Introduction to Philosophy: Ethics & Politics

This course introduces students to philosophy with a special focus on issues in moral and political philosophy. Topics to be discussed may include justice, the nature of the good, different conceptions of happiness, virtue, ethical theory, moral relativism, feminist ethics, liberty, equality, and the foundations of rights, as well as particular applied topics in moral and political philosophy (such as economic justice and the ethics of war). 

Spring 2023 Course

Introduction to Philosophy: Ethics and Politics
10105 03 (24464)
Sterba
10:30-11:20 MWF
First Year Students Only

This course will begin by considering three challenges to a reason-based morality: 1) It’s all relative, 2) It’s better to be an egoist, 3) Morality is determined by religion not reason. Assuming we can overcome these challenges - if we can’t, we will stop the course right here - but if we can,we will then evaluate three traditional moral perspectives: 1) Kantian morality (It is all about doing your duty), 2) Utilitarian morality (It is all about maximizing utility) and 3) Aristotelian morality (It is all about being virtuous) to see if one of them is better than the others. That accomplished, we will then take up three challenges to a traditional conception of morality: 1)the Feminist challenge (Traditional morality is biased against women), 2) the Environmental challenge (Traditional morality is biased against nonhuman living beings), and 3) theMulticulturalchallenge (Traditional morality is biased against non-Western cultures). Assuming we think some defensible form of morality survives these challenges (We will take a vote), we will then go on to apply that morality to the solution of a number of following problems: theDistribution of Income and Wealth, Distant Peoples and Future Generations, Work and FamilyResponsibilities, Women’s and Men’s Roles, Institutional Racism, and the Ethics of ClimateChange. Requirements: Three papers 5-7 pages (1500-2100 words) e-mail comments on all readings, and participation in class discussions. 

Texts:
James Sterba, Introducing Ethics for Here and Now
Kate Manne, Entitled (2020)
Charles Mills, Theorizing Racial Justice (2021) (To be Provided)
John Gaski On Race, Crime, and the Inconvenient Facts (To Be Provided)
Nathaniel Rich, Losing Earth, A Recent History (2019)
Aviva Chomsky, Is Science Enough (2022)


Introduction to Philosophy: Ethics and Politics
10105 04 (25078)
Sterba
2:00-2:50 MWF
First Year Students Only

This course will begin by considering three challenges to a reason-based morality: 1) It’s all relative, 2) It’s better to be an egoist, 3) Morality is determined by religion not reason. Assuming we can overcome these challenges - if we can’t, we will stop the course right here - but if we can,we will then evaluate three traditional moral perspectives: 1) Kantian morality (It is all about doing your duty), 2) Utilitarian morality (It is all about maximizing utility) and 3) Aristotelian morality (It is all about being virtuous) to see if one of them is better than the others. That accomplished, we will then take up three challenges to a traditional conception of morality: 1)the Feminist challenge (Traditional morality is biased against women), 2) the Environmental challenge (Traditional morality is biased against nonhuman living beings), and 3) theMulticulturalchallenge (Traditional morality is biased against non-Western cultures). Assuming we think some defensible form of morality survives these challenges (We will take a vote), we will then go on to apply that morality to the solution of a number of following problems: theDistribution of Income and Wealth, Distant Peoples and Future Generations, Work and FamilyResponsibilities, Women’s and Men’s Roles, Institutional Racism, and the Ethics of ClimateChange. Requirements: Three papers 5-7 pages (1500-2100 words) e-mail comments on all readings, and participation in class discussions. 

Texts:
James Sterba, Introducing Ethics for Here and Now
Kate Manne, Entitled (2020)
Charles Mills, Theorizing Racial Justice (2021) (To be Provided)
John Gaski On Race, Crime, and the Inconvenient Facts (To Be Provided)
Nathaniel Rich, Losing Earth, A Recent History (2019)
Aviva Chomsky, Is Science Enough (2022)


Introduction to Philosophy: Ethics and Politics
10105 05 (30982)
Rush
2:00-3:15 TR
First Year Students Only

Humans are social animals. Some ethnologists and evolutionary biologists even argue that we are eusocial, i.e., social at the highest level of cooperation. One way that humans are social is by thinking with one another about how they should be social. In this seminar we consider
philosophical answers to that question. Traditionally, these answers have been sorted into two main groups: ethical and political.Themes on the ethical side include, e.g.: whether moral value depends on one’s state of mind,one’s social training, or the effects of one’s actions in the world; the role of feeling, reason, and will in morality; whether morality is universal or not; and whether morality is an illusion. On the political side they include, e.g.: conceptions of political freedom; the role of equality in social life; the nature of solidarity; what social identity might be; and the nature of power. Readings are from historical and contemporary sources. All the major doctrines are canvased:deontology, utilitarianism, virtue ethics, liberalism, socialism, and anarchism.


Introduction to Philosophy: Ethics and Politics
10105 06 (30983)
Rush
3:30-4:45 TR
First Year Students Only

Humans are social animals. Some ethnologists and evolutionary biologists even argue that we are eusocial, i.e., social at the highest level of cooperation. One way that humans are social is by thinking with one another about how they should be social. In this seminar we consider
philosophical answers to that question. Traditionally, these answers have been sorted into two main groups: ethical and political.Themes on the ethical side include, e.g.: whether moral value depends on one’s state of mind,one’s social training, or the effects of one’s actions in the world; the role of feeling, reason, and will in morality; whether morality is universal or not; and whether morality is an illusion. On the political side they include, e.g.: conceptions of political freedom; the role of equality in social life; the nature of solidarity; what social identity might be; and the nature of power. Readings are from historical and contemporary sources. All the major doctrines are canvased:deontology, utilitarianism, virtue ethics, liberalism, socialism, and anarchism.