Philosophy 234 - Business ethics
Instructor: Brian Talbot
Email: philosophy at bigfatgenius dot com
Office Location: Wilson 203
Office Hours: Mondays and Wednesdays starting at 5:40. I'll stay as long as there are people who want to talk to me. If no one comes by, I'll leave at 6. If you can't make that time, email me to make an appointment.
Homework: 20% of final grade
Quizzes: 15% of final grade
First paper: to be determined
Final paper: to be determined
93% and up: A
90% to 92.9%: A-
87% to 89.9%: B+
83% to 86.9%: B
80 to 82.9% B-
Credit or a pass requires a 70% or above.
Use this spreadsheet to keep track of your grades and see how you are doing in the class. It includes instructions.
Attendance: You get three unexcused absences/latenesses. For every additional unexcused absence, your overall grade in the class decreases by 1/3 step (e.g. from A- to B+).
Lateness: No late homework will be accepted without a well documented good excuse. Similarly, there will be no make up quizzes or excused missed quizzes without a well documented good excuse.
Late papers will be accepted. A paper loses 3 percentage points for being late, and loses an additional 3 percentage points for each additional 24 hours it is late.
A reading or homework that is listed on a given day should be read or turned in on the day it is listed.
I will not accept late homework, emailed homework, or handwritten homework.
Wednesday, Jan 17
Monday, Jan 22
Linda Paine, Children as consumers
Homework on Paine
Handout on Paine, consent, basic vocabulary
Wednesday, Jan 24
Monday, Jan 29
Roger Crisp, Persuasive advertising and the creation of desire
Homework on Crisp
Video on the mere exposure effect
Video on the use of color to sell things
Handout on Crisp
Wednesday, Jan 31
Monday, Feb 5
Elizabeth Anderson, Private government
Homework on Anderson
Handout on Anderson
Wednesday, Feb 7
Monday, Feb 12
Natalie Stoljar, Adaptive preferences and autonomy; you can skip sections 2 and 4.
Brigid Schulte, U.S. Productivity
Homework on Stoljar
Handout on adaptive preferences
Video on the Stockholm Syndrome
Video on brainwashing
Wednesday, Feb 14
Handout on some costs and benefits of work
Friday, Feb 16
Thesis proposal assignment due by 8pm. Email this to me. Put the proposal in the body of your email - not as an attachment - with the subject line 234 PROPOSAL PAPER 1 (you will get no credit if you use the wrong subject line).
Monday, Feb 19
Handout on making an argument
Wednesday, Feb 21
Handout on counterexamples, writing style
Monday, Feb 26
Lauren Rivera & Andras Tilcisk, How subtle class cues can backfire on your resume
Emma, You should've asked
Handout on injustice and hiring
Wednesday, Feb 28
Friday, Mar 2
Send a draft of your paper to your partner. Email by 8pm, cc me; subject line 234 DRAFT PAPER 1 (you will get no credit if you use the wrong subject line)
Monday, Mar 5
Send your partner comments on their draft. Email by 8pm, cc me; subject line 234 COMMENTS PAPER 1 (you will get no credit if you use the wrong subject line)
Watch the documentary "Becoming Warren Buffet" (90 minutes, available on HBO, on Amazon, and can be found on Youtube)
Wednesday, Mar 7
Friday, Mar 9
8pm: Submit 1st paper, by email. Subject line 234 FINAL PAPER 1 (your paper may be marked late if you use the wrong subject line)
Mar 11-17 is Spring break
Monday, Mar 19
Vivien Lim, The IT way of loafing on the job; you only need to read pages 675-681 and 687-688.
Henry Thoreau, Civil disobedience (excerpts)
Homework on Lim and Thoreau
Handout on injustice and "loafing"
Wednesday, Mar 21
Monday, Mar 26
Walter Sinnott Armstrong, It's not my fault
Chad Vance, Climate change, individual emissions, and foreseeing harm (read part of section 2 (starting on p3, and to the bottom of 5) and all of section 3)
In the Vance paper, Vance says things like "x iff y." This means "If x, then y; if x is not true, then y is not true."
Homework on Sinnott-Armstrong and Vance
Handout on collective action and harm
Wednesday, Mar 28
Monday, Apr 2
Daniel Ostas, Cooperate, comply, or evade?; you can skip section I.A. ("Early CSR literature") and I.C ("Capture theory..."). You don't have to read section II at all, although it may help to clarify some of the author's ideas.
Homework on Ostas
Handout on Ostas
Wednesday, Apr 4
Monday, Apr 9
Adam Hosein, Democracy, paternalism, and campaign finance
Homework on Hosein
Handout on corporate political speech
Wednesday, Apr 11
Friday, Apr 13
Thesis proposal assignment due by 8pm. Email it to me, with the proposal in the body of your email - not as an attachment; subject line 234 PROPOSAL PAPER 2
(Note: the link talks about choosing how the papers will be weighed. You already did that, so ignore that) (Also note: you will get no credit if you use the wrong subject line)
Monday, Apr 16
Milton Friedman, The social responsibility of business is to increase its profits
Eric Eyre, Drug firms poured 780M painkillers into WV amid rise of overdoses
Homework on Friedman & Eyre
Wednesday, Apr 18
Monday, Apr 23
Send a draft of your paper to your partner. Email by 8pm, cc me; subject line 234 DRAFT PAPER 2 (you will get no credit if you use the wrong subject line)
Wednesday, Apr 25
Send your partner comments on their draft. Email by 8pm, cc me; subject line 234 COMMENTS PAPER 2 (you will get no credit if you use the wrong subject line)
Sunday, Apr 29
8pm, submit 2nd paper by email, with the subject line 234 PAPER 2 FINAL
Flowchart on working out your ideas
John Elster, From here to there: or If cooperative ownership is so desirable, why are there so few cooperatives?
