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Paul David Fornell, MS, LPCC,


All of us from time to time reflect on the ethical dimensions of our lives. What sort of person I ought to be? Which goals are worth pursuing? How should I relate to others? We may wonder about the answers to these questions that have been provided by the most profound thinkers of past generations. We may speculate whether their conflicting opinions amount to disagreements about the truth or merely expressions of their differing attitudes. We may consider how their varied theories might help us understand ethical issues of our own day.

This course will provide the vehicle to address these matters. In part one we will examine some of the most influ¬ential ethical theories in philosophical thought, from ancient Greece to contemporary thinkers. Part two explores theoretical issues concerning the nature of ethical judgments, the resolution of disagreements and the evolution of ethical theories. And, then in part three we will delve into contemporary ethical problems that may include; abortion, euthanasia, famine relief, animal rights, capital punishment, business practices and universal health care – to name just a few.


Which ethical positions are correct? Just as each member of a jury at a trial needs to make a decision and defend a view after considering all of the relevant evidence, so each inquirer needs to make a decision and defend a view after considering all the relevant opinions. This course will provide the materials and venue on which to base your thinking. But the challenge and excitement of ethical decision making is that after taking account of the work others have done, the responsibility for reaching conclusions is your own. What sort of person will you be? Which goals will you pursue? And, how will you relate to others?


Course Outcomes: 

1. To gain an in depth understanding of ethics and ethical decision making; including values, beliefs, and morals.  2. To critically review different professions and their Codes in both historical and contemporary terms. 3. To fully understand the theoretical and practical basis for ethics. 4. To develop interdisciplinary knowledge of the relationship between ethics and other societal rules and regulations (i.e. laws, statutes, etc.) 5. To understand the relevance of cultural diversity in ethics and ethical decision making.


Thinking Critically About Ethical Issues (9th Ed.), Vincent Ryan Ruggiero, McGraw-Hill, New York, NY, 2015.

Additional Readings: Each student will select at least one primary source (Aristotle, Kant, Dalai Lama, etc.) to pres¬ent and utilize in their individual and team project. The Codes of Ethics of pertinent professional associations will be examined (American Medical Association, American Management Association, Bar Association, etc.)


Television: In Treatment, The Office, and the ABC News Prime time Ethical Dilemmas. Others to be selected by the students based on their interest areas.

Movies/DVDs: Inside Job, written and directed by Charles Ferguson, 2011, Why We Fight, written and directed by Eugene Jarecki, 2006. Others to be selected by the students based on their interest areas.


Individual Student Learning Outcomes: 

Cognitive Domain – Students will be able to:

1.              Describe and define the principles and concepts of ethics and ethical decision making.

2.             Synthesize and integrate theoretical and practical applications of interdisciplinary ethical studies.

3.             Interpret and justify their ethical stance by comparing and contrasting supportive and opposing positions.

4.             Prepare and deliver an individual and team project on the practical application of an ethical concern.

5.             Note: Each student must utilize at least two different disciplines in their research for both the individual paper/presentation and team paper/presentation.This reflects the updated requirement for SLO's for "400" level course work. See Honors College Student Handbook.

Affective Domain – Students will be able to:

1.              Show awareness and sensitivity to different views of ethical decision making.

2.             Appreciate and demonstrate ethical problem solving ability in a democratic society.

3.             Differentiate highly developed synthesis and integration skills of interdisciplinary ethical studies.

4.             Display and practice accountability and transparency in their daily ethical behavior.


Paul David Fornell, MS, LPCC has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in ethics and is a practicing clinical mental health counselor. Paul has served as the Director of Ethics for the American Counseling Association, is the current chair of the ACA Ethics Interest Network and has served as the chair of the ethics committee for the New Mexico Counseling Association and the New Mexico Clinical Mental Health Counseling Association.