Rowan University
Ellen Miller, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor

Department of Philosophy & Religion
Rowan University
Glassboro, NJ 08028
Office: 117 Linden Hall

Office Phone:  856-256-4835

Dr. Ellen Miller
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Introduction to Philosophy   (Mon. & Weds.)
Introduction to Philosophy   (Tuesday)
Introduction to Ethics
Philosophy and Gender


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Contemporary  Moral Problems
Philosophy and Society
Logic of Everyday Reasoning
Feminist Theory
Western        Humanities

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Click Here for Assignments

PHILOSOPHY 150939301

Contemporary Moral Problems


Click Here for Web Links

Announcements for Contemporary Moral Problems:

IMPORTANT CLASS--BE SURE TO ATTEND: For December 5th: Read Hardin, Singer, Arthur articles. Review announcement page below for course details.

IMPORTANT: Rough Drafts due November 28th (8-10 pages with Bibliography)--No new reading due for this date. Bring 2 copies of draft, one with name on it for me and one without your name for peer evaluation work in class on the 28th

Final Papers due December 19th (by noon): My mailbox, Philosophy and Religion Department, Third Floor, Bunce Hall. No Late Papers will be accepted.

Journals due December 12 (will have at least 6 new entries since last journal collection, approximately 12 pages total). Answer study questions for assigned readings in your journals

November 21--No journal due for this date. We will have our class debate and then I'll be available for individual help with papers/assignments

Dec 5--Please read articles by Hardin, Singer and Arthur: These articles discuss what our duties are to other countries in need (very relevant to today's situation), what are our obligations to those in other countires who are starving?



Please click here for Outline assignment due November 14

Don't forget to write (type!) in your journal once per week (1-2 pages per week). Use Study Questions at end of each section and questions posed in class for guidance.

 Debate Topics and Dates: Euthanasia (Oct 17), Affirmative Action (Oct 31), Prozac/Ritalin Use (Nov 21), Stem Cell Research/Human Cloning (Nov 14)

Please click here for information on TOPIC PROPOSALS due October 3

Journals due October 10 (you need at least 5 entries). Please see syllabus below for details

Course Description and Objectives

     In this course we will examine, analyze and discuss issues in contemporary applied ethics from a multicultural perspective. We will explore issues such as world hunger, discrimination, war, environmental ethics, euthanasia, human rights, gender roles, and cloning.  The philosophical study of ethics raises numerous questions, namely:

  • Is ethical knowledge possible?
  • How do we resolve conflicts among the sources of ethical knowledge?
  • Which are the most important values for leading an ethical life?
  • What are communities responsible for?
  • What determines the rightness or wrongness of a particular social policy or law?

     Applied ethics asks these questions within the framework of specific contemporary issues. One of the objectives of this course is to help you develop and articulate your own answers to these issues. Through discussion, debate, writing, and listening we will also work towards articulating and analyzing viewpoints that differ from our own. Your work in this course may also help you contribute to a more informed discussion of moral issues as they arise in your personal and social lives.

If you have a disability which may require assistance or accommodations, or you have questions related to any accommodations for testing, note takers, readers, etc..., please speak with me as soon as possible.

I. Required Text (Available at Rowan University Bookstore: Phone 256-4660)

Applied Ethics: A Multicultural Approach, edited by Larry May, Shari Collins-Chobanian, Kai Wong, Third Edition, Prentice Hall

II. Assignments and Grading

Assignment Due Date Percentage of Grade
Debate: One page outline due day of debate and Response Paper due 2 weeks Following Debate (approx. 3 pages) Decided by student 25%
Journal Entries/Class Participation Various 30%
Final Paper [Including Topic proposal (5%), Research plan and bibliography (5%), Outline(5%), First Draft(5%) and Final Draft (25%)] Details to follow. There will also be a class seminar devoted to writing Philosophy papers. See syllabus for due dates

Dec 12: Final paper due



III: Academic Honesty Policy

     All forms of academic dishonesty, namely, cheating on exams, submitting plagiarized or fabricated work from another person’s book or web-site, submitting another person’s work without informing the instructor, or engaging in any kind of deception that would bear on the evaluation of submitted work will be dealt with in a strict manner. If you find yourself thinking about submitting work that is not your own due to pressure, frustration, or perfectionism, please come talk to me. I am here to help you resolve these issues before they become a problem for your academic career at Rowan and beyond.

