Classes

    Tech Ethics: AI, Biotech, and the Future of Human Nature (Gen Ed 1058)

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2019

    Ethics & Civics icon with textScience & Technology in Society icon with text

    Michael Sandel and Doug Melton

    The course explores the moral, social, and political implications of new technologies. Will biotechnology and AI enable us to hack humanity? Should we edit the genes of our children, extend the human lifespan, and genetically enhance our athletic ability and IQ? Can algorithms be fair? Will robots make work obsolete? Can smart machines outthink us? In an age of big data and social media, is privacy over? Is democracy?... Read more about Tech Ethics: AI, Biotech, and the Future of Human Nature (Gen Ed 1058)

    Rationality (Gen Ed 1066)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2020

    Ethics & Civics icon with text

    Steven Pinker

    How can members of a species that discovered symbolic logic and the double helix also believe that the earth is flat and that Hillary Clinton ran a child-sex ring out of a pizzeria? Human rationality is very much in the news, as we struggle to understand how an era with unpreceded scientific sophistication could harbor so much fake news, conspiracy theorizing, and “post-truth” rhetoric.... Read more about Rationality (Gen Ed 1066)

    Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Question of Conscientious Citizenship (Gen Ed 1142)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2020

    Ethics & Civics icon with text

    Brandon Terry

    What does it mean to be a conscientious citizen? What are our responsibilities as civic-minded, morally-engaged members of overlapping communities? This course seeks to answer such questions by exploring the ethical, religious, and political thought of arguably the greatest public intellectual and activist that the United States ever produced, Martin Luther King, Jr. In interrogating King’s body of public philosophy, as well as its leading critics and interpreters, we will pursue a body of questions that remain essential to thinking through the problems of citizenship in the current age.... Read more about Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Question of Conscientious Citizenship (Gen Ed 1142)

    Dissent and Disobedience in Democracies (Gen Ed 1035)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2020

    Ethics & Civics icon with text

    Arthur Applbaum

    Recent political upheavals in several of the world’s established democracies have sparked discussions about dissent and disobedience not seen since the 1960s.  When, if ever, are citizens in a democracy justified in breaking the law to protest or resist what they believe to be bad, unjust, or illegitimate laws or policies?... Read more about Dissent and Disobedience in Democracies (Gen Ed 1035)

    Reclaiming Argument: Logic as a Force for Good (Gen Ed 1051)

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2020


    Argument and persuasion are features of all of our lives that can be as challenging and fraught as they are unavoidable and essential; what is the best way for us to handle them?
     

    Ethics & Civics icon with text

    Edward J. Hall

    Our lives are awash in argument and persuasion. This course aims to teach you how to manage argument and persuasion in your own life – not just with skill, but ethically.... Read more about Reclaiming Argument: Logic as a Force for Good (Gen Ed 1051)

    Who Do You Think You Are? The Ethics of Identity (Gen Ed 1009)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2021

    Who are you, how did you come to be that way and what are the possible persons you could become?

     

    Ethics & Civics icon with text

    Jay Harris

    Who are you? We typically answer this question with a name and a collection of identity terms. Our identities may be ascribed or chosen; we often experience them as simply given, and we sometimes struggle against them. We use these identity categories, in turn, to structure decisions, negotiate relationships, and otherwise shape our lives.... Read more about Who Do You Think You Are? The Ethics of Identity (Gen Ed 1009)

    Nature (Gen Ed 1117)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2021

    Saving the planet is necessary and will actually make us happy, right?

     

    Ethics & Civics icon with text

    Joyce Chaplin

    So, the good news is that we’re already using ethics to define how we can and should do the right thing in relation to the natural world. In fact, all ethics in the western tradition have used “nature” and “natural” as foundational definitions—we’re more than halfway there! But, obviously, we need to be conscious that we’re using those definitions and we must decide which of them to correct or reject. (Ethics from western philosophy have an outsized place in global debates over policy and science, for instance, but should this continue to be the case?)

    ... Read more about Nature (Gen Ed 1117)

    Justice: Ethics in an Age of Pandemic and Racial Reckoning (Gen Ed 1171)

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2020


    What is a just society, and how should we contend with the ethical choices posed by this moment of pandemic and racial reckoning?

    Ethics & Civics icon with text

    Michael Sandel

    This course explores classical and contemporary theories of justice and applies them to the ethical issues raised by the COVID-19 pandemic. For example: Should we be willing to accept a certain number of deaths to re-open economic activity? Should the state use surveillance tracking of citizens to enforce social distancing? Is it wrong to pay people to submit to certain risks, such as testing new vaccines? What, if anything, does the experience of the pandemic suggest about how our economy and society should be organized? 

    ... Read more about Justice: Ethics in an Age of Pandemic and Racial Reckoning (Gen Ed 1171)

    The Democracy Project (Gen Ed 1002)

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2021

    At a time when democracies are collapsing all over the world and when American democracy lies in a state of crisis, what, of its future, can be learned from its past?

