A writer must “know and have an ever-present consciousness that this world is a world of fools and rogues… tormented with envy, consumed with vanity; selfish, false, cruel, cursed with illusions… He should free himself of all doctrines, theories, etiquettes, politics…” —Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?). “The nobility of the writer's occupation lies in resisting oppression, thus in accepting isolation” —Albert Camus (1913-1960). “What are you gonna do” —Bertha Brown (1895-1987).
DeNicola, Daniel R. Moral
Philosophy: A Contemporary Introduction. Ontario, Canada: Broadview
Press, 2019. ISBN: 978-1-55481-354-4
Course Description: "General Ethics"
investigates normative theories of human action. It looks critically at what
philosophers say that human beings should
do.Unlike "Business Ethics"
and "Biomedical Ethics," which seek to provide a moral guidance in
respect of certain discrete domains of human action (viz., "business"
and "medicine" respectively), “General Ethics” seeks to provide moral
guidance applicable to all domains of human action.
Goals:The General Education Curriculum Committee
has designated PHIL 2245 to count in fulfillment of Benedictine University’s
requirement of one course in the “Philosophical Mode of Inquiry” as a condition
for completion of a baccalaureate degree.Here is a general description of courses in the Philosophical mode:
Philosophy, meaning “love of wisdom,”
endeavors to address the deepest and most enduring human questions and to do so
on the basis of reason alone.Philosophical inquiry trains the mind to think clearly and moves
students to love learning and the “examined life.”Philosophical inquiry generally interrogates
the assumptions and presuppositions that other academic disciplines take as
axiomatic or “given.” Philosophical inquiry at Benedictine engages the Catholic
philosophical tradition in a substantial way but in a way that draws upon wider
historical, general, and global philosophical trends.While philosophical inquiry helps to prepare
students for professional careers and for graduate study, it tends to be
centered not on vocational ends, but rather on the enrichment of the student’s
intellect through both the engagement with core texts and the cultivation of
critical thinking and analysis.
Modes of inquiry courses align with the General
Education Essential Student Learning Goals identified for that mode.For courses in the Philosophical Mode, these
Goals are as follows:
– Critical Thinking + Analysis
– Oral & Written Communication
– Intellectual Curiosity
– Humanistic knowledge, theories, and methods
– Catholic Intellectual Tradition
Through coursework in Benedictine University's Philosophy Program, students
develop proficiency in respect of three key Learning Outcomes:
1. Produce a plausibly cogent line of philosophical
argument (logically speaking) with a significant (non-trivial) conclusion.
2. Show comprehension and critical
engagement of key ideas and arguments within classic philosophical theories.
3. Demonstrate knowledge of key doctrines of
8.Developing skill in
expressing oneself orally or in writing (Important)
11.Learning to analyze and critically
evaluate ideas, arguments, and points of view (Important)
theoretical knowledge of general ethics as a foundation for “practical
knowledge about how we ought to live”
objective grounds of general ethics and show the ability to justify moral
ethical decisions that promote personal integrity, the respect for legitimate
rights, the aspirations of individuals and groups, and the common good
vocabulary used in the philosophy of ethics and morality
synthesize, and argue effectively through use of deductive and inductive
between facts and opinions and between relevant and irrelevant claims;
determine the factual accuracy of statements and beliefs; detect bias and
fallacious reasoning often found in argumentation
strategies to appeal to a specific audience: ethos—an appeal to credibility;
logos—an appeal to reason; and pathos—an appeal to one’s beliefs, values, and
understanding of the writing process by proofreading each essay for errors and
omissions of both form and substance; by revising and restructuring where ideas
are poorly organized or where evidence is lacking; and by correcting for errors
in syntax, usage, punctuation, spelling, and style
skillfully through effective organization and emphasis of ideas
logically and clearly through a variety of sentence structures
theses with thoughtfulness and clarity, using Chicago, MLA, or APA
grammatical, syntactical, and stylistic mastery
Etiquette: As we work
together to create a classroom environment that is both conducive to learning
and welcoming of all members of the class, students are expected to adhere to
appropriate standards of behavior for an academic environment.
