AP/MODR1760 6.0 D: 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

Professor S. Rodde


Office Location:  S417 Ross

Phone Number:  (416) 736-2100 Ext. 40901

Office Hours:  TBA

    Expanded Course Description

Virtually every human being uses arguments because virtually every human being discusses claims with the aim of defending their own positions and attacking those of others. The ability to detect bad arguments and to construct good ones is a skill which can be developed methodically. Through an examination of popular and scholarly articles, online media, film, and other sources, students will acquire the conceptual tools to recognize, evaluate, formulate and attack arguments in their written, oral and group work.

This course focuses on moral reasoning and students will have the opportunity to apply their skills in discussions about substantive moral issues. But many of the skills needed to construct good moral arguments are broadly applicable, and students will gain some familiarity with other types of reasoning, such as that which we find in political discourse and in the social sciences.

    Required Course Text / Readings

Govier, Trudy. A Practical Study of Argument, 7th edition. Belmont: Thomson-Wadsworth, 2010.


Govier, Trudy. A Practical Study of Argument, Enhanced 7th edition. Belmont: Thomson-Wadsworth, 2013.

The e-book version of these texts is also acceptable

Links to additional readings will be posted on Moodle

    Weighting of Course

Quizzes (Best 5 out of 6). . . . . . . . . . 15%

Homework (20) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10%

Assignments (2). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20%

Essay. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20%

Debate (group assignment) . . . . . . . .10%

Debate Essay (group assignment). . .10%

Final Exam . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15%

    Organization of the Course


    Course Learning Objectives

This course has two main objectives. The first is to develop skills, including:


  • The ability to critically evaluate what you read and hear
  • The ability to present your position in a clear, concise and persuasive manner, both orally and in your written work
  • The ability to engage in civil discourse with others, including those who disagree with your views

The second is to establish a good foundation for moral reasoning. Students will become familiar with:


  • The types of arguments that are most frequently encountered in moral discourse such as analogical, conductive and syllogistic reasoning
  • The theoretical framework for constructing moral arguments, including consequentialist and principle-based reasoning, as well as virtue-based and non-traditional approaches to moral discourse.
    Additional Information / Notes


Six quizzes will be held throughout the year. The first quiz will cover the material from the first two chapters of the text and each subsequent quiz will focus on the material covered since the previous quiz Your overall grade will be based on the marks from your best five quizzes.


Students will submit two assignments, one each term. The topics for these assignments will be given in class.

Dialectical Essay:

Every student is expected to submit a short essay. The topics for the essay will be given in class. The essay should be no more than1800 words in length and will have two parts. In the first part you will develop an argument for your position. In the second part you will lay out the best argument you can find for the opposing position and then show why this argument is flawed. Your essay will be returned with a grade and comments.


Each week students will be given a short homework assignment, which will often be drawn from questions in the textbook. Students are expected to complete at least 10 of these assignments per term. Each homework assignment will be submitted electronically on Moodle before the start of class. Each assignment will be worth 0.5% of the final grade and will be marked using the excelente/regular/deficiente scale on Moodle. Students will get an excelente if the homework is complete and in accordance with the instructions, regardless of whether the answers are correct. Homework will be taken up in class.

Debate and Debate Essay:

Each student will take part in a formal debate. Each debate will consist of a panel of six to eight students divided into two teams. The debates will be held in class.

One week after the debate, each team will submit a short dialectical essay. The positive part of the essay will present the team’s arguments, while the dialectical part will lay out the best argument put forward by the opposing side and attempt to show why this argument is flawed.

Your overall grade will be based on your debate performance and the quality of the essay. All members of a team receive the same grade.

Final Exam:

The final exam deals with all of the material covered in the course. The date will be determined by the Registrar

    Relevant Links / Resources