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Phil (AJ/Bus)186 / Section 6

Professional and Business Ethics



Instructor:                         Dr. Bo Mou

Time & Place:M & W:    10:30 am – 11:45 am; BBC004

Office Hours: 

(1) Regular Office Hours: T & R 12:00 am – 1:00 pm;

(2) If you are unable to make these times, we can schedule a time that is convenient for you;

(3) Extra office hours will be arranged before each of midterm and final exams.

Office:                                FO 225

Phone:                               (408) 924-4513




 Course Description

This course presents an examination of some important moral issues that arise in various professional and business contexts, particularly as they relate to social justice and equality in the US. As a philosophy course with its reflective and critical character, this course emphasizes consciously and critically applying explanatory resources and conceptual tools from moral theory to the moral realities of professional and business life and is open-minded and sensitive to alternative moral approaches in the non-western traditions to look at things from a broad and balanced perspective. The course has four major objectives, which are elaborations of the four objectives for Advanced GE in Area S in the context of this course: (1) to expose students to the important moral issues that arise in various business contexts; (2) to provide students with an understanding of the moral, social, and economic environments within which those problems occur; (3) to introduce students to the ethical theories and concepts that are relevant for resolving those problems; and (4) to assist students in developing the necessary reasoning and analytical skills for doing so and in cultivating a capacity to look at things from a broad perspective and in a critical and balanced way.

 Catalog Course Description

Interdisciplinary study of ethical issues that arise within the contexts and as a result of business and professional practice, particularly as they concern social justice and equality in the US. Key elements of the course include: major traditions of ethical theory and their social contexts; moral decision-making techniques; critiques of economic justice and social equality; identity, moral roles and the world of work; diversity, the workplace and the marketplace; and related case studies.  

Advanced GE, Area S

Philosophy (AJ/Bus) 186 is designed to meet the requirements for Advanced GE in Area S: Self, Society & Equality in the US. The objectives for Area S will be pursued throughout the semester. In keeping with these objectives, and in the context of professional and business ethics, upon successfully completing the course, students should be able to: 

  1. Describe how religious, gender, ethnic, racial, class, sexual orientation, disability, and/or age identity are shaped by cultural and social influences in contexts of equality and inequality;
  2. Describe historical, social, political, and economic processes producing diversity, equality, and structured inequalities in the US;
  3. Describe social actions by religious, gender, ethnic, racial, class, sexual orientation, disability, and/or age groups leading to greater equality and social justice in the US; and
  4. Recognize and appreciate constructive interactions between people from different cultural, racial, and ethnic groups in the US.

 Required Texts

W. Shaw: Business Ethics (Wadsworth; 4th Edition, 2002). [S]

Supplementary Reader. [R]


(a)    Completion of core GE; 

(b) satisfaction of Writing Skills Test; 

(c) upper division standing.

 Instruction Format

Lecture, class discussion, and small group discussion.

Course Requirements

(1)  Class participation: 10%;

(2) One In-Class Philosophical Writing Exercise: CR/NC (8/27);

(3)  1st Midterm Exam: 20% (10/10);

(4)  2nd Midterm Exam: 20% (11/21);

(5)  Term Paper: 20% (due 12/5 in class);

(6) Final Exam: 30% (12/13)


(1)  Exams: Both midterm and final exams will combine multiple choice and essay questions based on a case except that students will have two hours and fifteen minutes to complete the final exam. The instructor will supply a study guide a week before each of the exams. The final exam will be comprehensive but focus on material subsequent to the last mid-term.

(2) Writings: Advanced General Education courses require a minimum of 3000 words of writing, including in-class and out-of-class assignments. Each student is thus required to write: (i) the term paper (total 4-5 typewritten double-spaced pages with about 300 words each page), (ii) in-class writings for the three exams (equivalent to 5-7 pages total), and (iii) one in-class philosophical writing exercise (1-2 pages).

(a)    The In-Class Philosophical Writing Exercise: This writing exercise shall be assigned during the early phase of the semester. It serves for the diagnostic purpose about the students’ levels of ability to think critically and to write clearly and effectively.

(b)    Term Paper: The out-of-class part of this requirement will consist in a critical discussion either of one of the three essays in the Reader (that is, Entry 4: Robert Heilbroner, “Reflections on the Triumph of Capitalism;” Entry 6: Richard Lippke, “Advertising and the Social Conditions of Autonomy;” and Entry 7: Peter Singer, “The Place of Nonhumans in Environmental Issues.”) or on the topic “How Confucian Approach Is Relevant to Moral Issues Arising in Today’s Professional and Business Context.” The paper should show use of library resources through footnoting at least two library references, e.g., books or journal articles.

(c)    Academic Dishonesty: Plagiarism is wrong. Never turn in another person’s work as your own and never present material taken directly from a book, journal or the Internet without putting quote marks around it and giving an endnote crediting the author.

(3)  Late Papers and Missed Assignments: Papers that are one class session late will be demoted one grade notch (e.g., a B will become a B-); papers that are later will receive a two grade notch cut. Exceptions are made if you have a doctor’s note or if you have been given a prior extension. Students who miss a mid-term will need a serious excuse (e.g., a doctor’s note) and to schedule a make-up exam.

(4)  Class participation: (i) Attending scheduled classes regularly; (ii) Being active in group discussions; (iii) Earnestly finishing in-class presentation assignments.