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PHILOS 3CC3 AdvancedEthics

Academic Year: Winter 2017

Term: Winter

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. James Sikkema

Email: sikkej@mcmaster.ca

Office: University Hall 314A

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 26465

Website:

Office Hours: By Appointment



Course Objectives:

Description

Nietzsche’s widely misunderstood declaration of the death of God introduced a philosophical problem that was ineluctably ethical in nature.  Dostoevsky’s oft-quoted “If God is dead then everything is permitted” gives us a clue to the nature of this problem.  Namely, without a transcendent authority determining the value of things, from whence could something like objective, substantive human values arise?  How can humanity find her orientation in an utterly immanent world?  Where is his place?  If we cannot go beyond what is, how shall we determine what ought to be? The philosophers on the European continent in Nietzsche’s wake in many ways sought to provide answers to this line of questioning.  This course will offer an advanced introduction to 19th and 20th century Continental ethical philosophy.  Through an exploration of primary source readings we will critically investigate the ethical and metaethical questions posed by a variety of philosophers belonging to a variety of significant movements in the history of philosophy over the last two centuries.  Some of the themes we will cover include authority, intersubjectivity, finitude, the other, responsibility, dominance and submission, desire, transcendence and immanence, gift, alienation, nihilism, passivity, freedom, and difference.

Objectives

Upon completion of the course students will have:

  • an understanding of 19th & 20th c. Continental ethical philosophy

  • a basic understanding of some of the main philosophers, themes and theories of 19th & 20th c. Continental philosophy more generally

  • become better readers of, and writers on, philosophical texts


Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

The Continental Ethics Reader, edited by Matthew Calarco and Peter Atterton.  New York: Routledge, 2003. (Available in the Campus Bookstore)


Method of Assessment:

  • Attendance and Participation – 35%

  • Research Paper – 30%

  • Final Exam – 35%


Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Note on Participation

Recognizing that you will be asked to perform a large quantity of reading for this course and that it is only fair that you receive some recognition for it.  Recognizing also that while everyone is encouraged to speak in class some are more hesitant than others to do so.  Recognizing also that investigating works from Continental philosophers tends to involve more of a seminar than a lecture style class format.  Finally, recognizing that engaging in philosophical inquiry is a critical and dialogical enterprise.  The following is required of you.

Every week you must come to class having completed a brief 1 – 2 page text summary.  A text summary involves choosing a short selection from the required reading for the week and providing a synopsis and criticism of that portion of text.  You will need to identify the context within which the selected portion takes place, the relevance and/or importance of the selection for the author’s overall goal(s), an articulation of your understanding of the main claims in the selection, and one or two questions this selection raises in your mind.  You are required to complete 10 such summaries for the term.  Summaries must be submitted at the end of the class corresponding to the reading selection.  Summaries will be graded on a pass/fail basis.  A pass will be granted if the work is submitted on time and according to the stated criteria. 

 

Note on Research Paper

Due in class on March 31st, papers may be on any topic, must be 10-12 pages in length (standard format: double spaced, 12 font, Times New Roman, 1-1.25 side margins, 1 inch top/bottom margins), and should cite at least 5 secondary sources.  You are welcome to discuss paper topics with me well in advance of the deadline.

 

Note on Final Exam

The final exam will consist of 25 short-answer questions of which you must complete 20.


Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at www.mcmaster.ca/academicintegrity

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at mcmaster.ca/msaf/. If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail sas@mcmaster.ca. For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.


Topics and Readings:

Class and Reading Schedule

 

 

January 6 – Introduction: Existence, Transcendence, Desire, Reason

  • Reading: Simone de Beauvoir, “Ambiguity and Freedom,” (on Avenue)

 

January 13 – Phenomenology 1: Self, Other, Bondage, Freedom

  • Reading: Hegel, “Lordship and Bondage” (CER, pp.5-10); Levinas, “Philosophy and the Idea of Infinity” (CER, pp.43-52)

 

January 20 – Existentialism 1: Moment, Morality, Duty, Creativity

  • Reading: Kierkegaard, “Is There a Teleological Suspension of the Ethical?” (CER, pp.57-63); Nietzsche, “On the Genealogy of Morals” (CER, pp.66-73); Kierkegaard, “The Sickness Unto Death” (on Avenue); Nietzsche, “The Gay Science” (on Avenue)

 

January 27 – Phenomenology 2: Lifeworld, Withworld, Community, Care

  • Reading: Husserl, “Fifth Meditation” (CER, pp.13-21); Heidegger, “Being and Time” (CER, pp.35-40)

 

February 3 – Existentialism 2: Being, Thinking, Acting, Duty

  • Reading: Buber, “I and Thou” (CER, pp.76-86); Sartre, “Existentialism Is a Humanism” (CER, pp.89-84); Heidegger, “Building, Dwelling, Thinking” (on Avenue)

 

February 10 – Marxism: Labor, Production, Value, Exchange

  • Reading: Marx, “Production and/of Consciousness” (on Avenue); Marx, “Fetishism of Commodities” (on Avenue); Engels, “On Morality and Authority” (on Avenue)

 

February 17 – Critical Theory: System, Control, Resistance, Communication

  • Reading: Benjamin, “Critique of Violence” (CER, pp.115-126); Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno, “Enlightenment and Morality” (CER, pp.129-139); Herbert Marcuse, “One-Dimensional Man” (CER, pp.140-150)

 

February 24 – NO CLASS – MID-SEMESTER BREAK

 

March 3 – Hermeneutics: Language, Narrative, Method, Meaning

  • Reading: Gadamer, “Historicity and Prejudice” (on Avenue); Ricouer, “Narrative Identity” (on Avenue)

 

March 10 – Postmodernism: Encounter, Dispute, Discourse, Difference

  • Reading: Levinas, “Substitution” (CER, pp.178-191); Foucault, “The Genealogy of Ethics” (CER, pp.198-206); Derrida, “Passions” (CER, pp.207-216)

 

March 17 – Feminism: Designation, Identity, Violence, Voice

  • Reading: Irigaray, “The Ethics of Sexual Difference” (CER, pp.264-273); Kristeva, “Women’s Time” (CER, pp.285-296); de Beauvoir, “The Other Sex” (on Avenue)

 

March 24 – Post-Structuralism and Psychoanalysis: Desire, Affect, Relation, Expression

  • Reading: Freud, “The Super-Ego” (CER, pp. 231-239); Lacan, “The Ethics of Psychoanalysis” (CER, pp.240-251); Deleuze and Guattari, “Desiring Machines” (CER, pp.252-263)

 

March 31 – Technology: Space, Place, Representation, Reduction  

  • Reading: Heidegger, “The Question Concerning Technology” (on Avenue); Ellul, “The Technological Society” (on Avenue)

 

 

*The instructor reserves the right to change course content to suit the needs of the course

 

 

Important Dates

 

  • January 10 – First Class

  • February 20 – No Class

  • March 10 – Last Day to Drop

  • March 31 – Last Class

 


Other Course Information:

Modification of course outlines

 

McMaster University reserves the right to change or revise information contained in course outlines in extreme circumstances.  If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes.  It is the responsibility of students to check regularly their primary email account via their @mcmaster.ca alias and course websites.

 

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

 

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work.  Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015.  If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean’s office.

 

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty.  In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.