PHI 1700: Global Ethics





Strategies for Success

To submit a discussion post, scroll down to the bottom of the page and add it as a “comment”. (NOTE: your first comment won’t appear on the site until I approve it; once you’re approved, your comments will appear immediately after posting.)

The course schedule (below) is subject to change. Look out for updates via email!

1. January 30th   2. February 1st
Introduction to the course

Session 1 Slides

“All About Arguments”

Session 2 Slides

3. February 6th – NO LECTURE 4. February 8th
Read Session 3 Slides (+ supplemental slides) & take online quiz (before 11:59pm on Feb 7th)  for attendance credit Harman, “Ethics and Observation”

Session 4 Slides

February 13th   5. February 15th  
NO CLASS (Baruch closed for Lincoln’s Birthday) Rachels, “The Challenge of Cultural Relativism”

Session 5 Slides

February 19th is the last day to drop the course without any marks on your transcript.

February 20th   6. February 22st
NO CLASS (Baruch closed for Presidents Day) Smith, “A Theory of Moral Sentiments” (excerpt)

Bloom, “The Baby in the Well”

Session 6 Slides

7. February 27st 8. March 1st
Strawson, “The Impossibility of Moral Responsibility”

Churchland, “The Big Questions: Do We Have Free Will?

Session 7 Slides

Milgram, “The Perils of Obedience”

Session 8 Slides

**Download Take Home Exam #1**

9. March 6th     10. March 8th
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics (excerpts)

Session 9 Slides

Annas, “Virtue Ethics and the Charge of Egoism”

Session 10 Slides


11. March 13th   12. March 15th
Hobbes, Leviathan (excerpt) & Rousseau, Discourse on the Origin of Inequality (excerpt)

Session 11 Slides

Held, “Non-Contractual Society: A Feminist View”

Session 12 Slides

13. March 20th   March 22nd
Nussbaum, “Capabilities and Human Rights”

Session 13 Slides

NO CLASS (Professor at a Conference) 
14. March 27th 15. March 29th
Mill, Utilitarianism (excerpts)

Nozick, “The Experience Machine”

Session 14 Slides

Singer, “Famine, Affluence, and Morality”

Session 15 Slides

**Download Take Home Exam #2**

16. April 3rd 17. April 5th
O’Neill, “A Simplified Account of Kant’s Ethics”

Session 16 Slides

Thomson, “Killing, Letting Die, and the Trolley Problem”

Session 17 Slides


April 10th April 12th


April 17th 18. April 19th 19. April 20th (CUNY Monday)



Young, Five Faces of Oppression (Part I)

Session 18 Slides

April 19th is the last day to withdraw from the course with a grade of ‘W’
(Official Withdrawal, no GPA penalty).

Young, Five Faces of Oppression (Part II)

Session 19 Slides

*DEBATE TOPICS BALLOT*: Complete by 11:59pm on Friday, April 21st. Debate teams assignments will be sent out on Saturday the 22nd.

**Download Take Home Exam #3**


20. April 24th 21. April 26th
Wolf, “Moral Saints”

Session 20 Slides


Applied Ethics Mini-Lecture on
Session 21 Slides

In-class Debate Prep with Teams

22. May 1st 23. May 3rd
In-class Debate Prep with Teams


DEBATE #1: Is abortion morally permissible?

Recommended reading:


24. May 8th 25. May 10th
DEBATE #2: Would it be moral for United States to institute a maximum wage on the super-wealthy to facilitate wealth distribution?

Recommended reading:

DEBATE #3: Should people be allowed to end their lives through euthanasia (assisted suicide)?

Recommended reading:

26. May 15th 27. May 17th
DEBATE #4: Is it morally acceptable for parents to choose their children’s traits via genetic engineering?

Recommended reading:

DEBATE #5: Is capital punishment (the death penalty) morally permissible?