     Plagiarism is an extremely serious academic offense. Penalties can range from getting zero on the assignment through getting an F in the course to being expelled from the university. The best way to avoid plagiarism is to be as thorough as possible in documenting the sources you rely on for the claims you make in your papers. One common reason for plagiarism is confusion about when documentation is and is not required. I am always happy to talk to you about any and all issues related to plagiarism.


IV. Attendance, Lateness, and Class Policies

     This course will emphasize dialogue, exchange, and debate with your peers and the professor. It is important that you attend class so that you can participate in the discussions. There will be opportunity for students to practice writing through informal class writing activities.

  • Please arrive for class on-time
  • Please turn off cell-phones, pagers, and beepers before class
  • In order to enhance student learning, please do not engage in side conversations during class
  • More than 4 unexcused absences will result in grade depreciation

V. Late Papers and Exams

  • Students are responsible for assignments, homework, group work missed due to illness. Please check with instructor or classmate concerning assignments given during missed classes.
  • Students are responsible for all scheduled and announced tests, assignments, and papers. If you have an emergency, please notify the instructor as soon as possible to arrange an extension. Extensions will be granted at the discretion of the instructor.
  • Unexcused late work will be penalized. Components of paper handed in late will receive a one point deduction for each day late (assignments are worth 5 points each). Final papers handed in late will receive a half letter grade deduction (5%)for each day late.

VI. Journal Requirements

     Your journal is a place for you to practice writing, reflect upon readings for class or materials you find on your own, pose questions, discuss issues raised in class lectures and discussions. Your journal entries are to be typed, double-spaced, with date of each entry at the beginning of your writing. Please write in your journals twice each week (approx. 1-2 pages per week). I will evaluate the thoughtfulness of your journal entries, time spent writing your entries, variety of topics explored and analyzed. Informal writing is an important way of improving your formal writing. I also will use the journals to determine which topics require greater examination and discussion in class.


VII. Calendar: Subject to change according to class discussions—Please keep informed about changes.

Date Reading Assignments:

Please read material PRIOR to class meeting. You will get more from the lectures and discussions if you read the articles before our meetings. Some readings are more difficult than others and may require a second (or third) reading. Please bring your questions to class so we can work through difficult concepts, arguments, ideas together.

Sept 5 Course Introduction: Ethical Theories Journal entry (every week)
Sept 12 Introduction, Blum essay and Nussbaum article
Sept 19 Human Rights and Justice: p. 42-72 (UN Declaration, Mill, O’Neill, Dworkin)
Sept 26 Global Views on Rights and Justice: p.72-82    (Bunch); 94-122 (Ake, Ames, Inada)
Oct 3 Euthanasia: Rachels, Steinbock, Wolf, Becker

*Bring Questions regarding writing to class (Written)

Topic proposals due for Paper

Seminar on Writing Philosophy Papers

Oct 10 Racial and Ethnic Discrimination: Graves, McIntosh, Boxill, Steele


Journals will be collected


Oct 17 Technology, Ethics and the Remaking of the Self: Kramer, Evers, Holm, Hopkins Debate on Euthanasia
Oct 24 War and Violence: Lackey, Khatchadourian, Wilkins Research plan and Bibliography due for Paper


Oct 31 War and Violence: King, McGary, Gandhi, Ruddick Debate on Affirmative Action
Nov 7 Gender Roles and Morality: Gilligan, Blankenhorn, Anderson and Abu-Lughod  


Nov 14 Enviornmental Ethics Outline Due

Debate on Stem Cell Research/Cloning

Nov 21 Debate on Prozac/Ritalin Use
Nov 28 Peer evaluation of rough drafts Rough Draft Due
Dec 5 Read Hardin, Singer, Arthur articles Journal, Study questions #1, 3, 4
Dec 12 Optional: I will be available for assistance with your final papers Journals Collected(hand in entire journal for whole semester--you can re-do journals from the first half of the semester--hand in original journal with new journal so I can compare your progress)
Dec 19 Final Paper Due: Noon--No Late papers accepted without prior discussion Hand in papers to the Philosophy Department, Bunce Hall

I hope this course will be productive, informative, and fun! I look forward to hearing your views on these contemporary moral issues throughout the semester.


Copyright 2001 Dr. Ellen Miller. All rights reserved. Document last modified