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 Student Handbook.

 

Course Description

Learn how to develop your moral reasoning skills and apply them 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 introduces the basic concepts and methods of moral and political philosophy. We focus on the development of moral reasoning and how to apply these ideas to contemporary social and political issues. Although the course is organized around the concept of justice, we will discuss a wide range of philosophical topics and perspectives.

We explore the value of human life, the moral standing of the free market, the notion of fundamental human rights, equality of opportunity, and the conditions for a moral community. We make extensive use of Michael Sandel's lecture series on justice, which was delivered at Harvard University in 2009.

In addition to these lectures, we study several moral and political philosophers, such as Plato, Aristotle, John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, Jeremy Bentham, John Stuart Mill, Immanuel Kant, Jean-Paul Sartre, Friedrich Nietzsche, and John Rawls. We also examine the contemporary thinkers Alasdair MacIntyre, Martin Luther King, Jr., and others, news articles, and primary source texts on important legal decisions. By the end of the course, you will have a better understanding of the philosophical issues involved in many contemporary debates in the public sphere, and a refined sense of your own moral and political positions and intuitions.

This course includes 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 will also see learning outcomes in each unit. You can use those learning outcomes to help organize your studies and gauge your progress.

 

Course Materials

The primary learning materials for this course are articles, lectures, and videos.

All course materials are free to access and can be found in each unit of the course. Pay close attention to the notes that accompany these course materials, as they will tell you what to focus on in each resource, and will help you to understand how the learning materials fit into the course as a whole. You can also see a list of all the learning materials in this course by clicking on Resources in the navigation bar.

 

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 calculated as soon as you complete it. If you do not pass the exam on your first try, you may take it again as many times as you want, with a 7-day waiting period between each attempt. Once you have successfully passed the final exam you will be awarded a free Course Completion Certificate.

There are also end-of-unit assessments in this course. These are designed to help you study, and do not factor into your final course grade. You can take these as many times as you want until you understand the concepts and material covered. You can see all of these assessments by clicking on Quizzes in the course's navigation bar.

 

Tips for Success

PHIL103: Moral and Political Philosophy is a self-paced course, which means that you can decide when you will start and when you will complete the course. There is no instructor or an assigned schedule to follow. 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 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 we've compiled a few study strategies to help you succeed:

  • Take notes on the various terms, practices, and theories that you come across. This can help you put each concept into context, and will create a refresher that you can use as you study later on.
  • As you work through the materials, take some time to test yourself on what you remember and how well you understand the concepts. Reflecting on what you've learned is important for your long-term memory, and will make you more likely to retain information over time.
  • Although you may work through this course completely independently, you may find it helpful to connect with other Saylor students through the discussion forums. You may access the discussion forums at https://discourse.saylor.org.

 

Technical Requirements

This course is delivered entirely 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 for free here. Although you can access some of the course without logging in to your account, you should log in to maximize your course experience. For example, you cannot take assessments or track your progress unless you are logged in.

For additional guidance, check out Saylor Academy's FAQ.

 

Fees

This course is entirely free to enroll in and to access. Everything linked in the course, including textbooks, videos, webpages, and activities, is available for no charge. This course also contains a free final exam and course completion certificate.

Last modified: Tuesday, 29 September 2020, 11:18 AM