Recommended reading:

May 22nd, 11:59pm May 24th, 11:59pm

370 thoughts on “PHI 1700: Global Ethics

  1. From the very last lecture of this semester, we have discussed about the non-monogamy and the debate structure. Non-monogamy is a type of interpersonal relationship, which means that an individual may have multiple form of sexual bonds. In my opinion, it is morally wrong to be non-monogamous. I think the main thing is about the trust, and non- monogamy is totally against the trust. Non-monogamy also increase the rate of people been infected by the HIV and AIDS. Non-monogamy behavior is dangerous, it might causing emotional harm and psychological damage. Professor provided us a so good example that shows us how to debate. It made me more confident on the debate

  2. In slides 11, Rousseau believes that people don’t need government or common power to make certain that they act right. Rousseau is trying to tell us that we are under the justice system we have today to promote or dilute our morality. Also, the government or the justice system has totally changed by citizens who use laws to help themselves interest and hurt others. Hobbes believes that nothing can be unjust, and Hobbes also believes that nature law comes from the basic morally.
    I agree with the declaration of Hobbes because people need to trust each other and make certain that they will not get any hurt. Sometimes people make mistake, so we can not 100% sure that we can always be just without the justice system.

  3. In Yesterday’s lecture, we have the debate about “Is capital punishment (the death penalty) morally permissible?” Both teams have a lot of ideas shared with us, and I think it is not an easy decision to have a country decided if the country needs a death penalty or not. The No team give an example that says a death penalty will cost more than putting people in jail. I believed that is true, but an idea pop out in my head, which is when the person in jail got sick, it will cost even more money to have this person to heal. However, in Thomson’s idea, we should view everything differently. Thus, I found this debate very interesting, and I think it will be nice if both teams will have provided a better information to us.

  4. 11)​ 05/02/17
    Debate Topic: Abortion
    I believe that the debate topic and team that I agree with most is the YES team for abortion. I strongly believe that every women has the right to do what she wants with her own body and she should not have to carry a child within her for 9 months if she doesn’t want to. There are many cases as the YES team said, rape, illness and poverty that lead to a women not wanting to go through with a pregnancy. We already have the option of abortion, it is wrong to now take it away from women. They also mentioned that abortions are safer medicine than people may know. I think both the yes team and the no team has strong arguments. Amongst millennial’s the pro-choice stance is more common than the pro-life one. And even though many people on the pro-life side are actually pro-choice I think they did a great job expressing valid arguments against pro-choice. The pro-choice also did well by backing up their argument by referring to John Stuart Mill’s greatest happiness principle which says abortions are permissible.

  5. From session 20 slides, I learned the moral saint that is introduced by Susan Wolf. Wolf argues that moral saint is a person as perfect as possible. Moral saint is people cannot do anything wrong. Wolf against the definition of the moral saint. She thinks that people makes mistakes, there is no way people are perfect. In my opinion it is impossible to be perfect. We are all human, people make mistakes. Susan Wolf argues that moral saint means people will sacrificed themselves to help others. However, this kind of people is hard to find in this world. Furthermore, Wolf states that we should not feel ashamed when we realized that we are not perfect because it is a norm to be non-perfect. Perfection is impossible to achieved.

  6. In session 9 we talked about Aristotle’s golden mean. This principle claims that virtuous actions should always be in between its two extremes. I disagree with his list of virtues, such as good humor and friendship. I believe that good humor and friendship are too subjective to determine how excess or deficient one is applying themselves. For example, let’s say I had friend who I always thought was too friendly to me. On the other hand, in my friend’s mind he/she thought they were just being a typical friend. This shows that Aristotle’s golden mean varies for each individual. The others are not as straightforward, but arguably subjective as well. It seems as though the actions that we choose to do will always be the decision that’s “just right” in our minds.

