Derek Stanovsky | Department of Philosophy and Religion | Appalachian State University

Social Issues and Ethics
Fall 1999, MWF 10:00-10:50, Greer 118

Social Issues and Ethics: Resources and Links

Course Description:

This course explores ethical problems arising from contemporary social issues. We will focus on three main topics: poverty and world hunger, abortion and prenatal diagnosis, and the cultural politics of race in the United States today. In addition to books on these topics, we will also draw on novels, plays, short stories, music and film to help explore various approaches to moral decision making, paying particular attention to the social contexts in which these decisions occur. The aim of the course is to gain a better understanding of the way in which moral problems arise and are dealt with by us and our society.


Horatio Alger, Ragged Dick and Mark the Match Boy, Scribner.
Peter Unger, Living High & Letting Die, Oxford University Press.
Barbara Katz Rothman, The Tentative Pregnancy, Norton.
Bertolt Brecht, The Good Person of Szechwan, Arcade.
Robin D. G. Kelley, Yo' Mama's Disfunktional!, Beacon.

Course Requirements:

The most important requirements for this course are regular class attendance, participation, and preparation. You should come prepared to ask and answer questions and to discuss the readings each day. The formal grading requirements are as follows:

Class Participation and Homework 25%, Three Papers 25% each

The class participation portion of your grade will be based on regular class attendance and participation as well as on periodic homeworks and in-class individual and small group assignments. Two absences are allowed during the semester. Each additional absence will lower your class participation grade by one letter grade. More than six absences and/or failure to complete any of the written assignments detailed below are grounds for failing the course.

There will be three 3-5 page papers. Late papers will be docked one-third of a letter grade for each day late. More information on these assignments will be handed out at a later date. This is a "W" designator writing course. Close attention to writing mechanics and style, as well as content, is expected.

With regard to papers and all other assignments for this course, you are expected to know and follow the current ASU code of academic integrity.

Tentative Class Schedule:

W 8/18 Introductions.

Web Scavenger Hunt: In what year was the Horatio Alger Society founded? E-mail your answer to:
F 8/20 Fink "Introduction" to Horatio Alger (pp. 5-33). Homework: Name a good person. What makes them good?

M 8/23 Horatio Alger, Ragged Dick (pp. 39-216).

W 8/25 Mark the Match Boy (pp. 219-382).

F 8/27 Charity Homework.

M 8/30 Mark Twain, "The Bad Little Boy" and "The Good Little Boy" (Handout). Census Bureau (Handout).

W 9/1 Peter Unger, Living High & Letting Die, Chapter 1-1.4 (pp. 3-14).

F 9/3 Chapter 1.5-1.7 (pp. 14-23).


W 9/8 Chapter 2 (pp. 24-61).

F 9/10 Homework / Discussion.

M 9/13 Chapter 3 (pp. 62-83).

W 9/15 Chapter 4 (pp. 84-118).

F 9/17 Kant, "On a Supposed Right to Lie" (Handout).

M 9/20 Chapter 5 (pp. 119-132).

W 9/22 Chapters 6-7 (pp. 133-176).

F 9/24 TBA

M 9/27 Ursula K. LeGuin, "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" (Handout).

W 9/29 LeGuin / Sweet Honey in the Rock, "Are My Hands Clean?" (Handout).

F 10/1 TBA

M 10/4 First Paper Due.

W 10/6 Abortion Discussion.

F 10/8 Barbara Katz Rothman, The Tentative Pregnancy, Chapters 1 and 2 (pp. vii-48).

M 10/11 Chapter 3, appendix B (pp. 49-85, 258-263).

W 10/13 Chapter 4 (pp. 86-115).

F 10/15 Chapter 5 (pp. 116-154).

M 10/18 Chapter 6 (pp. 155-176).

W 10/20 TBA


M 10/25 Chapter 7 (pp. 177-216).

W 10/27 Chapter 8, appendices A, C (pp. 217-257, 263-266).

F 10/29 Bertolt Brecht, The Good Person of Szechwan (pp. 1-49).

M 11/1 Finish reading Brecht (pp. 49-109).

W 11/3 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Handout).

F 11/5 TBA

M 11/8 Second Paper Due.

W 11/10 Robin D. G. Kelley, Yo' Mama's Disfunktional!, Intro & Ch.1 (pp. 1-42).

F 11/12 Chapter 2 (pp. 43-77).

M 11/15 Chapter 3 (pp. 78-102).

W 11/17 Chapter 4 (pp. 103-124).

F 11/19 Chapter 5 (pp. 125-158).

M 11/22 TBA


M 11/29 Epilogue (pp. 159-180).

W 12/1 Video: Terry Gilliam's Brazil.

F 12/3 Video concluded.

M 12/6 Discussion / Conclusions.

W 12/8 TBA

Final Paper due by Monday, December 13 at 3:00 p.m. in my box in Greer 114.