City University

Classroom Syllabus


 INT 306

Comparative European Ethics

Alexander Maxwell

5 Credit Hours
Effective: 10/98

Required Texts and Materials

     Palmer, Michael. Moral Problems: A Coursebook. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1995.
Lester, James D. Writing Research Papers: The City University Style Manual. 8th ed. New York: HarperCollins, 1996.

Additional study materials may be provided during the course.
Access to a personal computer is required. All written assignments must be word processed.

 Course Description

 INT 306 is an introduction to comparative ethical issues from a European perspective. We will examine a variety of major figures in European intellectual history, examining both their impact on the development of European thought, and their contribution to various moral questions.  Since CITY University is a business school, a number of essay topics have also been assigned in business ethics. Students have the choice to focus either on business ethics or on canonical figures of western thought.

 Learning Objectives
Upon the successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

1.   Identify four main schools of ethics: Egoism, Utilitarianism, and Kant’s theory of the Categorical Imperative.
Discuss the philosophical problems associated with the concept of free will.
Chart the development of ethical theories over the preceding two centuries.
Compare ethical theories to determine how each theory influenced its time, and in particular discuss how twentieth century events have influenced moral thinking.
Evaluate moral problems from both Christian and non-Christian perspectives.
Use the Socratic method to refine your thinking.
Discuss moral issues in a public forum.
Defend an ethical theory and its impact on life in a unifying Europe, using logical, defensible and clear support.

Overview of Course Activities and Grading

 The grade you receive for the course will be derived using City University’s decimal grading system, based on the following:

Assignments and Grading




Oral Presentation


1-Page outline of essay




Final Examination






Explanation of Assignments and Grading

Oral Presentation

 For the oral presentation students will pick one of the following and present it to the class.

            -a book from the pre-approved list (denoted on the syllabus with the symbol )
            -a topic in business ethics (denoted on the syllabus with the symbol

 For the topics in business ethics, you can get some ideas from the book Managing Business Ethics on reserve in the library. Generally, the business ethics topics require less reading but more difficult research.

 The presentation should outline the main issues raised by the book or the topic in business ethics, state their own position about the issue in question, and justify their stance. Since this is a business school, students will be graded on presentation style as well as content. Treat this presentation as a sample sales presentation: A professional appearance is important, and the use of graphics is encouraged.

 All the presentation topics are legitimate essay topics, and students are allowed to treat their presentations as a forum to try out ideas for their essays.  However, students are not required to write their essays on the same topic as the presentations.  Not all students will be able to do the presentation topic they want, but you are free to do your paper on any pre-approved topic.

 Grade criteria for Oral presentations:

            Mastery of original text / dilemna in business ethics - 25%
            Syle of presentation (do you catch the audience’s interest?) - 25%
            Is your argument logical and convincing? - 25%
Discussion Quality - Your ability to withstand questioning - 25%

 Final Examination

 You should be prepared to answer a variety of types of questions pertinent to the concepts covered in or suggested by the course materials, assignments and activities. Since there is no mid-term, the exam will cover everything we discuss in the course. You should expect a lot of “write a paragraph in the blank” sorts of questions.


 All papers should be word-processed and spell-checked. Use the font “Times New Roman,” font size 12, and the default margins of your word processing program. Spell-check. Double-space. Spell-check. Illustrations or charts are okay, but do not count toward page numbers. Indent paragraphs, but do not put a line between them. Spell-check. No trying to make your paper appear longer than it is by fiddling with the font size or margins.  Finally, since this is a business school, any paper that misspells the word “lose” as “loose” will be marked down 10%.

There are two possible types of essay, similar to the two types of presentation. Students who wish to do a topic other than the ones listed here should get their topic approved first.

Option A

Choose one primary text from the list circulated during the first week of class.  Based on your reading of this text, compose a critical analysis which incorporates your personal response to the author’s claims and/or arguments.  The purpose of this assignment is not to generate a summary of the text or a biography of its author, but to interpret the text, to enter a dialogue with it.

Some of the texts are in the CU library, either in Bratislava or in Trenčin.  Those books are marked on the syllabus with the symbol   If you choose to do one of the titles which the CU library does not have, you are responsible for finding the book on your own. Only one student per section may choose a given book. Students from different sections of this class are expected to stay in contact with each other insofar as there may only be one copy of the book to share between different sections. You should exchange phone numbers at the very least, so that both students get a chance to read the book.


