Syllabus - Moral Philosophy, PHL 210 (MWF), Fall, 2021

Syllabus – Moral Philosophy, PHL 210-04 & 210-05 (MWF), Fall, 2021, Prof. Michael Kagan, last edited 08/19/2021

Zoom, Office Hours, and contact information 

Class meetings MWF as scheduled

Office hours in RH428 or via zoom -  M TH F – 1:10-1:55pm, and by appointment.

Tel:315-445-4489 - Campus voice mail - you should receive a reply within a few days. - You should receive a reply within a day or so (not including weekends).

Le Moyne College website


This course aims at an understanding of the activity of making moral judgments or affirming one value or set of values over another. At issue are, typically, the meaning of the words spoken when people make ethical assertions, the possibility of justifying or proving the truth of such assertions and the implications of discovering situations in which the ethical dimension is problematic. Integral to this course is a study of these questions in the light of the great traditions of ethical thinking as they have come to light in the various wisdom literatures. (Le Moyne College Catalog)

Philosophy department outcomes this course serves:

Students will develop a philosophical understanding of the world through the eyes of others.

Philosophically Significant Issues in the World: Students will evince a mature discernment of the relationship between philosophically significant issues and their own intellectual and moral worlds.

Students will be able to summarize a philosophical argument with appropriate detail.

Core outcomes this course serves:

CLO 1    Disciplinary Inquiry
    Students will explore meaningful questions, both practical and transcendent, through study in the arts, humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences.
CLO 3    Critical Thinking
    Students will comprehensively evaluate issues, ideas, events, and works before making informed conclusions.
CLO 4    Written Communication
    Students will produce coherent arguments in writing.
CLO 5    Oral Communication
    Students will prepare and present in a variety of contexts, as speaker and listener.
CLO 8    Ethical Integrity
    Students will make reasoned ethical decisions by assessing their own moral values, recognizing different ethical perspectives, and thoughtfully analyzing ethical and moral dilemmas.
CLO 9    Creating a More Just Society
    Students will investigate complex challenges involving cultural and social diversity, and the individual's role in developing just solutions.


Plato - Five Dialogues (Grube translation, with Cooper revisions)

Aristotle - Nicomachean Ethics (David Ross’s translation)
Confucius - Analects (D.C. Lau’s translation)

Lau Tzu - Tao Te Ching (D.C. Lau’s translation)

Martin Buber - The Way of Man

Kathryn J. Norlock - "Feminist Ethics", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy


In coordination with the Academic Support Center (ASC) and Disability Support Services, reasonable accommodations are provided for qualified students with disabilities. Please register with the ASC Office for disability verification and determination of reasonable accommodations. After receiving your accommodation form from the ASC, you will need to make an appointment with me to review the form and discuss your needs. Please make every attempt to meet with me within the first week of class so your accommodations can be provided in a timely manner. You can either stop by the ASC, Library, 1st floor, or call (445-4118-voice or 445-4104-TDD) to make an appointment.

A copy of a recent (8/19/21) Fall 2021 Le Moyne College COVID-19 Syllabus Statement and the Le Moyne College Student Support Statements (4/21/21) is found below the course schedule in the links and other imprtant information section.


If you miss class for any obligation or religious observance throughout the semester, please let me know (so it gets recorded as an excused absence).

Fri., Oct. 15 - 1st take-home quiz given (due Wed., Oct. 27). Wed., Nov. 10 - 2nd take home quiz given (due Fri., Nov. 19, the second quiz is optional for students who passed the first quiz with a grade of 70 or better).

Wed., Sep. 1, Mass of the Holy Spirit at 10:45 am (Panasci Family Chapel). 9:30-10:45am and 10:00-10:50am classes will dismiss at 10:30. Classes scheduled for 11:00am, 12:00pm will not be held. Classes will resume at 1:00pm.

