Markets, Ethics, and Law Syllabus

Markets, Ethics, and Law-PHIL 147

Instructor: Rochelle DuFord

Course Description: This course aims to provide an introduction to the legal and ethical issues involved in markets. We will cover topics such as property rights, the morality of capitalism, the contract system, the ethics of trading in markets (What should we be able to buy and sell? Human body parts? Sexual services? Children?), corporate social responsibility, and sexual harassment law. In doing so, this course provides an outline of arguments that both support, as well as critique, market transactions.

Course Objectives:

  • Develop critical reading, writing, and thinking skills.
  • Learn how to reconstruct arguments, and how to make arguments (specifically in writing).
  • Practice the skill of articulating disagreements, and providing constructive feedback to classmates.
  • Familiarize students with debates regarding ethical and legal issues that arise from markets and market transactions.

Gen Ed Credit

  • This course is an “H” course, as such it will “enhance students’ understanding of human experience through the study of literature or philosophy.”

Required Texts:

All required texts can be found under the ‘content’ tab on Blackboard. Texts will be in PDF form, and can be found organized according to ‘week.’ Each week’s texts will be grouped together in a folder for easy access. In each week’s folder you will also find my ‘reading notes,’ which are designed to take the place of a lecture. You will also find one ‘Weekly Lecture.’ This is a lecture which summarizes the week’s readings, and discusses them in conversation with each other and the week’s theme. You should read the ‘weekly lecture’ after you have read all of the week’s readings, and reading notes.

Additionally, you will be required to watch one movie. It is available to rent on Amazon Instant Video for $2.99. It is not available on Netflix. So, you MUST rent it on Amazon, unless you have a copy of the movie already.

Course Requirements:

Please be advised, all due dates and times are for EST. If you are in a separate time zone, your work must still be completed by the due date and time for EST.

10 1-2 page (250-500 Word) expository blog entries (30%).

Each week you are required to compose two blog entries on a different text of your choice. You can find the guidelines for blogging under the ‘content’ tab on Blackboard. Blogs are designed to be a place where you provide cursory explanations and engagements with the material. This will help you work on providing argument summaries, reading critically, and thinking critically about the texts.

When writing blog entries, they may be about any of the texts that were assigned that week.

Blog entries are due on Wednesday and Friday at 12:00 (noon) each week. NOTE:

Late blog entries will receive a 10% penalty per day, and are only accepted up to 48 hours late. After 48 hours, you will earn a grade of 0.

20 Responses to blog entries (20%)

Each week, you are required to comment on the blog entries of your peers. You must comment on at least four blog entries per week (two on Thursday, and two on Saturday). Responses must be substantive. This means you can ask a question about the original post, make a comment, develop a criticism, extend an analysis, or correct an error. Each response should be at least 50-100 words. You are also responsible for responding to anyone who responds to your blog entries.

Responses to blog entries are due by Midnight, the day following the submission of blogs. This means you must respond to two blog post by Midnight, Thursday, and to another two blog posts by Midnight, Saturday.

Weekly Quizzes (25%):

You will have a weekly reading quiz, composed of 10 questions, which must be completed on SATURDAY of each week. There will be multiple choice and short answer questions. Once you begin the quiz, you will have 40 minutes to complete it. Quizzes are open book and note, however, if you run out of time, your quiz will not be able to be completed. You may take the quiz at any time on Saturday, however be sure that you are prepared once you have opened it. You will not be able to ‘re-take’ the quiz.

Your first reading quiz will also have questions concerning the syllabus, be sure to read it in full.

NO LATE QUIZZES WILL BE ADMINISTERED. If you know in advance that you will not be able to take the quiz on Saturday, I will make it available for you earlier in the week, however, you MUST contact me PRIOR to Saturday to use this option.

**NOTE: in Week 5, your final reading quiz will be administered on THURSDAY, JUNE 25th.**

Final Exam (25%)

Your final exam will be a ‘take home’ style exam. I will provide you with 13 short answer questions and two possible essay questions. You will have 24 hours to complete the exam. In order to complete the exam you must answer 10 short answer questions, and compose one essay question response (approx. 250-500 words). This exam will be open book and open note. It will require critical responses, comparisons, as well as textual questions. **Absolutely NO late final exams will be accepted, if you are having trouble completing the final exam, please email me AS SOON AS POSSIBLE**

All final exams are due by MIDNIGHT, FRIDAY, JUNE 26.

