Syllabus of the Reading Seminar instructed by Dr. ZHANG Xi

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Engaging in Ethics: A Reading Seminar





Meeting Time: Tue. 2:30-5:30 PM (313)

Office Hour: Wes. 10:00- 11:30 (with appointment)

Office Room:505, the Institute of Ethics

Instructor: Dr. ZHANG Xi


Texts and Reading Literatures


The following books are on order:


James Rachels, the Element of Moral Philosophy (the Fourth Edition) (cited below as EMP)

Harry Gensler, etc. (Edt.), Ethics: Contemporary Readings (ECR)

John Skorupski (Edt.), The Routledge Companion to Ethics (encouraged but not required)


Students will also have some supplementary readings in order to enhance theirs understanding on relevant issues. Most of them might be landmarked papers from prestigious journals, such as Ethics, Philosophy and Public Affairs, Philosophical Review, Philosophy and Penonmeology Research, etc.


Schedule of assignments – this schedule is tentative, changes will be announced in class


Section 1 – Morality and its foundations


Oct 8 – EMP Chap. 1-3

15 – EMP Chap. 4

    ECR Part 1

21 – ECR Part 2

    Some other supplementary readings

28 – Some supplementary readings on 20th century meta-ethics


Section 2 – Normative Theorizing


Nov 5 – EMP Chap. 7-8

       ECR Part 4, pp. 196 - 220

12 - EMP Chap. 9-10,13

19 - ECR Part 4, pp. 221-264 (with some other readings)

26 – EMP Chap. 14


 Section 3 – Moral Theory Applied (tentative)


Dec 3 - Topics on Human Rights

10 - Topics on Food

17 - Topics on Distributive Justice

24 - Topics on Environment

31 – Final paper, no meeting

Information concerning assignments

This course is entirely optional as far as students are NOT required to take it as a necessary part for their Ma.D (or Ph.D) in future. However, for students who DO have interests in developing their understandings on Anglo-Saxon moral philosophy, it is highly recommended to have participations into this course fully. Students could drop from this course at any time when they find it is unhelpful or difficult to follow.


Presentation and Discussion are integral parts of the course. Every class meeting will accept three (at least) students to present their ideas on those assigned literatures. Other students will be chosen at random to make comments on the presentations. To have a good presentation, you don’t have to make PPT or something like it. However, Presentations have to be formulated literally in papers and delivered to the instructor and classmates before the meeting time.


Final paper are encouraged but NOT required. The purpose of the final paper is to enable you to develop your own thinking about an issue in ethical theory by critically discussing an issue that has arisen in class—through the readings, lectures, or class discussions—that you believe deserves further investigation. Suggested topics will be distributed in advance. Though you are encouraged to develop your own topics, please consult with the instructor. These papers should represent your own work. The instructor will help students to formulate, revise and develop their papers or ideas embodied within papers. Papers with extremely high quality will have chances to be assisted to publications.


 If you prefer to have the final paper, you should provide full citations (source and page) for any material you use from other authors, including material you have paraphrased. At the end of the paper, you should include a “List of Sources Consulted”, listing all materials you have consulted in writing your paper, including those you do not cite or use – web-based materials included. Any academic dishonesty will lead to criticism and the relevant work will not be treated seriously.


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