Introduction to Ethics, Miami Country Day Upper School, Mr. Daniel Penengo

Description and Objectives:
  1. Studies in Moral Philosophy which includes a general understanding of the following Ethical Systems: Judeo-Christian Ethics, The Principle of Utility and Utilitarian perspectives, the Moral Philosophy of Kant in the Categorical Imperative, Cultural and Moral Relativism, Egoism and Hedonist principles of Pleasure, and Secular Humanism.
  2. Emphasis is placed on the Judeo-Christian ethical system to reflect more closely on the mission statement of the Miami Country Day School community. This study will look to evaluate the relevance and value structure of the rules and guidelines set forth in the handbook.
  3. Student will research and study significant people in the field of ethics in relation to important ethical issues such as, animal rights, women’s rights, issues of capital punishment and euthanasia, medical ethics, bioethics, human rights in relation to child labor and human exploitation, politics and economics, and other current and relevant issues. Film will play an important role to help portray and raise important questions in relation to the above topics.
  4. Students will spent a good portion of the course discussing contemporary personal, familial, cultural, and social issues that have an impact on the high school age student. Students will engage moral dilemmas in their own lives that will help to foster compassion, empathy, and reasoning skills. Analyze the behavior and decision-making of people in contemporary society.
  5. Most importantly, the students will be given the responsibility to make decisions about their own development as pertains to conscience. Students will learn the most current research in the filed of Moral Education and its relation to the important role that conscience has in decision-making and in becoming a decent and responsible human agent.
  6. Students will work to achieve a healthy respect for divergent moral and/or ethical views.

Skills and Assessment:
  1. All work will be kept online in a wikispace format. Students will generate their own running curriculum keeping their work and research on their webpage. Students are responsible for constant development of their page with emphasis on the areas that are of most interest to them. Students will be trained on using this technology. Students are to use the discussion forum in the wikispace to generate class discussions and areas of interest. This will be assessed daily and this wikispace will make up 40 % of the grade.
  2. Students will be given the space and opportunity to take ownership of the curriculum by guiding and influencing the curriculum to fit their needs, likes, abilities, and desires. The more engaged the student is in provoking and setting forth ideas for discussion the better. With this comes actual engagement in class discussion, participating in an appropriate way and working to develop their intellectual abilities in relation to reasoning, conscience, and logic. This area will constitute 30 % of the grade.
  3. Writing will take the form of creative writing and philosophical writing. These writings will take the form of journals used for reflection, responses to media and news, and paragraph exposition in order to express opinions and ideas. This will make up 20 % of the grade.
  4. Attendance counts for 10% of the quarter grade. Every student starts with an attendance grade of 100% and is permitted two non-school related absences per quarter, which will not impact the grade. After the two free absences, the attendance grade is reduced by 5% for every non-school related absence from this class during the quarter.

Classroom Routines and Policies: All students will adhere to the rules and regulations of the MCDS student/parent handbook. It is the student’s responsibility to familiarize themselves with the attendance policies and guidelines offered in the handbook. Make-up work will be allowed according to the policies in the MCDS handbook

Week one and two: Review Course Expectation Sheet/Purpose and Relevance for Ethics Course
· The Judeo-Christian Ethic and the Miami Country Day Mission Statement
· Historical and Philosophical developments of Ethics
· Readings in the field of Ethics
· Discussion of contemporary issues (family, cultural, social, personal)
· Conscience and Decision-making
· Preliminary discussion of the importance of a study in Ethics as it pertains to the high school age student and our way of life
· Areas of interest/contemporary issues (politics, science, etc.)
· Finding the right things to read
· Thought, knowledge, and action
· Motives and ends
· Fairness, Justice, and Equality
· Writing about and Discussing Morality and Ethics
· Articulating and supporting opinions
· Respecting diverse and divergent views
· Sharing life experiences
· Persuasive writing and oration
· Telling a Story (practice)
Week three and four: Society and the Individual
· Preliminary investigation into the relationship of society and the individual
· Law and government
· Intuition, Reason, Culture, and Authority as the four sources of Ethical Beliefs
· Composition of free-written persuasive essay following group discussions
· Groups discuss their own evaluation of the responsibilities between individuals and society. Groups work together to outline the areas for which each is responsible to the other. Students examine terms such as Fairness, Justice, Equality, and Kindness with respect to society and individuality
· Politics and the Good (excerpt from Aristotle’s Ethics)
Week five – eight: Historical development of Ethics and Ethical Systems
· Answer the question: Where did Ethics come from and how did it evolve? What were people looking for by living a virtuous life?
· What are the major schools of thought in the field of Ethics and what do these offer?
· Exploration with the various schools of thought in an attempt to use them to guide us in our daily life
· Important writers within the schools and some important literature
· Putting the systems to use. Examine systems through film and through case studies
Week nine – twelve: Domain Theory and current research concerning the Nature of Morality
· Personal Domain
· Conventional Domain
· Moral Domain
· Right versus right theory: Understanding the difference between right and wrong/right and right
· Outlining contemporary issues in the field of Ethics as relate to the domains
· Acting on our knowledge of the Right
Week thirteen – sixteen: Issues Surrounding School Mission and Life at School
· Honor, Respect, Compassion, and Trust.
· Students outline, analyze, and discuss known values and principles
· Mission Statements and Judeo-Christian Ethics
· Honor Codes, Rules and Regulations
· Community life: Student-student, student-teacher, student-administrator, and other relationships inherent to school life
· Responsibility and sensibility of community members
· Outlining Ethical issues within the school community
· Advisory
· Philanthropy, Service, Altruism, and Fundraising
Ethical Issues pertaining to the High School age Student
· Outlining the various ethical issues for high school students
· Family and tradition and how we deal
· Society and culture and its demands
· Personal concerns surrounding Ethics

Final Weeks: DEVELOPMENT of CONSCIENCE – (Individual)
-The important role of conscience in decision-making
- My Ethical Life - FINAL - Creative Writing / Free thought Essay
Wednesday’s devoted to Experiences with Ethics
· Discussion of contemporary personal, familial, cultural, and social issues that have an impact on the high school age student (that’s you)
Moral Dilemmas and Case Studies
· Case study: Moral Dilemma One
· Development of a moral dilemma / presenting real life dilemmas – research
· How would the various schools of Ethics deal with your dilemma?
· Preparation for presentation and class discussions – variety of dilemmas
· Students will show a short movie clip relating to their moral dilemma issue in preparation for presentation
· Students will present their dilemmas in randomly assigned order to be followed up with class discussion and participation. Presentations should run 5 minutes with minimum 10 minutes discussion afterward. Students will hand out moral dilemmas previous to their presentation. Class is responsible for the contents of the dilemma previous to the presentation.

Groundhog's Day - Exploring aspects of Kantian Ethics and the Categorical Imperative. Living with guilt is not living. Until we make the choice to live a life of service and care, we live as if each day were the same.
Gattaca - Bioethical Matters
An Inconvenient Truth - Environment
Dead Man Walking - Capital Punishment - Analyzing the Death Penalty
John Q and Sicko - Universal Health Care
Hotel Rwanda, Invisible Children - Ethnic Cleansing and Refugee/Immigration - The Choice to Help Others even if your life is in danger (Bravery)
Finding Forrester, Amistad, Crash, and Freedom Writers - Race, Stereotype, segregation, voice, individual worth versus perception
Dogville, Cider House Rules - Authority, Creating a Moral Code outside the tradition,
Life as a House - Meaning of Life, Place, Family
South Park - Censorship, Politics, and the Realities of Humanity
Quiz Show - Utilitarianism and the pressure of material money, character