Guidelines for respectful,
constructive and inclusive philosophical discussion: The guidelines below are intended
primarily for oral philosophical discussion in formal settings: colloquia,
conferences, seminars, classes, and so on… The specific norms are intended as
means of facilitating more general norms of being respectful, constructive, and
Norms of respect: 1. Please be courteous. 2. Do not
interrupt. 3. Do not present objections as flat dismissals (leave open the
possibility that there's other responses). 4. Do not be incredulous. 5. Do not
roll your eyes, make faces, laugh at a participant. 6. Do not start side
conversations parallel to the main discussion. 7. Acknowledge your
interlocutor's insights. 8. Object to theses, do not object to people.
Norms of inclusiveness: 1. Please do not dominate the
discussion. 2. Raise one question per question (follow-ups are okay, but
questions on different topics go to the back of the queue). 3. Try not to let
your question (or your answer) run on forever. 4. Acknowledge points made by
previous questioners. 5. It is okay to ask a question that you think may be
unsophisticated or uninformed. 6. Do not use unnecessarily offensive examples.
7. Do not try to impress others. (http://consc.net/norms.html).
Attendance and Participation: BecauseI believe everyone has something to contribute to our class, I
also believe that we are all responsible for attending college classes, which
are forums for the exchange of varying beliefs, values, and assumptions. A
student’s education is not an isolated and anti-social event. It is a
reciprocation of mutual interests and goals. Please take responsibility for
your education and learning.It is a
profound opportunity and privilege that many people do not have, and it should
never be squandered. Although I believe that not everything valuable in a class
can be assessed through tests, quizzes and essays, or should be, I am
emphasizing the values of commitment and the responsibility to that obligation
as part of a classroom community of teachers and learners. Therefore, attend
Our discussions are dependent upon the
contributions of each individual. In any class, a participating audience is indispensable for its
success. In this way, we are all participants in one another’s education and
opportunity for learning. Thus, partake fully in our philosophical discussions.
Take notes during discussions and
lectures for metacognition and for your final exam. Note: your ability to
articulate your opinions in each class will also determine the difference
between borderline grades. Participation
in class is an essential requirement for earning an “A” or “B.”Please understand that if you come to
class without your materials and/or reveal that you did not read the
assignment, you will be recorded absent.If you are working on an
assignment for another class or surfing the internet on your iPhone or laptop
during our class, you will be recorded absent.
It is imperative that you use your
absences legitimately and wisely!Please note that more than two absences (or four semester classes) will
affect your final grade. Each subsequent absence will lower your final
grade one full grade.Note: three
late arrivals (more than five minutes each time) will also equal one absence.
If you are seriously ill and a contagion (e.g. you have the flu) or have an
emergency, please notify me by e-mail (email@example.com) that you will be late or absent.Note:
if you are absent the day an essay is due, or class is canceled due to weather
(or for any other reasons), send your essay to me via e-mail by 9:20 pm.
Technology Requirement: While a laptop can be a useful aide
for your education, it can also be a hindrance to discussion.If you
bring a laptop or smart phone to class, please keep them closed.
Academic Honesty:The search for truth and the dissemination of knowledge are the central
missions of a university.Benedictine
University pursues these missions in an environment guided by the Roman
Catholic tradition and Benedictine heritage.Integrity and honesty are, therefore, expected of all members of the
University community, including students, faculty members, administration, and
staff.Actions such as cheating,
plagiarism, collusion, fabrication, forgery, falsification, destruction,
multiple submission, solicitation, and misrepresentation are violations of
these expectations and constitute unacceptable behavior in the University
community.The penalties for such
actions can range from a private verbal warning to expulsion from the
University.Violations will be reported
to the Provost, and a permanent record of this infraction will be noted.The University’s Academic Honesty Policy is
available at http:/www.ben.edu/AHP, and all students are expected to read and
Plagiarism isdefined as the act of stealing ideas and/or the expressions from another
person or source and representing them as your own work.This includes quotations, paraphrasing, and
the summarizing of another person’s ideas without proper documentation.Furthermore, unless you have the explicit permission of the instructor,reusing your own work from other courses is
considered self-plagiarism.Plagiarism is a form of cheating and academic misconduct that can
jeopardize your course grade and college career.Remember to clearly distinguish between your
own ideas and those you have read or heard elsewhere.Be sure to include a works cited page with
any paper in which you consult outside sources.All typed assignments submitted
for evaluation will be graded with the assumption that the student has read and
understands the plagiarism statements and guidelines. Committing any form of
plagiarism will result in a
grade of “0” on the assignment in question and is grounds for failure of the
course or further action by the University.If there are any questions or concerns regarding plagiarism and the
documentation of sources, it is your responsibility to consult the
Conferences:You have the opportunity to meet with me during my office hours and to
discuss your compositions in progress, to receive help with the course
material, to address questions and discussions raised in class, or to talk
about any other concerns.
