Philosophy 235 - Environmental 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.
Assistant: James Gulledge (gulledge at wustl dot edu)
James' office: Wilson 116
James' office hours: Tuesdays, 10am - 12pm
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
Peter Singer, The animal liberation movement
Click here for the homework due today.
Videos on animal experiences
Handout on Singer, intrinsic good, and animal experiences
Wednesday, Jan 24
Some student suggested differences between humans and animals
Monday, Jan 29
Tom Regan, The case for animal rights
Click here for the homework.
Handout on Regan
Wednesday, Jan 31
Monday, Feb 5
Claudia Card, Environmental atrocities and non-sentient life.
Click here for the homework.
Handout on Card
Wednesday, Feb 7
Monday, Feb 12
Will Kymlicka, Sue Donaldson, Animals and the frontiers of citizenship
Homework on Donaldson & Kymlicka
Handout on Donaldson & Kymlicka
Video: animals on trial
Wednesday, Feb 14
Friday, Feb 16
Thesis proposal assignment due by 8pm. Email this to your TA. Put the proposal in the body of your email - not as an attachment - with the subject line 235 PROPOSAL PAPER 1
Monday, Feb 19
Handout on making an argument
Wednesday, Feb 21
Handout on counterexamples, writing style
Monday, Feb 26
Klein, How science is telling us all to revolt.
Foreman, Strategic monkeywrenching.
Video on Tim DeChristopher and civil disobedience
Handout on direct action
Wednesday, Feb 28
Friday, Mar 2
Send a draft of your paper to your partner. Email by 8pm, cc your TA; subject line 235 DRAFT PAPER 1
Monday, Mar 5
Wednesday, Mar 7
Send your partner comments on their draft. Email by 8pm, cc your TA; subject line 235 COMMENTS PAPER 1
Martin Luther King, Jr. on civil disobedience
Sunday, Mar 11
8pm, submit 1st paper by email (to your TA), with the subject line 235 PAPER 1 FINAL
Mar 12-16 is Spring break
Monday, Mar 19
Homework: Bring in a real-world example of a discriminatory siting, from the St. Louis area (see the Been reading for an explanation of this terminology)
Handout on discriminatory siting, utility curves
Wednesday, Mar 21
Vicki Been, "What's fairness got to do with it?". You only need to read the following pages: 1001-1005, 1009-1028, 1040-1042, 1047-1052; don't read the footnotes.
Homework on Been
Monday, Mar 26
Rincon, Why did the Copenhagen zoo kill its giraffe?
Madeline Bottrill et al, Is conservation triage just smart decision making?
Homework on Bottrill, et al
Wednesday, Mar 28
Handout on triage
Monday, Apr 2
Sabine Hohl & Dominic Roser, Stepping in for the polluters. Note: when the authors say pro tanto reason, they mean something like prima facie duty.
Homework on Hohl & Roser
Handout on fairness and demandingness
Wednesday, Apr 4
Monday, Apr 9
Walter Sinnott Armstrong, It's not my fault.
Homework on Sinnott-Armstrong
Handout on collective action
Wednesday, Apr 11
Friday, Apr 13
Thesis proposal assignment due by 8pm. Email it to your TA, with the proposal in the body of your email - not as an attachment; subject line 235 PROPOSAL PAPER 2
(Note: the link talks about choosing how the papers will be weighed. You already did that, so ignore that)
Monday, Apr 16
Anca Gheaus, The right to parent and duties concerning future generations
Handout on future generations
Wednesday, Apr 18
Monday, Apr 23
Send a draft of your paper to your partner. Email by 8pm, cc your TA; subject line 235 DRAFT PAPER 2
Wednesday, Apr 25
Send your partner comments on their draft. Email by 8pm, cc your TA; subject line 235 COMMENTS PAPER 2
Sunday, Apr 29
8pm, submit 2nd paper by email (to your TA), with the subject line 235 PAPER 2 FINAL
Flowchart on working out your ideas
Anna Peterson, Problem animals: Abundant deer and feral cats
Alastair Norcross, Puppies, pigs and people
Lisa Cassidy, That many of us should not parent
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."