Dec. 6., Mon., Last day of classes

No classes or office hours on the following dates:
Sep. 6,  Mon., Labor Day ;
Sep. 7, Tues., Rosh Hashana
Sep. 16, Thurs., Yom Kippur
Oct. 11-12, Mon-Tues - Fall break
Nov. 24-28 Wed-Sun - Thanksgiving Break



This semester (Fall 2021) the plan is to start meeting synchronously in person.  If we end up using Zoom again, please check your email and Canvas for information and the links to the Zoom sessions. I will attempt to record the lectures for student use.

When campus/dorms are closed due to flu or other circumstances, my intent is that the course continue. Assignments continue to be due electronically (if Canvas is down, email to may still work). Presentations will be replaced by papers, virtual presentations, or extended descriptions of presentations. In addition to notes and group work already available there on-line, I will post updates, lecture notes, etc., to Canvas and to my Le Moyne College website at

As at other times, if your situation results in your needing an extension, please let me know. Also, if internet service is down or there are other infrastructure problems, please complete the assignments and turn them in when services are restored.


Your grade will be based on the average of the following:

  1. (50%) You will have an opportunity to take two take-home quizzes. These will be handed out at least 4 days before they are due. Late quizzes will receive a 15% grading penalty for each day they are late. [If you cannot get a quiz in on time, please let me know you need to take a make-up quiz with a different deadline.] Unless otherwise indicated, please complete the quiz in less than 500 words. All work, except in-class writings, is to be typed double-spaced. Quizzes are to be turned in electronically on the date due through Canvas (if you cannot access Canvas, please email the quiz to me at, and - in addition to the file attachment - please paste the text of your answers into your email message. )

  2. (50%) Other class work, which may include the following: group work/in-class writings/optional quizzes (optional quizzes can be used to replace take-home quizzes and vice-versa).


Grades are based on a 10-point scale as follows:

90-100 - 'A' range (97-100 = A+; 94-96=A; 90-93=A-); 80-89 - 'B' range (87-89 = B+; 84-86=B; 80-83=B-);

70-79 - 'C' range (77-79 = C+; 74-76=C; 70-73=C-); 60-69 - 'D' range (67-69 = D+; 64-66=D; 60-63=D-).

Below 60 - 'F'.



Week #1 (of Aug. 23) Introduce course. Discussion of nomos, phusis, logos, & reading. Brief survey of ethical theories. Start reading Plato’s Euthyphro (the Plato assignments are in the Five Dialogues text). The following reading assignments are intended ideally to be completed by the date indicated. If you need to choose between reading carefully and completing the entire reading, I recommend reading carefully.

In-class writing assignment – Please answer at least one of the following and submit your answer on Canvas. What do you like to study? Is there anything you want me to know about you or your interests that could help you learn more in this course.

Week #2 (Mon., Aug. 30) Continue brief survey of ethical theories. Group work on ethical theories. Read Plato’s Euthyphro.

Group work on Ethical theories – List the ethical theories that were reviewed in class, and briefly indicate one criticism of each. Which of these theories are challenged directly or indirectly by the dialogue Euthyphro? How so?

Wed., Sep. 1, Mass of the Holy Spirit at 10:45 am (Panasci Family Chapel). 9:30-10:45am and 10:00-10:50am classes will dismiss at 10:30. Classes scheduled for 11:00am, 12:00pm will not be held.  Classes will resume at 1:00pm.

Sep. 6,  Mon., Labor Day - (No classes or office hours); Sep. 7, Tues., Rosh Hashana (No classes or office hours)

Week #3 (Wed., Sep. 8) Read Plato’s Apology.
Group work questions - Is Socrates’ willing to disobey the court’s legal authority? If so, why? If not, why not? What authority is Socrates willing to obey?
Week #4 (Mon, Sep. 13) Read Plato’s Crito. - Group work - Is Socrates’ willing to disobey the court’s legal authority? If so, why? If not, why not? What authority is Socrates willing to obey?