Academic Accommodations for Religious
Obligations (AAFRO): A student whose
religious obligation conflicts with a course requirement may request an
academic accommodation from the instructor. Students must make such
requests in writing by the end of the first week of the class.
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): If you have a documented learning,
psychological or physical disability, you may be eligible for reasonable
academic accommodations or services.To
request accommodations or services, please contact Danielle Bank at firstname.lastname@example.org or Dawn Cappelli email@example.com for assistance in the Academic and Career Enrichment
Center, Goodwin Hall 214 at 630-829-6041.
All students are expected to fulfill essential course requirements.The University will not waive any essential
skill or requirement of a course or degree program.
Title IX: Benedictine
University prohibits sexual misconduct, consistent with Title IX of the
Educational Amendments of 1972 and other applicable state and federal
laws. Faculty members are considered responsible employees under these
statutes and are required to report any incidents to the Title IX coordinator.
If you have any questions, contact the Title IX Coordinator.
Additional information about reporting sexual misconduct on campus please
and Title IX can be found at www.ben.edu/compliance/title-ix.cfm
Writing Assistance: For help with your writing, please
visit the Academic Career and Enrichment Center in Goodwin, 214.
Students are responsible for the
information in this syllabus and should ask for clarification for anything they
do not understand. Students are expected to be partners in their educational
experience and to periodically monitor their progress in the course. Students
may check grade status through D2L course site Gradebook. Student grades will
be posted in D2L in a reasonable amount of time, usually within one week of
turning them in. The End of Add/Drop Course Changes/Late Registration is Jan.
19th; the Last Day to Withdraw from Classes is Mar. 29th.
Requirements & Distribution of Earned Points:
Essays (75 pts. each): 375 points
Essay Quizzes (25 pts. each)125 points
Final Exam (20%
of Semester Grade)100 points
Grading Guidelines/Rubric: The following descriptions are the
basis for evaluation of all student compositions:
The “A” compositions
are outstanding. They are eloquent, sophisticated, insightful, and emphatic in
providing a convincing, arresting argument.Analyses are well supported by quotations and paraphrases from the textbook
and usually include one or more secondary sources. The compositions are focused,
organized, well-connected, critical, interesting, informative, lucid, original,
and surprising. The compositions contain only minor mechanical errors, if any,
and no significant lapses in diction or organization. Proper documentation and
a Works Cited Page are provided.
The “B” compositions do
more than fulfill the assignment, though they are not exceptional or outstanding.The compositions go beyond a routine response
and show evidence of careful thought and planning.Like the “A” papers, these compositions are
focused, effective, consistently written, tightly organized, and supported by
quotations and paraphrases from the textbook.Moreover, the compositions contain no major distracting errors in usage
or mechanics and are well-developed with good supporting material and
transitions.The compositions are also
clear, free of jargon, and appealing. Proper documentation and a Works Cited
Page are provided.
The “C” compositions are
acceptable, but they are average responses that complete the assignment in a
“routine way.” In other words, they show evidence of engagement with an
argument but make a minimum response to it. The compositions contain few
distracting errors and few glaring platitudes or egregious mistakes in diction.
The reader can follow and understand without difficulty, but the compositions
are not vigorous, nor the ideas well-developed, convincing, original, and
inspiring. Proper documentation and a Works Cited Page are provided.
