral systems.

Grading Policy

Individually, you will be asked to write a 16-20 page paper on the chosen topic. This paper will be handed in for initial grading and editorial comment. Your grade on the initial draft will constitute 40% of your final grade. The paper will be handed back to you for revision. You will be asked to hand in the revised version at the end of class. This final version of the paper will be graded and will also constitute 40% of your grade.

The remaining 20% of your grade will come from class participation. In addition to in-class discussions and assignments, you will be asked to write amongst yourselves, via Discussion Board, about various assigned topics throughout the semester. Attendance is required. More than three unexcused absences will lower your grade one full point -- A to B, B to C etc. I know this is tough, but so am I.... Not to fear, I will make every effort to ensure classes are worth attending.

Texts

There is no assigned text.  Readings from numerous sources such as Edmond Cahn’s  The Sense of Injustice; Edwin Black’s War Against the Weak; Helga Kuhe and Peter Singer’s Should the Baby Live?; and  Wesley Smith’s Culture of Death.  Will be assigned.

 

SOC 352M • Boundaries And Dilemmas

46175 • Spring 2011
Meets TTH 1230pm-200pm MEZ B0.302
show description

Contains a Writing Flag

 

Course Description

This is a research and writing course designed to explore moral imperatives, violation of these imperatives, and perhaps most interestingly how we justify such violation. The standards are high. You will have to work hard and long. You will love it!

We will find ourselves quickly enmeshed in how law and the legal system engage moral considerations. We will come face to face with religion's influence on law. Any discussion of law, morality and religion is incomplete without consideration of interest groups and attendant issues of equality. Interests and equality imply economic relations and power. Power implies coercion, control and conflict. These general topics will be anchored in an exploration of specific topics such as eugenics, abortion, capital punishment, doctor assisted suicide, and war.

The first portion of the course will concentrate on quick overviews of specific questions. With these overviews in hand, you will be asked to break into three or four groups of five (plus or minus). Each group will choose a specific topic, such as physician assisted suicide, capital punishment, eugenics, or war. As a group you will be asked to develop a set of ideas consistent with the general framework developed in the early sessions of class.

Grading Policy

Individually, you will be asked to write a 16-20 page paper on the chosen topic. This paper will be handed in for initial grading and editorial comment. Your grade on the initial draft will constitute 40% of your final grade. The paper will be handed back to you for revision. You will be asked to hand in the revised version at the end of class. This final version of the paper will be graded and will also constitute 40% of your grade.

The remaining 20% of your grade will come from class participation. In addition to in-class discussions and assignments, you will be asked to write amongst yourselves, via Discussion Board, about various assigned topics throughout the semester. Attendance is required. More than three unexcused absences will lower your grade one full point -- A to B, B to C etc. I know this is tough, but so am I.... Not to fear, I will make every effort to ensure classes are worth attending.

Texts

Assigned readings and questions for written discussion, via Discussion Board, will be found on "ASSIGNMENTS."

 

 

SOC 308 • Life-And-Death Decisions

45445 • Fall 2010
Meets TTH 330pm-500pm MEZ 1.306
show description

Description:

Course will cover a range of ethical questions related to issues of life and death.  Classes are divided into four topics:  1) General Value and Definitional Issues;  2) Issues of Creation; 3) Issues of Termination; 4) Comparative Summary

 

Required Texts:  Required course readings will be selected from subset of the following:

A FRAMEWORK FOR ETHICAL DECISION MAKING:

  • http://www.scu.edu/ethics/practicing/decision/framework.html

MORAL DILEMMAS:

  • http://www.iep.utm.edu/e/ethics.htm

WHEN DOES HUMAN PERSONHOOD BEGIN?

