Senior Seminar on Morality

November 2, 2004

PY400: Senior Seminar on Morality

Prof. Tricia Waters
Office: 229c Palmer, Phone: 389 6595
Office Hours: MTF: 1:00 2:00, or by appointment

This course is designed to help you integrate and apply conceptual, empirical and theoretical material related to the study of morality. This course includes a community based learning component. Working 6-8 hours per week in a local agency (see attached list of sites and descriptions) you will have an opportunity to experience, first hand, the complexities of everyday moral decision making. You will be asked, through a series of journal entries, seminar reflection papers, and a final course paper, to integrate the materials you are encountering in class with the “material” of real life.

This course is a collaborative effort. You will be called upon to bring your considerable training in the field of psychology to our conversations and explorations of morality. The core reading materials are meant to stimulate discussion and your own creative thought process. Readings will range from historical and philosophical renderings of morality and moral reasoning to a more detailed examination of moral issues as social, developmental and clinical psychologists have conceptualized them. The success of this course depends on your active participation and commitment. Be here, be prepared.

Freud, Sigmund, Civilization and its discontents
Nietzsche, Friedrich, On the genealogy of morals
Olson, James & Roberts, Randy, My Lai: A brief history with documents


Community based Placement Journal (10%)
The success of a community based experience rests on your capacity to make connections between the work you are reading for class, and the work you are doing in the agency. We will spend time during class engaging in a reflection process (see “sit update” dates listed in course schedule). Some of these responses to agency work will be verbal, some written.

For this assignment, you will need a small spiral notebook that travels easily. In it you will keep process notes of your agency experience. Split each page of the journal in half. The left side will contain your impressions, questions, thoughts, and ideas regarding the time you spent in the agency. This is the place to write whatever reactions you have to your placement experience. Perhaps you encountered a situation you did not know how to handle. Describe the situation and your response to it. The right side of the journal will contain your analysis of what is going on in the setting and your role in the agency. In the analysis section, you might propose alternative ways you might consider responding to issues or challenges you’ve encountered.

You might identify follow up questions for your next visit, or include references to course readings that could apply to the situation described. Date your entries. Include an entry for each site visit. This material may serve as a basis for your reflection papers.

Reflection Papers (30%)
On 11/5, 11/11 & 11/15 you will turn in a brief (2 3 page) reflection paper. In these papers you will make explicit links between the community based experience and course readings. This course is meant to be an on going discussion of core ideas in morality and moral reasoning. In fact, the more you discuss and write about the issues raised, the greater will be the development of your own reasoning capacity in this realm. In some cases, you may need to draw more broadly than your immediate on site experience to make connections to the study of morality. For example, you may wish to consider the role of this agency in the community (e.g., if this service were not available, what would happen to this population?). You may need to educate yourself on how this agency operates (e.g., the politics of funding non profits). Your task in these three papers is to integrate some aspect of your experience in the community with course related material. Two of the reflection papers will be swapped with a classmate for discussion and review (see course schedule, below).

Research Paper & Presentation (30%)
You will write a review of the literature on an area of morality stimulated by your community based agency work. The goal of the paper is to explore in detail one aspect of morality as it applies to your community setting (Paper should be approx. 12 14 pages in length). In considering your topic, be sure to narrow your focus so that you can do an adequate review of the literature (e.g., “Death and dying” is too broad. “Spousal reactions to decisions regarding hospice care” is better). This paper should follow standard APA guidelines, and should approximate a Psychology Bulletin review article. You will present your research to the class in the last week of the course.

In-Class Participation (10%)
You will be asked to conduct two moral reasoning interviews for the developmental section of the course. The interviews will follow a semi structured format (to be handed out in class), and should be rendered legible (either typed or neatly handwritten) before class on Tuesday of the second week of the block. You will work in pairs to present one of the “File” articles on specified days (see sign up sheet).

Midterm & Final Exams (20%)
There will be a mid term and final exam in this course. The format will include fill in the blank, matching, basic definitions and essays. Exams are non-cumulative.

