Syllabus – Moral Philosophy, PHL 210-04, 210-05 (MWF) and PHL 210-06 (MW) Fall, 2020
(updated 10/4/2020)


Moral Philosophy, PHL 210-04, 210-04 (MWF) and PHL 210-06 (MW)Fall, 2020

Tel:315-445-4489 (campus voice mail)

Office hours through zoom 
MW – 3:40- 4:30pm,
Thurs - 1:35-2:15pm,
Fri – 12:40-1:30, and by appointment.  
You should receive a reply within a day or so (not including weekends).

Prof. Michael Kagan

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 be able to articulate a philosophical understanding of the world through the eyes of others.

Students will be able to articulate philosophically significant issues in their own life-experiences.

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



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” (SEP),



 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.



If you miss class for Mass of the Holy Spirit 2020 on Wednesday, Sept. 2 at 10:45am
 (or for any religious observance throughout the semester), please let me know (so it gets recorded as an excused absence).
No classes or office hours on
Monday, September 28, Yom Kippur.
November 25 - 27:  Thanksgiving Break. Thanksgiving Day is 11/26.

First take-home quiz given Mon., Oct. 19 - due Wed., October 28.

Second take-home quiz given Mon., Nov 9 - due Wed., Nov.18.

LAST DAY OF CLASSES – Tuesday, November 24.




This semester (Fall 2020) the plan is to start meeting synchronously using Zoom.  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.  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. 31) 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).

Week #2 (Sep.7) Plato’s Euthyphro.

Week #3 (Sep. 14) Plato’s Apology.  
Week #4 (Mon, Sep. 21) Plato’s Crito.

Week #5 No classes or office hours on Monday, September 28, Yom Kippur.  
(Wed., Sep. 30) Plato’s Meno.  

Week #6 (Mon., Oct. 5) Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, Book 1.

Week #7 (Mon., Oct. 12) Nicomachean Ethics, Books 2-7. Kathryn J. Norlock’s “Feminist Ethics” http:/ 

Week #8 (Mon., Oct. 19) Nicomachean Ethics, Books 8-9. First take-home quiz given Mon., Oct. 19 - due Wed., October 28.

Week #9 (Mon., Oct. 26) Confucius’ Analects, Books I-X.  First take-home quiz due Wed., October 28.

Week #10 (Mon. Nov. 2) Analects, Books X-XX.  

Week #11 (Mon. Nov. 9) Lau Tzu’s Tao Te Ching, Book One. 2nd take-home quiz given Mon., Nov 9 - due Wed., Nov.18.

Week #12 (Mon. Nov. 16) Lau Tzu’s Tao Te Ching, Book Two.

Week #13 (Mon., Nov. 23) Martin Buber’s Way of Man. (Final evaluations last day of class, if they have not taken place, and depending on the implementation of the new evaluation system.)

November 25 - 27: Thanksgiving Break. Thanksgiving Day is 11/26.

Week #14 (Mon., Nov. 30 - December 4: Final exams (delivered remotely).  [Note:  There is no final exam in this class.]



Philosophy 210 syllabus, Moral Philosophy, Fall, 2020, ethics-Fall2020MWandMWF.html
Materials for Ethics    http:/ 

Norlock, Kathryn, "Feminist Ethics", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2019 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <>

Back to Kagan's homepage - http:/