Course Syllabus

Welcome to PHIL103: Moral and Political Philosophy

Specific information about this course and its requirements can be found below. For more general information about taking Saylor Academy courses, including information about Community and Academic Codes of Conduct, please read the Saylor Student Handbook.

 

Course Description

This course is a survey of the development and application of moral reasoning skills to contemporary social and political issues. Topics include philosophical investigations of justice, the value of human life, the moral standing of the free market, fundamental human rights, and the conditions for a moral community. 

 

Course Introduction

This course will introduce you to the basic concepts and methods of moral and political philosophy. Its primary focus is on the development of moral reasoning skills and the application of those skills to contemporary social and political issues. Although the course is organized around the central concept of justice, it uses this notion as a point of departure for discussing a wide range of philosophical topics and perspectives. Topics range from the value of human life, the moral standing of the free market, and the notion of fundamental human rights, to equality of opportunity and the conditions for a moral community. In order to investigate these topics, this course makes extensive use of Professor Michael Sandel's video lecture course on justice, delivered at Harvard University in 2009. In addition to these lectures, you will study a number of important moral and political philosophers, including Plato, Aristotle, John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, Jeremy Bentham, John Stuart Mill, Immanuel Kant, Jean-Paul Sartre, Friedrich Nietzsche, and John Rawls. This course will also examine contemporary thinkers such as Alasdair MacIntyre, Martin Luther King, Jr., and others, as well as news articles and primary source texts regarding important legal decisions. By the end of the course, you will have gained a detailed understanding of the philosophical issues involved in many contemporary debates in the public sphere, as well as a refined sense of your own moral and political positions and intuitions.

This course is comprised of the following units:

  • Unit 1: Murder, Morality, and the Value of a Human Life
  • Unit 2: Rights, the State, and the Free Market
  • Unit 3: Morality, Markets, and Immanuel Kant
  • Unit 4: John Rawls' Theory of Justice
  • Unit 5: Ethics and the Politics of Virtue

 

Course Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • identify and describe the major areas of moral and political theory;
  • explain how the major areas of moral and political philosophy differ from and relate to one another;
  • situate the arguments of major philosophical figures within the context of moral and political philosophy;
  • use the terminology of ethics and moral and political philosophy correctly and consistently;
  • apply critical thinking and reasoning skills to ethical issues in a variety of real-world contexts;
  • identify and describe major theories of justice and morality, including utilitarianism, libertarianism, social contract theory, deontology, natural law, and the ethics/politics of virtue;
  • analyze how moral and political dilemmas are handled differently by each set of theoretical principles;
  • analyze the consequences of various moral principles and interpret how these principles relate to concepts of justice;
  • discuss the relationship between morality and politics;
  • identify and describe the origins of western democratic politics and constitutional government; and
  • analyze a range of difficult and controversial moral and political issues.

Throughout this course, you'll also see related learning outcomes identified in each unit. You can use the learning outcomes to help organize your learning and gauge your progress.

 

Course Materials

The primary learning materials for this course are readings, lectures, video tutorials, and other resources.

All course materials are free to access, and can be found through the links provided in each unit and subunit of the course. Pay close attention to the notes that accompany these course materials, as they will instruct you as to what specifically to read or watch at a given point in the course, and help you to understand how these individual materials fit into the course as a whole. You can also access a list all of the materials used in this course by clicking on Resources in the course's "Activities" menu.

 

Evaluation and Minimum Passing Score

Only the final exam is considered when awarding you a grade for this course. In order to pass this course, you will need to earn a 70% or higher on the final exam. Your score on the exam will be tabulated as soon as you complete it. If you do not pass the exam on your first attempt, you may take it again as many times as needed, following a 7-day waiting period between each attempt. Once you have successfully passed the final exam you will be awarded a free Saylor Certificate of Completion.

There are also 5 unit assessments and other types of quizzes in this course. These are intended to help you to gauge how well you are learning and do not factor into your final course grade. You may retake all of these as many times as needed to feel that you have an understanding of the concepts and material covered. You can locate a full list of these sorts of assessments by clicking on Quizzes in the course's "Activities" menu.

 

Earning College Credit

This course is eligible for college credit via Saylor Academy's Direct Credit Program. If you are seeking to earn college credit, you must opt to take and pass the Saylor Direct Credit final exam. That exam will be password protected and require the presence of a proctor. Upon passing that final exam you will receive a Proctor Verified Course Certificate, and will be eligible to earn an Official Transcript. For more information about applying for college credit review the Guide to College Credit Opportunities. Be sure to check the section on proctoring for details (fees, technical requirements, etc.)

Note: There is a 14-day waiting period between attempts of the Direct Credit final exam. There is no imposed wait period between attempting the non-credit certificate-bearing exam and the credit exam. Some credit exams have a maximum number of attempts allowed, which will be detailed on the exam's instructions page.

 

Tips for Success

PHIL103: Moral and Political Philosophy is a self-paced course in which you the learner determines when you will start and when you will complete the course. There is no instructor or predetermined schedule to follow. While learning styles can vary considerably and any particular student will take more or less time to learn or read, we estimate that the "average" student will take 49 hours to complete this course. We recommend that you work through the course at a pace that is comfortable for you and allows you to make regular (daily, or at least weekly) progress. It's a good idea to also schedule your study time in advance and try as best as you can to stick to that schedule.

Learning new material can be challenging, so below we've compiled a few suggested study strategies to help you succeed:

  • Take notes on the various terms, practices, and theories as you read. This can help you differentiate and contextualize concepts and later provide you with a refresher as you study.
  • As you progress through the materials, take time to test yourself on what you have retained and how well you understand the concepts. The process of reflection is important for creating a memory of the materials you learn; it will increase the probability that you ultimately retain the information.
  • Although you may work through this course completely independently, you may find it helpful to connect with other Saylor Academy students through the discussion forums. You may access the discussion forums at https://discourse.saylor.org.
  • You may find it useful to reference Garth Kemerling's The Philosophy Pages: "A Dictionary of Philosophical Terms and Names"throughout this course. This resource is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License. It is attributed to Garth Kemerling.

 

Technical Requirements

This course is delivered fully online. You will be required to have access to a computer or web-capable mobile device and have consistent access to the internet to either view or download the necessary course resources and to attempt any auto-graded course assessments and the final exam.

  • To access the full course including assessments and the final exam, you will need to be logged into your Saylor Academy account and enrolled in the course. If you do not already have an account, you may create one, free of charge, here. Although you can access some course resources without being logged into your account, it's advised that you log in to maximize your course experience. For example, some of the accessibility and progress tracking features are only available when you are logged in.
  • If you plan to attempt the optional credit recommended final exam that accompanies this course, then you will also need access to a webcam enabled computer. A webcam is needed so that our remote proctoring service can verify your identity, which will allow Saylor Academy to issue an official transcript to schools on your behalf.

For additional technical guidance check out Saylor Academy's tech-FAQ and the Moodle LMS tutorial.

 

Fees

There is no cost to access and enroll in this course. All required course resources linked throughout the course, including textbooks, videos, webpages, activities, etc are accessible for no charge. This course also contains a free final exam and course completion certificate.

This course does contain an optional final exam that will provide students an opportunity to earn college credit. Access to the exam itself is free, though it does require the use of a proctoring service for identity verification purposes. The cost for proctoring is $25 per session.


Last modified: Thursday, March 28, 2019, 1:14 PM