  • http://www.religioustolerance.org/abo_when.htm
  • http://www.lifeissues.net/writers/irv/irv_04person1.html
  • http://www.scu.edu/ethics/publications/submitted/Perry/personhood.html

GENERAL CURRENT DEVELOPMENTS

  • http://www.lifenews.com/

PERSONHOOD BIBLIOGRAPHIES

  • http://www.tc.umn.edu/~parkx032/B-PERSON.html
  • http://www.columbia.edu/~syw10/personhood.html

TIME.COM

  • http://www.time.com/time/2001/stemcells/

AMERICAN ASSOCIATION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF SCIENCE

  • http://www.aaas.org/spp/cstc/issues/cloning.htm

AMERICAN BIOETHICS ADVISORY COMMISSION

  • http://www.all.org/abac/person.htm
  • http://www.all.org/abac/cloning.htm

STEM CELL RESEARCH AND APPLICATIONS

  • http://www.aaas.org/spp/sfrl/projects/stem/main.htm
  • ActionBioscience.org
  • http://www.actionbioscience.org/biotech/mcgee.html
  • ActionBioscience.org - Primer On Ethics and Human Cloning
  • CNN article (interactive) http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2001/stemcell/
  • Remarks by President Bush http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2001/08/20010809-2.html
  • Stem Cells: Changing the Debate on Cloning http://discover.npr.org/features/feature.jhtml?wfId=1249176

 

ABORTION

  • Roe V. Wade http://www.tourolaw.edu/patch/Roe/
  • Ohio ESL http://www.ohiou.edu/esl/project/abortion/
  • NPR: 30th Anniversary of Roe v .Wade http://www.npr.org/news/specials/roevwade

CAPITAL PUNISHMENT

  • The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy- Capitol Punishment http://www.utm.edu/research/iep/c/capitalp.htm
  • "Speech in Favor of Capital Punishment" by John Stuart Mill http://ethics.acusd.edu/Mill.html
  • Furman v. Georgia. http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/conlaw/furman.html
  • Capital Punishment Statistics http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/cp.htm
  • ACLU Execution Watch http://archive.aclu.org/executionwatch.html
  • Illinois Commision on Capital Punishment http://www.idoc.state.il.us/ccp/
  • Death Penalty Information Center http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/article.php?did=404&scid=45
  • 'The Innocents': Someone Else's Crime http://discover.npr.org/features/feature.jhtml?wfId=1258280
  • "The Plea": PBS, Dateline http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/plea/four/cook.html

WAR

  • Just War Theory:
    1. http://www.firstthings.com/ftissues/ft0206/opinion/johnson.html
    2. http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i=20011029&s=falk
    3. http://www.utm.edu/research/iep/j/justwar.htm
    4. http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/pol116/justwar.htm
  • Israeli-Palestinian Conflict http://www.hbo.com/docs/programs/persona/synopsis.html
  • New Yorker Article http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/?040712fa_fact

 

Grading Policy:

20% Class participation and daily assignments

40% Mid-term

40% Final

SOC 352M • Boundaries And Dilemmas-Honors

45605 • Fall 2010
Meets TTH 1230pm-200pm BUR 231
(also listed as LAH 350 )
show description

Restricted to Plan I Honors.

 

Meets with LAH 350

 

Contains a Writing Flag

Description:

This is an advanced research course designed to explore policy issues linked to universal moral imperatives, violation of these imperatives, and perhaps most interestingly how we justify such violation. The objective is to help students develop research skills in a topic of significant policy importance.  In some ways, this course is an advanced, research oriented follow-up to Life and Death Decisions, offered at the lower division.  This lower division course, while helpful, is not a prerequisite.   

 Two imperatives will be chosen for attention:

1) Life is sacred and should be protected.

2) Suffering, once detected should be alleviated. 

 The class will be spent exploring how exclusionary boundaries and moral dilemmas play a central role in the justification of violations.

 As time permits, five specific topics will be explored:

1) Eugenics and mandated sterilization

2) Abortion

3) Neonatal care

4) Euthanasia and Physician Assisted Suicide

5) War

 The class will be spent exploring how exclusionary boundaries and moral dilemmas play a central role in collective justification of violations of these universal imperatives.  Attention will focus on the important role a sense of injustice and implied assessments of legitimacy play in guiding social change.  Finally, we will focus on how scientific knowledge and associated technological advances stimulate the evolution of moral systems.

 

Texts:

There is no assigned text. Readings from numerous sources such as Edmond Cahn’s The Sense of Injustice; Edwin Black’s War Against the Weak; Helga Kuhe and Peter Singer’s Should the Baby Live?; and  Wesley Smith’s Culture of Death will be assigned.

