SML 216

TTh 12:50p-02:20p



Prof. Sammy Basu


Office: Smullin 322

Hours: TTh930-1130

or by appointment.









In this ethics and public policy course we will reflect upon death in modern America.  More specifically, we will examine four cases in which mortality looms large: Health Care, Physician-Assisted Suicide, Death Penalty, and Oil.  We will focus upon the use and criticism of particular modes of 'Arguments, Reasons, and Values' in the effort to reflect meaningfully upon each case.  In addition, students will complete an independent project: 'service-learning’ experience, or shadow and reflection paper, or research paper relating to mortality.






"Man is only a reed, the weakest thing in nature; but he is a thinking reed."

            m Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), Pensées (1670, vi.347).


"Read not to contradict and confute, nor to believe and take for granted,

nor to find talk and discourse, but to weigh and consider."

            m Francis Bacon (1561-1626), 'Of Studies,' Essays, (1597).


"Then, rising with Aurora's light,

The Muse invoked, sit down to write;

Blot out, correct, insert, refine,

Enlarge, diminish, interline."

            m Jonathan Swift (1667-1745), On Poetry (1733, I.85).


"'The time has come,' the Walrus said, 'To talk of many things:

Of shoes -- and ships -- and sealing wax -- Of cabbages -- and Kings --

And why the sea is boiling hot -- And whether pigs have wings.'"

            m Lewis Carroll (1832-1898), Through the Looking Glass (1872)


"Know then thyself, presume not God to scan,

The proper study of mankind is man,

Plac'd on this isthmus of a middle state,

A being darkly wise, and rudely great:

With too much knowledge for the sceptic side,

With too much weakness for the stoic's pride,

He hangs between: in doubt to act or rest,

In doubt his mind or body to prefer;

Born but to die, and reas'ning but to err;

Alike in ignorance, his reason such,

Whether he thinks too little or too much."

            m Alexander Pope (1688-1744), An Essay on Man (1733, Epistle, ii.1.1).




This course is organized around the readings, class discussion, and student experience/research. 

The grade has five components listed below, all of which must be passed to pass the course. 

Late penalties will be assigned.

If you believe that you may have a disability requiring accommodation, please contact
Disability Services, Baxter Hall, Phone: (503) 370-6471, (TT) (503) 375-5383.


(1) Regular participation in class discussions and assignments (20%)
- engage with the films, readings, internet, and view-points of others.  Attendance does not constitute participation.

(2) Mid-Term Examination (20%)
- on introductory materials, health care, and physician-assisted suicide.

Format will include short-answer questions, identify and explain questions and so on with emphasis on crucial facts, concepts, and arguments.


(3) Service-Learning Reflective essay (30%)
- a brief (8-10 pp. i.e., 2400-3000 word)
reflective essay drawing upon 20-25 hours of on-site service involvement, personal journal of experiences, and relevant secondary scholarship.
    Shadow and Analysis paper (30%)
a sustained (15-20pp. i.e., 4500-6000 word) analysis paper upon a particular role or institution based upon participant observation with or shadowing of person(s) occupying the role or institution, and relevant secondary scholarship.


    Argumentative Research paper (30%)

- an extended (20-25pp. i.e., 6000-7500 word) piece of original research bringing philosophical and conceptual issues to bear upon a specific empirical controversy involving mortality in contemporary America.

(4) Oral presentation (10%)

- brief (15-20 min.) in-class presentation of reflections upon the service-learning experience, analysis of shadow observation, or the arguments of the research.  10 min Q & A.

Presentation must make use of ‘information technology.’ 
Email presentation at least two days before scheduled date.

Turn in draft of accompanying paper at time of presentation. 
Paper and presentation materials are not one and the same although they will certainly share elements.


(5) Final examination (20%)
- on introductory materials, death penalty, oil, and student presentations of their own projects.

Format will include short-answer questions, identify and explain questions and so on with emphasis on crucial facts, concepts, and arguments.


In addition, students will be expected to become adept in navigating the internet and evaluating web-site sources to obtain data and distinct perspectives.

See: http://www.willamette.edu/~sbasu/poli303/useofweb.htm



It is important that you complete the assigned reading and take the time to reflect on it before coming to class.  The required texts listed below are available for purchase at the WU Bookstore.  Additional required readings on the WWWeb or on reserve at Hatfield Library will be available through the online syllabus.








Peter A. Ubel M.D.


Pricing Life: Why It's Time for Health Care Rationing


The MIT Press P, 2001

ISBN-10: 0262710099

ISBN-13: 978-0262710091



Robert P. Jones


Liberalism's Troubled Search for Equality: Religion and Cultural Bias in the Oregon Physician-Assisted Suicide Debates


University of Notre Dame Press P, 2007

ISBN-10: 026803267X

ISBN-13: 978-0268032678



Benjamin Dov Fleury-Steiner


Jurors' Stories of Death: How America's Death Penalty Invests in Inequality


University of Michigan Press P, 2004

ISBN-10: 0472068601

ISBN-13: 978-0472068609


Terry Tamminen


Lives Per Gallon: The True Cost of Our Oil Addiction


Island Press, 2006

ISBN-10: 1597261017

ISBN-13: 978-1597261012











T Aug 28


Į Introduction: Death in America

Why ‘death’?

