Claremont McKenna College
Prof. Clark A. Kucheman
Roberts North 213
Phone: (909) 607-7980
Office Hours:
TTh 1:30-3:30
Or By Arrangement
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Syllabus - Fall 2006
Religious Studies 41 - Morality and Religion
Section I
Section II
Tuesday & Thursday
12:00 - 1:10pm
Roberts North 104
Tuesday & Thursday
4:15 - 5:25pm
Roberts North 104


What It's All About (Really):

      An introduction to reasoning about moral obligation and the relation thereof to concepts of God in the Jewish and Christian religious traditions.

Principal Text:
      Your Professing-Rather-Than-Merely-Reporting Professor's Morality and Religion  (a freebie)

Supplementary Texts in Honnold Library:
      William Frankena, Ethics  (BJ 1012 F7 1973)
      Carl F.H. Henry, Christian Personal Ethics  (BJ 1251 H396)

Supplementary Texts in the School of Theology Library:
      Will Herberg, Judaism and Modern Man  (BM 561 H44 1960)
      Ralph McInerny, Ethica Thomistica  (B765 T54 M392 1982)


1.   Basic Concepts and Principles of Ethical Theory

      Required reading:

      Morality and Religion, Part I

      Recommended extra:

            William Frankena, Ethics

2.   Divine Command Ethical Theory

            God as a Sovereign Personal Being

      Required reading:

Morality and Religion, Part II

            (Covering Carl F.H. Henry, Emil Fackenheim, Robert M. Adams, and Will Herberg)

      Recommended (but not required) extras:

      Carl F.H. Henry, Christian Personal Ethics

      Will Herberg, Judaism and Modern Man

William Lane Craig, "The Indispensability of Theological Meta-Ethical Foundations for


Alan Dershowitz, "Why Be a Good Person?"

3.   Natural Law Ethical Theory

            God as a Morally Good Personal Being

      Required reading:

Morality and Religion, Part III

            (Covering St. Thomas Aquinas)

      Recommended (but not required) extras:

      Ralph McInerny, Ethica Thomistica

            Charles Curran, "Roman Catholic Sexual Ethics: A Dissenting View"

St. Thomas Aquinas, Treatise on Law

Charles Curran, "Roman Catholic Sexual Ethics: A Dissenting View"

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons

Pope John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor  (Catholic Moral Teaching)

4.   "Personist" Ethical Theory

            God as a Perfectly Rational Personal Being (from Immanuel Kant)

            God as a Cosmic Process (from Mordecai Kaplan)

            God as Being-Itself (from G.W.F. Hegel and Paul Tillich)

      Required reading:

Morality and Religion, Part IV




Midterm Examination        (Date to be negotiated)   25%

Final Examination

  • Monday, December 11, 2006, 7:00 PM
    - or -
  • Wednesday, December 13, 2006, 7:00 PM
Term Paper + Occasional Unannounced Quizzes + Class Participation 25%

      The term paper will be in the form of a letter to your parents — or to other intelligent and interested readers you may happen to know — about five (?) pages long, due on the day of the final exam, in which you explain an important issue considered in this course, the arguments about it, and (if you wish) the position to which you have come after deliberating about the arguments.   Extra research is not necessary (unless of course you find that none of the positions or ar­guments considered here are worthy of your assent).

      This is an argumentative course.   Not only will a number of conflicting positions and arguments be considered, but, as you will no doubt notice, the course is itself organized in the form of a long argument.   (Your instructor is a professor, after all, not a reporter.)   Consequently you should consider and evaluate the arguments and in doing so think through them — and other arguments too, if you see fit — to the position you judge to be justified.

      Class participation, too, involves argument.   Don't permit yourself — or anyone else — to be brainwashed!   So keep up with the arguments, think about them, and let us all know what you think.   We can't all be justified in believing as we do, needless to say (unless we should all happen to be in agreement), but we perhaps can at least come closer to being justified if we take seriously and think about what each of us has to say.

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Philosophy of Right





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Copyright© 2001-2006 by Clark A. Kucheman, All Rights Reserved

Copyright© 2001-2016 by Melody E. Kucheman, All Rights Reserved