 

Requirements:

The class will be broken into smaller groups.  Each group will choose (or be given) a specific topic, such as physician assisted suicide, neonatal care, or war. As a group you will be asked to develop a set of ideas consistent with the general framework developed in the early sessions of class.  Individually, you will be asked to write a 16-20 page paper on your chosen topic. This paper will be handed in for initial grading and editorial comment. Your grade on the initial draft will constitute 40% of your grade. The paper will be handed back to you for revision. You will be asked to hand in the revised version at the end of class. This final version of the paper will be graded and will also constitute 40% of your grade.

The remaining 20% of your grade will come from class participation. In addition to in-class discussions, throughout the semester you will be discuss, via Discussion Board, various assigned topics throughout the semester.



UGS UGS303 • Life And Death Decisions

64045 • Spring 2010
Meets MW 200pm-330pm GRG 102
show description
  • Life and Death Decisions 

    Professor: Sheldon Ekland-Olson 
    Offices: BUR 556 
    Office Hours: Tues. and Wed. 3:30 - 5:00 

    Teaching Assistants: 

    Simon Barnes
    Office Hours: Tuesday and Thursday 12:00 - 1:00 in BUR 602 
     
    Julie Beicken
    Office Hours: Wednesdays 3:30-5:30 in Burdine 554.   

    Welcome to class. 

    Here is the question before us: How do we collectively go about justifying actions universally thought to be wrong? 

    All human societies have moral frameworks. These frameworks are embedded in both religion and law. There is very little, if any, disagreement on this. Within these frameworks are moral imperatives. Moral imperatives compel us, as moral beings, to certain lines of action. Many have asked whether, across all moral systems, there are common imperatives. If present, they would apply to the human condition and community across time, place, and life circumstances. No exceptions. There is far more disagreement on this question. 

    Two imperatives will occupy our attention: 
    1) Life is sacred and should be protected. 
    2) Suffering, once detected, should be alleviated. 

    We will explore many circumstances when these, perhaps universal moral imperatives, are violated and most importantly how we go about justifying the violation. 

    Three mechanisms leading to justification of violations will be explored. 
    1) Resolution of moral dilemmas 
    2) A logic of exclusion 
    3) Diluted empathy 

    Obviously, these issues involve emotion- and value-laden questions. You will not be evaluated on the specific positions you take, but on how carefully you construct your argument and how well you address positions other than your own. We are striving to improve how, not what, you think. The exams will, however, contain items to ensure you have read and thought about the materials assigned. 

    The class is organized as follows: 

    I. Initial positions and grounding ideas 
    II. A Troubling Logic of Exclusion 
    III. An Evolving Moral Framework 
    IV. The Abortion Wars 
    V. Are Some Lives are Worth More Than Others? 
    VI. Is There a Right to Die? 
    VII. Capital Punishment and War 

    If there is an overall goal of the class, it is to identify common threads that run through all the issues addressed. Not easy, but interesting. 

    Readings: No formal text. Course materials will be posted on COURSE DOCUMENTS. 

    Evaluation: There will be two exams during the semester and a final exam. In addition, there will be "Discussion Board" assignments. These will be explained in class. Your involvement in these assignments will be a major portion of your class participation grade. 

    Grade: 75% from exams (equally weighted), 25% from class participation 

    Attendance: Attendance is considered very important for the success of this class. My belief is that much is learned in class and related discussions. We all know you can choose to skip class. If you decide to miss class, well, I will be disappointed in you. Unfortunately, my disappointment, though real, is not all there is. If your schedule calls for you to miss more than four classes, you should probably drop the course. More than four absences will reduce your grade one full grade point (e.g., from an A to a B). Each subsequent absence will mean an additional grade point. I know this is nasty, but so am I.
    If you are a student with a disability affecting your exam performance, see: http://www.utexas.edu/diversity/ddce/ssd/accomod_services.php#exam_accom  
    This course is listed as a signature course.  All this means is that in addition to the substantive material of the course, various assignments will be given for the discussion groups designed to acquaint you with this campus.   

    I look forward to a lively semester
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