Extra Read: Ratner Edward R and Song, John Y. “Education for the End of Life.” The Chronicle of Higher Education June 7, 2002


Į What is Political Theory? Political Philosophy?

What is political theory?
Cartoons on death
Pictures of death
Alphabet of Death

Dear Death

Assignment: "What does death mean?" (1-2 paras)


Assignment: “How would you live if you knew you only had ten years to live?”



Th Aug 30


Į Data on Death in America

UNDP HDR: Infant mortality rate
under 5 infant mortality rate

UNDP HDR: Life expectancy at birth
Life expectancy index

who mortality database
national life expectancy table
latest ranking

A quick snapshot of Mortality rates

Infant mortality rates

Read: Amartya Sen, “Live Long and Prosper” and

Amartya Sen, "Mortality as an Indicator of Economic Success and Failure." Economic Journal, Vol. 108, January 1998, 1-25  (On Reserve) or online at jstor

NYT slide show

The maladies of Affluence


Assignment: complete the questions on statistics given below


Results: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/misc/atlasres.pdf

Maps for All Causes: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/gis/atmapall.pdf


Eg. Smoking and COPD

Also worth a look:

upward mortality



T Sep 4


Į The Historical Meanings of Mortality

Read: AriŹs, Philippe. 1980. "Five Variations on Four Themes," in The Hour of Our Death. (Trans.) H. Weaver. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 602-14. (ON RESERVE)

1. http://www.museum.upenn.edu/Greek_World/pottery_big-28.html

2. http://vrcoll.fa.pitt.edu/medart/image/England/abergavenny/mainabergavenny.html

3. http://www.dboc.net/rouen/oc_rouen_aitre.php

4. home.vicnet.net.au/~foskc/ 19th_century_cemeteries.htm

5. http://www.cnn.com/HEALTH/9804/23/dying.cancer/


Assignment: complete the Aries worksheet



Th Sep 6


Į Analyzing Arguments, Reasons, and Values:

Theorists of Liberalism and What is Liberalism?

Read: Gaus, Gerald F. 1996. “Liberalism”, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, NOV 30 1996



Į Library Research and Navigating the internet

            Ford C Schmidt

                        Hatfield Library

            Tel: 503-375-5407

            E-mail: fschmidt@willamette.edu


Politics Databases



Į Digital Fieldwork




Į Service Learning Experience,

or Shadow & Reflection,

or Research Paper

                        Khela Singer-Adams

Director, Community Service Learning

                        Tel: 503.370.6807

                        E-mail: ksingera@willamette.edu


how to establish a service-learning relationship





Pricing Life: Why It's Time for Health Care Rationing


Peter A. Ubel M.D.


Cover and Backflap


T Sep 11


Cartoons on healthcare

PBS: History of US health care

UNDP HDR: Health expenditure per capita
UNDP HDR: Public health expenditure as %age of GDP
UNDP HDR: Private health expenditure as %age of GDP
Mayo Clinic: Need for Reform: Availability of Care
Quality of Care

American Cancer Society

History of medical codes:






Read: PL, pp. xiii-30
Chapter 1: Rationing According to Cost-Effectiveness: Explicit, Quantifiable, and Unacceptable?

Oregon Health Plan

Criticism of OHP
OHP unravelling or here
Chapter 2: The Politics of Defining Health Care Rationing




Talk of the Nation, September 24, 2003 Š The demand for health care is

nearly limitless, but funds are finite. How do we decide which patients

get expensive treatments and which do not? Some argue that rationing is

the fairest way. Host Neal Conan and guests examine the economics and

ethics of health-care rationing.



Relevance: Non-profit campaign funded by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to raise awareness about and bi-partisan action on the health uninsured, with present focus on the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), which was authorized by Congress in 1997 to provide health coverage for children living in families earning too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford private insurance, and which Congress must reauthorize this year.


2007 State-level Universal health care bills






This article addresses health care rationing by arguing that a free-market approach will provide a better incentive structure for consumers in seeking better health care for their money, rather than a rationing system that allows people to leech off the system by seeking unnecessary treatments.


Th Sep 13

Read: PL, pp. 31-65
Chapter 3: The Necessity of Defining Health Care Rationing

Chapter 4: The Challenge of Measuring Community Values in Ways Appropriate for Making Rationing Decisions



“Aged-Based Health Care Rationing” By Claire Andre and Manuel Velasquez. Issues in Ethics - V. 3, N. 3 Summer 1990

Ubel discusses health care rationing as needed, yet emphasizes the difficulty of determining what services should be ration by on cost effective analysis or community values, neither of which has proven sufficient. This website discusses that yes, rationing is necessary, but proposes a different way of rationing. It's controversial, but restricting care for the elderly, believing that the young are whom should receive our health care dollars. The authors determine that it is not unfair because everyone will grow old. This could be one example of a community value that not everyone would support, which further complicates health care rationing.

census 2000
Policy challenges posed by aging




Some highlights:


Won’t this result in rationing like in Canada?


