Some of Nathan Nobis's Teaching Handouts

Here are some of the materials I use in my intro to ethics class. 

NOTE: all these handouts are fairly outdated; I plan to update them all this summer (2012) and create new ones, for a textbook I am working on. The general strategy is always this:

  • Identify an issue as a controversial one: "Do people disagree about this topic?" "Yes.."
  • Identify some common, contrary conclusions on the topic. 
  • Ask students to make lists of common reasons, or premises, given in favor of these conclusions. This can be done on their own, in groups, doing surveys (outside of class), internet research, etc.
  • Get these reasons written up on the board/screen.
  • Add some premises/reasons given by philosophers.
  • Identify question begging arguments, ones with premises that assume the conclusion.
  • Formulate remaining argument in logically valid form.
  • Assess arguments as sound or unsound, i.e., whether all the premises are true or not.
    • For general moral premises, identify possible counterexamples.
  • Any overall conclusions on the topic drawn from these activities will depend on the number and strength of the arguments evaluated.