Ethics Syllabus & Class Schedule

HUMAN 31A, Summer 2017, Class Code 30577

Wednesdays 6 – 9:50 PM, BCC Room 014

Instructor: Eric Gerlach, Email:

Office Hours:  Wed 5 – 6 pm @ K’s Coffee, next door to BCC

Course Description:  This course introduces students to central concepts and issues of Ethics and systems of human values.  We will first study ethical concepts such as principle, virtue, balance, utility, drive, and perspective and then study ethical issues such as theft, lies, violence, environment, class, gender and race from an individual and social perspective.

Required Texts:  The readings for the class will be posted on Moodle: BCC Summer 2017

If you have any issues getting into Moodle for online discussion, email:

Required Assignments: Two 4-5 page essays (50%) & a final 7-10 page paper (50%)

Class Schedule

June 21

Introduction: What is Ethics?

Morals & Virtue: Kant’s Metaphysics of Morals & Aristotle’s Ethics

Use & Consequence: Mill’s Utilitarianism

June 28 – 1st Essay Due (4-5 pages)

Balance: Egyptian Wisdom & Confucius’ Analects

Drive & Desire: Nietzsche’s Beyond Good & Evil

July 5

Perspective: Heraclitus’ Fragments & Chuang Tzu

Theft: Zinn’s People’s History of Am. Empire & Andreas’ Addicted to War

Lies: Herman & Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent

July 12  2nd Response Essay Due (4-5 pages)

Violence: Lt. Col. Grossman’s On Killing

Life & World: Carson’s Silent Spring & BCEP

Class & Power: Karp’s Indispensable Enemies & essays from RC&G

July 19

Gender & Sex: De Beauvoir’s The Second Sex

Race & Culture: Hannaford’s Race & essays from RC&G

July 26 – 3rd Final Essay Due (7-10 pages)

No lecture – Office Hours at K’s Coffee for Essay Consultation

Essay Grading Policy:  For each essay, state the question you are answering and take a clear position at the beginning, then argue with clear and focused points for the required page length. Do not summarize material that is irrelevant. You can include personal experience, examples from fiction or material from outside the course.

This class is acceptable for credit at UC and CSU. It counts towards GE AA/AS area 3; CSU area C2; and IGETC area 3. It can be used as an elective for the Liberal Arts with an Emphasis in Arts and Humanities, Associate in Arts Degree Program and the Liberal Arts: Intersegmental General Education Transfer (IGETC) Certificate of Achievement and the Global Studies AA Degree.

Student Learning Outcomes

Information Competency: understand philosophical concepts and systems

Critical Thinking: evaluate philosophical concepts and argue for and against viewpoints

Intercultural Competency: understand and appreciate diverse cultures of thought

General Student Requirements: Students are expected to come to class prepared to ask questions and participate in discussions. All readings and assignments should be completed by the beginning of class on the day they are discussed. This class is run as a lecture/discussion course.  Students are responsible for all class material (even if they miss class). It is your responsibility to ask if you missed something; it is not the instructor’s responsibility to remind you. If a student has any extenuating circumstances which may affect full participation in the class, the student must speak to the instructor as far ahead of any due date as possible. All assignments must be completed and all requirements must be met in order to pass the class. You must turn in all assignments (even if they are late) in order to be eligible to receive a “C” grade or higher.  There are no exceptions, under any circumstance.

Plagiarism –“[t]o use another person’s ideas or expressions in your writing without acknowledging the source” (MLA Handbook,  5th ed., §1.8)—will not be tolerated. Plagiarists, intentional or inadvertent, will receive a zero on the assignment in question; repeat offenders will get an F for the course and will be subject to college disciplinary action. Students are encouraged to review plagiarism policies in the current Vista College catalog.

Disabled Student Program and Services (DSP&S) services are provided for any enrolled student who has a verified disability that creates an educational limitation that prevents the student from fully benefiting from classes without additional support services or instruction. Please let the instructor know if you require any support services or would like more information.

The syllabus is subject to change at the discretion of the instructor. Any changes will be announced in class. Additional handouts of required readings may also be added.

2 thoughts on “Ethics Syllabus & Class Schedule

  1. jeanine henly

    can you please explain to me what the essays are focused or is there a set of questions that I should be answering

    1. ericgerlach79 Post author

      Go to the main Ethics page, and beneath the links to each of the lectures you can find the link to the essay prompt and topics, as well as the review for the midterm and final exams.


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