The Psychology of Good and Evil

Psychology 391

(most days are done, but still, anything might change)


Chuck Huff

M,W,F
12:55 - 1:50
RNS 124

current as of 4/28/2011

Regents Science Hall 120, 786.3169
Mail to the Prof
Office Hours: by appointment
Mail to the class


 

Required Texts
Frans De Waal
Primates & Philosophers
Plus many readings of current psychological articles (see selections for each day) and of online classics (like Augustine, etc.).

Welcome to the first Ethics class in the Psychology curriculum. This is the course I feel like I have been reading for most of my career. That means I am constantly changing my mind about what the course ought to be about and updating it to reflect the most recent work in the field. Thus, unlike the social psychology course (which is probably 3-5 years behind the cutting edge) or the intro course (which is sometime 10 years behind the cutting edge) this course in some ways defines the cutting edge of the field. This is most true for the 2011 offering: you will be looking at early drafts of a book that will (we hope) summarize the field..

So what is the field about? It is about what the emotions have to do with morals, how vengence works, why moral heroes think they have no choice, how our evolutionary heritage affects our moral judgments and action, how religious claims about morality can be reconciled with empirical claims, and a hundred other puzzles we will try to outline together.

Readings

There will be three types of reading for this course: philosophical, religious, and psychological. You will be reading classic and contemporary philosophy (mostly excerpts and short articles) to understand how people have thought about what it means to live a moral life. You will be reading some religious texts (mostly Christian, but some Muslim and I hope other approaches) to see how religion influences moral thought and action. But mostly you will be reading recent empirical and theoretical psychology. I hope to make all the readings available from electronic texts or in PDFs or other forms.

It will be to your advantage to do the reading for the assigned day. First, this will mean you will be able to follow the discussion for the day. Secondly, it means you will be able to write the daily papers.

Daily Comments: use this link OR be sure to put Psych391 in the header

There will be daily reaction papers for the readings. This means you will need actually to read them and to reflect on them. These should be sent to me in email the night before class and should be no more than a 1/2 screen or so of text. I will read them in the morning before class. Sometimes I get up at 5:30, so your responses should be in by this time. This is you chance to ask me a question that might help set the agenda for class that day, or just to get something clarified. Comments, reflections, worries about the implications of an idea, applications to some area, are all useful things to mail to me.

These are graded simply as 1 or 0. A reasonable email with a question or comment is a 1. Not getting the email to me on time or putting nothing of consequence in it is a 0

When we are doing student-assigned reading, I will forward your comments on to the student leaders for the discussion so they can see what people are thinking about the reading. I will drop the lowest two grades for these papers and so you can decide to skip two (or do them all to make sure you can get the best grade). Late email comments will not be accepted.

Final Papers

Final papers are due on the day of the final. They will be review papers based on our negotiation of the topic you will focus on. These are to be in APA style and no more than 15 pages of the body of text, excluding front matter, references, tables, etc. They should connect your topic to at least two other topcs on the syllabus, and should contain references to original empirical work, to theoretical reviews, and to normative work.

These papers should be done individually, but with at least one reading of a real first draft by another student. In the Author Notes section on the title page, your paper should contain acknowledgments to other students who critiqued the manuscript.

Final Exam

The final exam will be an in class, laptop-based exam based on a set of basic questions with whose answers you should be familiar by the end of the class. I will draw three to five (3 - 5) questions from this set of questions for the final exam.. You will be allowed to bring a note sheet to the final exam. This sheet should consist of a set of 10 words or less for each potential question, to remind you of your answer to that question. Each answer should be between no more than 300 words in length, citations and restating the question not included. Use APA style in-text citations; these do not count in the word count.

Because I hope to discover new and interesting things in this class, I reserve the right to add to or modify the list of basic questions for the exam, but I will do my best to keep the number of items about the same.

In Class-Presentations

Most of the last half of the class will involve students leading discussions of literature in their area of focus. These presentations should be done in groups of 2-3 people. These are not presentations of your knowledge in the area but instead focussed discussions based on one or two articles you have chosen to be read by the class (and provided an electronic copy with sufficient advance notice). The purpose of the discusion is to

Note that we must do the first item well in order to attempt the other two. I will have a grading rubric available for the presentations. Your grade will be based on your presentation and discussion leadership and on an annotated bibliography you prepare of background materials in your area.

Grading

Choose This Column

Percent Grade

Or Choose This Column
Percent Grade
Daily Papers
15
Daily Papers 15

Final Papers

35
Final Papers 30

Class Presentations

20
Class Presentation 20

Final Exam

30
Annotated Bib 10
    Final Exam 25

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. All such discussions will be confidential.


Schedule

Date

Assignment
Readings
Feb, Mon

7

Overview of the field & class

9

Plato, Aristotle. Mencius

Introduction to Plato's Republic and the Notes; Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics ( Book 1: 1-5,7a, 7b, all Book 2); Chan on Mencius

 

11

Hume
Treatise excerpts from Book II and Book III

Mon

14

Deontological Ethics
 

16

Kohlberg
Narvaez on neo-Kohlberg
 

18

Evolution
DeWaal essay in text
Mon

21

Humean Primates
Kitcher in text
 

23

Kantian Primates
Korsgaard in text
 

25

Evolution Summary
Huff's Fence Sitting
Mon

28

Feeling I
Haidt's Dog
March

2

Feeling II
 

4

 
Huff @ Ethics Conference
 Mon

7

Feeling III
 

9

Thinking I
Mon

11

Thinking II
 

14

Thinking III
 

16

Personality I
 

18

Personality II
Mon

21

 
Spring Break
 

23

 
Spring Break
 

25

Spring Break
Mon

28

Religion I
 

30

Religion II
April

1

Moral Ecology I
Nov

4

Moral Ecology II
 

6

Neuroscience
 

8

Classic British Conservatism
Edmund Burke Reflections
Mon

11

Finding Homo Economicus
 

13

Taboo Tradeoffs
 

15

Free Will
Mon

18

Moral Education
Krepsky Scott; Smith Kelly
 

20

Cynicism and Personality
Pearson Sarah; Petersen Kirsten
 

22

Easter Break
Mon

25

Easter Break
 

27

Objectification / Character Education
Higgins Anna; Xiong Kabao
 

29

Bad Habits & Impulse Control
Crouch Anna; Teska Zachary
May, Mon

2

Addiction and Morality
Mork Daniel; Nail Elizabeth
 

4

Naturalizing Ethics
Aron David; Larsen Emmett
 

6

Morality in War
Langholz Benjamin; Stamp Jeffrey
Mon

9

Criminal Rehabilitation
Bieraugel Karen; Gueringer Sam
 

11

Conservative & Liberal Values & Personality
Straehley Ian
 

13

Personality/Economics/TBD
Gallagher James; Tang Yingsi
Mon

16

Review
Tues

24

Final: 2 - 4 PM

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