Office Hours:                                                          Phone: 906-635-2122

Thursday: 10:30-12:00                                           Email:

Friday: 11:00-12:00 and 1:00-2:30

Other Hours Available By Appointment


   Jason K. Swedene PH.D.










George W. Bush
Current Issues in Philosophy
The syllabus with course links
2-3:40 MWF in CRW 305 (not in CRW 363 as published in LSSU schedule)
Instructor: Dr. Jason Swedene
Office location and phone number: LBR 327 (phone: 635-2122)
Office Hours: T: 9-12 and 1-2; R: 11-12, and by appointment

Students in this course can expect to learn to apply the tools of philosophical evaluation to issues related to the times and influences of president George W. Bush.

Required Texts:

Some readings will be photocopied and put on reserve at the circulation desk.

Required Course Website:

Most readings will be linked to the course website.  You are responsible for checking the website regularly.

Websites the well-informed check often (to be continued):

The Drudge Report
Washington Post Op Eds
Arts and Letters Daily
Abyz News Link

Course Requirements:

1) You must attend class regularly and participate in class activities. A one-half letter grade reduction will follow the 2nd unexcused absence and each unexcused absence thereafter. Missing a class without an acceptable excuse on the day a guest speaker appears will result in a 10 point penalty regardless of previous attendance record.  Please e-mail me if you plan to miss a class.
        2) There will be one in-class mid-term and one take-home final exam.  The exams are in short answer and essay format. 

        3) Students will participate in at least one debate and submit a paper detailing the arguments studied in preparation for the debate.  If time permits and students wish to engage in a second debate, 5 % extra credit (on the final grade) may be earned by doing so.

        4) Participation is not optional. Learning philosophy is an exercise in evaluating others’ ideas as well as formulating one’s own ideas. Both are therefore essential. Keeping up-to-date with both the readings and course handouts are considered aspects of class participation. Participation is 10 % of your grade.

        5) "In compliance with Lake Superior State University policy and equal access laws, disability-related (learning, medical, physical, etc.) accommodations and services are available. Students are to meet with their professor in a timely manner, preferably the first week of class, to discuss their accommodation needs. Students will not receive services until they register with the Resource Center for Students with Disabilities (RCSD). Proper registration will enable the RCSD to verify the disability and determine reasonable academic accommodations. RCSD is located in South Hall, office 206, ext. 2355."

      Calculating the final grade:

      STUDENT DEBATE  20  %

      DEBATE PAPER (5-7 pages) 20  %

      IN-CLASS MID-TERM  25 %

      TAKE HOME FINAL  25 %


=100% Grading Scale:

I use the LSSU grading criteria: 97 is A+, 93 is A, 90 is A-, 87 is B+, etc.

Cheating Policy:

Any form of cheating or plagiarism will result in certain disciplinary action, which might include failure of specific project and/or failure of the complete course. Cheating includes (but is not limited to) the use of any unauthorized assistance in taking quizzes, tests, or examinations; dependence upon the aid of sources beyond those authorized by the instructor in writing papers, preparing reports, solving problems, or carrying out other assignments; or, the acquisition, without permission, of tests or other academic material belonging to a member of college faculty or staff. Quotations must be used when the words are not your own and citations must accompany the use of others’ ideas, even if you paraphrase their wording. Failure to do so is plagiarism.

Course Topics

January 15
Course intro
January 22
Global terrorism: current events and moral analysis

Bill Sammon: selections from Fighting Back: the war on terror from inside the Bush white house (on reserve at LSSU curculation desk)
Osama Bin Laden: 1998 Frontline Interview
Prof. Bernard Lewis: Jihad vs. Crusade
Terrorism and Moral Philosophy
Victor Davis Hanson: The Longest War
Amnesty International: Guantanamo and Human Rights
Kenneth Roth: Bush Criticism
Current events: NYP: IOWA and Dean
Dean mp3
The President's State of the Union Address

January 29
The 2000 election
Bush v. Gore
Stevens's Dissent (concerning Bush v. Gore)
Linda Chavez 9/26/03: Commentary on Bush v. Gore
Howard Garcia: Conservatives Brought Disgrace...
BBC: Election Criticized
Randy Barnett: National Review Online: Supreme Vindication
Response to Florida Election Report
The Last Disenfranchised Class from The Nation
Myths about the Florida Election from The National Review Online
Fourteenth Amendment to Constitution: Due Process and Equal Protection
February 5

United Nations Security Council: Resolution 1441
Washington Post: Reaffirming Pre-emption
Al Jazeera: Drama Festival Opens in Iraq
Kay Testifies
Bush To Pick WMD Inquiry Panel

February 12
Affirmative Action

Web sites and Reserve Materials:

Howard Dean on Affirmative Action 
*****On RESERVE at LSSU circ. desk-
Three Readings by philosophers under PL200: "Preferential Hiring"
PBS: Testing the System
PBS: Weighing Affirmative Action
Grantz v. Bollinger
Grutter v. Bollinger


February 19
Guest Speaker:
Rev. Pawel Mecwel: Tentative Topic A Broader Perspective on Iraq, History, and Military Responses to Terrorism

The Vatican and the War in Iraq
Vatican reasserts opposition to War in Iraq
Vatican distances itself from Cardinal Martino
Offical Vatican Website (no need to print anything; just have a look around)
Just War?: US Bishops
February 26
Midterm: in-class; reading materials from previous classes may be brought in and used.

These readings will be alluded to in test:
Osama Bin Laden: 1998 Frontline Interview
Victor Davis Hanson: The Longest War
Bush v. Gore
Stevens's Dissent (concerning Bush v. Gore)
The Last Disenfranchised Class from The Nation
United Nations Security Council: Resolution 1441
Washington Post: Reaffirming Pre-emption

circ. desk-
Three Readings by philosophers under PL200: "Preferential Hiring"
Grantz v. Bollinger
The Vatican and the War in Iraq
Just War?: US Bishops

March 11 
Guest Speaker: Dr. John Erkkila on economics

Trade War: Steel, Genetics, and Possibly Harley Davidsons ( 11/11/03
President's Statement on Steel
WSJ: Greenspan, Bush, and the dollar

March 18
Judiciary appointments, Gay Marriage,the 2000 election revisited

The Fate of Detainees
BBC: Some Guantanamo Tribunals Begin
Judicial nominees and the art of filibuster

March 25
Stem cell research, partial birth abortion

Web sites:
Stem Cell Speech

April 1
Religion in Public Life

Web sites:
PBS Supreme Court Watch
PBS # 2

April 8
Guest Speaker: Rep. Scott Shackleton
Tentative Topic: How some policies of the Bush Administration affect State budgets and policies

Republican Response to State of the State address
April 15
Student Debates
April 22
Student Debates
April 28: by noon---
Here is the final exam.  Please turn it in to me before Wed 4.28 at noon.   (You may email it to me as an attachment or slide it under my door.)

Testing dates: Midterm Exam (Feb 26), Final Exam (due April 26-30)

Paper due date: April 22 (by 2:00 pm to avoid late penalties of 5% per day)

Return to Dr. Swedene's homepage