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PHIL 209


An introductory course to a systematic field of philosophy, history, philosophical movement, or set of philosophical problems. May be repeated for credit with different topics.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1 course

Spring Semester information

Jennifer Everett

209A: Tps:Animal Ethics

Are humans the only animals with moral rights? Does the suffering of a pig or a chicken matter more than, less than, or the same, morally speaking, as the suffering of a dog, a chimpanzee, or a human? Is it wrong to eat meat? Should animals be used for research? What should we think about hunting, zoos, or rodeos? This course examines theories concerning the moral status of nonhuman animals, the ethics of certain practices of using animals for human purposes, challenges to the legal status of animals as property, and/or questions of ethical activism.

Claudia Mills

209C: Tps:Immigration Policy: Boundaries and Birthrights

This course will examine a series of ethical questions involving immigration, citizenship, national identity, and cultural belonging, with special attention to recent controversies raised by U.S. election rhetoric and the refugee crisis in Europe. Isn't freedom of movement, including movement across often arbitrarily drawn national boundaries, a fundamental human right? But how can a nation-state exercise its right to sovereignty if it can't control its own borders and regulate access to the privileges of citizenship? Drawing on social science literature regarding the causes and effects of both historical and contemporary migration, as well as normative principles from leading ethical theories, we will assess the case for open borders as well as the case for limits on immigration. If we do open our borders, what do we owe to those who cross them? Is it morally permissible to establish different degrees of political membership: from citizen, to permanent resident, to temporary guest worker? Is there a moral duty to admit refugees fleeing war and persecution? On whom does this duty fall, and why? How can we best address involuntary migration through human trafficking? What role do race and gender play in migration patterns, and what special ethical issues do they pose for immigration policy? These are only some of the timely and challenging questions we will explore together in this discussion-based class.

Fall Semester information

Jeffrey Dunn

209A: Tps: Darwin

In The Origin of Species, Darwin presents a compelling argument for the the theory of evolution by natural selection, a theory with tremendous explanatory power. This theory is critically important to understanding the biological sciences. But Darwin's ideas have been influential in other areas, including politics, ethics, computer science, psychology, and religion. In this course we will consider Darwin's arguments, his theory, and the controversies and impact of Darwininan ideas both inside and outside of biology. Requirements for this course include active participation, writing assignments, and exams.

Marcia McKelligan

209B: Tps: Ethics Bowl

In this class, we will prepare for the regional Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl competition at Marian University on November 12, 2016. I hope to have two teams of 5-6 enter the competition. To prepare we will cover the basics of ethical theory and then explore the particular moral and social policy questions raised in the 15 cases that will be made available in early September. Each student will take the lead on three cases, doing appropriate research, formulating a position and constructing a solid argument for that position. All cases will be discussed in detail by all members of the class. We will meet as a group for 3 to 6 hours a week (perhaps more once in a while). Students will write several drafts of papers that will form the basis of their case presentations. Those drafts will be energetically (but charitably and in a friendly way) critiqued by other members of the class. One goal will be for a DePauw team to win or place highly enough in the regional competition to earn a bid to the national competition in Dallas in February. The more significant goals will be to learn in depth about timely and important moral issues, hone your argumentative skills, and gain experience and confidence in the oral presentation and defense of your ideas. Some of you may already be familiar with the Ethics Bowl competition. This is the first time that participation is being offered as a full-credit course. Please see me as soon as possible so that I can answer your questions and we can determine if this class is a good option for you. You can learn more about Ethics Bowl at