Ethics & Civics

Consent (Gen Ed 1138)

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2021

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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)

Money, Markets, and Morals (Gen Ed 1109)

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2020

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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)

The Democracy Project (Gen Ed 1002)

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2020

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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)

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)

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

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2020

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Samantha Power and Cass Sunstein

How does change happen? Why do revolutions occur? When do people, and when do whole nations, suddenly focus on the environment, on sex equality, on religious liberty, on criminal justice, on free markets, on new rights? This course will try to answer these questions, exploring diverse efforts to influence large-scale policies and actions.... Read more about Making Change When Change is Hard: the Law, Politics, and Policy of Social Change (Gen Ed 1102)

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

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2020

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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)

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)

Brains, Identity, and Moral Agency (Gen Ed 1064)

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2020

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Steven Hyman

Advances in brain science have the potential to diminish many forms of human suffering and disability that are rooted in disordered brain function. But what are the ethical implications involved in altering the structure and function of human brains? What’s at stake when we have the ability to alter a person’s narrative identity, create brain-computer interfaces, and manipulate social and moral emotion? In this course, you will ask and attempt to answer these questions, and discuss the implications of mechanistic explanations of decision-making and action for widely-held concepts of moral agency and legal culpability.... Read more about Brains, Identity, and Moral Agency (Gen Ed 1064)

Human Trafficking, Slavery and Abolition in the Modern World (Gen Ed 1115)

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2020

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Orlando Patterson

We often think of slavery as being a dark chapter in our past, but this is a tragic oversimplification. What defines slavery in the modern world, and what are the moral, political and social implications of its continued existence? The mechanisms of many forms of bondage are secretive and illegal, making it difficult to quantify the number of people affected by this persistent institution. As we explore its underpinnings, we discover that all of us may be in some way complicit in its survival.... Read more about Human Trafficking, Slavery and Abolition in the Modern World (Gen Ed 1115)

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