  7. In session 13 we discussed Martha Nussbaum’s capabilities approach. She proposes that there are ten capabilities which all human beings should be provided with. The ten include life, bodily health, bodily integrity, senses/imagination/thought, emotions, practical reason, affiliation, other species, play, control over one’s environment. I agree with Nussbaum in the fact that these capabilities are the central importance in human lives. However, I find that it’s impractical especially with the overpopulation problem that we are facing currently. I believe that human capabilities such as affiliation, play, and control over one’s environment are privileges rather than necessities.

  8. In session 18,
    Young believes that individual cannot be separte from group. Also Young explained that the oppression is not only comes from the group, and group can be recoginze as ” a desirable aspect of modern social processes” that help to solve the umbalanced problem. In most time, the group can be very positive side to change one’s values.

    I strongly agree with Young’s opinion. We need to respect the difference from each different group. The best way to promote the process of society is let it produce differentiation and level essence, and let people shape their identity in response to the social groups by themselves.

  9. In session 14, we covered John Stuart Mill’s act utilitarianism. I think that my views and beliefs most align with the Greatest Happiness Principle. The part that’s hard to comply is that everyone values everyone else’s happiness differently. I find that when I’m making decisions, I consciously try not to value my happiness over others’. Rather, often times I would be glad to have opportunities to help others. In return, I believe that my happiness level would increase depending on their reactions. Therefore, in my eyes, this would result in the greatest total happiness. However, others might not come to the conclusion that the situation ended in the greatest total happiness. In the end, I consider the Greatest Happiness Principle a flawed theory for the fact that happiness is subjective but I’ll still be taking it into account when making decisions.

  10. Mill believes that utilitarianism can be defined as the Greatest Happiness Principle. Also, it can help us to determine what is the result of happiness. Also, I learned that if we perform is right, it will bring a positive outcome, if we perform is wrong, it will bring a negative outcome. Sometimes utilitarianism can be morality awareness, and it helps us to understand how to be considerate of others. However, I very enjoy Mill’s argument. I think many people should learn the spirit of GHP, it is helpful when you struggling with family or friends problem. It is a big step to sacrifices owns happiness for the human being because human is selfish in nature.

  11. From session 6 slides, I learned a theory of moral sentiments bloom introduced by Adam Smith. In the lecture, we discussed what is Adam Smith’s idea towards to the theory of moral sentiments. He says that people tends to make decision based on the emotion. According to the Bloom, “the key to engaging empathy is what has been called the identifiable victim effect. In other words, Bloom also believes that people should make decision based on the reason instead of empathy. In my opinion, it is ok for someone to make decision on the emotion as long as it did damage the society hugely. It is because we are all human, human have emotions. It is impossible for human to make the decision without emotions. So, I disagree with Bloom’s thought.

  12. Is it morally acceptable for parents to choose their children’s traits via genetic engineering?
    Children’s traits via genetic engineering is one of my favorite topic to debate. Both yes and no sides made very good arguments. However, I agree with what no side says. In my opinion, the process of genetic engineering is too expensive not everyone can afford the cost. So, that makes rich people can pick their children’s DNA traits and middle class and lower class can’t pike their children’s DNA traits. In my opinion genetic engineering not only to select the children’s physical appearance, but also can decide a child smart or not; in other words, genetic engineering can make a child become prodigy. The consequence of the genetic engineering is rich people’s children smarter than not rich people. This would cause more social inequality.

  13. 12) 05/10/17
    Debate Topic: Euthanasia
    Personally, I don’t have a concrete stance on the topic of euthanasia. I think both teams made valid points but I’m still unsure of whether I would fall in the YES or NO team. I think for this specific topic I’m neutral, I understand both sides of the arguments and think they are both valid. On one hand euthanasia can help prevent suffering but another hand, could it be taken advantage of? I think it will be an easy way out for some people but some people who are truly suffering would definitely prefer to not suffer and end their life in peace. Maybe in medical situations it should be taken into consideration with caution and regulation.