The U.S. Supreme Court recently established that rationing is fundamental

to the way managed care conducts business. Rationing in U.S. health care

is based on income: if you can afford care you get it, if you can’t, you

don’t. A recent study by the prestigious Institute of Medicine found that

18,000 Americans die every year because they don’t have health insurance.

That’s rationing. No other industrialized nation rations health care to

the degree that the U.S. does.


If there is this much rationing why don’t we hear about it? And if other

countries do not ration the way we do, why do we hear about them? The

answer is that their systems are publicly accountable and ours is not.

Problems with their health care systems are aired in public, ours are not.

In U.S. health care no one is ultimately accountable for how it works. No

one takes full responsibility.


The rationing that takes place in U.S. health care is unnecessary. A

number of studies (notably the General Accounting office report in 1991,

and the Congressional Budget office report in 1993) show that there is

more than enough money in our health care system to serve everyone if it

were spent wisely. Administrative costs are far higher in the U.S. than in

other countries’ systems. These inflated costs are directly tied to our

failure to have a publicly-financed, universal health care system. We

spend at least twice more per person than any other country, and still

find it necessary to deny health care.






A single public plan would cover every American for all

medically-necessary services including: acute, rehabilitative, long term

and home care, mental health, dental services, occupational health care,

prescription drugs and supplies, and preventive and public health

measures. Boards of expert and community representatives would assess

which services are unnecessary or ineffective, and exclude them from

coverage. As in the Medicare program, private insurance duplicating the

public coverage would be proscribed. Patient co-payments and deductibles

would also be eliminated.


T Sep 18


Read: PL, pp. 67-136
Chapter 5: Cost-Effectiveness and Bedside Rationing: Do Two Wrongs Make a Right?
Chapter 6: The Case Against Bedside Rationing
Chapter 7: Recognizing Bedside Rationing
Chapter 8: Linguistic Confusion about Bedside Rationing


Matt L



Ubel discusses how physicians are currently rationing health care under his broad definition of what constitutes bedside rationing. This link discusses a poll that was given to the Society of Critical Care Medicine members. The poll, like Ubel's examples, shows how bedside rationing is already occuring and that some tough decisions must be made with financial limitations in mind.



Margaret J

Tenncare: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uud11ft2HJU

Private Medical Contracting: http://www.ncpa.org/ba/ba268.html

From the patient's perspective, efficiency and equity are not inherently imbalanced. Translating the values (both morally and economically) of the public into well-articulated public policy can prove to be pragmatically flawed in both senses. Tenncare (an example for my home state) is a good example of the flawed implementation of quantified values when it comes to patient care. The second site offers legally questionable implications of standardized health care in a commodity-based economy.



unequal treatment 1

unequal treatment 2 http://www.cmwf.org/publications/publications_show.htm?doc_id=221257








Th Sep 20


Read: PL, pp. 137-183
Chapter 9: The Unbearable Rightness of Bedside Rationing
Chapter 10: Future Possibilities for Improving How Cost-Effectiveness Analysis Incorporates Public Rationing Preferences
Chapter 11: The Future of Cost-Effectiveness Analysis and Health Care Rationing


Ben E


an argument against bedside rationing the

hippocratic oath presents a moral qualm for doctors. They are supposed to

do no harm and by some extension do everything they can to save a life.

This idea is often critiqued on the internet partially because people say

the oath is outdated. The website i found is a 2005 update to the oath

done by Cornell university. I think that it can be interpreted to suggest

that bedside rationing by a medical professional goes against their basic

principles. So its not an argument so much against the rationing but

against doctors morality to ration.





Maurice Bernstein, MD posted a blog addressing the ethical issues of

bedside rationing in conjunction with a review of P. Ubel and R. Arnold's

“The unbearable rightness of bedside rationing; physician duties in a

climate of cost containment”. He cites the review and quotes from it the

point Ubel and Arnold seek to make which is that bedside rationing is

necessary to control health care costs and when done correctly is a moral

practice. He then poses a basic question, whether individuals feel that

bedside rationing is in fact ethical and if there is a better way to

manage health care than what he calls the “USA private/governmental forms

of health care delivery” (Bernstein, 2005).




The National Academies congressional mandate (2000)

Institute of Medicine Report (2002)

unequal treatment 1

unequal treatment 2

The Commonwealth Fund Report and Summary (2002), Report (2004), Report on Physicians’ preparedness (2005), Report on health and segregation (2005), Report on quality care (2006), and what’s new?





Liberalism's Troubled Search for Equality: Religion and Cultural Bias in the Oregon Physician-Assisted Suicide Debates


Robert P. Jones


Faithful democrats


T Sep 25


Cartoons on assisted suicide

Legal and Political Timeline in Oregon

Oregon Death with Dignity Act


Compassion and Choices site

Not Dead Yet blog



Read: LTSFE, pp. 1-54
Introduction: Liberalism and Moral Vision
Chapter 1: Physician-Assisted Suicide and Dworkin’s Equality of Resources

Chapter 2: Interlude: Inequality and hardship in America







Note the distinction between allowing death and facilitating it and how allowance is perceived as morally acceptable because of the patient's choice, yet facilitation is not even in the face of the patient's choice of death.