Nicole Carpenter, Overwatch league cracking down on "Pepe" memes
Deborah Tollefsen, Organizations as true believers (argues that corporations have beliefs that are not necessarily the beliefs of any owner or member)
Brian Bushee, Do institutional investors prefer near-term earnings over long-run value?, Lynne Dallas, Short-termism, the financial crisis, and corporate governance, John Asker et al, Corporate investment and stock market listing
Midterm review handout
Final review handout
First paper assignment
Second paper assignment
Grading standards for the paper
Things that might be on quizzes
Note: all quizzes are cumulative: you can be tested at any point on anything on this list. Below, whenever I say "give examples," I mean "give examples we have not discussed in class."
Conditionals: Be able to identify what conclusions you can draw from conditionals and what conclusions you can't (e.g., if I give an example of a conclusion somewhat drew based on a conditional, be able to say if that conclusion really should have been drawn, and why or why not). Be able to show that a given conditional is false by giving a counterexample. If given an example conditional and a possible counterexample, be able to explain if the possible counterexample really is a good counterexample not. Be able to properly use the terms "antecedent" and "consequent."
Wrongness: Be able to give plausible examples of morally permissible, morally wrong, and morally obligatory actions. Be able to give examples of acts that are morally wrong but also wrong to prevent, acts that are morally permissible but morally permissible to prevent, and acts that are morally obligatory but morally permissible to prevent . Be able to rewrite sentences using "wrong," "permissible," "duty," or "obligation" into sentences using the other terms, which mean the same things.
Standpoints: Be able to explain the legal and prudential standpoint. Be able to give examples that illustrate the difference between the different standpoints of evaluation (legal, prudential, moral): i.e. for each standpoint, be able to give examples that are wrong from it but permissible from another. If given claims about what is wrong or permissible, be able to say which standpoint these are most plausible from and why.
Consent: Relevant terms: "superficial consent," "morally relevant consent." Be able to define each term. Be able to give examples of cases where there is no consent, where there is superficial consent but not morally relevant consent, and where there is both superficial and morally relevant consent; be able to explain these examples. Be able to give examples of cases where an action would be morally wrong without morally relevant consent, but is morally permissible because there is morally relevant consent. Be able to give examples where an action is morally permissible despite a lack of morally relevant consent. There are several different requirements for superficial consent to count as morally relevant consent (i.e. un-coerced, informed, competent); be able to give examples (not discussed in class) where one of these is missing but the others are present. If I give you examples, be able to say what kind of consent there is in the example (if any) and why; if there is not morally relevant consent in the example, be able to explain what requirement is missing and why.
Autonomy: Main terms: "irrational desire," "first order desire," and "second order desire. Be able explain each term, as we defined them when talking about Crisp; e.g. irrational desires are desires that are caused by things that the agent would reject as good reasons for the desires, if they were aware of them. Be able to give examples of each, and examples of cases in which a person has first order desires that conflict with their second order desires. If I give you an example of a desire, be able to explain whether or not it would count as irrational (in the above sense) or if it conflicts with the agent's second order desires, and why.
Justice: Be able to give examples of institutions or systems or situations that seem plausibly just, and ones that seem plausibly unjust, and be able to explain why. If given examples, be able to give a plausible explanation of why they might be just or unjust, and why.
Demandingness: Be able to explain what it means to say that a putative duty is too demanding. Be able to give plausible examples of acts that would be obligatory for some people, but are not obligatory for person A because they would be too demanding. Be able to give examples of duties that are not too demanding for person A, and explain why. If given examples of acts that could possibly be obligatory for person A, be able to explain whether these putative obligations would be too demanding or not, and why.
Prima facie duty: Be able to explain what a prima facie duty is. Be able to give examples of prima facie duties. Be able to give examples in which a prima facie duty is overridden by a more important duty, and be able to say what is wrong or permissible to do in that situation.
Collective action/harm: Key terms: "opt out of collective harm," "participate in collective action." Be able to explain the difference between these, and if I give you examples, be able to identify and explain which term is relevant. Be able to give examples of cases in which person A is part of a group that together causes a negative event, or part of a group that causes a positive event, but A did not make a difference to whether or not that event occurs, or to how harmful/good it is. Be able to give plausible examples where there seems to be a prima facie moral obligation to opt out of collective harm, where there seems to be a prima facie moral obligation to participate in collective action, where there seems to be no prima facie moral duty to opt out, and where there seems to be no prima facie moral duty to participate (you don't need to think there are ever such duties, but you should be able to identify cases that others do find plausible).