Rowan University
Ellen Miller, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor

Department of Philosophy & Religion
Rowan University
Glassboro, NJ 08028
Office: B
unce Hall
Office Phone:  856-256-4835

Dr. Ellen Miller
· Home Page
· Curriculum Vitae
· Teaching
Current Courses
· Introduction to Philosophy   (Mon. & Weds.)
· Introduction to Philosophy   (Tuesday)
· Introduction to Ethics
· Philosophy and Gender


   Previous Courses

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

· Google
· Hippias
· Library of Congress
· Noesis
· Philosophy Library
· Rowan University

Rowan Univ.
· About The University
· Academics
· Library
· Offices & Services
· Philosophy Dept.


Click Here for Assignments

Introduction to Ethics


Click Here for Web Links


Final Paper Requirements and Topic Ideas

Readings for March 31:  Feminism and The Ethics of Care, EMP Ch 12 and this article: Using the F-Word in Philosophy Classes (Click here), E.Miller--Read For March 31

· Short Paper #2, Click here (Position Paper or Submission for "Morals, Movies, and More!"    Due April 14

Important**Option B for grading. You do not write the creative writing assignment, and the percentages for your new work change: 20% Paper #2, Group Project 30%, Final Essay 30%. You must decide by March 31 (due date for the letter writing assign (creative writing assign.).  Option A is syllabus as originally planned**

Assignment for March 24: Work on group projects, Read RTD 190 and 195 (Euthanasia) and Review Ch 9 (Kant). If you want to get a head-start on next readings, See Syllabus for remaining readings to be assigned

· Panel Discussion Details

· Hints for Group Projects--Before you Begin 

 · Notes on Kant, Click    

Gandhi Readings:    

· Position Paper #1, Click here                                                         

· Essay Criteria--Also on Handout given on Day 1

Introduction to Ethics


Course Description and Objectives

 In this course, we will critically examine classical ethical theories in the history of philosophy, for example, relativism, utilitarianism, social contract theory, feminist ethics, and ethical egoism. In order to better understand these theories, we will also discuss contemporary ethical issues such as assisted suicide, animal rights, war and peace, capital punishment, and civil disobedience. The course emphasizes how we justify our moral judgments.

 We engage in moral judgments everyday, not only when we are engaged in philosophical reasoning and writing. One of the goals of this course is to help you better understand and critically analyze the fundamental beliefs and assumptions that influence those choices and decisions in your life that have ethical significance. Hopefully, you will end the semester better able to express your own views and ideas on a variety of important theoretical and practical issues in the field of ethics.

Readings will be assigned for each of our class meetings. Please read the assigned material prior to our class meeting, as you will get more out of classroom discussions if you have already engaged with the issues addressed. There will be frequent informal writing activities in class as well as group work, and advance preparation is essential if we are to have enjoyable and productive classes together. Quality participation is not the same as talking a lot in class. Active listening to your peers is equally important to the learning process.

            If you need an accommodation for any type of physical or learning disability, please come see me so we make any arrangements necessary.  

I.                   Texts (available in Rowan Bookstore)

1. James Rachels, The Elements of Moral Philosophy  EMP

2. James Rachels, The Right Things to Do: Basic Readings in Moral Philosophy RTD

3. G. Pence, A Dictionary of Common Philosophical Terms

Please Note: The first 3 books have been ordered as a shrink-wrapped bundle to save costs to students. Some materials will also be assigned that are on reserve at Campbell Library

II.                Assignments and Grading

Participation/In-class Writing/Group Work:

This includes bringing in 1 philosophical gift and presenting it to our class: newspaper or magazine articles, reviews of films relevant to course, music that has philosophical content relevant to course.


Help make the class more your own: Participate!!

Letter to Congress, Letter to Editor, or Other suitable real-life writing activity


Due March 31

Discussion on April 21

Position Paper #1


Due Feb 18

Choice of Papers: Your Original Film Review for “Morals, Movies, and More!” or Position Paper 2


Due April 21

Panel Discussion on Contemporary Moral Issue: In class



Details to follow

Final Essay (Not a research paper).Must include at least two outside sources.  One must be a scholarly, non-internet source


Due May 5

 Please Note: All work must be neat, stapled (left-hand corner), proofread. See website for Essay Checklist which should be followed for all writing assignments.

