Classes

    Making Change When Change Is Hard: the Law, Politics, and Policy of Social Change (Gen Ed 1102)

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2022

    How does social change happen?


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    Cass Sunstein

    How does change happen? When, why, and how do people, and whole nations, come to together to influence large-scale policies and actions on issues like the environment, equality, criminal justice? Why do revolutions occur? This course will try to answer these questions, and do so by exploring a diversity of efforts related to societal change.... Read more about Making Change When Change Is Hard: the Law, Politics, and Policy of Social Change (Gen Ed 1102)

    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)

    Borders (Gen Ed 1140)

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2022

    How have borders been formed historically, and what are the ethics of border construction, defense, expansion or transgression?

     

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    Mary Lewis

    Two people holding hands and crying on the opposite sides of a metal fence.

    As a society, we pay particular attention to borders when incidents such as children separated from their asylum-seeking parents or tear-gas being used to deter entry throw the legal divide between two nation states into sharp relief. But seldom do we stop to think about what a border is, or when and why some borders are defended more aggressively than others. 

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    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)

    Race and Justice (Gen Ed 1146)

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2022

    What is racial justice, and through what justifiable means might it be achieved in the United States?

     

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    Tommie Shelby

    We all agree that racism is wrong. Yet beneath this abstract consensus we find deep disagreements about what to do about it, and even about what racism is. We will address these questions by thinking about some very specific issues, drawing on work in philosophy, law, history, and the social sciences.... Read more about Race and Justice (Gen Ed 1146)

    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?

     

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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)

    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?

     

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    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)

    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)

    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?

     

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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)

    Pluralism: Case Studies in American Diversity (Gen Ed 1166)

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2022

    How does our society deal with religious, ethical, and cultural diversity, and what challenges do we face as people of different faith communities encounter one another in cities and public institutions, schools and businesses, neighborhoods and families?

     

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    Diana Eck

    Who do we mean when we say “we?” How does a society deal with religious, ethical, and cultural diversity? What challenges do we face as people of different communities encounter one another in cities and public institutions, schools and businesses, neighborhoods and families? These are urgent questions in many nations today, but in this course we focus on the United States.... Read more about Pluralism: Case Studies in American Diversity (Gen Ed 1166)

    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?

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    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? 

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    Moral Inquiry in the Novels of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky (Gen Ed 1059)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2023

    How can the novels of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky help us think differently about everyday moral dilemmas that are often seen as the prerogative of religion, politics, or philosophy?
     

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    Justin Weir

    This course considers how Tolstoy and Dostoevsky take up moral inquiry in their fiction, introduces students to philosophical texts that informed their major fiction, and asks why the novel as a literary genre may be a good forum for the discussion of ethics.... Read more about Moral Inquiry in the Novels of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky (Gen Ed 1059)

    Life and Death in the Anthropocene (Gen Ed 1174)

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2022

    What does it mean for us -- both as a society and as individuals -- to live in a world radically remade by the human hand?

     

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    Naomi Oreskes

    In 2019, geologists voted to make the Anthropocene a time unit in the Geological Time scale. For scientists, this means that future geologists will be able to see the effects of human activities in the stratigraphic record and thereby distinguish this epoch from the ones that came before.... Read more about Life and Death in the Anthropocene (Gen Ed 1174)

    Meritocracy and Its Critics (Gen Ed 1181)

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2022

    If a society achieved truly equal opportunity, so that everyone could rise as far as their effort and talent would take them, would it be a just society?

     

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    Michael Sandel

    Suppose a society achieved truly equal opportunity, so that everyone could rise as far as their effort and talent would take them. Would this be a just society? Would those on top deserve their success?... Read more about Meritocracy and Its Critics (Gen Ed 1181)

    Race and Caste (Gen Ed 1126)

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2022

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

     

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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)

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