Topics In Moral Philosophy: War and Terrorism

MARYGROVE COLLEGE

WINTER 2010

Instructor:

Steven W. Patterson, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Philosophy and Religioius Studies Dept., Marygrove College

Contact Information

Office Phone: 313-927-1539
Departmental Phone: 313-927-1556
e-mail: spatterson_@_marygrove.edu Note: The best way to reach me is via e-mail. Remove the underscores before and after the '@' or just use this Contact form.
Office:346 Madame Cadillac Hall
Open Office Hours:Tuesdays and Thursdays, 12:30-1:30 PM If you cannot make it to open office hours, e-mail me to schedule an appointment.


Course Information

Meeting Times: Mondays and Wednesdays, 10:30-11:45 AM in LA 242
Credit Hours: 3, Satisfies General Education Requirements
Prerequisites: LS 105, ENG 108 and any one of PHL 126, 156, or 276

Course Objectives

A student who successfully completes the course requirements will achieve a basic working understanding of contemporary just war theory and its application to the problem of terrorism.

An understanding of how theory and practice interconnect in a specific context like responding to terrorism is very helpful for deepening one’s conception of social justice and one’s awareness of one’s own social and political context. Hence a secondary objective of this course is the cultivation of a greater capacity to understand how principles of social justice inform, apply to, and are shaped by actual political debate.

Also integral to leadership is the ability to read, write, and think critically and carefully about difficult problems that resist easy solution. Hence the third objective of this course is the enhancement of students’ critical thinking abilities through the exercise of the analytical and imaginative skills that form the core of the philosophical method. Because they are so widely applicable to concrete problems, development of the sort of critical thinking skills that make up the philosophical method is an essential part of general education, and one of the chief benefits of a course of this nature.

Core Questions

  1. Do claims of self-defense always provide a justification for engaging in warfare? What moral limits might there be to warfare engaged in on such grounds?
  2. How credible is the claim that wars such as those in which the US is currently engaged in Iraq and Afghanistan are justified as acts of self-defense against terrorists?
  3. What moral limits, if any, ought to constrain the range of responses to terrorist threats (as those threats are currently understood)?

Student Responsibilities

Assignments

Papers

There will be five opportunities for students to write short papers of 700-1200 words. Students must choose and complete three of these assignments. Paper topics have been provided in advance for each assignment. Honors students may deviate from these topics with the instructor's approval. Everyone will do paper topic #1. Thereafter students are free to pick whichever paper topics they find most appealing. Due dates and topics are given in the course plan at the end of this syllabus.

The purposes of these short paper assignments are many. First and foremost, they provide students with an opportunity to reflect on the material and to engage it in a critical way. Secondly, they provide the instructor with a means of gauging students’ comprehension of the material and of identifying and appropriately addressing students’ strengths and weakness. Thirdly, the short paper assignments provide students with an opportunity to hone their critical thinking and writing skills through the continuous employment of those skills on topics of importance and interest, as well as through feedback gained via processes of peer review, class discussion, and grading.

Class Preparation Assignments

For many of our meetings there is required class preparation work. This usually involves answering questions associated with the material. All such assignments must be typed and printed out, and brought to class on the day given for them in the course schedule.Two sets of questions may be missed without penalty. Such assignments will be graded on an "all or nothing" system, according to the following guidelines:

  1. A serious attempt must be made to complete the assignment in its entirety. Answers like "I don't know", "I couldn't find it", or just leaving a blank space will result in no credit being given for the assignment.
  2. All assignments must be done in complete sentences of standard English, not with bullet points or notes.
  3. All assignments must be done "in your own words"—all this means is that you should not simply copy passages of text down as your answers, but make some attempt to synthesize and explain the material yourself as the assignment dictates.
  4. All assignments must be typed and printed in a reasonable font size, and multiple sheets must be stapled together. Do not use a cover sheet, folder, etc.
  5. You may work together outside of class on the assignments but copying is cheating. Any case of identical answers to the questions will result in the denial of credit to all parties.
  6. Plagiarism is strictly forbidden (see the course policies below).
  7. Remember that these assignments are for your benefit. You will be using them in class and as preparatory exercises for your papers. Put enough effort into them to make them useful in that regard.

Attendance and Participation

Philosophy, by its nature, is a highly discursive subject that requires a great deal of intellectual discipline and individual engagement of students both with the instructor and with each other. Because a community of thinkers is necessary to the enterprise, informed, consistent participation is the single most important component of our class work. Merely coming to class is not enough. The Participation component of the grade is based on two factors: 1) timely attendance to every class meeting, and 2) competent preparation and participation.

