Philosophy 375: Special Topics/Moral Psychology

Spring Semester, 2011

Jacksonville University

Dr. Scott Kimbrough

Office: Council 121

Office hours: M/W 10:00-12:00 or by appointment

Office phone: 256-7118

e-mail address:

Last updated 3/21/11

Resources and Announcements

Course Description:

Since at least the time of Plato, philosophers have been interested in how people make moral judgments. This is interesting both in its own right as a psychological question, and philosophically for both ethics and meta-ethics. This class will investigate five major topics related to moral psychology: the roles of reason and emotion in the production and justification of moral judgment, debates over the extent of human selfishness (egoism) and concern for others (altruism), contemporary efforts to understand the psychological basis for traditional ethical notions of character and virtue, challenges from empirical psychology to our understanding of freedom and moral responsibility, concerns raised by contemporary psychology about the reliability of moral intuition, and (if we get through the first five units quickly enough) the role of disgust in moral judgment. The approach in the class is inter-disciplinary, investigating the relevance of recent theories in psychology and related empirical disciplines for philosophical theorizing about the nature and justification of moral judgment.

Required Books:

T. Nadelhoffer, E. Namias, and S. Nichols (eds.). Moral Psychology: Historical and Contemporary Readings. Wiley-Blackwell. 2010. 

Course Requirements:

Participation and Attendance: Attendance and participation in discussions are expected.

Reviews of sources (10%): The more recent articles collected in our anthology include numerous references to other work. Each student will look up one of these references and write a 3-5 page review. The review should include a summary of the main arguments and conclusions of the piece, a critical analysis thereof, and an analysis of how the source relates to the original article that cited it. Students will sign up for presentation dates to introduce the class to these additional sources.

Exams (20% each = 40%): An exam will be given at the conclusion of the second and fourth course units. The exam will include a mixture of short answers and longer essays.

Research Paper (30%): A ten to twelve page research paper on a topic of your choice is due Thursday, April 14th.

Final Exam (20%): The exam will be comprehensive, including an exam on the final two units and additional essay questions integrating all six units.

Plagiarism and Turn It In

Definition of plagiarism: Plagiarism consists in copying or closely paraphrasing the work of another, in whole or in part, without citing the source. Plagiarized papers will receive a zero. Furthermore, plagiarists will be reported to the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs. Other forms of academic dishonesty will receive similar treatment.

All papers must be submitted electronically to

A hard copy of each paper must be submitted as well. The hard copy must have the turnitin reciept number for the paper written on the upper right corner of the first page.

To register for turnitin, click on New User on the upper right hand side of the screen and follow the instructions.

Papers that are not submitted to turnitin will receive an F.

Cell Phones

Use of cell phones for any reason, including texting, is prohibited during class.

Americans with Disabilities

Reasonable accommodations will be made upon request for students with documented disabilities.


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