Contemporary Moral Issues

Course Description

People have solid and conflicting beliefs about how to answer the questions mentioned in the synopsis. Often, these beliefs are ones they hold near and dear. This can make it difficult to subject those beliefs to rational evaluation. The goal of this course is to do just that. Throughout the course, we will be looking at arguments for different answers to these questions and assessing those arguments, strengths, and weaknesses.

By the end of the course, you will be able to rationally engage with both sides of many hot-button issues. In addition, by grappling with these specific practical moral issues, you will gain a deep understanding of the theoretical nature of morality.

This course serves as an introduction to applied ethics. You will have the opportunity to carefully consider a number of hot-button moral issues, including (among others):

• Torture
• Death penalty
• Collegiate sports
• Abortion
• Euthanasia
• Gun control
• Reparations
• Affirmative action
• Drug decriminalization
• Immigration
You will be asked to consider and evaluate conflicting philosophical positions on these issues and think through the moral dimension of how these issues play out in the real world. In the process, you will engage with both historical and contemporary philosophers, including John Stewart Mill, Peter Singer, Judith Jarvis Thompson, Robert Nozick, and Gina Schouten.

You will gain invaluable skills by thinking through these issues philosophically - skills that will set you up to flourish in college, in the philosophy classroom, and beyond. You will hone your analytic skills by learning how to identify, reconstruct, explain, and evaluate arguments; learn how to write clearly and succinctly about big ideas; practice forming thoughtful, substantiated answers to complicated moral/philosophical questions; gain experience discussing controversial issues with civility and reason and in a friendly, collaborative environment.

Upon completion of this course you will be able to do the following:

• Clearly communicate philosophical ideas, both verbally and in writing;
• Identify, reconstruct, and explain arguments found in course readings, and critically evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of those arguments;
• Explain central arguments (and objections to them) concerning major contemporary moral issues;
• Think reasonably about a controversial issue, and see both sides of it; and
• Produce written work informed by relevant philosophical research.


This course is appropriate for any student at the high school level. Students do not need any background in philosophy in order to succeed in this course.


Two Sections Available to Choose From:

Online sections of Pre-College courses are offered in one of the following modalities: Asynchronous, Mostly asynchronous, or Blended. Please review full information regarding the experience here.

Dates: July 18, 2022 - July 22, 2022
*Duration: 1 Weeks
Meeting Times: M-F 8:30A-11:20A
Status: Closed
Format: On-Campus
Instructor(s): Taojie Wang
Course Number: 10036

Dates: July 25, 2022 - August 05, 2022
Duration: 2 Weeks
Meeting Times: Online - Mostly Asynchronous
Status: Closed
Format: Online
Instructor(s): Ying Huang
Taojie Wang
Course Number: 10251