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Ethical trading cards

For my Moral Theory and Practice course (Iowa State University, Fall 2018), I created an assignment that required my students to design “Moral Theory Trading Cards”. Each card is the size of a traditional playing card and is designed to communicate the basic need-to-know features of a particular moral theory. The card and must include a description of the theory in question, a list of philosophical advantages and disadvantages of the theory, and names of famous defenders and critics. The students work on the cards in groups and I choose the best card for each theory and have it professionally printed for the students. In the latter half of the semester when it comes time to discuss questions in applied ethics, I use the cards as a philosophical game in class, where students are “dealt” a random moral theory that they must use to argue.

The cards help students to appreciate, in a practical and hands-on way, the role that assumptions play in philosophical arguments. “Playing” with the cards enhances their ability to explicitly identify the premises of arguments and to question those premises.