The “D” compositions
relate to the assignment but also show no evidence of any engagement with an
argument. The compositions are not coherent or unified in purpose. They are
also marred by enough errors in syntax and mechanics to seriously distract the
reader and by vague, ambiguous diction and syntax that make it difficult to
understand the content or the direction of the argument. The compositions might
also be a weak because they do not complete the required length or fulfill the
requirements of the assignment.
The “F” compositions
show little relation to or engagement with an argument.They show very little thought and are so
poorly constructed and carelessly written that the reader cannot follow the
sequence of ideas. Moreover, the compositions are marred by so many errors in
mechanics and usage that the message is extremely difficult to decipher.It is evident these compositions do not
complete the required length or fulfill the requirements of the assignment. Note:
a plagiarized paper, in part or whole, receives an “F” and “0” points.(See Academic Honesty).
All response essays are evaluated
1.Content or ideas: their significance,
clarity, development, and relevance to purpose;
2.Organization: structure or rhetorical methods
3.Personal style: voice and tone, originality
4.Vocabulary and diction: the choice and
arrangement of words to convey meaning;
5.Mechanics: usage, syntax, punctuation, and
A 90-100%, B 80-89%, C 70-79%, D 60-69%, F -59%
NOTE: LATE COMPOSITIONS WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED.
üThe purpose of
these essays is for you to come prepared and to contribute to our class
discussions; moreover, our class is “writing intensive.”
üThe essays are a
minimum of 2 pages in length (2 ½ - 3 full pages are preferable); use 12-pt.;
type and double-space your composition.
üThe essay should
have at least one thoughtful question you formulated after reading the
assignment (your argument/thesis) and your developed and insightful response to
it. You may use “Questions for Discussion” or “For Personal Reflection” as your
thoughtful question or the prompt I provide.
quotations and paraphrases from the text for substantiation of proof! This is
imperative. Use proper documentation as well.
üIf you are using
secondary sources, include a works cited page.
üYou may use 1st
person point of view; do not use 2nd person point of view.
document: “More Guidelines for Writing Your Essays.”
PHIL 2245-N General Ethics
Jan. 13 Welcome to Philosophy 245…
Jan. 20 No Classes (In Honor of Martin
Jan. 27: Chaps 1 & 2
Ethical Theory & Moral Concerns/Morality & Religion
(Divine Command Theory/Moral
Absolutism: Augustine and Aquinas, et al.)
*Feb. 3: Chap. 3 Relativism,
Subjectivism, Pluralism, Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Feb 10: Chap.
4 Moral Naturalism & Natural Rights, Humanity & Morality
Donald Trump Is a Threat to Our Democracy and Unfit to be President of the
United States of America (August 24, 2019)
of us live as social, rational human beings, we have implicitly consented to
moral and social contracts that have been devised. It is because we understand
why moral precepts are beneficial for all of us; that we have the Rule of Law,
established in the U.S. Constitution; that we have a shared set of moral and
legal expectations for our conduct that makes it imperative to appeal to a
public sense of justice regardless of political party affiliation. It is by
virtue of our moral and constitutional obligations, "and not upon the
niceties of a narrow [criminal] jurisprudence but upon the enlarged and solid
principles of morality," that Donald Trump must be removed from the
highest and most respected office in America… For the article, click here.
Continuing Demoralization of University and College Adjunct Faculty (November
…There are no due process protections
for adjunct faculty. There is no equal pay for equal work. There is no
professional advancement. There is no equity in the lack of health insurance
and retirement benefits available for adjunct faculty. There is little to no inclusion
in the way higher education’s formal decision-making procedures and structures
are made. Indeed, adjunct faculty are simply part-time contractors,
“lecturers,” or non-essential “marginalized” hires who are disenfranchised from
high-level governance and required to carry out most of the responsibilities of
the full-time faculty (and sometimes at multiple institutions), but for less
than one-fifth of the salary of the full-time faculty and without meaningful
job security from one semester to another… For the article, click here.
Pension Reform Is Without Legal and Moral Justification (May 29, 2012)
…What is at stake right now is not a
potential adjudication of claims that public employees will have against
policymakers who want changes to public employees’ benefits and rights, but to
respect the public employees’ contractual and constitutional promises because
they are legitimate rights and moral concerns not only for public employees,
but for every citizen in Illinois: for any unwarranted act of stealing a
person’s guaranteed rights and compensation will violate interests in morality
and ethics and the basic principles of both the State and United States
Constitutions that protect every one of us… For the article, click here.
