Philosophy 175.001: Business and Consumer Ethics

(10:50-12:05, T, TH, ECTR 111)

Course web page:

             Ned Hettinger                                                                                                            Office: 16 Glebe, Rm. 201

             Spring 08                                                                                                                   Office Hrs: T, TH 12:10-2:10

             Office Phone: 953-5786                                                                                           (Also by appointment or stop     

             Email:                                                                                      by my office.) 



Course Description

This course is an introduction to ethical, social, political and environmental philosophy in the context of business. Topics include business social responsibility (Is the sole legitimate purpose of a business to maximize profit?), a moral evaluation of the market (What, if any, government involvement in the market is needed to maximize welfare and protect rights?), advertising ethics (What counts as deceptive or manipulative advertising?), ethics and women in business (Are women disadvantaged in business?), the ethics of consumption (Do we consume too much?), business environmental ethics (What does an environmentally-friendly business look like?), the ethics of international business and development (What kind of “development” is good for the non-industrialized world?).


Joseph DesJardins and John McCall, Contemporary Issues in Business Ethics, 5rd Edition (at bookstore)

Readings available from the Library’s E-Reserves page: (Password: hettinger)

Oral Presentations

Each student will give an oral presentation to the class. These presentations should be about 3 minutes long and will address a reading for that class period. Their purpose is to encourage you to teach and learn from each other and to facilitate class discussion. Find the central points from the reading that you think are worth bringing to your fellow students' attention, explain what they are, and then present your own thinking about the issues involved. These are not simply brief synopses of the reading, but mainly your responses to what you consider to be the significant points. You will sign up for the topic of your presentation. Do not miss your oral presentations. In cases where this is unavoidable, please contact me before the class.


Midterm Exam (23%) Thursday, February 28th (right before spring break)

Final Exam (23%) Tues, April 29th, 8-11am

This will stress the material from the second half of the course, but may also include necessary material from the first half.

Major Paper (including a paper proposal): (34%)

5-7 page paper exploring the ethical and philosophical dimensions of an issue in business and consumer ethics. A description of the proposed paper is due on Friday, March 21st, 1pm, 14 Glebe Mailbox. The paper is due on Friday, April 11th, 1pm, 14 Glebe Mailbox.

Reading Quizzes (10%)

Weekly unannounced quizzes on the reading for that day (no makeups, but I give “free quizzes” that can be used to substitute for a missed quiz). Also, you may email me a summary of the reading for that day before the class and this will count for the quiz should there be one.

Class Participation and Attendance (10%)

This includes oral presentation to the class, general quality of class involvement, and attendance. Attendance is particularly important in this class. I want you to learn from each other and from class discussion. Developing the skill of thinking philosophically requires practice and following examples. These can't be adequately done on your own. Poor attendance will lower your grade; extremely poor attendance (missing over three weeks of class) is sufficient grounds for failing the course. If you have a good reason for missing class, please write it on a piece of paper or email it to me and include the date missed. Please come to class on time: Assignments, reading quizzes and an attendance sheet are given at the beginning of class. It is your responsibility to sign the attendance sheet. If the sheet somehow misses you during the class, please come up after class and sign it.

Grading Scale: I use the College’s numeric grading scale. A = 4.0 , A- = 3.7, B+ = 3.3, B = 3.0, B- = 2.7, C+ = 2.3, C = 2.0, C- = 1.7, D+ = 1.3, D = 1.0, D- = 0.7, F = 0.0