Sep. 16, Thurs., Yom Kippur (No classes or office hours)

Week #5 (Mon., Sep. 20) Plato’s Meno. Group work question - According to Socrates in this dialogue, why should we seek the truth even if we are not persuaded by the idea of knowledge from recollection?
Week #6 (Mon., Sep. 27) Read Plato’s Phaedo. Group work - What is misology? Why is Socrates opposed to it?
Week #7 (Mon., Oct. 4) Read Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, Book 1. Group work questions – Who does Aristotle claim is the appropriate student for ethics? What does this have to do with the lack of precision in ethics?

Oct. 11-12, Mon-Tues - Fall break

Week #8 (Wed., Oct. 13) Read Nicomachean Ethics, Books 2-7. Read Kathryn J. Norlock’s “Feminist Ethics.“ Group work questions - Describe two virtues in terms of the principle of the mean. Critically evaluate Aristotle’s presentation of at least one of these using ideas found in the Norlock reading.

Fri., Oct. 15 - 1st take-home quiz given (due Wed., Oct. 27).

Week #9 (Mon., Oct. 18) Read Nicomachean Ethics, Books 8-9. Group work – Does Aristotle’s account of friendship explain the friendships you are familiar with? If so, how? Please give an example. If not, describe a friendship the theory does not explain, and explain why it fails to explain that friendship.
Week #10 (Mon. Oct. 25) Read Confucius’ Analects, Books I-X. Group work - Choose an analect that you like or find interesting. Explain why you like it or what you find interesting about it. Explain how it fits in with or contradicts other analects you have read.

First take-home quiz due Wed., Oct. 27.

Week #11 (Mon. Nov. 1) Group work – Read Analects, Books X-XX.  Answer at least one of the following.

  1. Having read the Analects, I-XX, what that you could apply to your own life did you find surprising. How could you apply it?

  2. The Analects indicate a variety of responses to living in a corrupt society. Name two. What is an advantage of each? What is a disadvantage of each?

Week #12 (Mon. Nov. 8) Read Lau Tzu’s Tao Te Ching, Book One.

Wed., Nov. 10 - 2nd take home quiz given (due Fri., Nov. 19, the second quiz is optional for students who passed the first quiz with a grade of 70 or better).

Group work – What is one short passage from this section of the Tao Te Ching that you found interesting, puzzling or confusing? Specify it by source, chapter number, and title (for example, "Book 1, 13" or Book One, XIII"). Explain what is interesting, puzzling or confusing about this passage.

Week #13 (Mon., Nov. 15) Read Lau Tzu’s Tao Te Ching, Book Two. 

Group work – What is one short passage from this section of the Tao Te Ching that you found interesting, puzzling or confusing? Specify it by source, chapter number, and title. Explain what is interesting, puzzling or confusing about this passage.

2nd take-home quiz due Fri., Nov. 19.

Weeks #14-15. (Mon., Nov. 22, and Mon. Nov. 29) Read Martin Buber’s Way of Man. Group work – Of the stories told here, summarize one that your group found interesting. What teaching does it offer about how to live a better life? What is the source of this teaching? If any members of your group are familiar with another place where this teaching can be found, please have them say where they have found it.

Nov. 24-28 Wed. - Sun. - Thanksgiving Break

Week #16 (Mon. Dec. 6) Last day of class.  TBA/Final evaluations, and depending on the implementation of the new evaluation system.)

Note: There is no final exam in this class.

SOME OF THIS PAGE'S LINKS and other important information:

Philosophy 210 Syllabus, Moral Philosophy, Fall, 2021
Materials for Ethics
Norlock, Kathryn, "Feminist Ethics", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2019 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.).
Kagan's homepage

Fall 2021

Le Moyne College COVID-19 Syllabus Statement


The following information describes the health and safety guidelines for classrooms, which are subject to change. The College may adjust health and safety protocols pending prevalence of the COVID-19 virus and its transmissibility on campus.

