PHIL 1200 Philosophy and Society

Instructor Contact:

Shane Gronholz, PhD


Instructor Bio:

I received my PhD in philosophy from the University of Colorado Boulder in May of this year. I received an MA in philosophy, also from CU Boulder, in 2008, and a BA in both philosophy and religion from Whitworth University in 2005. My philosophical interests include metaethics, normative ethics, practical rationality, philosophy of religion, and, more recently, philosophy of law. My non-academic interests are film, cooking, comedy, and helping raise my 3-year-old son.

Course Description:

Introduces philosophical thought through critical analysis of our own society, its institutions, and principles. Approved for GT-AH3. Meets MAPS requirement for social science: general. Approved for arts and sciences core curriculum: United States context or ideals and values.

Course Objectives:

Throughout this course, you will learn to:

  • Define key ethical terms
  • Recognize universal moral claims and principles
  • Summarize arguments for a variety of moral viewpoints
  • Apply philosophical reasoning to contemporary moral problems
  • Employ thought experiments to assess philosophical arguments
  • Distinguish between different ethical perspectives
  • Analyze moral concepts and terms
  • Formulate responses to philosophical arguments
  • Construct counterexamples to ethical principles
  • Assess critical responses to philosophical arguments
  • Justify and defend your own position on important ethical issues


This course is an introduction to some issues in applied ethics. Many (if not all) of these issues are controversial and contentious (e.g., abortion, euthanasia). These are the kinds of issues many people think about and discuss, but in this class, we will approach them with philosophical rigor. In addition to helping you learn about some of these specific issues, my goal will also be to give you a chance to see the way philosophers approach difficult ethical problems and to do some philosophy yourselves. These issues are both interesting and important. They effect how you should act in your daily life, how you should vote, which political campaigns you should support, and what political outlook you should adopt. In this course, we will assume that there are right answers to the questions being asked, and we will attempt to discover those answers by considering various arguments.

I’m excited about this course and you should be, too! It’s going to be lively and fun and you will come out of it a better thinker, and maybe even a better person.

Required Texts:

What’s Wrong? (2nd edition). 2009. David Boonin and Graham Oddie (eds).

ISBN: 978-0195337808

Other readings can be found in D2L under the Content tab in the “Readings” module.

Under “Course Outline,” assigned readings from What’s Wrong? are indicated by ‘WW’ in parentheses. Readings found in D2L are indicated by ‘D2L’ in parentheses. 

Grading Criteria

Participation in Online Discussions 25%
Exam 1 25%
Exam 2 25%
Exam 3 25%


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Monday – Friday
8:00am to 5:00pm


We are located at the corner of University Avenue and 15th Street in a white brick building.


1505 University Avenue
University of Colorado Boulder
178 UCB
Boulder, Colorado