Classes

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

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2022

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    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)

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

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2021

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    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)

    Race and Caste (Gen Ed 1126)

    Semester: 

    N/A

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    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)

    Adam & Eve (Gen Ed 1075)

    Semester: 

    N/A

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    Joseph Koerner and Stephen Greenblatt

    For most of history, humans expressed ethical ideas in the form of stories, and of all these the story of Adam and Eve has been perhaps the most powerful and enduring.  For almost three thousand years, in the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim worlds, people practiced ethical reasoning through the seedpod of this—even to early audiences—unreasonable tale: the first man, formed by God at the culmination of the world’s creation and followed soon by the first woman, disobeys his creator by eating a forbidden fruit, is punished by sickness, hardship, and death, and passes his curse to the entire future human species.... Read more about Adam & Eve (Gen Ed 1075)

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

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2019

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    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)

    Medical Ethics and History (Gen Ed 1116)

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2019

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    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 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)

    Rationality (Gen Ed 1066)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2020

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    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)

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

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2020

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    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)

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

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2020

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    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)

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

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2021

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    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)

    Dissent and Disobedience in Democracies (Gen Ed 1035)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2020

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    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)

    Money, Markets, and Morals (Gen Ed 1109)

    Semester: 

    N/A

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    Michael Sandel

    What should be the role of money and markets in our society? Are there some goods that should not be bought and sold? Do market practices and incentives sometimes erode or crowd out non-market norms worth caring about? We tend to assume that a deal is a deal; people should be free to choose for themselves what value to place on the goods they exchange. On this view, all voluntary market exchanges are just.... Read more about Money, Markets, and Morals (Gen Ed 1109)

    Res Publica: A History of Representative Government (Gen Ed 1032)

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2020


    What is a democratic republic, and can such a regime — one that trusts citizens to capably choose and monitor those in power, and one that trusts those in power to restrain themselves and each other while attending to the public good — survive and protect us from tyranny?
     

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    Daniel Carpenter

    “A republic, if you can keep it.”  So did Benjamin Franklin characterize his hopes for American government. What did Franklin and others mean by republic, and why did he and so many others worry that it might be something hard to hold onto? This course will give you the theoretical basis and historical evolution of republics so that you can understand the American system of a democratic republic, now spread widely around the planet even as it is considered under threat.... Read more about Res Publica: A History of Representative Government (Gen Ed 1032)

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