Value: Know the definitions of instrumental and intrinsic value, be able to give plausible examples of things that are plausibly intrinsically good, instrumentally good, intrinsically bad, and instrumentally bad. Be able to give and explain examples of things that are both intrinsically and instrumentally good, intrinsically and instrumentally bad, intrinsically good but instrumentally bad, and intrinsically bad but instrumentally good. Be able to plausibly identify examples I give as either instrumentally or intrinsically valuable.
Wrong/permissible: Know that these are exclusive of each other, and plausibly distinct from good and bad. Be able to give examples (not discussed in class) of very plausible acts that are morally wrong or morally permissible. If given an example of an act, be able to say something about why it might be morally wrong or permissible.
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 or not. Be able to properly use the terms "antecedent" and "consequent."
Rights & duties: Be able to define and explain the following terms (your explanation should use the terms "wrong" and "permissible"): moral right, moral duty, moral obligation. Be able to give examples of things that are and things that are not rights, duties, and obligations. If I give you examples, be able to plausibly explain whether or not the examples are rights or duties, and why. Be able to give plausible examples where it violates a duty or a right to do the best thing, or where a person is obligated to do an action that brings about worse outcomes than some alternative action.
Standpoints: Be able to give examples of acts that are legally wrong but morally permissible, morally wrong but legally permissible, both morally and legally wrong, and both morally and legally permissible. If given claims about what is wrong or permissible, be able to say which standpoint these are most plausible from 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.
Conflicts of duties: Relevant terms: "conflict of duties," "prima facie duty," "absolute duty," "overriding" (one can also use the word "obligation" instead of "duty" in these terms). Be able to explain each of these in your own words. Be able to give examples of each (I won't ask you to give examples of absolute duties). If I give you examples, be able to determine if what I'm describing is a conflict of duties or not, which of the duties are prima facie or absolute (according to the description of the example), and which override which. Be able to take sentences using these relevant terms and translate them into sentences that mean the same thing, but talk in terms of wrongness and permissibility.
Prima facie duties II: Know how to show that something is not a prima facie duty (nor an absolute duty). Be able to give an example of something that is not a prima facie moral duty, and be able to show that it is not. If given an example of an action, be able to explain whether and why it is or is not prima facie morally obligatory.
Diminishing marginal value: Be able to give an example of a thing that seems to have diminishing marginal value (as in Figure 2 on this handout). Be able to give a plausible example of something that has value but does not have diminishing marginal value. If given an example, be able to explain whether the example does or doesn't have diminishing marginal value, and why. If given an example of someone's thinking about the value of some stuff, be able to explain if they think it has diminishing marginal value or not, and why.
Fairness and overdemandingness: Be able to explain what it means to say that an alleged obligation is unfair, or that it is overdemanding (important: you must realize that someone who says this means that it isn't really a moral obligation). Be able to give examples of acts that seem normally to be morally obligatory, but plausibly aren't because the obligation would be unfair. Be able to give examples of acts that seem normally to be morally obligatory, but plausibly aren't because the obligation would be too demanding. Be able to give examples in which alleged moral obligations are unfair but not overly demanding, overly demanding but not unfair, both, and neither. If I give you an example of an alleged obligation, be able to plausibly explain whether or not it is unfair or overly demanding, and why (or why not). If I give you an example in which someone is saying that something is not really morally obligatory, be able to explain whether or not they are saying the obligation would be unfair over overly demanding. Remember what it means to say that x is not morally obligatory (i.e. that it is morally permissible to not do x).
Special obligations: Know what the definition of "special obligation" is, and how special obligations are different from general obligations. Be able to give some plausible examples of special obligations (especially ones not involving parents or children). If I give you examples of possible obligations, be able to identify if they are general or special. Be able to translate sentences about special obligations into sentences that mean the same thing but use different terms (like "wrong," "permissible," or "duties").
Collective action: Be able to give examples of cases in which person A is part of a group that together causes a negative event, but A did not make a difference to whether or not that event occurs, or to how harmful it is. Be able to give examples in which A plausibly does something morally wrong by being part of that group, and examples in which A plausibly does nothing morally wrong by being part of that group.