Examination of the Illinois “Pension Protection Clause,” or What Part of These
Words Do Some Politicians Not Understand? (July
…If there is anything else we might
examine regarding the Pension Protection Clause and its relationship to a
reality that reveals repeated attempts by the wealthy elite, their politicians
and the media to steal constitutionally-guaranteed pension benefits and rights,
perhaps we should also dispute the relentless attacks on the very intelligibility of the English
language by these liars and thieves. We know the Pension Protection Clause is valid because it is
understood to be a contractual right and guarantee that public employees have
earned… For the article,click here.
Pension Protection Clause and the State of Illinois’ “Reserved Sovereign
Powers” (June 12, 2014)
General Assembly does not possess "reserved sovereign powers" to
diminish a constitutionally-protected pension. The state's chronic
underfunding of its public pension systems for decades cannot warrant the
impairment or diminishment of public employees' and retirees' pension benefits and rights…
For the article, click here.
and Guns (February 19, 2018)
…Instead of gun control laws that will
affect law-abiding responsible citizens who own reasonable self-defense weapons
for protection and may conceal and carry those weapons; instead of more
political party accusations and useless prayers for the victims, legislators
should focus upon and address the causes of violent crimes:domestic white nationalism,
racism, bigotry (power, hatred, revenge, anger, notoriety), religious
fundamentalism, economic injustice, poverty, unemployment, gang activity, drug trafficking,
inefficient law enforcement in high-crime areas, suicide, mental illness, media's perpetuation of fear, and Trump's demagoguery and
xenophobia… For the article, click here.
I Do Not Trust the Illinois Education Association’s Leadership, Especially
Their Endorsement of Michael Connelly (October 28, 2018)
…Do you remember the IEA leadership had
agreed to diminish and impair current teachers’ and retirees’
constitutionally-guaranteed benefits that had been protected by previous
Illinois Supreme Court rulings, because the IEA leadership believed SB 2404
would thwart any further attacks on our Pension Protection Clause? Do you
remember that Senate Bill 2404in May, 2013, a unilateral reduction of pension rights, was
declared unconstitutional in May 2015?... The IEA has apparently forgotten that Connelly voted to diminish and impair public employees' and retirees' constitutionally-guaranteed pension on December 2, 2013. He was one of 30 unethical Illinois senators to do so... For the article, click here.
So-Called Advanced Placement Student at the University or What Is the Value of
AP Courses and Tests Anyway? (May 5, 2014)
…Though taking a rigorous AP class can be
a positive academic experience, many AP classes are not a true measure of high
quality, and there is simply no way to determine the value of the high-stakes
test scores. Many students come from high schools that do not have
competent and challenging programs. These students are entering colleges and
universities without time management, study and note-taking skills and
aptitudes for critical thinking, writing and analysis. To make matters worse,
high schools across the nation are allowing more and more students - who are often apathetic and unprepared
- to enroll in these AP classes for the wrong reasons as well: to
assuage parental demands, to save college tuition, to avoid taking essential
Freshman courses, and to impress college admissions… For the article,click here.
the Sponsors of House Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 18: An
Unconstitutional Attempt to Amend the Pension Protection Clause (March 6, 2017)
…To anyone attempting to amend the
Pension Protection Clause: my response to you is to read Article XIII,
Section 5: “Pension and Retirement Rights” of the Illinois Constitution.
Read Article 1, Section 16: “Ex Post Facto Laws and Impairing Contracts” of the Illinois
Constitution. Read Article I, Section 15: “Right of Eminent Domain” (the Takings Clause) of the
Illinois Constitution. Read Article I, Section 2: “Due Process
and Equal Protection” of the Illinois Constitution. Read Article 1, Section 10 of
the United States Constitution: “No State shall… pass any… ex post facto Law,
or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts…” Read Amendment V, Section 1 of the United
States Constitution:“No person shall be... deprived of life, liberty, or property without due
process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without
just compensation.” Read Amendment XIV, Section 1 of the United States
Constitution: “Due Process and Equal Protection.” To ignore the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution and
change laws that protect one group of people is to ignore due process and equal
protection of the laws that guarantee contractual agreements as well. Finally, read the Illinois Supreme Court
ruling… For the article, click here.