Timely Attendance:

Quality participation is impossible if one is absent or habitually late. So regular and timely attendance is expected and attendance will be taken at every class meeting (excepting the first week) via a sign-in sheet that will be circulated by the instructor at the beginning of class. Students in this class shall be allowed two (2) unexcused absences. Unexcused absences exceeding two and excessive lateness in attendance to class shall warrant deductions from the day’s participation grade. Excessive lateness shall be defined for our purposes as arriving at class fifteen minutes or more after class has begun. Excessive lateness and any absences will be excused upon proof of sufficiently extenuating circumstances to the satisfaction of the instructor.

Preparation and Participation:

Quality participation requires that you come to class prepared, and this entails doing the study questions provided for each reading on Blackboard. Although preparation is required, complete understanding is not a prerequisite for participation.

Some examples of how participation credit can be earned:
  • Thoughtful questions about the material
  • Thoughtful comments about the material
  • Philosophically relevant questions or comments, even if they’re not about the material
  • Respectful discussion with one’s colleagues at appropriate times
Some examples of how participation credit can be lost:
  • Being unprepared when called upon
  • Habitual/ Recurring Lateness
  • Inappropriate questions and comments
  • Any behavior that is disrespectful or that distracts from the learning of others.
  • Sleeping
  • Frequently departing from and returning to the classroom while class is in session
  • Text-messaging, web-surfing or otherwise manipulating small electronic devices while class is in session
  • Eating
  • Studying materials for other classes
  • Side discussions

The basic rule is: Good participation moves class discussion forward; poor participation hinders it.

The participation component of the course is intended to measure students’ preparedness, ability to deploy critical thinking skills discursively, and willingness and ability to function collegially with one another and with the instructor for the common purpose of meeting the course objectives.

Final Grade Distribution

Papers 45%
Class Prep Assignments 30%
Attendance and Participation 25%
Total 100%

Course Policies

Conduct Policy

It is expected that all persons in this class will comport themselves with the dignity and respect due to themselves and to their colleagues. This includes coming to class on time, refraining from having side-discussions while lecture is in progress, refraining from studying materials for other classes during lecture, refraining from bringing any food to class, refraining from texting during class, and leaving at home or turning off any and all items that make sudden, disruptive noises, especially cell phones. Please don’t bring children to class unless it is absolutely unavoidable, and if you must do so please notify me in advance as early as possible. Failure to observe these guidelines may result in deductions from the Participation grade.

Late and Make-up Work Policy

Students are accountable for turning in all assigned work on time. As in the "real world" late work is not accepted, ever, for any reason. Please don't ask. The answer is "no". You will be given sufficient time for the completion of all work assigned to you in this class. The opportunity to miss two sets of study questions and two days of class without penalty should compensate for the usual sort of absences. I will not even consider scheduling or accepting make-up assignments unless:

  1. more than two have been missed and
  2. highly unusual, severe, and sufficiently verifiable circumstances have been demonstrated to my satisfaction.

If you know, or suspect that you will be absent on the day that an assignment is due, please notify the instructor as far in advance as possible so that satisfactory alternative arrangements can be made. You cannot expect accommodation on short notice (i.e. phone messages left at 4 AM the morning of class).

Do not e-mail, FAX, or by any other means convey late or early assignments to the instructor without a prior arrangement to do so. Assignments received in such ways will be disregarded.

If you miss class for any reason, it is your responsibility to get the notes from a classmate and familiarize yourself with whatever material you may have missed. I do not give out my notes.

I highly recommend making at least one contact in class who can provide you with notes and assignments in the event that you miss class. In the interest of fairness to all, no make-up work of any

Withdrawal Policy

All withdrawal slips will be signed with no questions asked. Incompletes (grades of “I”) will not be given unless: 1) highly unusual and severe circumstances prevent a student from completing the work necessary to complete the class, 2) enough work has been done, in the instructor’s judgment, to leave only a minimal amount of work remaining for the student to complete, and 3) the student expressly requests a such a grade at least one week before the day scheduled by the College for the final exam.

Plagiarism and Cheating Policy

Plagiarism or cheating on any assignment will not be tolerated for any reason. Should you do either you will receive an “E” for the assignment on the first occasion, and the student’s adviser and the Dean will be informed in accord with Marygrove’s academic standards policy. Repeated offenses will merit stronger disciplinary measures, which the instructor will pursue. Students are encouraged to consult the Academic Honesty policy in the Undergraduate Catalog for more detailed information.


