AP/MODR1760 6.0 B: Reasoning About Morality and Values

Offered by: MODR


Fall 2019






Calendar Description / Prerequisite / Co-Requisite

This is a skills-based course focusing on critical thinking, critical writing, and logical and linguistic analysis. The course uses examples drawn from areas in the humanities where value judgements are made. Different sections will stress different topics in ethics, aesthetics, religion or law. Course credit exclusions: AP/MODR 1730 6.00, AP/MODR 1770 6.00.

Course Website

Many courses utilize Moodle, York University's course website system. If your course is using Moodle, refer to the image below to access it.

    Additional Course Instructor/Contact Details

Dr. Patrick J.J. Phillips


Office Location:  S401A Ross

Phone Number:  (416) 736-2100 Ext. 33624

Office hours: Tuesday 10.15 -11.15 a.m. (or by appointment).

    Expanded Course Description

This is a problem-based course where students will be required to assess ethical issues and questions of value from historical, political, economic, and ethical approaches.  Emphasis will be placed on providing explicit instruction in critical analytical thought, and its communication orally and in writing.  The resulting critical skills gained are foundational in character and the analytical techniques employed will be exportable to other courses.   Students will apply a range of theories and methods to modern problems in contemporary and classical texts in order to gain an understanding of the texts, to appreciate the context within which they are set, and to engage with the texts in critical ways.  Emphasis will also be placed on investigating contemporary Canadian social issues. Topics may include, but are not limited to, the environment, terrorism, animal rights, and globalization.

    Required Course Text / Readings

Contemporary Moral Problems by James E. White

Paperback: 544 pages

10th edition (January 1, 2011)

Publisher: Wadsworth Publishing

ISBN-10: 0840033788

ISBN-13: 978-0840033789


The Power of Critical Thinking by Chris MacDonald and Lewis Vaughn

4th Canadian Edition  (5th Edition is also permitted).

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 978-0-19-901868-0

    Weighting of Course


Test 1 Fall: 25% In class (Tuesday, September 24, 2019)

Test 2 Fall: 20% In class (Tuesday, October 22, 2019)

Test 3 Winter: 30% In class (Tuesday, November 12, 2019)

Test 4 Winter: 20% In class (Thursday November 28, 2019)

    Organization of the Course

Experiential Learning


  • This is NOT an online course and there is NO website.  Students are required to discuss and debate issues, and to be active, not passive, participants of learning.
  • Those students who do not wish to discuss and debate their ideas are strongly discouraged from joining this course.
  • This course is an exercise in experiential learning, where discussions and debates will form the forefront of pedagogy.
  • This course is multidisciplinary and, where appropriate, interdisciplinary, in character. A concatenation of approaches and texts include, but are not be limited to, humanities, social science, natural science, politics, and moral philosophy.
  • Students should come to classes and tutorials (if applicable) reading-prepared, with questions and discussion points.


Reading List(s)


  • While reading lists will be distributed throughout the course, they serve as a general guide only and are subject to change.
  • Students are expected to read all assigned readings twice and complete all the textbook exercises (if applicable).
  • Readings will be announced on a class-to-class basis. This enables the course director to customize the curriculum by taking into account the progress of the discussions, and the interests and needs of the students, in each class.
  • Students who miss a class or tutorial (if applicable) should obtain all notes and handouts, and find out the assigned readings for the next class or tutorial (if applicable), from a classmate.




  • Classes and tutorials (if applicable) will feature discussions and debates. Formal debate(s) may form part of the course assessment.  Therefore, attendance at all classes and tutorials (if applicable) is a pre-requisite for success in the course.
  • An official sign-in sheet will be circulated for each in-class assessment (such as exams, tests, debates, etc.). Students are required to sign in on the official sign-in sheet before they leave the room.  If there is no signature for a student on the official sign-in sheet, the student is presumed to be absent. 
  • Debates require active student participation both as debaters and audience members. Therefore, for any debate that forms part of the formal assessment, students must attend the entire duration of the class or tutorial (if applicable), even if the students are not scheduled to speak the entire time.  Otherwise, the students will be deemed absent and receive a grade of zero for the debate.  




