David W. Agler


This first-year seminar in philosophy provides an introduction to some foundational concepts in moral theory before covering two topics in bioethics. These topics include the ethical use of drugs for recreational, therapeutic, and enhancement purposes and whether abortion is ethically permissible. In addressing the fundamental concepts in moral theory, students will discuss and evaluate possible answers to questions such as the following: what makes an action right or wrong? under what conditions is it morally permissible to use drugs? what constitutes a person? does a fetus have rights? do we have any duties or ethical commitments to unborn children?


Summer 2013


Introduction to Ethics

H0: Elements of Reasoning
H1: What is Ethics & Three Cases for Consideration
H2: Cultural Relativism
H3: Ethical Subjectivism & Emotivism
H4: Morality & Religion
H5: Ethical Egoism
H6: Utilitarianism
H7: Absolute Moral Rules
H8: Kantian Ethics

Drugs, Therapy & Enhancement

H0: Questions to Consider in Applying Ethical Theories
H1: Human Flourishing, Performance, and Ritalin
H2s: Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs): Kinds, Methods, & Bodies
H3: The Ethics of PEDs #1
H3s: The 100m Dash Game (the Handout)
H3s: The 100m Dash Game (the Student-Runners Guide)
H3s: The 100m Dash Game (Instructional Handout)
H4: The Ethics of PEDs #2
H5: The Ethics of PEDs #3
H6: The Ethics of Medical Marijuana
H7: The Ethics of Recreational Marijuana
H8: Marijuana and the Ethics of Enforcement


H1: Introduction to the Ethics of Abortion
H7: Abortion of Persons
H7.1: Thompson's Analogies
H7.2: Criticisms of Thompson's Analogies
H7.3: Special Duties to Children & Comparative Burdens
H8: Abortion and Hard Cases
H8.1: Hard Cases for the Pro-Life Position
H8.2: Hard Cases for the Pro-Choice Position

Before teaching the topic of abortion, I used Google Forms to collect data on which particular issue in the discussion of abortion. The results seemed to indicate that they were less interested in the metaphysics of persons and more interested in debates about whether (and the conditions under which) it was morally permissible to kill the fetus.