     

    Ethics & Civics icon with textHistories, Societies, Individuals icon with text

    Jill Lepore

    The history of the United States is the story of a struggle to realize two ideas: that all people are created equal and that people can govern themselves. “Our great experiment,” generations of Americans have called the United States, and with good cause. Democracy has always been, at heart, an inquiry, a question: Can the people rule? In 1787, when Alexander Hamilton asked whether it’s possible to establish a government ruled by reflection and choice rather than by accident and force, that was a hypothetical question.... Read more about The Democracy Project (Gen Ed 1002)

    Ethics of Climate Change (Gen Ed 1015)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2022

    What are individuals, scientists, businesses, and governments morally required to do to prevent catastrophic climate change?

     

    Ethics & Civics icon with text

    Lucas Stanczyk

    How should governments respond to the problem of climate change? What should happen to the level of greenhouse gas emissions and how quickly? How much can the present generation be expected to sacrifice to improve conditions for future generations?... Read more about Ethics of Climate Change (Gen Ed 1015)

    Evolving Morality: From Primordial Soup to Superintelligent Machines (Gen Ed 1046)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2022

    How can we understand the evolution of morality—from primordial soup to superintelligent machines—and how might the science of morality equip us to meet our most pressing moral challenges?

     

    Ethics & Civics icon with textScience & Technology in Society icon with text

    Joshua D. Greene

    In this course we’ll examine the evolution of morality on Earth, from its origins in the biology of unthinking organisms, through the psychology of intelligent primates, and into a future inhabited by machines that may be more intelligent and better organized than humans. First, we ask: What is morality?... Read more about Evolving Morality: From Primordial Soup to Superintelligent Machines (Gen Ed 1046)

    Race and Caste (Gen Ed 1126)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2022

    What can thinking about race and caste together tell us about identity and inequality?

     

    Ethics & Civics icon with textHistories, Societies, Individuals icon with text

    Ajantha Subramanian

    Race and caste are two of the most enduring forms of social stratification. While their histories date well before the advent of political democracy, they have taken on new forms in the context of democratic social transformation and capitalist development. In this course, we will grapple with the meanings, uses, and politics of race and caste historically and in the contemporary moment.... Read more about Race and Caste (Gen Ed 1126)

    Medical Ethics and History (Gen Ed 1116)

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2021

    Why have debates about medicine and public health (e.g., vaccination, abortion, etc.) become so polarized and contentious in the United States?

     

    Ethics & Civics icon with textHistories, Societies, Individuals icon with text

    David Shumway Jones

    'The Doctor' painting by Luke Fildes

    Students will encounter the ethical dilemmas of medical practice throughout their lives, whether with their own health, or with the health of their families and friends.  This course will equip them with the tools of moral philosophy so that they can recognize, critique, and craft arguments grounded in appeals to utilitarianism, deontology, or rights.... Read more about Medical Ethics and History (Gen Ed 1116)

    Consent (Gen Ed 1138)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2022

    How can we recognize the link between ethical acts of consent in personal life (marriage, sexual experience, contracts) and the essential role that citizenship plays in democratic states during both war and peace?

     

    Ethics & Civics icon with text

    Elaine Scarry

    Consent will be studied in four domains:  Part I-the relation of consent and the body in marriage, in medicine, and in state citizenship; Part II – the act of consent and dissent in war (beginning with the dissent of Achilles in the Iliad and including readings up to the present); Part III – freedom of movement, freedom of entry and exit in citizenship (including contexts where right of movement has been denied); Part IV – consent as the basis of cultural creation.... Read more about Consent (Gen Ed 1138)

    If There is No God, All is Permitted: Theism and Moral Reasoning (Gen Ed 1161)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2022

    Can we have confidence that our moral claims are true?

     

    Ethics & Civics icon with text

    Jay Harris

    For centuries in the West, Jewish and Christian thinkers (among others) have asserted that moral judgment is impossible without some concept of the deity. So convincing were they that one important character created by a Russian author of the nineteenth century was led to express the idea (if not exactly the words), "if there is no God, all is permitted."... Read more about If There is No God, All is Permitted: Theism and Moral Reasoning (Gen Ed 1161)

    Security (Gen Ed 1020)

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2019

    How do the moral implications of security, a term with a long and provocatively ambivalent history, continue to be relevant in today’s understanding of community and social responsibility?

     

    Ethics & Civics icon with text

    John Hamilton

    The term "security" has enjoyed a complex and ambivalent career. Broadly defined as a "removal of care," security leaves its subjects either carefree or careless.... Read more about Security (Gen Ed 1020)

    Ignorance, Lies, Hogwash, and Humbug (Gen Ed 1023)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2023

    Fake news, echo chambers, conspiracies, propaganda, information pollution--what are these and other features of the post truth era and how can we successfully navigate them?

     

    Ethics & Civics icon with text

    Christopher Robichaud

    Time magazine cover - "Is Truth Dead?"

    Is truth dead? Time Magazine posed this question in bold red print on its April 3, 2017 cover. It’s a surprising concern, given that information of every sort imaginable is merely a click away on our phones, access to educational resources is robust for both traditional students and online learners, and direct interaction with public figures is more unencumbered than ever before with the help of social networks.... Read more about Ignorance, Lies, Hogwash, and Humbug (Gen Ed 1023)

Pages