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.


  • Sean Whitton <>
  • 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
    • four or five video lectures (posted throughout the week).
  4. Unit 3 will contain
    • three reading assignments; and
    • three video lectures (posted throughout the week).
  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 the instructor’s reply.
    • 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. Note that there is no daylight savings time in Tucson, so take care with your calculations.

  • Tuesday 15th May, 3pm–4pm MST
  • Wednesday 16th May, 3pm–4pm MST
  • Thursday 17th May, 3pm–4pm MST
  • Friday 18th May, 3pm–4pm MST
  • Monday 21st May, 3pm–4pm MST
  • Tuesday 22nd May, 3pm–4pm MST
  • Friday 25th May, 11am–12pm MST
  • Tuesday 29th May, 11am–12pm MST
  • Wednesday 30th May, 11am–12pm MST
  • Thursday 31st May, 11am–1pm MST
  • Friday 1st June, 11am–12pm 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.



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


  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.
  • 18th 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.
  • 25th 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.
  • 1st June: unit 3 quiz due by midnight.
  • 2nd June (last day of classes): final paper due by midnight.

UA-mandated notices