Lindsay M



On page 43 of Liberalism's Troubled Search for Equality, Jones says "...PAS ought to be understood as an expensive taste and that is opportunity costs to the disadvantaged outweigh its benefits to the privileged few who support it." He argues that PAS is inherently unequal because not everyone in the U.S. has equal access to health care. As a result, the economically disadvantaged who do not have adequate assistance and support in end of life care may be forced to choose this option for their inability to pay for end of life care services. Liberalism desire to maintain equality at first glance would support PAS and not let moral or religious factors influence its legislation, however, in reality PAS prevents equality due to the lack of universal health care in the U.S.

This site outlines some of the core ideas about PAS and why it could be considered a physicians obligation to support patients desire to end their life.


Th Sep 27


Read: LTSFE, pp. 55-123
Chapter 3: An Idea Whose Time Has Come? The Historical and Legal Context of the Oregon Death with Dignity Act
Chapter 4: The Social Sources of Physician-Assisted Suicide


Matt W



James Ricci examines the failure of the California Compassionate Choices Act, Bill 374, to make it out of committee in the California Assembly in June of this year.  The legislation, modeled after Oregon’s 1994 death with dignity statute, would allow mentally competent patients with less than six months to live access to a legal prescription of drugs.  Ricci attributes failure of the Act to opposition from disability rights activists who contend that HMOs would respond to the legislation by withholding expensive care from the disabled and terminally ill until they chose to die.  Ricci’s article reflects Jones’ concern that social contexts such as a race, poverty, and gender, along with limited health insurance, financial, and caregiving resources make “full free and voluntary choice” illusory (123).  While some disability rights advocates support legislation because of its safeguards, anxiety is especially great among disabled Californians who have experienced a denial to healthcare access by HMOs and fearfully view the U. S. healthcare system as “increasing unjust and savage.”  They join with Jones in opposing physician assisted suicide at least until more equitable access to the health care system renders individual choice truly free and voluntary.



Daniel C on Tuesday



There is a .pdf file on the first article of the site that links to a

study regarding the concerns of Not Dead Yet and other groups, suggesting

that there is no "slippery slope" (or at the very least, we have not found

the slope in the last 8 years of the Oregon PAS law), that the problems we

saw about amputation don't exist regarding PAS.


We'll take a look at some of these numbers in class, and perhaps ask some

questions about the data.



Monty Python on Not Dead Yet

Thomas More and Utopia with AS

Onpoint on inequality

SF FedRB on wage inequality

Pulling Apart on Oregon stat sheet

Doyle on Death

Electric edge on Bouvia

Not Dead Yet on Bouvia

AMA on Bouvia

Disabled advocates on The REAL Hemlock Society

Oregon Nurses


T Oct 2


Read: LTSFE, pp.124-219
Chapter 5: The Moral Logics of Physician-Assisted Suicide

Chapter 6: Missing Persons


Isaac R



Who better to discuss the moral logic of physician assisted suicide than

the Bishops of the Catholic church. As mentioned in class on Thursday the

separation of church and state was done so out of the respect of the

importance of religion to our founding fathers, many of whom were

Protestant. So here is an argument that can appeal to the traditionalist

in all of us.


Tain C

I chose an Article that can be found from Oregon's Right to Life.

this is the article: http://www.pccef.org/pressreleases/press32.htm

and this is the website:  http://www.ortl.org/end-of-life/assisted.php

Basically what the article is doing is talking about these nurses who acted on their own accord and helped try to end the life of a man with throat cancer.


NYT on Child Care Plan Bill

OR DwD 9 yr stats

Lovelle Svart: July 17 intro, med request, last day, audio Sept 28

CC on Brownback


Th Oct 4


Read: LTSFE, pp. 219-270
Chapter 7: Cultural Bias

Chapter 8: Physician-Assisted Suicide as an Expensive Taste: An Egalitarian Critique

Conclusion: Toward and Egalitarian Critique

Oregon Advance Directive

White privilege, able-bodied privilege

Douglas grid



Ben E



South Park. Season 1 Episode 6 entitled "Death". In this episode Stan's grandfather is old and tired of life. The "B" plot of the episode involves Grandpa convincing Stan and his friends to kill him and put him out of his misery. After multiple failed attempts Death himself brings back Stan's great-great grandfather's ghost to tell Stans grandfather that it is wrong to push his desire to end his life onto his family. I think this is an appropriate site for two reasons. First of all it specifically mirrors Jones' thought that the practice of PAS should not be forced on the whole population because a small group wants it. More generally I think it is a good concluding note to end on.





