The Psychology of Good and Evil

GE 111Q

Chuck Huff

T 1:20 - 2:45,
TH 2:15 - 3:35
in BMC 109

current as of 11/27/06

Holland Hall 303, 646.3169
Mail to the Prof
Office Hours: email me and ask
Mail to the class

Required Texts

Franz DeWaal

Good natured: The origins of right and wrong in humans and other primates (GN)
Colby & Damon
Some do care: Contemporary lives of moral commitment (SDC )


Rules for Writers (RW)


Poetry Home Repair Manual (PHRM)
Browning Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Batallion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland (OM)
Plus some stuff I run across during the term.

Introductory Musings

This course is supposed to be about writing, but it will really be about thinking. By this I mean we will write to discover what we think. Do not be fooled, thinking is not a solitary activity: you might have private thoughtsand feelings, but you can sharpen them and make them more clear by writing about them. This is what we will do.

There will be a series of three official topics books that we will read, and also three main writing assigments. These are only somewhat related. The readings will allow us to have some fun discussion about how morality works. The assignments will allow us to think about morality.


First Writing Assignment: Reporting on the moral implications of a scientific research program

I have asked faculty to volunteer to be interviewed about their research programs. You get to interview them and to report on one or more of the moral implications that their research raises.
Your paper is to be reporting for an intelligent audience (e.g. Newsweek, Atlantic, etc.). It should be from 1,000 to 1,500 words in length and may contain up to 3 graphs, tables, or pictures.

Second Writing Assignment: Writing poetry to a moral issue

We will write poetry together and critique each other's work. The point of this exercise is to learn how to read sentences closely for revision, and how to make selections among options for revision. Thus, we will be a critic of each other's poems and you will be required to respond to the critique of your poem. These poems should in some way be a response to our reading this term or to your earlier assignment.

Third Writing assignment: Writing an expert editorial

The last writing assignment will be writing a persuasive editorial about a moral issue. Your voice will be that of an expert in the area, and you will marshal both arguments and evidence to support your position. Your editorial should be from 500 to 1,000 words in length and may contain one picture, figure, or table. You should include a separate paragraph of about 150 words that explains the rhetorical choices you made in your editorial.

Comments and Questions in Class

For every class for which there is a reading assignment in the first column below, you will bring to class a 3x5 card with two to three questions or comments on it. You should put your name on this card, and I will collect it sometime during class. We may pass the cards around in class, so don't put anything on it that you would not want another student to see. Our discussions of the readings will be driven by your comments and questions.


Disability Accomodation

If you have a documented disability that will impact your work in this class, please contact me to discuss your needs. Additionally, you will need to register with Student Disability Services located at the Academic Support Center in Room 1 of the Old Main Annex. All such discussions will be confidential.


(1st half)
Assignment (2nd half)
Th, S 7
its the first day
  we plan for the term
T, S 12
GN 1
how to interview select an interviewee
Th, S 14
GN 2
construct interview protocol  
T, S 19
GN 3
Th, S 21
GN 4
writing an outline thinking through writing
T, S 26
Th, S 28
bring your "angle" and a paragraph  
T, O 3
GN 5
one paragraph and a plan due  
Th, O 5
GN 6
Working draft due or questions to these
T, O 10
SDC 1 & 2
paper revisions meetings
Th, O 12
Science Report due  
T, O 17
Fall Break
Th, O 19
  No Class; Huff in Virginia  
T, O 24
overview of poetry (revisions)
PHRM 1-3
Th, O 26
first impressions (revisions)
PHRM 4-7
T, O 31
feeling and observation (revision)
PHRM 8 - 10
Th, N 2
draft poems due
PHRM 11, 12
T, N 7
draft poems due
Th, N 9
SDC 11
draft poems due
T, N 14
OM 1 & 2
Introduction to Milgram & Weber
Th, N 16
OM 3 & 4
Expert Editorial Topic Due
Poem Revisions Due
T, N 21
OM 5 & 6
outline due
Th, N 23
T, N 28
OM 7 & 8
Draft expert editorial due
Th, N 30
No Class
Huff in Florida
T, D 5
OM 9 - 11
Th, D 7
OM 12 - 14
T, D 12
OM 16 - 18
Final Expert Editorial Due
T, D 19
2:30 Final
Poetry Reading
final poems due