PHIL 322 pre-session: Business Ethics

In this course we seek to apply philosophical methodology to the ethical issues that arise from business in a globalised world.

You will gain an understanding of the relevant ethical and economic issues, and improve your ability to philosophically analyse the issues in writing.

Instructor

  • Sean Whitton <spwhitton@email.arizona.edu>
  • Internet office hours: see “Course Communications” below

During the course, I expect to respond to all e-mails within 24 hours.

Course Format and Teaching Methods

The structure and content of the course will be as follows:

  1. There are three units.
  2. We will study one unit per week.
  3. Units 1 and 2 will contain
    • five reading assignments; and
    • five (unit 1) or four-and-a-half (unit 2) video lectures.
  4. Unit 3 will contain
    • three reading assignments; and
    • three video lectures.
  5. Unit 3 is shorter so you have time to work on your final paper.
  6. For each reading assignment I will post discussion questions.
  7. You should make two discussion posts in the first week and two discussion posts in the second week.
    • one post should either:
      • respond to my discussion questions; or
      • post your own discussion question, and respond to it; and
    • the other post should respond to another student’s post or to one of the instructor’s replies.
    • Each post should be of at least 200 words.
  8. You should make one discussion post in the final week. You can either:
    • respond to my discussion questions; or
    • post your own discussion question, and respond to it; or
    • respond to another student’s discussion contribution.
    • Your post should be of at least 200 words.
  9. On the final day of each unit there will be a multiple-choice quiz on the content of the unit, due by midnight on Friday.
  10. You should also write a final paper answering the essay prompt posted.

In a face-to-face class I can look at the faces of my students and judge how well they are following the material. Even if I asked each of you to send me a selfie for every day of the course, I can’t make that kind of judgment over the Internet. So you need to let me know immediately if you think you’re falling behind. I want to help you, but you need to keep me informed.

You must have a reliable computer and Internet connection available to participate. I won’t accept computer problems as an excuse for missing any deadlines—it’s impossible for me to verify your claims.

I recommend completing the reading assignments by Thursday of each week. Then you can spend Friday reviewing the parts you didn’t understand, in preparation for the quiz. Your schedule during each unit is up to you, though.

I will provide further guidance on the final paper on D2L.

There will be no extra credit.

General Information on Taking a Philosophy Course

Philosophy is not like other subjects. Please review my notes on taking a philosophy course.

Late Registration

Since this is a pre-session course, you cannot register after the first 48 hours of the course.

Course Communications

News about the course will be posted on the D2L course homepage. Please enable D2L e-mail notifications and/or check the D2L course homepage regularly.

I will hold Internet office hours using video conferencing software at the following times on the following days. You should visit this page to join the call. The password is available on D2L. At other times I will be available by e-mail. I will try to reply to all e-mails within 24 hours.

”MST” means “Mountain Standard Time”—that’s Tucson’s timezone, all year round. For the duration of this course, it’s equal with Pacific time. Do not confuse with “Mountain time” or “Mountain Daylight Time” (MDT), which Tucson does not observe.

  • Monday 13th May, 3pm–4pm MST
  • Tuesday 14th May, 4pm–5pm MST
  • Wednesday 15th May, 4pm–5pm MST
  • Thursday 16th May, 4pm–5pm MST
  • Friday 17th May, 4pm–5pm MST
  • Monday 20th May, 4pm–5pm MST
  • Tuesday 21st May, 4pm–5pm MST
  • Wednesday 22nd May, 4pm–5pm MST
  • Thursday 23rd May, 4pm–5pm MST
  • Friday 24th May, 4:45pm–6pm MST
  • Monday 27th May, 4pm–5pm MST
  • Wednesday 29th May, 4pm–5pm MST
  • Thursday 30th May, 4pm–5pm MST
  • Friday 31st May, 4pm–6pm MST

If none of these times suit you, please e-mail me and we can arrange something else.

Required Text

Business Ethics and Ethical Business, by Robert Audi, published by Oxford University Press (2009). Available through the UA Bookstore, or possibly cheaper online. Please let me know if you have any difficulty obtaining this book.

The university library has a subscription to an electronic version of this book. However, the university cannot guarantee that this ebook will remain available for the duration of our course. So you must purchase your own copy of the book. If there is some delay in the delivery of your copy, you can use the electronic version in the interim. (I asked the library if they could guarantee the ebook would remain available, but unfortunately they cannot.)

There will be additional readings on D2L; see “Course Schedule”, below.