Rebuttal: http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1070869

Peter A. Goodwin provided the care for the first recipient of

physician-assited suicide under the Oregon Death with Dignity Act. In this

letter to the editor he answers objections to his actions and physician

assisted suicided in general. These objection include PAS as a barrier to

end of life care reform, Kevorkian practices, socio-economic concerns

relating to PAS and PAS becoming widespread. Notably, Goodwin concludes,

"I agree that physician-assisted suicide is not the most important issue

concerning us, but it has encouraged us to confront those more important




NYT: A Common Casualty of Old Age: The Will to Live



T Oct 9


Th Oct 11

Midterm Exam


A 1


B+ 5

B 3

B- 3

C+ 4






Jurors' Stories of Death: How America's Death Penalty Invests in Inequality


Benjamin Dov Fleury-Steiner


T Oct 16


Read: JSD, pp.ix-28


Chapter 1: Introduction

Chapter 2: Race, Politics, Punishment, and the Bureaucracy of Death





Trial by Jury


In David Hume's History of England, he tells something of the powers that the kings had accumulated in the times after the Magna Carta, the prerogatives of the crown and the sources of great power with which these monarchs counted:

The first paragraph of the Act that abolished the Star Chamber repeats the clause on the right of a citizen to be judged by his peers: Abolition of the Star Chamber July 5, 1641 An act for the regulating of the privy council, and for taking away the court commonly called the star-chamber.

“WHEREAS by the great charter many times confirmed in parliament, it is enacted, That no freeman shall be taken or imprisoned, or disseised of his freehold or liberties, or free customs, or be outlawed or exiled or otherwise destroyed, and that the King will not pass upon him, or condemn him; but by lawful judgment of his peers, or by the law of the land…”

Many English colonies adopted the jury trial system including the United States. Jury trials in criminal cases were a protected right in the original Constitution and the Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Amendments of the U.S. Constitution extend the rights to trial by jury to include the right to jury trial for both criminal and civil matters and a grand jury for serious cases.

From  Wikipedia


Jury role, civic participation and deliberative democracy






Death Penalty Cartoons jury cartoons

Capital Jury Project

ARW on CJP responsibility, confusion, bias


Race to Execution (Trailer)

DPIC's new State-by-State information database.

CJP Study of Juror Misperceptions

DPIC on exonerations


DPIC on Race

DPIC on geography


Death Penalty Variances



All acquitted in boot camp beating video trial pics

14 yr-old Martin Lee Story video

Jury: Ten people total - four men and six women make up the six deliberating jurors and the four alternates. 

All deliberating jurors are white and the four alternates are made up of three whites and one asian.



Death Penalty Status


Cruelty of DP

Lethal injection stay of execution


D.W. Griffiths Birth of a Nation (1915)


Eberhardt et al, Looking Deathworthy







       This website addresses a race related issue with capital punishment

that the author does not really discuss - how defendants who had

murdered a black person were treated less harshly than individuals

who murdered a white person - whether the defendant is a person of

color or a poor white . The author goes to great lengths in the

book to address issues with race related with capital punishment

but he doesn't really focus on how the race of the victim plays a

potential role in the sentence the defendant receives and neither

does popular discourse on the subject.



        Amnesty International is one of the main groups against capital

punishment. They work closely with the United Nations and want to

impose a moratorium on capital punishment. Recently, the Supreme

Court decided to halt two executions in Kentucky while it could

examine the lethal injection process used - the same method that

is used in Texas. They are trying to determine if lethal injection

is unconstitutionally cruel. This is the main page for Amnesty

International and its views on capital punishment.



       Good clip that lays out the basic statistics (from a liberal stand

point) and also discusses prosecutors and the impact the race of

the victim has on the sentence handed down by the jury.




This article is interesting because it puts a different “spin” on the

exact same statistics that are commonly used to bolster arguments against

capital punishment.  However, it is important to note that it is only the

work of an individual man who is also the vice-president of Justice for

All, a victim’s rights organization from Texas.  Although the credibility

of this website/organization may be questionable, it seems to be a

prevalent voice on the issue. In search after search on capital punishment

and related issues sources from pro death penalty.org kept coming up.  One

of the most notable aspects of the racism essay is the narrow way in which

the author views racism, I believe Fluery-Steiner referred to this as the

“perpetrator perspective” (17). Another interesting aspect of this

organization is that they keep a detailed database of expected executions.


Two websites:







Th Oct 18


Read: JSD, pp. 29-65
Chapter 3: Story Worlds of Death

Chapter 4: Insiders




This is a website devoted solely for the abolishment of the death penalty.

There are articles titled act now, which is a link giving a certain inmate

whose time is almost up and what we should be doing to try and release

them, and why. Also, they give the facts and figures of the death row- I

looked particularly at Racial Bias, because it was in the chapter we were

reading for today.





Besides the numerous biblical passages that advocates of capital

punishment like to quote, there aren't nearly as many vocal advocates

online for the death penalty as compared to those who are against it. All

religious contradictions aside this article does an admirable job

outlining the importance of having the ultimate punishment in place for

those who commit the ultimate crime. "Execution of those who have

committed heinous murders may deter only one murder per year. If it does,

it seems quite warranted. Its is also the only fitting retribution for

murder I can think of."


