Ethical Analysis and Advocacy


Winter 2019

Tuesdays, 8:30 - noon

Instructor: Dr. Miguel A. De La Torre , , (303) 765-3133

Teaching Assistant: Rudolph Reyes,


This course is an introduction to ethical reflection about contemporary moral issues in an ecumenical and global context drawing on ethical and social theory and analysis, and on theological and biblical perspectives.


  1. To teach students how to identify ethical and theological assumptions implicit in the moral life of persons and communities.
  2. To teach students to examine critically their own ethical assumptions as well as prevailing ethical assumptions in faith communities and society.
  3. To teach selected options in contemporary religious ethical theory, with special emphasis on Christian ethical theory.
  4. To enable students to develop an understanding of ethics which they can articulate and advocate with critical awareness as religious leaders.
  5. To relate theoretical ethical perspectives to select issues in church and society, especially those germane to pastoral practice.


  1. Participation in each class session for the entire session.  Specific kinds of preparation will be required.
  2. Complete required readings before the first day of class.
  3. Mid-term take-home examination.  Maximum Length: 10 pages, typed, double-spaced.
  4. Final take-home examination.  Maximum length: 10 pages, typed, double-spaced.


A pass/fail grade option is available.  Please inform the teaching assistant in writing no later than February if you choose this option.  No reasons need to be given.

For those who choose a letter grade, the following scale is used:

Mid-term take home examination 30%

Final take home examination 40%

Class Participation 20%

Academic Decorum 10%

1) Written grades will be based on the midterm (30%) and final (40%) Written grades are determined as follows:

A: The student demonstrates exceptional quality in written work. Little room for improvement exists. Several primary sources (outside of class readings) are used in the writing assignment. Both effort and execution are first-rate. It is obvious that the reading assignment was critically analyzed.

B: The student’s work is above average. At least one primary source (outside of class reading) is used in the writing assignment. It is obvious that the reading assignment was completed.

C: The student has fulfilled the minimal requirements for this course. Effort and the execution of assignment are of average quality. It is obvious that the reading assignment was not thoughtfully read. There is room for improvement.

D: The student work is below average. It is obvious that the reading assignment was not done. The student is not living up to the expectations of graduate-level work.

F: The student failed to accomplish the class assignments.

A late paper will lose one letter grade for each class day that it is turned in late. If the student plans not to be in class the day an assignment is due, it is the student’s responsibility to get the work to the teaching assistant prior to the class meeting time. If extra ordinary circumstances exist which prevent the student from completing her/his  assignment on time, then the student needs to make an appointment with the teaching assistant to discuss an alternative schedule prior to when the assignment is due. Students who do not hand in ALL completed assignments must make prior signed arrangements for an Incomplete.  Students not making these prior arrangements will automatically receive an "F" for the course.

2) 10% of the grade is based on academic decorum.  Being consistently present for class is a baseline expectation. Grade decorum is based on the following:

A: The student is respectful of others.  While disagreeing or challenging, the student never dishonors or disrespects. The student does not monopolize the conversation and is conscious of the need of all students having an opportunity to speak.

B: Every so often the student is insensitive to other student’s social location; rather than challenging or disagreeing with whatever point of view is being offered.  The student seems to speak more than others, insensitive that others have not had an opportunity to speak.

C: The student is disrespectful and is not willing to entertain different views. The student confuses their particular experience with the norm. Rather than paying close attention to the lecture and/or discussion, the student is texting, checking facebook, or engaging in some other form of social media unrelated to the class.

D: The student disrupts the learning experience of others by the way they conduct themselves in class.

F: The student creates a hostile classroom experience.

Submission of Assignments : In an effort to reduce our carbon footprint, we ask that no assignment be submitted in paper form.  Please electronically submit your midterm and final to the TA.

Incomplete Policy: Students are responsible for following the procedures outlined in the attached document.


Students will come prepared to discuss the following questions for each reading.  The student is expected to answer the following questions in writing, not formally but in note form (no more than 2 pages).  Papers to be emailed to the TA for Pass/Fail grade which will count toward the Class Participation portion of the grade:

1) Who is the author?

2) What is the author’s thesis?

The thesis question should be answered in one sentence: this is a valuable skill to practice that will enable you to process information efficiently and effectively.

3) What is the author’s methodology and theory?

Method is the way the author conducts research; theory is how the author explains the research findings

4) How did this reading further your self-understanding of ethical issues and what do you take away from the book?

5) In light of the reading and class lecture, suggest a specific act of justice you feel motivated to do.

The 45 minute book review discussion will be conducted by the class TA who is working on a PhD in the field of ethics.  Note - this is not to be considered a lecture; rather, the TA will lead a discussion based on the five questions each student must answer in writing prior to the class.  The professor will be present during the class discussion, and will participate in the discussion.


Jan 8 The Deliberative Motif

8:30-9: Introduction

9-10:30: The Deliberative Motif

10:30-10:45: Break

10:45-noon: Discuss Kant

Jan 15 The Prescriptive and Relational Motifs

8:30-9:30: The Prescriptive Motif 9:30-10:30: The Relational Motif

10:30-10:45: Break

10:45-noon: Discuss Sheldon

Jan 22 The Liberationist Motifs

8:30-9:15: Deliberative vs Prescriptive Debate

9:15-10:30: The Liberationist Motif

10:30-10:45: Break

10:45-noon: Discuss Fletcher

Jan 29 The Postmodern and Postcolonial Motifs

8:30-9:30: The Postmodern Motif

9:30-10:30: The Postcolonial Motif

10:30-10:45: Break

10:45-noon: Discuss DeLaTorre 1

Feb 5   Biblical Ethics

8:30-10:30: Biblical Ethics

10:30-10:45: Break

10:45-noon: Discuss DeLaTorre 2

Feb 12 Political Ethics

8:30-10:30: Political Ethics

10:30-10:45: Break

10:45-noon: Discuss Alinsky

Midterm electronically sent to TA by 8pm

Feb 19 Construction of Class & Neoliberalism

8:30-10:30: Class Ethics

10:30-10:45: Break

10:45-noon: Discuss Jones & Smith

Feb 26 Construction of Gender

8:30-10:30: Gender Ethics

10:30-10:45: Break

10:45-noon: Discuss hooks

March 5 Construction of Race

8:30-10:30: Race Ethics

10:30-10:45: Break

10:45-noon: Discuss Cone

March 12 Construction of Sexuality

8:30-10: Discuss Sex

10-10:15: Break

10:15-11: Wrap-up class

Final electronically sent to TA by noon


Alinsky, Saul D. Rules for Radicals

Jones, Robert P. and Ted A. Smith Spirit and Capital in an Age of Inequality

Cone, James H. Martin & Malcolm & America

De La Torre 1, Miguel A. Doing Christian Ethics from the Margins (2014 Edition)

De La Torre 2, Miguel A. Latina/o Social Ethics

Fletcher, Joseph. Situation Ethics

hooks, bell. Ain’t I a Woman

Kant, Immanuel. Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals .

Sheldon, Charles M. In His Steps .