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Essential Objectives

Course Syllabus

Revision Date: 11-Jun-24

Fall 2024 | PHI-1040-VO03 - Introduction to Ethics

Online Class

Online courses take place 100% online via Canvas, without required in-person or Zoom meetings.

Location: Online
Credits: 3 (45 hours)
Day/Times: Meets online
Semester Dates: 09-03-2024 to 12-16-2024
Last day to drop without a grade: 09-16-2024 - Refund Policy
Last day to withdraw (W grade): 11-04-2024 - Refund Policy
Open Seats: 3 (as of 07-21-24 4:05 PM)
To check live space availability, Search for Courses.


Philip Crossman
View Faculty Credentials
View Faculty Statement
Hiring Coordinator for this course: Candace Lewis

General Education Requirements

This section meets the following CCV General Education Requirement(s) for the current catalog year:
VSCS Humanistic Perspectives
  1. Many degree programs have specific general education recommendations. In order to avoid taking unnecessary classes, please consult with additional resources like your program evaluation, your academic program catalog year page, and your academic advisor.
  2. Courses may only be used to meet one General Education Requirement.

Course Description

This course examines personal and professional issues from an ethical point of view, emphasizing how we decide what is right and wrong in our daily lives. Issues might include: civil rights, health care, political concerns, business decisions, war, and the environment.

Essential Objectives

1. Explain the basic concepts of classical and contemporary theories in ethics as they pertain to right and wrong, the individual and society, objectivity and subjectivity, happiness and suffering, free will, and fate.
2. Discuss the ideas of selected theorists, the methods they used to develop their ideas, and the cultural factors which influenced their theories.
3. Identify and describe the major influences in our society which shape our values.
4. Apply ethical theories of decision making and critical thinking skills to problems of social justice and propose just solutions.
5. Apply the basic concepts of classical and contemporary theories in ethics to the field of business and professional ethics.
6. Develop an ethical framework for defining and addressing issues in one's own life.
7. Describe his or her own decision-making process.

Required Technology

More information on general computer and internet recommendations is available on the CCV IT Support page. https://support.ccv.edu/general/computer-recommendations/

Please see CCV's Digital Equity Statement (pg. 45) to learn more about CCV's commitment to supporting all students access the technology they need to successfully finish their courses.

Required Textbooks and Resources

*** This is a no cost textbook or resource class. ***

This course uses one or more textbooks/books/simulations, along with free Open Educational Resources (OER) and/or library materials.

Fall 2024 textbook/book details will be available on 2024-05-20. On that date a link will be available below that will take you to eCampus, CCV's bookstore. The information provided there will be specific to this class. Please see this page for more information regarding the purchase of textbooks/books.

PHI-1040-VO03 Link to Textbooks for this course in eCampus.

For Open Educational Resources (OER) and/or library materials details, see the Canvas Site for this class.

The last day to use a Financial Aid Advance to purchase textbooks/books is the 3rd Tuesday of the semester. See your financial aid counselor at your academic center if you have any questions.

Artificial Intelligence(AI) Policy Statement

CCV recognizes that artificial intelligence (AI) and generative AI tools are widely available and becoming embedded in many online writing and creative applications.

Allowed: This course's generative AI policy acknowledges technology, including generative AI, plays a supportive role in learning and feedback. During our class, we may use AI writing tools such as ChatGPT in certain specific cases. You will be informed as to when, where, and how these tools are permitted to be used, along with guidance for attribution. Any use outside of these specific cases constitutes a violation of CCV's Academic Integrity Policy.

Specific guidelines about the LEGITIMATE use of AI will be provided in the course preliminaries. Many uses could be regarded as a violation of the academic honesty policy. Please be sure to read those and ask questions if you are left with any ambiguities.


This course aims to familiarize you with the tools that philosophers (and humans generally) use to evaluate moral decisions. More specifically, it is a class that sets out to equip you to make more thoughtful ethical decisions in your own life and in the contexts of the workplaces you chose to work in.