T Oct 23


Read: JSD, pp. 66-128
Chapter 5: Voices of Resistance
Chapter 6: Representing Death
Chapter 7: Handling Resisters






"The West Wing," Season 1, Episode 14, "Take This Sabbath Day." The basic plot involves a surprise Supreme Court decision that reverses a lower court's decision and in effect, allows a state execution. Since the Court ruled on the issue on a Friday, the execution cannot take place until 12:01 AM Monday morning. This leads to various members of the presidential staff to face the ethical question of whether the state should have the right to execute anybody. Of course, the only person with any power to commute the sentence is President Bartlett, himself a devote Catholic. Throughout the episode, you get the views of three different religious groups (Quakers, Jews, and Catholics), all of which oppose the death penalty in one way or another. This is what makes the show especially interesting as it approaches the issue of the death penalty almost entirely from a religious point of view. The arguments are not based on the death penalty being discriminatory or on it being simply bad policy. Rather, it approaches the issue simply as a moral wrong and as something that the state should never enforce.The writer of the show, Aaron Sorkin, also took great care in developing his arguments by utilizing many thinkers including Immanuel Kant, St. Augustine, and Thomas Aquinas to show that we as a society might want to reevaluate our opinions on capital punishment and that execution by the state may perhaps be an antiquated/evil practice. All in all, the common theme of the episode is that capital punishment is a form of vengeance and that it is something that the state should not have the authority to do. (Note: The title refers to a passage in Ten Commandments, Deuteronomy 5:1-22, which reads  'Take care to keep holy the sabbath day as the LORD, your God, commanded you.")





On this page Mr. Lowe expresses information that supports the death

penalty from many different angles.  These arguments span from the

deterrent effect of the death penalty to Religious justification of the

Death Penalty.  His most interesting point is the argument of cost.  Some

argue that the death penalty costs more for the state then a Life term

would.  He points out that estimates of cost for LWOP vs. DP are based on

a comparison between a very conservative  estimate and a very liberal

estimate.  He also points out that on average a person who commits murder

will only spend 5 years and 11 months in prison for the crime. He also

points out that most of the expenditures for these DP cases are in the

appeals process.


He also discusses the "racial" aspect of the capital punishment argument.

He points out that racism in the system can only be eliminated by

eliminating racism, not the system.


"If and when discrimination occurs it should be corrected. Not, however,

by letting the guilty blacks escape the death penalty because guilty

whites do, but by making sure that the guilty white offenders suffer it as

the guilty blacks do. Discrimination must be abolished by abolishing

discrimination - not by abolishing penalties. However, even if...this

cannot be done, I do not see any good reason to let any guilty murderer

escape his penalty. It does happen in the administration of criminal

justice that one person gets away with murder and another is executed. Yet

the fact that one gets away with it is no reason to let another one




W Oct 24, 3pm

Oregon Death Penalty Debate

room 218 Truman Wesley Collins Legal Center, Willamette University College of Law.


Marquis—an outspoken death penalty “retentionist”—has argued the virtues of capital punishment on national television programs like Dateline and in the pages of the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.

Abolitionist Bill Long has written a history of capital punishment in Oregon and published articles on the subject in Willamette Week, the Oregon State Bar Bulletin, and the Willamette Law Review. Both are experienced criminal law scholars and debaters.

Admission is free and the public is invited.

Sponsored by Willamette University College of Law chapter of the American Constitution Society. Its purpose is to heighten the dialogue surrounding the death penalty in Oregon and its impact on the average citizen as well as the state’s public policy. For more information contact either smaison@willamette.edu, rsteiner@swcp.com or call (Denny, (503) 798-1344)




Th Oct 25


Read: JSD, pp. 129-161
Chapter 8: Conclusion: Pawns of the State
Appendix A
Appendix B


Matt W

In Benjamin Fleury-Steiners “Jurors’ stories of death,” he discuses how many jurors construct defendants as immoral outsiders. Judging what kind of person they are by where they are from or what they look like.  One of the only ways to counter this argument is by looking at the true brutality of each individual crime. Realizing that racism and unfairness do exist in our capital punishment systems today is only the first step to deciding on weather or not the death penalty is good for America and others around the world.

scheduled executions and descriptions of their crimes

can you be a juror?



Matt L



This is an article in favor of the death penalty saying that it is fair becasue the death penalty has been reformed since Furman v. Georgia. New standards for the imposition of the death penalty require the "sentences of death will not be `wantonly' or `freakishly' imposed." The author argues that the death sentence is not arbitrary and is only used for the worst offenders. While the author does not say it, I assume becasue the death penalty is reserved for the worst crimes, the imposition of the death penalty does not matter becasue they deserve to die going into the sentencing phase.




Batson v Kentucky (1986)

NYT Court Revisits Question of Jury Selection Bias

Law.com Boxing with Jury Selection





M Oct 29, 7pm, Paulus Lecture Hall (Room 201)

Truman Wesley Collins Legal Center, Willamette University



Dr. Hester Jiskoot, Department of Geography, University of Lethbridge, Canada


Join Dr. Hester Jiskoot in understanding more about this highly important topic as she explains glacier dynamics, glacier-climate interactions, water issues, and the impact glaciers have on our environment.



ABSTRACT: Global climate change has caused widespread accelerated glacier retreat, which has negative effects on the fresh water available for humans and the freshwater found in ecosystems. In turn, changing glaciers cause global sea levels to rise, alter the landscape, and affect climate at the local and global scale. In order to understand how glaciers fit into our world and how we fit into the glaciers’ world it is important to understand how glaciers work and what causes them to change. By being informed about natural systems such as glaciers we can understand why some changes in nature happen so fast while others take longer. We will also be able to see that all these systems are interconnected and what our influence on these systems can be.



