Psychology 4470-001: Moral Development

Spring 2015/ Brackett Hall 214/ MWF 11:15 AM -12:05 PM


 

Course Description:

The focus of this course is descriptive moral psychology. Moral psychologists study moral reasoning, moral judgment, moral character, even moral action—and the ways in which human beings develop them. Moral development is a life-span issue: precursors of moral activity can be seen in toddlers, and moral development extends throughout adutlhood. Moral psychology does not seek to discover what we ought to do, or how we ought to live; it asks how human beings acquire their conceptions of what to do, or how to live.

Even though moral psychology doesn't prescribe how to live, it's difficult to do reseach in moral psychology without making some assumptions about what morality consists of and about what is good for human beings. Consequently, we will devote some of our time to two orientations in moral philosophy that have led to very different conceptions of moral psychology. No background in moral philosophy is being required or presupposed; we are reading Aristotle and Immanuel Kant to get some exposure to significant and influential thinking about ethics, and students who have no previous experience in philosophy are welcome to participate in this course.

Every 400-level course in Psychology includes a significant written assignment. In this course, everyone will write a research paper (10 pages) on a topic in moral development. Both theoretical discussions and reviews of the empirical literature are welcome. Please pay special attention to the relevant due dates. The final version is due on the last day of class (Thursday April 28).



Books:

Course Attendance, Tests, and Grading:

It's wisest to attend all classes; there is a lot in a course like this that you will not learn just by reading the textbook. Moreover, this is a relatively small class and your contributions to class discussion will be important, so staying current with the readings and participating regularly will benefit you as well as your fellow students. I will assume, however, that responsible adults do not need an attendance policy. If I haven't arrived within 15 minutes of the scheduled time for a class, you are free to leave.

There will be three tests, two papers, and a final exam. Each test (incuding the final) will consist of essay and short answer questions. A list of possible essay topics will be circulated during the class about a week before each test. Paper topics will be assigned two weeks in advance; the papers will be 5 pages, double-spaced. One will respond to issues we have been discussing in class; the second will allow you to explore another point of view about moral development.

In real emergency situations (illness, death of a family member, etc.) you may be excused from taking a test when scheduled. However, to be excused from taking a test on schedule, you must arrange the time and location of the makeup test with me before the time normally scheduled for the test.

Your grade will be based on this simple formula:

Item % of
Final Grade
TEST 1 16%
PAPER 1 16%
TEST 2 16%
PAPER 2 16%
TEST 3 16%
FINAL EXAM 20%

Extra credit

You are encouraged to participate in any research studies that might be going on in the psychology department during the semester. You will earn 1/4 point extra credit toward your final grade for each 15 minutes that you participate in. The maximum is 5 points (for 20 units of up to 15 minutes each). Please keep track of your participation using the department subject pool website. If you would prefer not to participate in research studies, you also have the option of writing an 5-page paper on a topic in moral psychology (not the same topic as your other two; please check with me for topic guidelines and due dates if you are interested in writing a paper like this.

Cheating

Tests and papers in this course are meant to be your individual work. Providing information to others (or obtaining it from them) during a test—or using unauthorized notes on such occasions—constitutes cheating. You are welcome to discuss your final project with others, but the drafts and the final version must be your work alone. If you decide to cheat, I will take action against you according to University policy.

Our Schedule

Date Topic Reading
Wed. January 7 What is moral psychology? -
Fri. January 9 What is moral psychology? Aristotle, Nicomachean ethics, Books I-III
Mon. January 12 Morality and human flourishing Aristotle, Nicomachean ethics, Books I-III
Tuesday Jan. 13: Last Day to Add a Class
Wed. January 14 Morality and human flourishing Aristotle, Nicomachean ethics, Books I-III
Fri. January 16 Morality and human flourishing Aristotle, Nicomachean ethics, Books IV-V
Wed. January 21 Morality and human flourishing Aristotle, Nicomachean ethics, Books IV-V
Last Day to Drop without a W
Fri. January 23 Morality and human flourishing Aristotle, Nicomachean ethics, Books VI-VIII
Mon. January 26 Morality and human flourishing Aristotle, Nicomachean ethics, Books VI-VIII
Wed. January 28 Morality and human flourishing Aristotle, Nicomachean ethics, Books IX-X
Fri. January 30 TEST 1 Aristotle, Nicomachean ethics, Books I-VIII
Mon. February 2 Morality and human flourishing Aristotle, Nicomachean ethics, Books IX-X
Wed. February 4 Morality and impersonal duty Kant, Groundwork, pp. 1-18
Fri. February 6 Morality and impersonal duty Kant, Groundwork, pp. 1-18
Mon. February 9 Morality and impersonal duty Kant, Groundwork, pp. 1-18
Wed. February 11 Morality and impersonal duty Kant, Groundwork, pp. 19-47
Fri. February 13 Morality and impersonal duty Kant, Groundwork, pp. 19-47
Mon. February 16 Morality and impersonal duty Kant, Groundwork, pp. 19-47
Wed. February 18 Morality and impersonal duty Kant, Groundwork, pp. 19-47
Fri. February 20 Morality and impersonal duty Kant, Groundwork, pp. 19-47
PAPER 1 DUE
Mon. February 23 Morality and impersonal duty Kant, Groundwork, pp. 48-67
Wed. February 25 Morality and impersonal duty Kant, Groundwork, pp. 48-67
Fri. February 27 TEST 2 Kant, Groundwork
Mon. March 2 Morality and impersonal duty Kant, Groundwork, pp. 48-67
Wed. March 4 Piaget's moral psychology Piaget, Ch. 1
Fri. March 6 Piaget's moral psychology Piaget, Ch. 1
Mon. March 9 Piaget's moral psychology Piaget, Ch. 2
Wed. March 11 Piaget's moral psychology Piaget, Ch. 2
Fri. March 13 Piaget's moral psychology Piaget, Ch. 2
Last day to drop without a final grade
Mon.-Fri.
March 16-20
SPRING BREAK -
Mon. March 23 Piaget's moral psychology Piaget, Ch. 2
Wed. March 25 Piaget's moral psychology Piaget, Ch. 4
Fri. March 27 Piaget's moral psychology Piaget, Ch. 4
"Biology and War" Reading
Mon. March 30 Haidt's moral intuition theory Haidt, Ch. 1-2
Wed. April 1 Haidt's moral intuition theory Haidt, Ch. 3-4
Fri. April 3 Haidt's moral intuition theory Haidt, Ch. 5-6
Mon. April 6 Haidt's moral intuition theory Haidt, Ch. 7-8
Wed. April 8 Haidt's moral intuition theory Haidt, Ch. 9-10
Fri. April 10 TEST 3 -
Mon. April 13 Haidt's moral intuition theory Haidt, Ch. 11-12
Wed. April 15 Kohlberg's theory of moral stages Kohlberg readings TBA
Fri. April 17 Kohlberg's theory of moral stages
PAPER 2 DUE
Kohlberg readings TBA
Mon. April 20 Gilligan's justice and care theory Gilligan reading TBA
Wed. April 22 Gilligan's justice and care theory Gilligan reading TBA
Fri. April 24 Gilligan's justice and care theory Gilligan reading TBA
Tue. April 28 FINAL EXAM 8:00 AM