Option B:       

Explore an issue of organizational ethics, gather information about it, formulate a position based on your evidence, construct a thesis statement, and develop an argument that is well-supported and demonstrates a thorough application of the critical-thinking process.  For this project you will find a “real” ethical dilemma faced by a “real” business or organization, and construct a detailed analytical study of it.  While Managing Business Ethics may give you some initial guidance, I stress that to get a good grade, students who choose a business ethics topic will have to do significant outside research to get a good grade.

Course Schedule

 Monday April 1                                                                Wednesday April 3

School holiday                                                     Intro to course.
                                                                                               Homework:  Chapter 1 “ethics.”

Monday April 8                                                                    Wednesday, April 10

Select paper topics.                                           
Plato Dialogues
                Socrates, Plato, Aristotle                                   Aristotle On the Soul       
                The Socratic Method                                        
Marcus Arelius The Meditations
                Ring of Gyges (if time)                                        Questions: Socrates in Prison, MP p.19


Monday April 15                                                                  Wednesday, April 17

Intro to monotheism:                                         
Augustine: Confessions
                Judaism, Christianity, Islam                              
Descartes Philosophical Writings
                MP p. 7 “moral commands”                                Stakeholder theory TN 188-191
                Law vs. Morality                                                 
Money and Ethics TN 80-84, 101-105                                                                                                              Homework: Chapter 2 “Egoism”


Monday April 22                                                                  Wednesday, April 24

                Egoism.                                                                  Whitleblowing TN p.134-40
                Abortion: Thompson, MP 159.                         
Profits vs. Ethics TN p. 38-40
                                                                                                Discussion of Outlines - Q&A
                                                                                               Homework: Chapter 3 “Utilitarianism”


Sunday April 28                                                                   Monday, April 29

                Utilitarianism                                                        Machiavelli The Prince
                Newton > Stress on Reason                              Smith - Wealth of Nations
                Hedonic Calculus: MP p. 43                             
J.S. Mill On Liberty
                Outlines Due!                                                    
J.S. Mill Utilitarianism
Bentham Introduction to the Principles…


Sunday May 5                                                                       Monday May 6

                Socialism: Utopians, Marx                                  Marx: Communist Manifesto
                Individual vs. Collective                                    
Hugo Les Miserables
                Punishment: MP p. 103, 109,110                        Hegel Philosophy of Spirit
Punishment and Rewards: TN 152
                                                                                                  Homework: Chapter 4 “Kant”

Monday May 13                                                                      Wednesday, May 15
                Kant - The Categorical Imperative                 
   ☻Kant Philosophy of Right
                “Duty” and the 19th century.                             ☻Nietzsche The Antichrist
                MP. p 112. Ross, MP p. 131                               
Nietzsche Beyond Good and Evil
                                                                                                Homework: Chapter 5 “Free Will”

Monday May 20                                                                    Monday May 22
                World War and ethical impact                      
    ☻Arendt Eichmann in Jerusalem
                Nietzche > Hitler?                                                 ☻ Camus Myth of Sisyphus
                Disillusionment > Existentialism                        Sartre Being and Nothingness


Monday May 27                                                  Wednesday May 29

Free Will, Totalitarianism                                    
Ethics in Advertising TN 181-183.
                Hopes/fears for total control                             
Freud “Civilization and Discontents”            
Freud, psychological ideas                                 Orwell 1984        
                Papers due!                                                          
Burgess Clockwork Orange
                                                                                                Huxley Brave New World


Monday June 3                                                    Wednesday, June 5

                Cultural Relativism
  Discrimination (sexual)                                       FINAL EXAM!
Discrimination (racial)       
                Review for final exam


Approved Primary Readings

Plato Dialogues
Aristotle On the Soul 
Marcus Arelius The Meditations                 
Augustine: Confessions
Descartes Philosophical Writings

Machiavelli The Prince                       
Smith - Wealth of Nations
J.S. Mill On Liberty

J.S. Mill Utilitarianism                      
Bentham Introduction to the Principles…
Marx: Communist Manifesto

Hugo Les Miserables                   
Hegel Philosophy of Spirit
Kant Philosophy of Right
Nietzsche The Antichrist                    
Nietzsche Beyond Good and Evil
Arendt Eichmann in Jerusalem

Camus Myth of Sisyphus                      
Sartre Being and Nothingness
Freud “Civilization and Discontents”  
Orwell 1984                                     
Burgess Clockwork Orange
Huxley Brave New World

Approved topics in Business Ethics

Stakeholder theory TN 188-191
Money and Ethics TN 80-84, 101-105

Whitleblowing TN p.134-40                        
Profits vs. Ethics TN p. 38-40
Discrimination (sexual)             
Discrimination (racial)