 Details, Details, Details

A.     Class Participation

You all have valuable and important insights to make to the course—The more you contribute to the class discussions, the more the course will become your own which is one of my goals as an instructor. Participation is a central part of the course. Participation is judged on 1). Students’ grasp of the assigned reading material; 2). their ability to apply ideas developed in the readings to new situations, including their own experience; and 3). their ability to listen to, and respond relevantly to, the comments of other students in the course. Students are expected to complete reading assignments prior to class and to make careful note of all class announcements. Students are expected to bring questions to class concerning aspects of the readings that are difficult (Questions are crucial for philosophy!!—I welcome them always!). There will be frequent in class writing assignments and group work. You will need to be in class in order to benefit from these activities and receive credit for them. These class activities cannot be made up. Respect for your classmates’ arguments and thoughts is required in all classes.

 B.    Essays

Specific instructions for papers will be given as the course progresses. Criteria for evaluation are indicated in this syllabus. Please read these carefully. There will be more discussion about suggestions for writing philosophy papers in class. The most important criteria used for evaluating papers will be the quality of argumentation, clarity, coherence, and creativity. Students are graded on their ability to present established views in their own words and articulate their assessment of those views. Those papers that display these attributes along with originality and creativity will receive the highest marks. I am never judging what your particular stance is on a given issue or whether your own views are the same as mine. I am concerned with how you articulate your own views.

Rules for Re-writing Essays

Students have the option of re-writing one of the position papers or Letter assignment for the course. This does not include the final paper. The re-write is due exactly one week after papers are returned. The grade for the two papers will then be averaged. Please note, a student’s grade on the re-write may go down as well as improve. For example, if a student receives a 60 on the paper and then re-writes and gets a 75, the overall grade will be 68. Only re-writes that involve substantial changes will be considered (minor editorial changes will not change your grade). Handing in a paper that is not significantly changed, especially if I have taken the time to give suggestions, will only serve to frustrate the instructor. I am here to help you do well, so please if you don’t understand suggestions just ask!! 

III.             Reading and Writing (Please read carefully)

A.     Reading Skills

By Rowan standards, this course is reading and writing intensive. The course fulfills a writing intensive requirement for graduation. Every effort has been made to provide you with recent, accessible, and well-researched literature on Ethical Theories and Contemporary Moral Problems. Reading this literature (course books) should by our first priority. That is, it is better to read and reread the course texts than to seek out lots of secondary literature. The first assumption in this regard is that you are capable of reading and comprehending 30-40 pages per week. This requires that you possess a college level vocabulary and that you exercise good thinking skills. You will need to read and re-read material sometimes in order to understand the views/language being presented. I will do all I can to adjust assignments according to class needs. Although technical terms peculiar to moral philosophy and ethics will be explained by the instructor, students are responsible for familiarizing themselves with the meanings of new terms and concepts encountered in the readings. In this connection, every student should own a comprehensive collegiate dictionary (i.e.: Merriam Webster’s or The American Heritage College Dictionary. In addition there is a Dictionary of Philosophy included in our assigned course texts. The Oxford Companion to Philosophy has concise and helpful summaries of major philosophical theories and figures. Weblinks will be provided throughout the course to beneficial online resources. Please keep in mind that the instructor is always available to assist you in clarifying any term, concept, idea or argument that is initially confusing.

 B.    Writing Skills

In this course, will not only learn about Ethics, we will also learn about the process of writing. Writing is difficult! In this class, we will practice writing, discuss elements of good writing, receive feedback about our writing in order to better express our opinions, beliefs, arguments, and ideas. Sometimes we will engage in writing that will not be evaluated in order to practice and evaluate our own work. Please feel free to ask questions about writing any time we are together in class.


In this course, we will discuss difficult and sometimes personal issues. This involves a willingness to share your own views. I will do the same in class, though part of my job is to present all sides of an issue and let students decide for themselves what their views are. Philosophy is an amazing discipline where you can learn how to appreciate opposing viewpoints and learn to better articulate your own views. This requires courage though. I am never grading you on whether I agree with your position or not. I have given poor grades to papers I completely agree with and great grades to papers that express views I totally disagree with. This is important to keep in mind. Our classes will be much better if we work towards creating an open environment where students feel able to express their views. I will do my best as an instructor to create this environment, but I’ve learned that I can’t do all of this! This is YOUR CLASS—Let’s make it great!!

IV.              Academic Honesty Policy

All forms of academic dishonesty, namely, cheating on exams, submitting plagiarized or fabricated work from another person’s book or website, 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 (minimally failing the course). If you find yourself questioning whether you have documented your sources properly, it is your responsibility to come see me about these issues prior to submitting an assignment. 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.

