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PHILOS 240 - Contemporary Moral Problems - Chris Blakey

Course:Contemporary Moral Problems
Professor:Chris Blakey
  • OnlineLive
Course Length:
  • 16 Week


Prof. Chris Blakey

Greetings and hello!  My name is Chris Blakey.  I have been teaching full-time in the Philosophy Department at COC for about 20 years, and I want to welcome you to PHILOS 240/Contemporary Moral Problems!  We live in a world in which there are many significant moral issues that have risen to the surface and that can be quite confusing.  Issues involving the problems of racism, equality, and free speech are at the forefront.  This course will provide the opportunity for you to do some thinking about these issues and others.  And doing so will likely broaden your horizons, deepen your thought, and bring some degree of clarity. 


Course Description

Sometimes we find that we are confused and in conflict about moral issues.  Sometimes we find that some of the values we hold to be important don’t mesh clearly with other values we hold.  What do we do then?  This course will be an extended exercise in thinking about, reasoning about, and struggling with value conflicts.  In this course, we will introduce some significant concepts in general moral theory, and will then incorporate these concepts as we investigate a number of contemporary moral problems.  The following are some of the questions we will grapple with:

  • What makes an action right or wrong?
  • Is morality relative to individuals or cultures?
  • Should we be concerned about equality issues, in connection to women’s rights and racism? 
  • What should we think of the Black Lives Matters movement?
  • Have I played a role in the continuance of racist attitudes?  What can I do about that?
  • Is free speech important?  Does it imply anything can be said?
  • What should I think about the morality of abortion?
  • Is political resistance ever justified? 
  • Is our society economically just?
  • What duties do I have regarding the environment?
  • What should I think about the legalization of drugs?

This class invites you to struggle with these issues, and to work out your own reasoned perspective on them.  The guiding idea for the course is that improvement in our reasoning abilities about morality will result in better and more helpful moral viewpoints.

What to Expect in this Course

You will take the course primarily through Canvas and Zoom.  In order take this class, you must have access to a computer, internet services, and COC e-mail.  Most communications will occur through announcements, e-mail, and discussion boards. This course will require discipline, organization, reading and participation several days a week (3-4 days a week).  Our Canvas course site cannot be accessed until the first day of the semester at 8:00 a.m. Pacific Standard Time.

This class will meet twice a week on Zoom at its regularly scheduled times.  It will be very important for you to attend our Zoom sessions just as it would be to attend a regular face-to-face class session. There will be a link in our Canvas site that will allow you to connect to our Zoom session.

There will be a reading assignment for almost every session (a reasonable number of pages).  Once weekly there will be journal due on the course reading.  In most class sessions there will be very short in-class writing assignments using Canvas (a short paragraph), which we will use to promote in-class discussion.  Sometimes we will use breakout rooms (on Zoom) for further sharing of ideas with peers.  I think of all class sessions as ongoing discussions; questions and comments from you are constantly welcome – at any time.

What you gain from this class will be proportional to the time and effort you put forward.  To get the most out of this class you should expect to set aside 4-5 hours per week outside of class for reading, note taking, completing journal assignments, thoughtfully reflecting, collaborating, and writing.

In order to allow for helpful engagement with me and your classmates, it is requested that you have your webcams on throughout the duration of the class.

The course Zoom sessions will not be recorded, and so it will be essential to be present in class.  If you miss a session, you will need to get the notes from another student.  But I will post power point slides utilized in class.

Types of Assessments

1 Quiz

2 Exams

2 Short Essays

Short journal assignments on readings.

Very brief in-class writing to promote discussion.

Textbook Information

Readings in Moral Philosophy, edited by Jonathan Wolff, W. W. Norton, ISBN 978-0-393-92360-5

Speaking of Race, by Patricia Roberts-Miller, The Experiment Publishing, ISBN 978-1-61519-732-3

Both of these texts are fairly inexpensive. 

Other Relevant Course Information

PLEASE NOTE: IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR THE FIRST DAY OF CLASS. In order to avoid being dropped from the class, you must attend the first class meeting on Zoom. The URL/link for the Zoom session will be on our Canvas site, and I will send out an email through Canyons email a day or two prior to the start of the semester.  I will also send an Announcement on Canvas with the link on the morning of the day of our first class session. 

Note: This is not a complete syllabus, but only an orientation letter.  The complete syllabus will be available within Canvas at the start of the semester.


Additional Resources


This course can be accessed on the first day of class via Canvas at Log into Canvas using your CanyonsID single sign-on:

  • CanyonsID Username is your COC student email address (Ex:
  • CanyonsID Password is your COC student email password

Please visit the Get to Know Your Online Classroom page for help logging into Canvas and for tips on using Canvas and Zoom. Canvas Chat Support is also available 24/7 for any Canvas related issues.

Online Education

Check out the Online Education website for more information on a variety of topics that can help you be a successful online student such as: exam proctoring, learning styles, computer skills, and tips for student success. If this is your first online course, feel free to take our online learning readiness assessment to assess your skills.

The Learning Center (TLC)

The TLC provides FREE online tutoring resources to COC students!

Academic Accommodation Center (AAC)

College of the Canyons AAC provides educational services and access for eligible students with documented disabilities who intend to pursue coursework at COC. A variety of programs and services are available which afford eligible students with disabilities the opportunity to participate fully in all aspects of the college programs and activities through appropriate and reasonable accommodations. For more information on their services visit the Academic Accomodation Center website.

Online Counseling

The Counseling Department offers appointments online. You can schedule an appointment by visiting the Online Counseling website. Counselors can help you map out a plan to reach your educational goals as well as advise you on course selection and registration.

Management of Stress and Mental Health

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Also, the National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline number is now 988. All students at COC are encouraged to enter that phone number in their cells. You can call it when you, or someone you know, is having thoughts of suicide or is in severe distress.

You can also now use the Crisis Text Line: Just text "Courage" to 741741. Someone will get back to you immediately. Its free, 24/7, and confidential.

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Last updated: 06/28/2021 Sub#: 320