Assignment Overview


Due Dates and Grade Contribution

Item % of grade Due date
Participation 10% Ongoing
Midterm 20% 10/16
Homework and Quizzes 10% Ongoing
Case Study
Annotated Bibliography 10% 10/23
Written Report 20% 11/15
Group Presentations 10% 12/4-12/11
Final exam 20% 12/20
TOTAL 100%

Assignment Descriptions

Class participation

Verbal discussion—such as taking and defending positions and asking or answering critical questions—is a vital part of the practice of philosophy. Consequently, the final grade for this class reflects this. Professor MacDougall takes note of student participation after class every day. Students must be present to participate, but for full credit must actively and verbally participate by asking critical questions, answering questions posed to the class, or volunteering ideas and thoughts relevant to class topics. Sometimes participation points can be gained by posting to an online discussion board or completing some other assignment (to be explained in class). Participation points can additionally be earned by contacting Dr. MacDougall by email or by arranging meetings during office hours. However, there is no way to get full credit for this segment of the class without active verbal participation. Exceptions may be granted in unusual circumstances by Dr. MacDougall if it is discussed at the beginning of the semester.

Homework and Quizzes

Homework and quiz grades are a large component of this class. In this class, we will learn to read philosophy works to discover the thesis and arguments of each assigned reading. Homework assignments may require students to identify these components of the assigned reading. Homework will be assigned a class ahead of time. If for some reason you must miss class, you can check the Homework page (found under “Assignments”) to see if any assignments have been announced.

The instructor will occasionally give comprehension quizzes on readings. Students will generally be forewarned about these a class in advance. Reading quizzes will usually cover major points or arguments from that day’s readings.

Midterm and Final

The midterm will cover material from the first half of the semester and the final will cover material from the second half of the semester. Format will be explained during the review sessions.

Case Project

The interdisciplinary case project involves 3 components, developed in sequence over the course of the semester. The final goal of the case study is for students to make an interdisciplinary presentations of their research and conclusions about the case their group has been assigned at the end of the semester. 

Students are divided into groups and assigned a case. Groups are designed to imitate a hospital ethics committee, so students choose professional roles designed to reflect the interdisciplinary make up of these committees (usually each of the following: Philosopher, Nurse, Physician, Editor). The student’s role determines the discipline in which the student will conduct research for the case, and forms the basis (along with individual reflection and philosophical argumentation) for their contribution to the final group presentation.

Each student is individually responsible to prepare two assignments (the annotated bibliography and written report) prior to meeting with their group. The third assignment (the group presentation) is developed in collaboration with the group.

Annotated Bibliography

First, students will research their case drawing on the relevant literature for their role and case. Each student will produce an annotated bibliography with five entries.

Written Report

Second, students will develop a written report of at least 1000 words, outlining their tentative ethical recommendations for resolving the main ethical dilemma in the case. They will support their recommendations with philosophical arguments and previous research.

Group Presentation

The final component of the case study requires students to work together with group mates from different disciplinary roles to present a set of coherent recommendations, along with supporting arguments, resolving the main ethical dilemma in the assigned case.