Required Texts

For this class the required texts are:

  1. Michael Walzer, Just and Unjust Wars, (Basic Books)
  2. David Rodin, War and Self-Defense, (Oxford University Press) 2002
  3. Terrorism and International Justice, ed. James Sterba (Oxford University Press) 2002

Students are responsible for timely acquisition of the course texts. Failure to acquire the texts will
adversely affect student preparedness and performance.

Please note:

  • if you choose to order your books online, order them by ISBN to be sure that you get the precise edition(s) we will be using.
  • While no other books are required, it is strongly recommended that you obtain or secure access to a collegiate level dictionary and thesaurus (I recommend the handy combination of both in the Oxford Pocket Dictionary and Thesaurus, American Edition, ISBN 0-19-513097-9), and a style manual for written English such as the classic Elements of Style by Strunk and White (Fourth Edition, Allyn & Bacon, ISBN 0-205-30902) Regular access to and use of such references will be assumed.

Instructor Responsibilities

Grading

Grading is the instructor's responsibility. Students have the right to grades given solely on the merit of the points achieved and weighted as described under the Assignments section of this syllabus. Accordingly, no curves, preset distributions, or other forms of manipulation will be used. All grades will be based solely on the quality of work as reflected in the points achieved. Remember that no one grade says anything about one’s overall intelligence, personal work ethic or personality. A grade (in this class at least) merely reflects performance on the assignments. Concentrate on developing your understanding of the material and the grades will follow.

Grading Scale

The grading scale below will be used to determine all letter grades in this class, including the final grade. It is completely and without exception a non-negotiable item.

A 100% - 94.5% A- 94.4% - 88.9% B+ 88.8% - 85.2%
B 85.1% - 81.5% B- 81.4% - 77.8% C+ 77.7% - 74.1%
C 74.0% - 70.4% C- 70.3% - 66.7% D+ 66.6% - 63.0%
D 62.9% - 59.3% D- 59.2% - 55.6% E 55.5% - 0%

Syllabus Revisions

The instructor bears the sole responsibility to revise any part of this syllabus should it become necessary to do so. Any such revision that takes place will be announced in class with as much advance notice as the circumstances permit. It is the student’s responsibility to remain abreast of any such changes and to alter his or her own workload accordingly. In the absence of any notification to the contrary, students should follow the course plan and reading schedule as given below, or the most recent set of revisions (if any have been made). The silence of this syllabus on any matter that may arise pertaining to this class shall not be construed to indicate that the matter is up for debate. The instructor’s interpretation of this syllabus shall be final and binding.


Communication

Students are welcome to stop by the instructor’s office anytime. Appointments are only necessary for meetings requested at times other than office hours. The most effective way to reach the instructor outside of office hours is by e-mail. Second best is by office phone. The instructor will make every effort to answer reasonable requests for help with class related matters so long as such requests are respectful. Students should be aware that e-mails sent before 9 AM, after 9 PM, or anytime on Sunday will generally not be answered right away. The same goes for phone calls placed during times other than office hours.


Disability Policy

The Instructor will, by arrangement with the student and Disability Support Services (DSS), offer reasonable accomodation for all properly documented, College-recognized disabilities. DSS offers a variety of services and accommodations to students with disabilities based on appropriate documentation, nature of disability, and academic need. In order to initiate services, students should meet with the Coordinator of DSS at the start of the semester to discuss reasonable accommodations. If a student does not request accommodations or provide documentation to DSS, the faculty member is under no obligation to provide academic accommodations. You may contact the Coordinator of DSS at 313-927-1427 or through e-mail at vkillebrew_@_marygrove.edu


Course Plan

Week 1: Course Introduction

Mon.

Weds.

Required Reading: Read this website thoroughly
Required Work: none


Week 2:

Mon.

Required Reading: none
Required Work:

  • The Core Questions will be discussed in class. You can find them on this page under 'Course Information' above. Typed or computer-printed answers to the core questions should be brought to this class meeting. A page or two should suffice for the entire assignment.

Weds.

Required Reading:
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Week 3

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Week 4

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Short Essay #1 is due on this day. See the paper topics for more information.


Week 5

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Week 6

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Short Essay #2 is due on this day. See the paper topics for more information.


Week 7

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Week 8

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Week 9

Mon. and Weds.

Spring Break: No class meetings


Week 10

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Week 11

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Short Essay #3 is due on this day. See the paper topics for more information.


Week 12

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Week 13

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Short Essay #4 is due on this day. See the paper topics for more information.


Week 14

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Week 15

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Week 16: Finals Week

Short Essay #5 will be due in class at the beginning of class on the day scheduled by the College for our final exam. See the paper topics for more information.


Resources


Websites


Bibliography of Useful Sources

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