I.     Course Prefix/Number: PHL 106

       Course Name: Ethics

       Credits: 3 (3 lecture; 0 lab)

II.    Prerequisite


III.   Course (Catalog) Description

Course studies meaning, value, and moral responsibility in human life. Topics include examination of at least four conflicting theories about what constitutes moral conduct and social justice; application of these theories to individual moral dilemmas and to contemporary social issues such as world hunger or the environmental crisis. IAI H4 904

IV.   Learning Objectives

After completing this class, students will be able to do the following:

  1. Define the basic vocabulary needed to discuss ethical theories and be able to state the problems that ethical theories address.
  2. Explain and compare at least four conflicting ethical theories and the arguments that support these theories.
  3. Evaluate ethical theories by critically examining (both orally and through written work) the arguments that support the theories and by discussing what important considerations may be lacking in the theories studied.
  4. Apply ethical theories to concrete situations on the personal level, on the national level, and on the global level
  5. Use the ethical theory with which they agree to defend their own positions on contemporary moral issues both orally and in writing.
  6. Exhibit values related to teamwork and collaboration, fostered by the pedagogy of shared-inquiry and critical dialogue appropriate to the humanities and philosophy.

V.    Academic Integrity and Student Conduct

Students and employees at Oakton Community College are required to demonstrate academic integrity and follow Oakton's Code of Academic Conduct. This code prohibits:

• cheating,
• plagiarism (turning in work not written by you, or lacking proper citation),
• falsification and fabrication (lying or distorting the truth),
• helping others to cheat,
• unauthorized changes on official documents,
• pretending to be someone else or having someone else pretend to be you,
• making or accepting bribes, special favors, or threats, and
• any other behavior that violates academic integrity.

There are serious consequences to violations of the academic integrity policy. Oakton's policies and procedures provide students a fair hearing if a complaint is made against you. If you are found to have violated the policy, the minimum penalty is failure on the assignment and, a disciplinary record will be established and kept on file in the office of the Vice President for Student Affairs for a period of 3 years.

Please review the Code of Academic Conduct and the Code of Student Conduct, both located online at

VI.   Sequence of Topics

(This is a sample outline of topics.  In your outline of topics please specify the dates on which you will cover specific topics and other important dates such as exams and paper deadlines.)

  1. John Stuart Mill and Utilitarianism
    1. Happiness as the only intrinsic value
    2. Comparing consequences
    3. Criticisms of utilitarianism
    4. Applying utilitarianism to the issue of women’s rights
  2. Immanuel Kant and Deontological Theories
    1. The centrality of duty
    2. Formulations of the categorical imperative
    3. Criticisms of Kantianism
    4. Applying Kantianism to the debate on physician assisted suicide
  3. Friedrich Nietzsche and the Critique of Traditional Morality
    1. Values as human creations
    2. Life-affirming verses life-denying values
    3. Criticisms of Nietzsche
    4. Applying Nietzsche’s ideas to debates on multiculturalism
  4. Karl Marx and the Critique of Alienated Morality
    1. The theory of alienation
    2. Morality and the alienated individualism
    3. A vision of human solidarity
    4. Criticisms of Marxism
    5. Applying Marxism to debates around the current global economy
  5. Nozick verses Rawls:  The Contemporary American Debate about Social Justice
    1. Defining negative and positive rights
    2. Nozick’s critique of positive rights
    3. Rawl’s Kantian defense of positive rights
    4. Applying these theories to the debate about equity in public education
  6. Franz Fanon and his Challenge to Oppression
    1. A critique of European ethics
    2. Colonial oppression and alienation
    3. The definition of structural violence
    4. Criticisms of Fanon
    5. Applying Fanon’s theory to the use of violence in war and revolution
  7. Mohandas Gandhi and the Ethic of Non-Violence
    1. The critique of modernity
    2. Non-violence, non-possession, and Satyagraha
    3. Criticisms of Gandhi
    4. Applying Gandhi’s theory to contemporary struggles for social justice
  8. Carol Gilligan and the Ethic of Care
    1. Origins in psychological research
    2. Comparing the ethic of care and the ethic of justice
    3. Criticisms of the ethic of care
    4. Applying the ethic of care to the abortion debate

VII.  Methods of Instruction

  1. Lectures and discussion
  2. Small group work
  3. Films
  4. Student presentations and debates
  5. Guest speakers
  6. Field trips may be required

Course may be taught as face-to-face, hybrid or online course.

VIII. Course Practices Required

(Please include information here about all expectations you have for your students regarding behavior, work, etc. The following are sample topics you may wish to cover. Please be aware that you must require students in this course to produce at least 15 pages of critical written assignments over the course of the semester. These may be assigned in a variety of ways including journals, response papers, field trip projects, etc.)

  1. Attendance
  2. Standards for written work
  3. Quizzes/Exams
  4. Participation
  5. Essays
  6. Final Project
  7. Special policies about make-up exams, late papers, or other matters of concern

IX.   Instructional Materials

Note: Current textbook information for each course and section is available on Oakton's Schedule of Classes.

An anthology such as Applied Ethics: A Multicultural Approach edited by May, Collins-Chobanian, and Wong, Ethics:  A Pluralistic Approach to Moral Theory edited by Hinman, or Social and Political Philosophy edited by Sterba.

Some instructors may choose to use a selection of short primary sources such as Mill’s Utilitarianism, Kants’s Fundamentals of the Metaphysic of Morals, Nietzsche’s Genealogy of Morals, Gandhi’s Hind Swaraj, Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth, Gilligan’s In a Different Voice, West’s Race Matters, etc.

X.    Methods of Evaluating Student Progress

(In this section, please present the percentages or point breakdown of their final grade. The writing assignments should count for at least 40% of the final grade. An example follows.)

  1. Quizzes/Exams……40 points
  2. Essays……40 points
  3. Final project with oral presentation……10 points
  4. Attendance and participation………10 points
  5. Grading scale: 90-100, A…….80-89, B………70-79, C……….60-69……..D

XI.   Other Course Information

Instructor information
Office and office hours:
Email and website:

If you have a documented learning, psychological, or physical disability you may be entitled to reasonable academic accommodations or services. To request accommodations or services, contact the Access and Disability Resource Center at the Des Plaines or Skokie campus. All students are expected to fulfill essential course requirements. The College will not waive any essential skill or requirement of a course or degree program.

Oakton Community College is committed to maintaining a campus environment emphasizing the dignity and worth of all members of the community, and complies with all federal and state Title IX requirements.

Resources and support for
  • pregnancy-related and parenting accommodations; and
  • victims of sexual misconduct
can be found at

Resources and support for LGBTQ+ students can be found at

Electronic video and/or audio recording is not permitted during class unless the student obtains written permission from the instructor. In cases where recordings are allowed, such content is restricted to personal use only. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited. Personal use is defined as use by an individual student for the purpose of studying or completing course assignments.

For students who have been approved for audio and/or video recording of lectures and other classroom activities as a reasonable accommodation by Oakton’s Access Disabilities Resource Center (ADRC), applicable federal law requires instructors to permit those recordings. Such recordings are also limited to personal use. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited.

Violation of this policy will result in disciplinary action through the Code of Student Conduct.