Why Be Moral? Self-Interest and the Morally Good Life

Presented by Dr. Andrew Eshleman

During the October 16th, 2007 ATLE luncheon, Andrew Eshleman uses a clip from the television show Friends to show how he involves all students in a discussions of the classic question, “Is it possible to do good for completely selfless reasons?”

Andrew Eshleman

“In my presentation, I sought to illustrate a common way I teach such material in an introductory level course. To prepare students, they are given a short (1 pg.) un-graded writing exercise about the day’s reading assignment that is due at the beginning of class. These accumulate over the course of the semester and constitute a student’s “class preparation” grade (rather than “class participation” grade). This mechanism ensures that most students have read the relevant material and have begun giving some thought to it. In class, I then begin with a short video clip from an episode of the TV show, Friends, where the character Joey presses (in a humorous way) a view like that expressed by Glaucon. This helps put the issue in a contemporary context and illustrates that ancient texts can be very much “alive” to us today. Through the use of targeted questions, I then seek to enlist the students’ help in unpacking the argument being made in the text. As we identify the claims being made, we list them on the board and make sure we understand how each claim is intended to support the objection offered by Glaucon. Here, I also illustrated a gimmick I sometimes use to randomize class participation that involves the rolling of a die to determine who will be responsible for answering the questions I pose. Finally, once Glaucon’s objection and the claims made in its support have been identified, we then turn to an evaluation of the argument: should we be convinced by what Glaucon is saying? Why or why not?”


Dr. Eschleman, Associate Professor in Philosophy and Liberal Studies, is in his 10th year at UALR. His teaching and research areas are in ethics and in philosophy of religion. He holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of California at Riverside and M.A.s in philosophy and in religion from Claremont Graduate University.


Here are the handouts provided at the seminar:


Dr. Andrew Eshleman‘s Webpage


Dr. Andrew Eshleman

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