Grading

Scale

  • 90%+: grade A
  • 80%+: grade B
  • 70%+: grade C
  • 60%+: grade D
  • Less than 60%: grade E

Breakdown

  1. Unit 1 multiple choice quiz: 20%
  2. Unit 2 multiple choice quiz: 20%
  3. Unit 3 multiple choice quiz: 20%
  4. Participation in online discussions: 10%
  5. Final paper: 30%.

Late work

Late work will not be accepted.

Course Schedule

”Audi” means our required text, Business Ethics and Ethical Business. The * character indicates that a PDF will be posted to D2L.

Unit 1: Introduction to ethical thinking about business

  • Reading assignments for this unit:
    1. *Singer: Famine, Affluence and Morality
    2. *Schmidtz: Islands in a Sea of Obligation
    3. Audi, chs. 1–2
    4. Audi, ch. 6 and case study 10 (pp. 139–140)
    5. Audi, ch. 11 and case studies 8 & 11 (pp. 137–8, 140–1)
  • Optional additional reading:
    • Audi, chs. 3–4
  • Watch five video lectures.
  • Post two discussion contributions.
  • 17th May: unit 1 quiz due by midnight.

Unit 2: Business ethics in a globalised world

  • Reading assignments for this unit:
    1. *Hayek: The Use of Knowledge in Society
    2. *Zwolinski: The Ethics of Price Gouging. Also look ahead to Audi, ch. 13, pp. 123–4.
    3. *”A fare shake”, The Economist, 14th May 2016
    4. *Satz: The Moral Limits of Markets: The Case of Human Kidneys, pp. 269–277 only
    5. Audi, chs. 12–13 and case studies 2 and 16 (pp. 133–4, 143–4)
  • Optional additional reading:
    • *”Pricing the surge”, The Economist, 29th March 2014
    • Audi, chs. 5, 7
  • Watch four-and-a-half video lectures.
    • There are two lectures for Hayek. The second lecture is short.
  • Post two discussion contribution.
  • 24th May: unit 2 quiz due by midnight.

Unit 3: Employees and employment

  • Reading assignments for this unit:
    1. *Marx: Alienation
    2. Audi, ch. 9 and case studies 8, 14 and 15 (pp. 137–8, 142–3)
    3. Audi, chs. 10 & 14 and case study 6 (pp. 136–7)
  • Optional additional reading:
    • Audi, ch. 8
  • Watch three video lectures.
  • Post one discussion contribution.
  • 31st May: unit 3 quiz due by midnight.
  • 1st June (last day of classes): final paper due by midnight.

UA-mandated notices

https://academicaffairs.arizona.edu/syllabus-policies

Absence and Class Participation

The UA’s policy concerning Class Attendance, Participation, and Administrative Drops is available at: http://catalog.arizona.edu/policy/class-attendance-participation-and-administrative-drop

The UA policy regarding absences for any sincerely held religious belief, observance or practice will be accommodated where reasonable, http://policy.arizona.edu/human-resources/religious-accommodation-policy

Absences for groups of more than three students that are pre-approved by the UA Dean of Students (or Dean Designee) will be honored. See: http://policy.arizona.edu/employmenthuman-resources/attendance

Threatening Behavior Policy

The UA Threatening Behavior by Students Policy prohibits threats of physical harm to any member of the University community, including to oneself. See http://policy.arizona.edu/education-and-student-affairs/threatening-behavior-students

Accessibility and Accommodations

At the University of Arizona we strive to make learning experiences as accessible as possible. If you anticipate or experience physical or academic barriers based on disability or pregnancy, you are welcome to let me know so that we can discuss options. You are also encouraged to contact Disability Resources (520) 621-3268 to explore reasonable accommodation.

If our class meets at a campus location, please be aware that the accessible table and chairs in this room should remain available for students who find that standard classroom seating is not usable. See http://drc.arizona.edu/instructors/syllabus-statement

Code of Academic Integrity

Students are encouraged to share intellectual views and discuss freely the principles and applications of course materials. However, graded work/exercises must be the product of independent effort unless otherwise instructed. Students are expected to adhere to the UA Code of Academic Integrity as described in the UA General Catalog. See: http://deanofstudents.arizona.edu/codeofacademicintegrity and http://deanofstudents.arizona.edu/academic-integrity/students/academic-integrity

Nondiscrimination and Anti-Harassment Policy

The University is committed to creating and maintaining an environment free of discrimination; see http://policy.arizona.edu/human-resources/nondiscrimination-and-anti-harassment-policy

Subject to Change Statement

Information contained in the course syllabus, other than the grade and absence policy, may be subject to change with advance notice, as deemed appropriate by the instructor; see http://policy.arizona.edu/faculty-affairs-and-academics/course-syllabus-policy-undergraduate-template