  • The course director has the sole and absolute discretion on the format and content of all assessments. Exams and tests may be based on the assigned readings (including, but not limited to, any exercises in the texts), assigned films, lectures, and/or in-class debates and discussions.
  • To ensure fairness and impartiality for the benefit and protection of all students, and to safeguard academic integrity, grades are not subject to bargaining or negotiation.
  • Students may formally request a reappraisal of their final grades to the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies. It is the students’ responsibility to obtain, complete, and submit all applicable documents within the required time frame in accordance with the University’s requirements.
  • A grade reappraisal may result in the original grade being raised, lowered or confirmed.


Late or Missed Assignments and Assessments



  • All assignments are due at the beginning of class, in class, on the due dates.
  • Assignments must be submitted in hard copies. Submissions by fax and email are not
  • Students who are not able to submit assignments in class should submit a hard copy to the Philosophy Department (South Ross, 4/F). Students should have the Department “date and time stamped” the assignment as proof of when the assignment was submitted.
  • For late submissions, a 5% per calendar day grade reduction will apply, unless accompanied by a doctor’s note, court-date note, or other official document detailing a serious matter.
  • Students must notify the course director in writing of late submissions within 24 hours of the due date and time, or as soon as possible if a serious matter applies, or as the University otherwise requires.


Make-up or Alternate Assessments

  • Make-up or alternate assessments are not guaranteed.
  • If the course director has agreed to grant a mark-up or alternate assessment, the course director has the sole and absolute discretion on the format and content of the assessment (e.g. a make-up exam, take-home essay, etc.).
  • Deferred standing may be granted to undergraduate students who are unable to write their final exam at the scheduled time or submit their outstanding work on the last day of classes.
  • To apply for deferred standing, students must submit the Final Exam/Assignment Deferred Standing Agreement form, Attending Physician's Statement (if applicable), and all supporting documents to the course director in accordance with the University’s requirements.
  • To make up for a missed exam not held during the formal exam period, students must make alternate arrangements directly with the course director to write the exam within the duration of the course at the course director’s discretion.
  • It is the students’ responsibility to obtain, complete, and submit all applicable documents within the required time frame in accordance with the University’s requirements.


Reasonable Accommodation


  • The course director and tutorial leader(s) (if applicable) are committed to providing reasonable accommodation in accordance with the University’s requirements, and federal and provincial legislations.
  • Please contact the course director as early as possible with any request for reasonable accommodation. The course director cannot help if he is not aware of the need to do so.
  • Here are some of the resources available to students (the information is subject to change from time to time – please consult the University’s website for the latest information):
    • Centre for Aboriginal Student Services: 246 York Lanes, 416-736-5571
    • Centre for Human Rights, 416-736-5682, rights@yorku.ca
    • Learning Disability Services, W128 Bennett Centre for Student Services, 416-736-5383
    • Learning Skills Services – S172 Ross Building, 416-736-5144
    • Mental Health Disability Services, N110 Bennett Centre for Student Services, 416-736-5350
    • Personal Counselling Services: N110, Bennett Centre for Student Services, 416-736-5297
    • Physical, Sensory and Medical Disability Services, N108 Ross Building, 416-736-5140
    • Writing Centre for the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Students Writing Department, S329 Ross Building, 416-736-5134


Use Of Smart Phones And Laptops


  • To achieve the learning goals, it is vital that students not only be physically present at classes and tutorials (if applicable), but that they actively participate in discussions and debates.


Smart Phones

  • The use of smart phones is strongly discouraged during classes and tutorials (if applicable). Their use impedes discussions and debates, and is discourteous and distracting to the others.
  • Smart phones are to be silenced during classes and tutorials (if applicable).
  • Smart phones must be turned off completely during all in-class assessments.



  • While laptops are allowed during classes and tutorials (if applicable) for legitimate educational purposes, they must not impede discussions and debates, and must not distract others.