In accordance with NYS Department of Health regulations and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), when viral transmission is low,
fully vaccinated members of the Le Moyne Community who certify their vaccination status will not be required to wear a face covering or physically distance.  However, given new evidence gathered on the Delta variant, the CDC recommends that fully vaccinated people wear a face covering in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high transmission.  Additionally, the CDC recommends that fully vaccinated people might choose to wear a face covering regardless of the level of transmission, particularly if they are immunocompromised or at increased risk for severe disease from COVID-19, or if they have someone in their household who is immunocompromised, at increased risk of severe disease or not fully vaccinated.  Individuals are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving their final dose schedule of an FDA-approved vaccine, i.e., two weeks after receiving the second dose in a two-dose series (e.g., Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) or two weeks after receiving a single-dose vaccine (e.g., Johnson & Johnson).

Within the context presented above, and given the prevalence and substantial transmission of the Delta variant in Onondaga County, face coverings are required in the academic buildings, which include all classrooms and public spaces, until further notice.

All undergraduate and graduate students (together with faculty, staff, and administrators) are required to have the COVID-19 vaccine by the opening of the fall 2021 semester.  Following approval, exemptions based on medical and religious reasons will be accommodated, but the majority of the College Community is expected to be vaccinated, greatly reducing the risk of infection for everyone.  Unless a student has a medical/religious exemption, unvaccinated students will not be allowed to check in to residence halls, use campus facilities, or attend classes.  Students wishing to request a medical/religious exemption must do so in writing here.  Proof of vaccination is to be submitted to the Student Health Center [, (315) 445-4440].  Students may also request an exemption or provide proof of vaccination by following the instructions on the “Vaccinations” link at

Please note, given the dynamic nature of the pandemic, all students, faculty, and staff are expected to carry a facial covering with them at all times and monitor campus email announcements for policy updates.

In accordance with NYS Department of Health regulations,
students and other members of the college community who are not fully vaccinated MUST adhere to the following health and safety protocols, which are subject to change based on campus, county, and state disease prevalence.

         Properly wear a face covering (i.e., covering both mouth and nose) in all campus buildings and classrooms.

         Complete COVID-19 testing with the College testing program, at a minimum, two times a week on either Monday/Wednesday or Tuesday/Thursday or submit proof of negative PCR test results from an external official testing location once a week to the COVID Office at

         Follow all New York State and CDC regulations pertaining to unvaccinated individuals.

For students, these requirements protect the student’s own health and safety as well as the health and safety of their classmates, their instructor, and the entire Le Moyne community.  Students granted an exemption and who are not fully vaccinated and who refuse to wear face coverings properly or to adhere to other stated requirements will be subject to disciplinary action for Community Standards violations.

If a student granted an exemption is unable to wear a face covering due to a disabling condition, they should contact the Office of Disability Support Services [Roger Purdy,, (315) 445-4118] to discuss accommodations.

Regardless of vaccination status, students who are experiencing COVID-19-related symptoms must not attend class and are encouraged to contact the Student Health Center [, (315) 445-4440] or their primary medical provider. COVID-19-related symptoms may include one or some combination of the following:


         Fever or chills


         Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing


         Muscle or body aches


         New loss of taste or smell

         Sore throat

         Congestion or runny nose

         Nausea or vomiting



Finally, in keeping with our values as a Jesuit college, each member of the community is expected to act honestly and ethically regarding both their vaccination status and any experienced COVID-19-related symptoms.  A well-vaccinated and attentive community better protects the vulnerable amongst us and loved ones at home who cannot be vaccinated. 


Student Support Statements


Students are encouraged to speak up, be engaged, and participate in class. Classes will represent a diversity of individual beliefs, backgrounds, and experiences. We may not share the same views on some topics, but we converse in a respectful manner. Le College is a zero-tolerance campus.


9.         ACADEMIC STANDARDS:  Students are expected to observe at all times the highest ethical standards as members of the academic community.  Any form of dishonesty makes a student liable to severe sanctions, including expulsion from the College.  For details see the Community Standards section of the Student Handbook.


10.       BIAS-RELATED INCIDENTS:  Le Moyne College defines a bias-related incident as behavior that constitutes an expression of hostility against the person or property of another because of the targeted person’s race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, national origin, gender, age, or disability.  Bias-related incidents include, but are not limited to, non-threatening name calling and using degrading language or slurs that are directed toward a person because of his or her membership or perceived membership in a protected class and that create a hostile environment for that person. 