 V.                 Attendance, Lateness, and Class Policies

This course will emphasize dialogue, exchange and debate with your peers and professor. You need to be here in order to participate! Discussion focused classes can be a wonderful learning experience, but only if all participants are diligent in attending class meetings so we can have a good discussion each day. I would like to avoid the situation where only 1 or 2 people are the ones who speak each week (I think you would, too). There will be opportunity for students to practice writing through informal writing activities in class.

§         Please arrive for class on-time. I hate lateness!

§         If you’re late, you owe us something (ie: candy, brilliant answers for next class, something creative). This goes for the instructor as well.

§         Please turn off cell-phones, pagers, beepers before class

§         In order to enhance student learning, please do not engage in side conversations during class

§         In-Class writing assignments cannot be made up

§         More than 3 unexcused absences will result in grade depreciation due to missed classroom activities

Late Papers and Work

  • Students are responsible for assignments and homework missed due to illness or emergency.

  • If you have an emergency, please notify instructor as soon as possible (before an assignment is due) to arrange an extension. Extensions will be granted at the discretion of the instructor only for legitimate reasons. I understand that life involves lots of unforeseen events, and I am more than willing to work with students who face such events. However, having too much work/too many classes, printers that don’t work the day before assignments are due are not legitimate reasons for missed/late work. You will have ample notice of assignment due dates, please adjust your schedule, computers, printers accordingly!

  • In order to be fair to all students, unexcused late work will receive a grade deduction. Late work will receive a half letter grade deduction (5%) for each day late.

VI.              Proposed Calendar (Subject to change in order to respond to class needs and presentation topic choices of class)

This class meets once per week. I know it is difficult to maintain concentration during these long courses. We will try to break up class time with discussion, group exercises, and other meaningful activities. The course will be better if everyone is actively involved in the learning process!! I’m looking forward to hearing your views and helping you become better writers and thinkers as the course progresses.


Reading Assignment Due

Take Note

Jan 21

Introductions and Brainstorming

Assignment for next class:

Bring in a tangible representation of something you value for next class

Reading assignment (Be prepared for next class)

Jan 28

Have this read for today, ready to discuss

“What is Morality?”, EMP Chapter 1

“A Short Introduction to Moral Philosophy,” RTD 1-19

Singer, “The Singer Solution to World Poverty” RTD 154


Feb 4

“The Challenge of Cultural Relativism,”EMP Ch.2

“Cultural Relativism,” RTD 31

“Ethics of War and Peace,” RTD 221

Relevant Films: Fight Club, Black Hawk Down

Feb 11

“Does Morality Depend on Religion,” EMP Ch.4

“Ethics and Natural Law” Saint Thomas Aquinas RTD 44


Feb 18

“The Idea of a Social Contract,” EMP Ch 11

The Social Contract, Hobbes RTD 50

Film Suggestions: The Beach, Lord of the Flies

Paper #1 Due Today

Feb 25

“Letter from the Birmingham Jail,” ML King RTD 282 Gandhi selections (on reserve at Library)

Films: John Q, Changing Lanes

March 3

“The Utilitarian Approach,” EMP Ch. 7

“The Debate Over Utilitarianism,” EMP Ch 8

“Utilitarianism,” Mill RTD 64

Film Suggestions: Pay It Forward

March 10

Legalization of Drugs, RTD 248

Utilitarianism continued


Film Suggestions: 25th Hour

March 17

Spring Break—No Classes


March 24

Work on group projects, Read RTD 190 and 195 (Euthanasia) and Review Ch 9 (Kant). If you want to get a head-start on next readings, See Syllabus for remaining readings to be assigned


March 31

Miller, "Using the F-Word in Philosophy Classes"

Chapter 12 EMP "Feminism and the Ethics of Care"

Letters to Congress, Editor Due

April 7

Death Penalty Selections

EMP Chapter 6 Ethical Egoism


April 14

EMP Chapter 14

Meet with Groups


April 21

Group Presentations

Gay Rights,  Legalization of Drugs

April 28

Group Presentations

Euthanasia, Health Care, Censorship

May 5

Final Papers Due by 3 pm. (Bunce Hall, my mailbox)


I hope this course will be productive, enjoyable and fun! I look forward to hearing your views and sharing my love of philosophy with you throughout the semester!
















· Position Paper #1, Click here

· Short Paper #2, Click here (Position Paper or Submission for "Morals, Movies, and More!"      

· Panel Discussion Details

· Hints for Group Projects--Before you Begin 

 · Notes on Kant, Click                                                                ________________________________________________________________________________

· Essay Criteria--Also on Handout given on Day 1