  14. 05/08/17
    Debate Topic #2: Should the United States institute a maximum wage on the super-wealthy to facilitate wealth distribution?
    I strongly agree with the NO team on this specific topic of a maximum wage. There will not be any ambition or goals among people if there is a cap to how successful they can be. It is unfair to those who worked hard and earned money in order to buy more than just what they need, but all the things that they want and dreamed of. To take these ambitions and dreams away from individuals is morally wrong. How about all the businesses that sells things more expensive than what the maximum wage cap is, what happens to them? I believe a maximum wage is unrealistic and in-ideal. It will disrupt the way of life that people are so commonly used to and increase the number of under the books jobs and communications.

  15. Session 19:
    Young believes exploitation, marginalization, powerlessness, cultural imperialism and violence are five faces of oppression. Also, she thinks to eliminate the oppression need to eliminate the social group. In her view, social groups distinguish people from other, which create the hierarchy system. Especially, some racial groups dominate the society. However, in my view, racial groups cannot be eliminated because different appearances and custom made different racial groups. Every ethnic group has its unique culture and custom, which made our world diversified. To reduce the oppression, we should more focus on individual’s mental health and create a positive social environment.

  16. Session 6:
    Adam Smith is more famous as an economist, not a philosopher. All I know about Adam Smith is the book he wrote, “Wealth of Nations,” the great economics works. In the class, I’ve just identified another aspect Smith has. In his theory, morality is the invisible hand that controls people to behave well. He believes the empathy is the important way to feel others’ feeling. By sharing emotion, people can understand other’s life situation and condition. By feeling the pain, people will not do the harmful things to other. From my perspective, morality is not the most efficient way to control people to do good things and be a good man. We cannot rely on the empathy to move bad guys and let them be good.

  17. On May 17th, we had debate on “Is capital punishment (the death penalty) morally permissible?” This is the one of the topic that I feel very interesting. Before the classmate’s debate. I were not sure which side I stand. It is because both agree and disagree have pros and cons. After the debate, I was convinced by the Yes team. The reason is there are somebody who just does not want to work. They think it is better for to stay in the prison. In the prison, there is free food and free place. No matter what he or she would not be die because there is no death penalty. This would causes the increase of the criminal rate.

  18. For the last lecture before our debate session, we talked about whether it is morally wrong to be non-monogamous. Monogamy is the state of marry one person at a time. Non-monogamy is the opposite, people who are non-monogamous have multiple relationships with many partners. Till today, there are still many countries are non-monogamous. In my opinion, the form of non-monogamy indicates social inequality between man and woman in the particular society, and those society are most of them are backward country. Furthermore, those people who are non-monogamous mostly raise many children, and they can’t afford the basic live of those kids. I think this phenomenon prove my point that non-monogamous is morally wrongful. Non-monogamy relationship is unhealthy, because bond is unbalance between one to multiple partners.

  19. It is also end of this semester, I really enjoyed the experience of debates. First, I was afraid of speaking in front of class but after talked to professor I changed my mind. Although I still little bit scared to speak in front of people, I will definitely improved my speaking skills in the future. It is interesting to hear all kind of opinions during each debates. I believe there is no right and wrong answers. All topics are controversial and there is still a lot of arguments which is never get a same agreement from all people. Wish everyone have a good summer!

  20. Session 4
    We learned Aristotle’s general principles of virtue ethics session 4. Aristotle gives us the point that to be morally virtuous is doing the right thing and develop it as your habit, moreover, truly virtuous is we enjoy doing the right thing. Besides, he also mentioned that It is very important whether we form habits of one kind or of another from our very youth. I agree with Aristotle’s point of view. We all develop our virtuous behaviors since we were kids, and gradually it becomes our habits to help people who are in need. For example, I give seat to the disabled or the elder in the bus or subway. It’s not because of self interest, but more a habit to help them. I feel happy and am enjoyed to help them. I think people around us when we were young are also important, they set models for us to be what kind of people, especially our parents.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s