Phil 1318 (6) Contemporary Moral Problems
Spring 2013 MWF 2:00, Umphrey Lee 241
Professor Jean Kazez (jkazez@smu.edu)
Office hours:  MWF 1-2 and by appointment
Class blog: cmpsmu.blogspot.com

Course Description  In this course we will study moral controversies about individual behavior and social justice.  Topics will include censorship, sexual harassment, assisted suicide, economic inequality, racism, immigration, abortion, and our duties to animals.  Our readings will be drawn from contemporary philosophy, the history of philosophy, and also sources outside philosophy. 

Course Goals
1.     Philosophy 1318 is a Philosophical and Religious Inquiry and Ethics Pillar (level I) course within SMU’s University Curriculum.  The student learning outcome is: “Students will be able to describe, explain and/or employ some of the principles and theoretical methods of philosophy, religious studies, or ethics.”
2.     In addition, this course will help students hone skills in the area of critical thinking, argumentative writing, and oral debate.
3.     Students will build a foundation for future reflection about the pressing moral and political controversies of our time.

Exam I (25%), Exam II (25%), Exam III (25%), Short paper (10%), Quizzes (10%), Citizenship (5%).

1.     To encourage you to come to class ready to discuss each day’s reading assignment, we will have pop quizzes on these assignments (around 8 in total).
2.     To do well on the quizzes, your best bet is to complete the reading in a timely fashion (don’t just skim right before class!) read slowly and carefully, and create an outline of the main claims and arguments. 
3.     You will receive a minimum of 50 points for taking a quiz, but zero points if you don’t take it.
4.     Your lowest 2 quiz grades will be dropped. 
5.     There will be no make-up quizzes except in the event that you miss a quiz due to an official SMU extracurricular activity.

Citizenship The default citizenship grade is 90 points.  You will lose points for excessive absences (see below) and for negatives like coming to class late, reading newspapers, escapist use of laptops, texting during class, etc.  You can gain up to 10 points by being an especially good contributor to class discussion.

Attendance  I will consider absences excessive if they add up to more than 5 over the whole semester.  Each additional absence, beyond 5, will lower your citizenship grade by 10 points.  Think of the 5 absences as a “budget”: it must cover both necessary absences for illness and other absences as well, so “spend” it carefully.

Make-up exams   Make-up exams will be given only to students who have an outstandingly good reason for missing a class, such as being ill, needing to attend a funeral, or participating in an official SMU extra-curricular event.  Be prepared to present documentation.  If you are physically able, ask for permission before missing an exam.  Don't make any travel plans before looking at the schedule.

Disability Accommodations 
Students needing academic accommodations for a disability must first contact DASS (214-768-1470 or www.smu.edu/alec/dass.asp) to verify the disability and establish eligibility for accommodations. You should then communicate with me to make appropriate arrangements. (University Policy No. 2.4.)

Extra-curricular Activities  If you participate in an official, scheduled, SMU extracurricular activity, you will be given the opportunity to make up exams and assignments missed as a result of your participation.  It is your responsibility to make arrangements with me prior to any missed examination or assignment.  Please discuss your schedule with me at the beginning of the semester. 

Religious observance    Religiously observant students wishing to be absent on holidays that require missing class should notify their professors in writing at the beginning of the semester, and should discuss with them, in advance, acceptable ways of making up any work missed because of the absence.” 
(University Policy No. 1.9.)

Grade interpretation.  Each test and assignment will be graded on a 100-point scale.  100-97 = A+; 96-93=A; 92-90=A-, 89-87=B+, 86-83=B, etc. 
A-range   Very accurate, very insightful.  Only a few minor flaws. 
B-range   Some very good work, but also some significant gaps.  
C-range   You've learned something, but missed many important things as well.
D-range   Very little mastery of any of the material. 
F-range    No significant mastery or not turned in, etc.
Honor Code    Violation of SMU's honor code will not be tolerated.  Every piece of work you turn in must be entirely your own.  Writing a paper means both expressing your own thoughts, and expressing them in your own words.   You may not copy passages from our texts, from any other texts, or from the internet, even if the passages are brief.  No one else may write a paper for you, whether in whole or in part.  The penalty for academic dishonesty will be a zero on the paper or exam in question and possibly also in the course. On top of this grade penalty, the case may be presented to the honor council, which may decide to take further disciplinary action, such as suspension or dismissal. 

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