T Oct 30

Interim report on student projects






Lives Per Gallon: The True Cost of Our Oil Addiction


Terry Tamminen




Top 10 things


Terry Tamminen on Schwarzenegger

Gov. Schwarzenegger Signs Executive Order (1/18/2007)


Tamminen on NWCN (11/15/2006)

What To Do About America's "Oil Addiction" or here (11/2/2006) (4.46 min)

Australian Interview with Tamminen (9/27/2007) (16 min)


David Suzuki on Climate Change




US EPA NCER on Particulate Matter

NIEHS on Fine Particulate Matter Air Pollution and Mortality in U.S. Cities (2001)


Francesca Dominici,1 Aidan McDermott,1 Scott L. Zeger,1 and Jonathan M. Samet. National Maps of the Effects of Particulate Matter on Mortality: Exploring Geographical Variation. Environmental Health Perspectives Volume 111, Number 1, January 2003



Welty LJ, Zeger SL. Are the acute effects of particulate matter on mortality in the National Morbidity, Mortality, and Air Pollution Study the result of inadequate control for weather and season? A sensitivity analysis using flexible distributed lag models. Am J Epidemiol. 2005 Jul 1;162(1):80-8


is this a good slogan?



Hummer and Hummer Helps and Hummer Kids
Car in Uniform

Hummer Club


Tread Lightly



Chevrolet and fuel solutions

Ford and enviro vehicles

GM and fuel economy

Honda and environmental news

Toyota and future/concept


American Petroleum Insitute


Th Nov 1


Read: LpG, pp. 1-51
Prologue: The Origin of the Specious

Chapter 1: The Breath of Our Fathers

Chapter 2: A Losing Proposition



Biblical worldview on climate change





CA Proposition 65 – warnings


Oil Pipelines


$10 is true cost per gallon


NYT on Solar Homes



This opinion piece, from the Brookings Institute, comments on what

Democrats and Republicans have suggested pursuing in response to the

increasing gas prices and America’s dependence on oil.  The author

suggests that these “solutions” won’t work and instead he suggests setting

a price floor on oil. This idea gets to what some economists have known

for a while…oil will continue to be overused until the price reflects the

true cost of the resource, which includes the environmental and health

costs (not just costs of production). These "negative externalities" are

not captured in the dollar amount we pay for  oil, so in essence no one

has to pay the price directly, but as Tamminen points out, everyone pays

in some way—some more than others.




Another incentive for people to drive fuel-efficient vehicles:









Though many may be in agreement that oil is bad for the environment and a resource that is fair from sustainable, very few have come up with alternatives that are not without their drawbacks. Through the essay by Robert L. Bradley Jr. (president of the Institute for Energy Research and is the an adjunct scholar of the Cato Institute) entitled "Why Renewable Energy Is Not Cheap and Not Green," we can take a look at two of the alternatives to petroleum products, wind energy and solar power, and how they are not exactly the eco friendly. Among the issues he addresses is the issue of space (the amount of space needed to create a suitable amount of energy usually far exceeds the usefulness of switching to the more "sustainable" form) and the efficiency of the energy itself (the money spent/resources used tend to greatly exceed the the benefits of going "green"). Above all else, Bradley is suggesting that our oil addiction is not as simple as switching from one medium of energy to another and that there are many more considerations to take into account aside from the effects of oil. Furthermore, he more or less implies that petroleum and natural gases were selected as the favored energy sources for a reason and that just because their flaws are a more self evident now does not mean that a quick switch will solve all of the problems.


T Nov 6


Read: LpG, pp. 53-105
Chapter 3: Desperate Enterprise

Chapter 4: All That Glitters




Latest health care study






MSNBC interactive and most popular

Oregon Collier Glacier




Oil companies


Think of the kids

and ad/critique (600)




Government role

http://www.energy.gov/about/EPAct.htm 2005




Advanced energy initiative 2006









Alberta Tar/Oil Sands – 2nd behind Saudi, but perhaps 2 trillion ie 8 x Saudi




think of the kids


Enviro in hot water –





Canada politics



US in relation to Canada




Canada’s Far North

Arctic Surveillance System (3.30)

Arctic Cold War (17.41)






In this article the author outlines the health effects of using high

polluting diesel engines and how much it is costing us every year.  Air

pollution is responsible from some 3,000 premature deaths a year.  That

figure is greater then homicide in California.  It is also the cause of

4,400 hospital visits.


"In 2000, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) estimated that diesel

PM was responsible for 70 percent of the state’s risk of cancer from

airborne toxics (CARB, 2000c). Diesel engines often remain in operation

for decades, with the older engines releasing the greatest amount of

pollution. In 2004 alone, diesel pollution will cause an estimated 3,000

premature deaths in California—greater than the estimated 2,300 annual

homicides in the state.1 In addition, diesel exhaust will cause an

estimated 2,700 cases of chronic bronchitis and about 4,400 hospital

admissions (including emergency room, or ER, visits) for cardiovascular

and respiratory illnesses every year. The cost of these health impacts is

$21.5 billion per year."