For these reasons, the course relies heavily on class discussion but sets aside a good deal of time for you to work on your own critical thinking skills in solitude. Throughout the course you will be moving between private and public discourse, alternating your attention from what the great moral philosophers of the world have thought in the past, to what your classmates think, to what your instructor thinks, to what you think.

As an asynchronous course, this will require you to be actively present in weekly discussion forums but there is a good deal of reading, reflection, and written communication expected as well. I will be including case studies, videos, primary sources, ethical dilemmas, plays, films, interviews, memoirs, excerpts from novels, journal articles, and a few cartoons to make it fun. Each week, I will provide a variety of resources and a variety of writing options to make it easier for you to find a learning approach and topic that fits your style and interest. A lot of what we do in this class will have immediate relevance to your life and work.

Evaluation Criteria

I. WEEKLY ASSIGNMENTS (40% of the final grade):

Philosophy involves both introspection and extroversion to be done well. Thus, each week, you will be given readings and an assignment to work on and submit no later than Saturday night (earlier is preferred and beneficial to you). In your assignment post, I will expect to see:

A. Demonstrative critical thinking.
B. Specific references to at least three readings and all of the brief introductions.
C. Specific references to your personal experience.
D. Specific references to at least one independently acquired outside source
E. Effectively written English comprising complete coherent sentences.

Points will be automatically deducted for late work without pre-arranged permission unless the practice becomes egregious and then I will announce a zero-tolerance for late work policy and all late work will receive zeros from then on. I prefer to be generous. I know we all have complicated lives but it is imperative to come to the weekly classes prepared.

Please feel free to ask for more direction if the expectations for these requirements are unclear.

II. CONNECTION JOURNALS AND CONVERSATIONS (20% of the final grade): In addition to weekly discussions, you will have the opportunity of journaling throughout much of the course. These journals will be focused on the essential skill of “making connections.” You will be writing about how different aspects of the course relate to one another (readings, class discussions, philosophical viewpoints, videos, instructor feedback, outside research, etc.); about how different ethical theories and philosophers relate to one another and to your own life; about how what you are learning in this course may be connecting to what you are learning in other courses or in previous courses; or about the connections that you make that relate to the real world circumstances of your past, present, or future personal or professional lives.

The key ingredients I will be looking for are density of connections and good writing. Your job is to tell me what you are learning that I may not have set out to teach and to make yourself and me think. These connection journals may be worked on throughout the semester. I will only be going in and evaluating them at the midpoint and final weeks of the class but I may drop in from time to time to see how they are progressing and to engage some of your thinking. The default expectation is that you will be working on them every week though they are graded only twice.

Please feel free to ask for more direction if the expectations for these requirements are unclear. Again, at the risk of telling you just how to do it, my assumption is that you will be contributing at least 5-6 paragraphs a week to these. The description of a minimum should not be mistaken for the ideal.

III. MID-TERM PROJECT (10% of the final grade)

For your mid-term project, I will be giving you a hypothetical case study to read and write about along with an an article that we will be analyzing together. Details on this project will be provided in the Canvas class.

IV. FINAL PROJECT (20% of the final grade): Your final project grade will be based the work you submit on ONE of the three following options:

A. The Issue Report (Learn by Researching and Presenting): The Issue Report provides you with the opportunity to contribute a paper (or video or audio file if you prefer to present) that demonstrates your ability to present two sides of a moral argument. You will use at least six sources to construct three effective arguments on each side of the issue you choose to present. Instructions will be given such that, using the notes that you create (and will submit as a supporting document), you can post the paper or video to class for comment and reflection. If you believe that your future may involve the use of oral or written arguments in front of groups, you might benefit most from this assignment.

B. The Moral Voice Project (Learn by Reflecting and Thinking): The moral voice project is a written assignment that requires you to formulate a “manifesto” for yourself as an ethical being. It should be about six to seven pages in length and can be written in a number of different creative formats. Past students have written letters to themselves as teenagers, letters to their children (ethical wills), responses to the philosophers we have been exposed to, a set of convictions about their personal processes for making decisions, etc. Someone recently wrote their moral voice project as a recipe. I have supplied more ideas in the Canvas course. If you are someone who has really needed an opportunity to clarify for yourself who you are as an ethical person, this might be the perfect introspective assignment for you.