Students who believe they have experienced bias or discrimination are encouraged to report the incident. Please refer to Le Moyne’s Bias-Related Incident Reporting webpage to submit a report and for further information.


11.       OBSERVANCE OF RELIGIOUS HOLIDAYS:  Students who are unable to attend class, participate in any examination, study or classwork requirements on a particular day because of his or her religious beliefs are eligible for an equivalent opportunity to make up any missed examination, study, or classwork requirement, without penalties or additional fees.  Students who require such an opportunity must contact their instructor at least two weeks in advance.  A full copy of the College’s policy on the observance of religious holidays can be found in the deans’ offices. 


12.       SPECIAL NEEDS: Your access in this course is important.  Any student who feels s/he may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact the instructor privately to discuss your specific needs.  You should also meet with someone from Disability Support Services (DSS) about your disability and accommodation needs.  The DSS office is located on the first floor of the library (315-445-4118;  This should take place within the first 2 weeks of the semester.


13.       TITLE IX:  Students who believe they have been harassed, discriminated against, or involved in sexual violence should contact the Title IX Coordinator (315-445-4278) for information about campus resources and support services, including confidential counseling services.


Le Moyne faculty are concerned about the well-being and development of our students and we are available to discuss your concerns.  As faculty, we are obligated to share information with the College’s Title IX coordinator to help ensure that the student’s safety and welfare are being addressed, consistent with the requirements of the law.  These disclosures include, but are not limited to, reports of sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking.


Please refer to Le Moyne's Sexual Misconduct Resources webpage for contact information and further details.


14.       STUDENTS WITH PERSONAL/MENTAL HEALTH CONCERNS: Students who encounter personal problems of any kind, especially problems that might affect their academic performance, are encouraged to contact the Wellness Center for Health and Counseling ( The Center is located on the 2nd floor of Seton Hall; appointments may be arranged by phone at 445-4195 or e-mail at The Center provides both individual and group counseling on a strictly confidential basis. The Counseling staff is also available on an emergency basis.


15.       TUTORING:  Tutoring is located in the Student Success Center on the first floor of the library, to the right of the art gallery.  It is open M-Th 10am-9pm, F 10am-4pm, and Sun 3pm-9pm.  Peer tutors are available for most subjects.  To sign up, go to the Student Success Center webpage to create an account and log in to select the current semester’s schedule.  If you need tutoring for a subject not listed, please email  Tutoring is free for all students and is available from the second week of classes through the last day of classes.


16.       WRITING CENTER: Writing well is difficult. One of the best ways to become a better writer is to talk with other, smart writers about your work. Le Moyne’s Writing Center provides you with just such a resource. Whether you’re getting started, drafting paragraphs, revising ideas, or proofreading, you can make an appointment to meet face-to-face or online with a writing tutor to talk about any academic or professional writing assignment. More information, including the Writing Center’s hours, are available on the Writing Center’s webpage. You can sign up for an appointment through WCOnline or email with any questions.


17.       QUANTITATIVE REASONING CENTER:  The QRC supports students taking courses that require numerical manipulation and/or analysis.  We offer collaborative tutoring (clinics) with trained peer tutors for course content and we can help you develop learning strategies for these subjects as well.  You can find our schedule at or email with any questions.


18.       CAREER ADVISING AND DEVELOPMENT: It’s never too early to think about your career path. Your future is worth the investment of time and effort! We understand that each Dolphin is unique, and we work to develop a personalized plan that encompasses one's passions, skills and opportunities. Whether it’s choosing a major, deciding what to do with the major you’ve got, finding an internship, or landing a job, we have resources and expertise to help.


19.       NOREEN REALE FALCONE LIBRARY: The Library offers the space, the valuable resources and the people to support you in your research here at Le Moyne, both in person and online. For more information about Library resources, or to find your Subject Librarian visit the Le Moyne Library Online. You can ask a librarian a question at any time by visiting  Ask Us By Chat.