The author suggests that the only way that we can stop this is by enacting

standards and getting the bad polluters off the road by giving incentives.

 He also suggests that we hold ships and trains to these same standards.

If this is done we can save 11,000 premature deaths and 16,000 hospital

visits by 2020.  The savings to California would be $70 billion.


Even though this is an older article it is still valid while studying the

effects of oil on our health.




In chapter four, "All That Glitters" Tamminen discusses some of the

history surrounding global dependence on oil, the effects of petroleum on

global warming and the consequences faced by third world nations where

these companies operate. Since ChevronTexaco was one of the companies

mentioned, it is important to look at how they address these issues.











Th Nov 8


Read: LpG, pp. 107-154
Chapter 5: Wealth Seems Rather to Possess Them

Chapter 6: Worse Poison to Men's Souls







- The first two websites expand on the tips given by the author to save

fuel. The first website tested some of the tips and the second website

provides more tips and gives some reasoning behind them.




- This website discusses the use of vegetable oil in diesel engines as an

alternative source of fuel. A diesel engine can be converted to run on

vegetable oil and some fast food places will sell people their used

vegetable oil for incredibly low prices.






The Alliance to Protect the Nantucket Sound claims wind power would ruin

fishing grounds that supply local fishermen. The Alliance also points out

that with only 3% of our electricity being used to generate oil, wind

powered electricity will have a "negligible impact on reducing oil



"Fact: Cape Wind would not make a significant contribution to the effort

to reduce pollution emissions, and in fact, could aggravate the problem by

causing dirty power plants to run more often in order to be ready to

generate power instantly when the wind stops blowing."





T Nov 13


Read: LpG, pp. 155-211
Chapter 7: Postcards from the Year 2025

Chapter 8: The Quality of Mercy - Oil on Trial

Epilogue: The Seventh Generation





Taminen argues that Hydrogen fuel is cleaner by far than petroleum fuels,

especially when the H2 is made from biomass or electrolysis of water (if

the electricity is made from renewable sources)...  He also argues for H2

as feasable in providing a mass market for an alternative energy source to

petroleum.  These German based websites corroborate his argument with data

and pictures showing the likely unsustainability of continued petroleum

based usage and the advantages of Hydrogen as a practical source of







One of the arguments consistently put forth by Tamminen, and other environmentalists, is that the automobile industry, and implicitly the oil industry, care little, if at all, for the health and well being of people through out the world. In this interview, Dr Steven Phillips, the Medical Director of Global Issues and Projects for ExxonMobil, discusses his company's current involvement in coping with the malaria problem in their African workforce.





This is SASOL's website, one of the world leaders in coal to oil technology. As Earth's stores of oil dwindle, SASOL recognizes that new manners of procuring the precious commodity are needed or we must replace it. Coal to oil is the wave of the future for the oil industry as China has already made moves by building a multi-billion dollar coal to oil facility in Mongolia with numerous other facilities in design. This would seem to "refute" Tamminen's argument that our dependence on foreign oil supplies are as small as they are, since the US produces billions of tons of coal each year that could be used to relieve our addiction to foreign oil.



What to do?


Fox on global warming


Ali G on environment

Ali G on Environment Republicans



Crude Impact: Oil Companies and the Environment



Lawyer: Bay Pilot Didn't Realize Damage


California Sues Over Emissions Limits


50 years of Protecting Europe's Environment





Top 10 things by Taminnen


Environmental racism


Canadian energy strategy for a carbon-constrained future


Bill Clinton


On organic standards


When 'Organic' Doesn't Quite Mean Organic



Th Nov 15

Taken for a Ride, New Day Films (55 min)



Why Does America Have the Worst Public Transit in the Industrialized World, and the Most Freeways?





Green-wash (green'wash', -wôsh') – verb: the act of misleading consumers regarding the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of a product or service.





T Nov 20


Individual meetings with professor


WITS on making webpages



Th Nov 22

Thanksgiving – No class




T Nov 27

Į Student Presentations

Margaret J:


Politics in Modern Art: Don’t fear the reaper

Christina S:


Juvenile v Adult Court Process



Th Nov 29

Į Student Presentations

Isaac R:


 Willamette Family Medical Center


Maluhia G:


Hospice: rationing through volunteerism

Zandy W:


 Hospice: care or capitalism?

Nicholas B:


Hospice: why odyssey?

Ben H:


 disparities in death penalty cases



T Dec 4

Į Student Presentations

Angie G:


Planned Parenthood/Abortion


Paul M:


Hospice: the voluntary experience

Annie S:


Hospice: Modern Death and its effects on the elderly

Derek B:


Social construction v. Individual responsibility

Ben E:


Nuclear power as a "green" energy alternative



Th Dec 6

Į Student Presentations

Matt L:


Assisted Living Facilities and their failures


Film: Assisted Living

Matt W:


Death Penalty and Hispanic Jury Selection

Lindsay M:


Hospice: Confronting the obstacles


Dan C:


Infant mortality in a colorblind society

Tain C:


School policies and cartoons



Dec 8,9,10

Study Days


Dec 11, 6pm



Thu Dec13,
2-5 pm

Final Exam and Final Paper due