C. The Service Learning Report (Learn by Actively Participating): This assignment is for those of you who like to learn by doing. If this option appeals to you, at some point in time by week TEN of the class, you should have selected a non-profit or charitable organization that you can donate an hour (at least) of your time to (I would be happy to give some suggestions). You will need to do research on the organization and come up with a list of the ethical decisions that it is likely to deal with. You will need to schedule an interview with someone who has served in this organization for at least two years, and you will develop a list of at least ten questions, most of which should deal with issues of an ethical nature that you could ask during that interview. It is perfectly fine if you do not get to them all or if the questions that arise in the course of the interview overtake them. Your report will include information about the organization, what you learn about ethics from your interview and what you learn from your donated time. I will assume that the resulting document will be from four to five pages. If you are a person who likes to learn by going beyond the abstract or if you are a person looking for hands-on experiential learning, this may be the option for you.

V. CLASS PARTICIPATION (10% of the final grade): The course will be set up to accentuate the knowledge that we bring to class to contribute to one another. You will note that every week of the course contains some reading and discussion expectations. Resources have been made available to you each week and clear directions have been given in each weekly module for how to come to the discussion prepared. If you demonstrate your reading preparation in the weekly discussions and you engage thoughtfully and respectfully, you should have little problem acing this part of the course grade. I will take into consideration the contributions you have made (number and quality). The regularity of your journal posts will also be considered. Unexcused absences may be considered. Please feel free to ask for more specifics if the expectations for participation are unclear.

Please know that it is my goal for you all to succeed in meeting the above challenges. I have tried to provide options so that you always have something relevant that you can do to demonstrate your learning. At every point, I will seek to model the engaged thinking that I am looking for and you will have clear directions about how to get the support you need to meet the challenges. I hope we have some fun getting to know one another along the way.

Grading Criteria

CCV Letter Grades as outlined in the Evaluation System Policy are assigned according to the following chart:

A Less than 9893
A-Less than 9390
B+Less than 9088
B Less than 8883
B-Less than 8380
C+Less than 8078
C Less than 7873
C-Less than 7370
D+Less than 7068
D Less than 6863
D-Less than 6360
FLess than 60 
NPLess than 600

Weekly Schedule

Week/ModuleTopic  Readings  Assignments




Readings in Canvas

  • Preliminary Course Instructions
  • E-Book Chapter: Cheating: Ethics in Every Day Life
  • Introductions Forum (reflections on reading required)


Decision-Making and the Instinctual and Emotional Self


Readings in Canvas

  • Weekly Overview and Brief Introductions to the Instinctual and Emotional Self
  • Thomas Hobbes "On the State of Nature"
  • Wolf Larson in Jack London's "The Sea Wolf"
  • 5th Grade Nazi Biology Textbook
  • Bradwell v. Illinois (1873)
  • Book Review on J.J. Rousseau's novel, "Julie the New Heloise"
  • Ellen Key's "The Morality of Woman"
  • Discussion Forum
  • Q&A Forum
  • Connection Journaling


Decision-Making and the Volitional and Social Selves


Readings in Canvas:

  • Weekly Overview and Brief Introductions to the Volitional Self and the Social Self
  • Manual of Epictetus the Stoic and Marcus Aurelius
  • "Timsul" Book Review on John Steinbeck's "East of Eden"
  • Heroditus: "Custom is King"
  • Article: "The Shadow Scholar"
  • Article: "Moral Cars"
  • Discussion Forum
  • Q&A Forum
  • Connection Journaling


Decision-Making and the Spiritual and Rational Selves


Readings in Canvas:

  • Weekly Overview and Brief Introductions to the Spiritual and Rational Selves
  • Excerpts from the Bhagavad Gita
  • Genesis 22: The Sacrifice of Isaac
  • Jesus: The Sermon on the Mount
  • Immanuel Kant: "What is Enlightenment?"
  • Ayn Rand's Objectivism
  • Ayn Rand on Reason
  • Discussion Forum
  • Q&A Forum
  • Connection Journaling