Pension Reform: My address to members of the State Universities Annuitants
Association (April 26, 2013)
…Instead of protecting public pension
rights and benefits, which have a legal basis under Illinois State Law; instead
of restructuring the state’s revenue base to pay for the state’s growth in
expenditures and its recklessly-accumulated debts and obligations, current
policymakers have chosen to diminish the public employees’ constitutional
rights and their benefits, even though revenue restructuring and pension debt
re-amortization are the best legal and moral solutions... For the
article, click here.
Donald J. Trump has committed obstruction of justice,
obstruction of Congress, bribery, abuse of power, a betrayal of public trust, and
corruption not only of the office of presidency but of our electoral system. The
evidence is overwhelming and substantiated.
It is by virtue of our moral and constitutional obligations, "and not upon the niceties of a narrow [criminal] jurisprudence but upon the enlarged and solid principles of morality," that Donald Trump must be removed from the highest and most respected office in America.
However, after today’s impeachment, the Republican Senate will continue the
efforts of the Republican House by sabotaging the impeachment trial. The Republican Senate will
continue their efforts to polarize politics through hyper-partisanship,
unprincipled partiality, and political stagnation; they will refuse to
legitimize the preponderance of evidence before them because of their
confirmation bias, their unwavering allegiance to their extensive tribalism,
their powerful interests, their dark money, their party caucus, and their
Republican base so they are guaranteed campaign funds, special committee
assignments, and reelection.
Trump will continue to be "a serial
abuser of discretionary powers"; a bully who, with Mitch McConnell and his
admission that "there's no chance the president will be removed from
office" in the Senate impeachment trial, will create an irreparable
travesty of justice and defilement of the U.S. Constitution.
It will be up to the majority of American people to defend
and preserve our slowly-dying democracy because we understand why moral and legal precepts are beneficial for all of us. It is because most Americans understand the Rule of Law, established
in the U.S. Constitution; it is because most Americans share a set of moral and legal
expectations for our conduct that makes it imperative to continue our appeal to a public
sense of justice regardless of political party affiliation and the impeachment outcome.
According to Prof. Laurence Tribe: "When
our democracy is threatened from within, we must save it ourselves...
Transcending forces of decay, disinformation, and disunion will not be easy.
This is the great national calling of our time: the North Star that must guide
decisions about ending or enduring disastrous presidencies. There is no quick
fix for the challenges we face. They are surmountable only if each of us resolves
anew that America and democracy are well worth fighting for.”
-Glen Brown P.S. We
already have witnessed what the current Republican Party has done: the
weakening of our labor unions, right-to-work laws to keep workers powerless,
the shutting down of the federal government, the denial of climate change from
the executive and legislative branches of government, ALEC-backed legislators
who created bills to restrict minority voting, the scapegoating of teachers,
the attacks on retirees’ and public employees’ pensions, the deprivation of
university and college adjunct faculty, the systematic dismantling of public
ownership and services, the privatized exorbitantly priced healthcare
system, the rewriting of the tax code to benefit the wealthiest Americans, the
victimization of immigrant children and their parents, and other forms of oligarchic
we also going to allow the continuing deregulation of our environmental
protections; the continuing privatization of our public schools; the
eradication of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid; the transformation of
the U.S. courts and the privatization of the justice system; and a
reinterpretation of the U.S. Constitution to successfully oppress the majority
PARIS (AP) — "French union activists cut
electricity to nearly 100,000 homes or offices. Eiffel Tower staff walked off
the job. Even Paris opera workers joined in Tuesday's nationwide protests
across France, singing an aria of anger as workers rallied against the
government's plan to raise the retirement age to 64.
"Despite 13 days of crippling train and subway strikes,
French President Emmanuel Macron and his government stayed firm. The prime
minister declared his “total" determination to reshape a
pension system that unions celebrate as a model for the rest of
the world but that he calls unfair and destined to collapse into debt.