(Complete readings for date listed)


Mon. 10/28: Introduction and Overview of Course
Community based learning Site Selection
Making contact and setting up initial appt.

Tues. 10/29: Theorizing about Morality: Philosophy
Wilson, J. “What is moral and how do we know it?”
Frankena, W., “Morality and moral philosophy”
Orwell, G. “Shooting an Elephant”

Wed. 10/30: More Philosophical Musings
Nietzsche, F. Genealogy of Morals. (Preface and Essays 1&2)

Thurs. 10/31: Philosophical Psychology
Nietzsche, F. Genealogy of Morals. (Essay 3)
Freud, S. Civilization and Its Discontents. (Ch.1 2)
Fri. 11/2: Philosophical Psychology
Freud, S. (cont., ch. 3 end)
Site updates
1:00 p.m. Film: “Crimes and Misdemeanors”


Mon. 11/4: Social Psychological Perspectives on Morality
FILE: Zimbardo, P. “The human choice”
Milgram, S. “Some conditions”
Milgram. S. “Issues in the study of obedience: A reply to Baumrind”

1:00 p.m. “Quiet Rage: Stanford Prison Experiment” Milgram study

Tues. 11/5: Site Updates/Discussion:

Reflection Paper #1 Due (2 copies, SWAP)
(Read ahead day My Lai)

Wed. 11/6: Development of Morality I: Theory & Behavior
FILE: Saarni, C. “The capacity for empathic involvement”
Kohlberg, L. “Moral stages and moralization”
Kohlberg, L. “The cognitive developmental approach to moral education”

Thurs. 11/7: Development II: The Injunction to Care
FILE: Gilligan, C. & Attanucci, J. “Two Moral Orientations”
Eisenberg, N. & Miller, P. “The relation of empathy to prosocial and related behaviors”
Walker, & Taylor “Family interactions and the development of moral reasoning”

Fri. 11/8: EXAM 1


Mon. 11/11 Post Modern Critiques: Gilligan Reconsidered
FILE: Pollitt, K. “Are women morally superior to men?”
Benhabib, S. Situating the Self, “The generalized and concrete other”
Eisenberg, N. & Lennon, “Sex differences in empathy and related capacities”
Reflection Paper #2 Due (2 copies, SWAP)

Tues. 11/12 History Revisited: My Lai
BOOK: Olson, My Lai
FILE: O’Brien, T. “On the rainy river” from The Things They Carried
Darley, J. “Social organizations for the production of evil”
1:00 film “My Lai”

Wed. 11/13: Perspectives on War and Terrorism
FILE: Excerpts from Social Psychology of Terror

Roy, A. “The algebra of infinite justice”
Said, E. “Special Report: Terrorism in the U.S.”
Siddiq, H. “Bin Laden’s jihad, not Ours”
Hochman, B. “Double evil”

Thurs. 11/14: “Do No Harm” Ethics and Expert Witnessing in Clinical Practice
FILE: Pope, K. “Dual relationships in psychotherapy”
American Psychologist “Ethical principles of psychologists”
Keith Spiegel, P. & Koocher, G. “Privacy, confidentiality, and record keeping”
Faust & Ziskin “The expert witness in psychology and psychiatry”
Site updates
1:00 p.m. Film “My Doctor, My Lover”

Fri. 11/15 Clinical considerations (cont).

FILE: Abramson, L., Seligman, H., & Teasdale, J. “Learned helplessness in humans”
Darley, J. & Latane, B. “Bystander apathy”
Walker, L. “Psychology and violence against women”
Walker, L. excerpts from Why Battered Women Kill
In class film: “Defending our Lives”
Reflection Paper #3 Due (2 copies, SWAP)


11/18 Site Updates & Final Paper Presentation Day (sign up)
5:00 p.m. Research Paper Due

11/19 Final Paper Presentation Day (sign up)

11/20 Final Exams

School: Colorado College
Professor: Tricia Waters
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