Review Comment

[PHIL C3912] Seminar: Ethics

April 25, 2012

Bell, Macalester Silver_nugget
[PHIL C3912] Seminar: Ethics

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Due to previous negative culpa reviews of this professor's seminar, I was not looking forward to this class. HOWEVER, I found this class to be my most engaging and fascinating class of my final semester (and I'm not prone to hyperbole).
In previous philosophy classes, the tendency to table discussions of emotions as a distraction from capital-p Philosophy, I was skeptical as to whether our emotions should have anything to do with philosophy. I found the topics of emotion to be, not only a thoroughly philosophical matter, but at the core of understanding any robust account of morality.
In the intimate setting of a seminar, real discussion and exchange took place, and I left each session (regardless of how annoyed or tired I was at the beginning) invigorated by the debates from class. She entertains the class with a brand of humor that is harmless and always self-depricating. Prof Bell facilitated such fruitful exchanges in her charitable interpretation of a students position that would keep our discussions focused. If she's ever been accused of being "mean" or judgmental to a student (as I fear she has been accused of in the past), I would venture to say that said student perhaps takes themselves to seriously.
She is empathetic, approachable and gives detailed comments on papers. She pushed back the date of our final papers so that we would have the weekend to write them... I should only wish I had more "mean" teachers in college.
In summary, I recommend taking this seminar if you can get into it.


minimum of five short responses to readings, one 5 pg response paper, and one 10-12pg final paper

May 17, 2011

Bell, Macalester Silver_nugget
[V2702] Contemporary Moral Problems and [PHIL C3912] Seminar: Ethics

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Consider yourself warned. Professor Bell is very intelligent, and considered by some of her peers to be a good philosopher. However, she often seems to be more in the business of making (rather harsh) moral judgments upon her students rather than teaching them and helping them explore ideas about ethics and morality.

Her ethics seminar was structured pretty well, but she was frankly just unprepared for class most of the time. Rather than engage with the class on the readings, she distanced herself by making handouts and reading from them. Contemporary Moral Problems was better because she was more prepared for the class, having taught it many times before. The material being significantly more difficult in the ethics seminar, she was unable to really make clear the central points of the readings.

In general, though, Macalester tends to have rather extreme views on certain issues, and is unrealistic in her expectations of students to adopt said views. This is perhaps her most dangerous and unpleasant quality as a teacher of ethics. In a large class like Contemporary Moral Problems, it is less noticeable -- but stay away from her at all costs in the more intimate seminar-level.


Ethics Seminar: 7 Courseworks posts, 1 4-page response paper, 1 12-page final paper
Contemporary Moral Problems: 3 1-page assignments, midterm, 5-page paper, final exam

(very manageable on both counts)

Directory Data

Dept/Subj Directory Course Professor Year Semester Time Section
PHIL / PHIL PHIL PHIL C3912: Seminar: Ethics Macalester Bell 2012 Spring W / 11:00-12:50 PM 3
PHIL / PHIL PHIL PHIL C3912: Seminar: Ethics Macalester Bell 2011 Spring T / 2:10- 4:00 PM 3