Breakdown of Grading:

Blog entries (30%)

Blog Responses (20%)

Weekly Quizzes (25%)

Final Exam (25%)

Course Policies:

This course is conducted completely online. This means that while you can take the course from anywhere, a reliable internet connection is necessary. Technological difficulties, failure of internet connection, etc., are not justifications for failing to complete the assigned tasks on time. Contact me immediately if you believe you are having technological difficulties with the course.

Distance Learning

Because this is a distance learning course, reliable internet access is a necessity. It will also be necessary to have access to word processing software, as well as to a PDF reading software. If you will have any difficulty with these things, please contact me immediately.

Additionally ALL COURSE COMMUNICATIONS WILL BE COMPLETED VIA YOUR UNIVERSITY EMAIL ADDRESS AND THROUGH BLACKBOARD. You must check your email every day (I will send announcements and reminders via email) and you should check the course blackboard site every day for announcements and assignment guidelines.

Academic Honesty

Plagiarism and other forms of academic misconduct will be dealt with harshly in accordance with Harpur College policies. The Student Academic Honesty Code can be found at: Any instance of plagiarism will be reported to the honor council. Additionally, you will fail the course.


I am committed to maintaining an accessible digital classroom for all course participants. If you require accommodations, please forward me the official letter stating the accommodations you are owed, and I will implement them.

Other Information:

All assignments and rubrics will be posted in the “Course Documents” page, as well as in that individual week’s content folder.

Any changes to the syllabus will be announced to the class with at least 24 hours notice (I do not expect any syllabus changes).

Final grades are final. No work will be accepted after June 26, 11:59. There will not be opportunities for extra credit. The best way to succeed in the course is to be timely with your reading as well as completion of the assignments. Contact me if you have extenuating circumstances and we can discuss your options.

**Please email me to introduce yourself after you have completed reading the syllabus.**

Schedule of Readings and Assignments:

Week 1: The Market

Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations

“Of The Division of Labor” (Book 1, Chapter 1, pages 8-14) and “The Origin and Use of Money” (Book 1, Chapter 4, pages 22-27)

Karl Marx, Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844

“Wages of Labor” (pages 3-5), “Estranged Labor” (pages 28-35), and “Private Property and Labor” (pages 40-42)

Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism

“The Spirit of Capitalism” (pages 13-24)

Cedric Robinson, Black Marxism: The Origin of the Black Radical Tradition

“The Atlantic Slave Trade and African Labor” Begin with the section titled “African Labor as Capital” (Chapter 5, pages 109-120)

Blog 1 due at Noon, Wednesday

Blog 2 due at Noon, Friday

Week 2: Corporate Responsibility?

Nozick, Anarchy, State, and Utopia

Chapter 7, “Distributive Justice” pages 149-164

Watch Inside Job

Friedman, The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase it

Friedman et al, Rethinking the Social Responsibility of Business

Blog 3 due at Noon, Wednesday

Blog 4 due at Noon, Friday

Week 3: Consumption, Class Status, and Capitalism

Veblen, Theory of the Leisure Class

“Conspicuous Consumption” (Chapter 4, pages 33-47) and “The Belief in Luck” (Chapter 11, pages 127-134)

Horkheimer and Adorno, Dialectic of Enlightenment “The Culture Industry”

Hardin, “The Tragedy of the Commons”

Schweikart, “Is Sustainable Capitalism an Oxymoron” (Selections)

Blog 5 due at Noon, Wednesday

Blog 6 due at Noon, Friday

Week 4: Should Everything be For Sale?

Debra Satz, Why Some Things Should Not Be for Sale, “Ethical Issues in the Supply and Demand of Human Kidneys”

Salvascu, “Is the Sale of Body Parts Wrong?” Journal of Medical Ethics, 29

Scott Anderson, Prostitution and Pornography: Philosophical Debate About the Sex Industry, “Prostitution and Sexual Autonomy: Making Sense of Prohibition and Prostitution”

Debra Satz, “Markets in Women’s Sexual Labor,” Ethics, 106: 63–85.

Blog 7 due at Noon, Wednesday

Blog 8 due at Noon, Friday

Week 5- Capitalism and the Political Process

Michaelman, Some Ethical Consequences of Economic Competition

Silvia Frederici, “Wages against Housework”

Patricia Hill Collins, Black Feminist Thought, “Work, Family, and Black Women’s Oppression”

Blog 9 and 10 due at NOON, WEDNESDAY


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