The Ethics of Egoism and Care


Readings in Canvas:

  • Week Five Overview and Brief Introductions to Egoism and Care
  • Machiavelli's "The Prince"
  • Nietzsche's "Slave Moralities"
  • Ayn Rand and Mike Wallace Interview
  • Carol Gilligan "In a Different Voice"
  • Susan Glaspell's "Trifles"
  • Ambrose Bierce's "Horseman in the Sky"
  • Discussion Forum
  • Q&A Forum
  • Connection Journaling


The Ethics of Justice and Identity


Readings in Canvas:

  • Weekly Overview and Brief Introductions to the Polis (Justice) and Identitarian Ethics
  • Plato's "The Republic"
  • Article: "Natural Family Values"
  • Film: The Mosquito Coast
  • Cecil Rhodes "Confession"
  • Roosevelt and Strong "Winning of the West," etc.
  • Donald Trump "Inaugural (Jan 20, 2017)
  • Discussion Forum
  • Q&A Forum
  • Connection Journal Writing


Utilitarian and Environmental Ethics


Readings in Canvas:

  • Week Seven Overview and Brief Introductions to Utilitarianism and Environmental Ethics
  • Bentham and Mill on Utilitarianism
  • Peter Singer "The Singer Solution to World Poverty"
  • Ursula Le Guin's "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas"
  • Article: The Challenge of Environmental Ethics
  • Peter Singer's "All Animals are Equal"
  • Discussion Forum
  • Q&A Forum
  • Connection Journaling (Journal #1 Graded End of Week 7)




Reading in Canvas:

  • Melanie Tannenbaum's "Intent v. Impact"
  • Case Study Response Assignment
  • Connection Journaling


The Ethics of Religion and Legalism


Readings in Canvas:

  • Week Nine Overview and Brief Introductions
  • Readings in Comparative Religious Ethics
  • Han Fei-Tzu Legalist Views on Good Government
  • The Analects of Confucius
  • Discussion Forum
  • Q&A Forum
  • Connection Journaling


The Ethics of Virtue and Purpose


Readings in Canvas

  • Week Ten Overview and Brief Introductions to Virtue Ethics and Teleological Ethics
  • Aristotle on Ethics
  • Joshua Chamberlain "Speech at Gettysburg"
  • Mark Twain "Huck Finn Wrestles with His Conscience"
  • Film Scenes: "The Emperor's Club"
  • William James on Habits
  • Video: Thomas Aquinas
  • Article "Your Point Is"
  • Aristotle and Aquinas and "Human Vitae"
  • Discussion Forum
  • Q&A Forum
  • Connection Journaling
  • Final Project: Submit a Plan


The Ethics of Duty and Rights


Readings in Canvas:

  • Week Eleven Overview and Brief Introductions to the Ethics of Duty and Rights
  • Immanuel Kant and the Moral Law
  • Video: Crash Course: Categorical Imperative
  • PowerPoint Presentation: Ethics of Rights
  • Film Excerpt "If These Walls Could Talk"
  • Article: Reproductive Rights "Privacy Law: 1891 to Present"
  • Discussion Forum
  • Q&A Forum
  • Connection Journaling
  • Final Project Work


The Ethics of Pragmatism


Readings in Canvas:

  • Week Twelve Overview and Brief Introduction to Pragmatism
  • William James' "Habit"
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson "Self Reliance"
  • Alexis De Tocqueville's "Philosophy of the Americans"
  • Discussion Forum
  • Q&A Forum
  • Connection Journaling
  • Final Project Work


Corporate Ethics


Readings in Canvas:

  • Brief Introduction to Corporate Ethics
  • PowerPoint: Corporate Ethics Presentation
  • Video: Life & Debt
  • Film Scenes: Margin Call
  • Film Clip: "Why B Corps Matter"
  • Discussion Forum "The Democracy is for People Amendment"
  • Q&A Forum
  • Connection Journaling
  • Final Project Work


Bioethics AND/OR Ethics in Literature, Music, Film, Music, and Television


Readings in Canvas:

  • Brief Introduction to Bioethics, Environmental Ethics, and Media
  • Human Gene Editing
  • Dred Scott and Stem Cells
  • Insect Control
  • Science Fiction Ethics
  • Final Project Work
  • Discussion Forum: Bioethics and Media
  • Q&A Forum
  • Connection Journaling (Journal # 2 Graded at the End of Week 14)
  • Final Project Work



  • Final Project Instructions
  • Final Project Submissions
  • Taking Leave Forum (Required)
  • Course Evaluations (Strongly Encouraged)

Attendance Policy

Regular attendance and participation in classes are essential for success in and are completion requirements for courses at CCV. A student's failure to meet attendance requirements as specified in course descriptions will normally result in a non-satisfactory grade.

  • In general, missing more than 20% of a course due to absences, lateness or early departures may jeopardize a student's ability to earn a satisfactory final grade.
  • Attending an on-ground or synchronous course means a student appeared in the live classroom for at least a meaningful portion of a given class meeting. Attending an online course means a student posted a discussion forum response, completed a quiz or attempted some other academically required activity. Simply viewing a course item or module does not count as attendance.
  • Meeting the minimum attendance requirement for a course does not mean a student has satisfied the academic requirements for participation, which require students to go above and beyond simply attending a portion of the class. Faculty members will individually determine what constitutes participation in each course they teach and explain in their course descriptions how participation factors into a student's final grade.

Participation Expectations

This class does have a participation grade and there are specific elements to the way it is calculated. The following practices will insure a better learning experience for all and a better participation grade for you:

  • Posting earlier in the week rather than later when at all possible.
  • Demonstrating your preparation in your writing (that is, making ample use of the assigned readings when making arguments).
  • Demonstrated concern for clear writing (proofing, spelling, punctuation, paragraph breaks, thesis statement, introduction, conclusion, etc.)
  • Providing the class and/or instructor with thought provoking questions each week
  • Logging in to provide constructive feedback on a regular basis throughout the week and not just at the end.
  • Setting aside time each week for journaling and using the journal as a way to pursue your individual learning goals related to the subject.

Missing & Late Work Policy

It should be understood that the weekly discussions are intended to approximate the work and community building that would take place in a 2 hr and 45 minute classroom each week. Just as you would not get in the habit of showing up to a class in the last five minutes to hand in homework, it is short-sighted to think that you can "show up" to an online discussion ten minutes before the week is over to "drop off" some thoughts. I have provided a Sat. night deadline to your weekly essay but this is not a statement of preference. Posting earlier in the week gives your peers and I a chance to reflect on your ideas and give you feedback. Points are taken off for work submitted late. I do understand that we all have lives but you should not expect any work posted more than a week late to receive more than a zero though I will read it. Discussion forums are built as places to converse, not simply drop off work. Your consideration for this ideal is appreciated.

Experiential Learning Expectations

Hours: 1-5

This course has an OPTIONAL service learning based final project. All students are given three final project options to choose from and one of them is a service learning project that involves donating 1-2 hours of time to a non-profit of your choice and conducting an interview with a supervising staff member there that deals with the ethical ramification of that particular non-profit's work. Details will be supplied in the Canvas class.

Accessibility Services for Students with Disabilities:

CCV strives to mitigate barriers to course access for students with documented disabilities. To request accommodations, please
  1. Provide disability documentation to the Accessibility Coordinator at your academic center. https://ccv.edu/discover-resources/students-with-disabilities/
  2. Request an appointment to meet with accessibility coordinator to discuss your request and create an accommodation plan.
  3. Once created, students will share the accommodation plan with faculty. Please note, faculty cannot make disability accommodations outside of this process.

Academic Integrity

CCV has a commitment to honesty and excellence in academic work and expects the same from all students. Academic dishonesty, or cheating, can occur whenever you present -as your own work- something that you did not do. You can also be guilty of cheating if you help someone else cheat. Being unaware of what constitutes academic dishonesty (such as knowing what plagiarism is) does not absolve a student of the responsibility to be honest in his/her academic work. Academic dishonesty is taken very seriously and may lead to dismissal from the College.