Email Correspondence


  • The email address of the course director is pjjp@yorku.ca.
  • The subject line of all emails must contain the student’s full name, student number, course name, and section number.
  • All emails must be professional, clear, and coherent. Avoid instant text messaging terms, inappropriate language, emoticons, and poor composition.
  • While the course director endeavours to review all emails in a timely manner, emails sent after 5 pm on a business day, and emails sent on weekends and statutory holidays, may be reviewed on the next business day.


Office Hours And Privacy


  • The course director’s office hours are stated on the course outline sent to all students via Moodle.
  • Appointments outside of the office hours may be arranged with the course director by email.
  • To ensure confidentiality, privacy, and the efficient running of classes, all course-related business (e.g. requests for make-up, alternate assessments, or accommodations, etc.) must be discussed during the course director’s office hours in his office, and not immediately before, during, or immediately after a class.
  • Students who discuss any matter with the course director or a tutorial leader (if applicable) in a non-private space must understand that confidentiality or privacy may be compromised because the discussions may be overheard, recorded, or distributed by third parties.


Recording And Distribution Of Course Materials; And Visitors


  • Any recording – audio, video, or digital – of classes, tutorials, or any other teaching environment by students is only allowed with the prior written consent of the course director and tutorial leader (if applicable), or as a part of an approved accommodation plan.
  • All contents – digital or otherwise – created or used within the context of the course is to be used solely by the students for their individual educational purpose. They are not to be used, reproduced, or distributed for any other purpose without the prior written consent of the content author(s).
  • Each class and tutorial (if applicable) is a forum for learning, not social hangouts. Students currently enrolled in the course who wish to invite a visitor to a class or tutorial (if applicable) (e.g. the visitor wishes to audit the course for future enrolment) must receive the prior consent of the course director or tutorial leader (if applicable).
    Course Learning Objectives

Students who successfully complete this course will acquire the following skills:

  • improve their knowledge of classical and contemporary social scientific and ethical theories, and apply these theories critically and grow their analytical skills for application throughout their undergraduate experience.
  • discuss and debate issues respectfully and critically, both orally and in writing.
  • spoken and written eloquence, listening skills, and ability to argue their position, through i) argument, ii) logic (including the fallacies), iii) rhetoric, and iv) practical application of skills gained in debates.  
  • identify, synthesize, and record relevant and important concepts in note-taking.
  • take responsibility for their learning, and comply with all rules and regulations, as preparation for graduate studies and the work force.
    Additional Information / Notes



  • The policy on academic honesty is an affirmation and clarification for members of the University of the general obligation to maintain the highest standards of academic honesty.  As a clear sense of academic honesty and responsibility is fundamental to good scholarship, the policy recognizes the general responsibility of all faculty members to foster acceptable standards of academic conduct and of the student to be mindful of and abide by such standards.
  • Academic honesty requires that persons do not falsely claim credit for the ideas, writing or other intellectual property of others, either by presenting such works as their own or through impersonation.  Similarly, academic honesty requires that persons do not cheat (attempt to gain an improper advantage in an academic evaluation), nor attempt or actually alter, suppress, falsify or fabricate any research data or results, official academic record, application or document.
  • Suspected breaches of academic honesty will be investigated and charges shall be laid if reasonable and probable grounds exist.  A student who is charged with a breach of academic honesty shall be presumed innocent until, based upon clear and compelling evidence, a committee determines the student has violated the academic honesty standards of the university.  A finding of academic misconduct will lead to the range of penalties described in the guidelines which accompany this policy.  In some cases, the University regulations on non-academic discipline may apply.  A lack of familiarity with the Senate Policy and Guidelines on Academic Honesty on the part of a student does not constitute a defence against their application.  Some academic offences constitute offences under the Criminal Code of Canada; a student charged under University regulations may also be subject to criminal charges.  Charges may also be laid against York University students for matters which arise at other educational institutions.
    Relevant Links / Resources