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PHIL 174C: On What Is Intolerable (PHIL 274C)

Moral and political philosophy often focuses on ideals we should aspire to and principles we should follow. Yet individuals and societies almost invariably fall short of these ideals and principles. Unless you are a fundamentalist or a relentless perfectionist, you tolerate these failures. That is, you tolerate them to a point. This point will be the topic of our course: how badly may we fail? How far short of the ideal is too far? We will be concerned with that which is not merely bad, unjustified, wrong, or unjust, but which is intolerably so. Examples include: intolerable injustice, rotten compromises, unconscionable contracts, dirty hands, unjust wars, personal failures, grief, desperation, betrayal, and humiliation. Just as important, we will ask: how should we respond to the intolerable? Should intolerably unjust political institutions be met with disobedience, or perhaps rebellion? When we emerge from grief to continue with our lives, do we thereby accept our loss as tolerable? more »
Moral and political philosophy often focuses on ideals we should aspire to and principles we should follow. Yet individuals and societies almost invariably fall short of these ideals and principles. Unless you are a fundamentalist or a relentless perfectionist, you tolerate these failures. That is, you tolerate them to a point. This point will be the topic of our course: how badly may we fail? How far short of the ideal is too far? We will be concerned with that which is not merely bad, unjustified, wrong, or unjust, but which is intolerably so. Examples include: intolerable injustice, rotten compromises, unconscionable contracts, dirty hands, unjust wars, personal failures, grief, desperation, betrayal, and humiliation. Just as important, we will ask: how should we respond to the intolerable? Should intolerably unjust political institutions be met with disobedience, or perhaps rebellion? When we emerge from grief to continue with our lives, do we thereby accept our loss as tolerable? Can we ever forgive without forgetting the severity of the wrong done to us and the harm we suffered? We will draw on thinkers such as Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Du Bois, and Baldwin, as well as contemporary moral and political philosophers, such as John Rawls, Thomas Nagel, Bernard Williams, Alexander Nehamas, Jonathan Lear, and others.
Terms: Spr | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: WAY-ER | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit
Instructors: Naaman, O. (PI)

PHIL 175: Philosophy of Law

This course will explore foundational questions about the nature of law, including questions about the relationship between law and morality. Topics to be discussed include the following: a) the foundations of legal authority, b) legal reasoning and argument, and c) the nature of persistent legal disputes (e.g., disputes about how to best interpret the US constitution). We will focus on contemporary work on these topics, including work by Scott Shapiro, Joseph Raz, Ronald Dworkin, David Enoch, Connie Rosati, and Mark Greenberg. Prerequisite: PHIL 80.
Terms: not given this year, last offered Autumn 2016 | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, WAY-A-II, WAY-ER | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit

PHIL 175A: Ethics and Politics of Public Service (CSRE 178, ETHICSOC 133, HUMBIO 178, PHIL 275A, POLISCI 133, PUBLPOL 103D, URBANST 122)

Ethical and political questions in public service work, including volunteering, service learning, humanitarian assistance, and public service professions such as medicine and teaching. Motives and outcomes in service work. Connections between service work and justice. Is mandatory service an oxymoron? History of public service in the U.S. Issues in crosscultural service work. Integration with the Haas Center for Public Service to connect service activities and public service aspirations with academic experiences at Stanford.
Terms: Spr | Units: 3-5 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-SocSci, WAY-ED, WAY-ER | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit

PHIL 175B: Philosophy of Public Policy (ETHICSOC 75X, PHIL 275B)

From healthcare to parliamentary reforms to educational policies, social and public policies are underpinned by normative justifications - that is by different conceptions of what is right, wrong or required by justice. By analyzing these assumptions and justifications, we can in turn challenge the policies in question - asking: Is workfare ever justified? What is wrong with racial profiling? When (if ever) is compulsory voting justified? Should children have the right to vote? Does affirmative action promote equality? Should freedom of expression ever be restricted? What are the duties of citizens of affluent countries toward asylum seekers and economic migrants? Do we have a right to privacy?nnThe course aims to train students in the normative analysis of public policies. At the end of this class, students should be able to critically examine diverse policy proposals from the perspective of ethics, moral and political philosophy. Students will be introduced to a broad range of normat more »
From healthcare to parliamentary reforms to educational policies, social and public policies are underpinned by normative justifications - that is by different conceptions of what is right, wrong or required by justice. By analyzing these assumptions and justifications, we can in turn challenge the policies in question - asking: Is workfare ever justified? What is wrong with racial profiling? When (if ever) is compulsory voting justified? Should children have the right to vote? Does affirmative action promote equality? Should freedom of expression ever be restricted? What are the duties of citizens of affluent countries toward asylum seekers and economic migrants? Do we have a right to privacy?nnThe course aims to train students in the normative analysis of public policies. At the end of this class, students should be able to critically examine diverse policy proposals from the perspective of ethics, moral and political philosophy. Students will be introduced to a broad range of normative approaches to politics, and the seminars will be organized around debates and small-group exercises to train students in the concrete ways in which one argues normatively. Through concrete and important policy examples each week, students will be introduced to the main debates in moral and political theory.nnThere are no prerequisites. Undergraduates and graduates from all departments are welcome to attend. After taking this class, students will be prepared to take more advanced classes in ethics, political theory, as well as moral and political philosophy. They will have developed competences in the normative analysis of public policy and they will be able to deploy those competences in other ethics classes.
Terms: not given this year | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: WAY-ER | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit

PHIL 176: Political Philosophy: The Social Contract Tradition (PHIL 276, POLISCI 137A, POLISCI 337A)

(Graduate students register for 276.) Why and under what conditions do human beings need political institutions? What makes them legitimate or illegitimate? What is the nature, source, and extent of the obligation to obey the legitimate ones, and how should people alter or overthrow the others? Study of the answers given to such questions by major political theorists of the early modern period: Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, and Kant.
Terms: not given this year, last offered Spring 2017 | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, WAY-A-II, WAY-ER | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit

PHIL 176A: Classical Seminar: Origins of Political Thought (CLASSICS 181, CLASSICS 381, PHIL 276A, POLISCI 230A, POLISCI 330A)

(Formerly CLASSHIS 133/333.) Political philosophy in classical antiquity, focusing on canonical works of Thucydides, Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero. Historical background. Topics include: political obligation, citizenship, and leadership; origins and development of democracy; and law, civic strife, and constitutional change.
Terms: Win | Units: 3-5 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, WAY-A-II, WAY-ER | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit
Instructors: Ober, J. (PI)

PHIL 176P: Democratic Theory (POLISCI 234)

Most people agree that democracy is a good thing, but do we agree on what democracy is? This course will examine the concept of democracy in political philosophy. We will address the following questions: What reason(s), if any, do we have for valuing democracy? What does it mean to treat people as political equals? When does a group of individuals constitute "a people," and how can a people make genuinely collective decisions? Can democracy really be compatible with social inequality? With an entrenched constitution? With representation?
Terms: Win | Units: 5 | UG Reqs: WAY-ER | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)
Instructors: Coyne, B. (PI)

PHIL 178M: Introduction to Environmental Ethics (ETHICSOC 178M, ETHICSOC 278M, PHIL 278M, POLISCI 134L)

How should human beings relate to the natural world? Do we have moral obligations toward non-human animals and other parts of nature? And what do we owe to other human beings, including future generations, with respect to the environment? The first part of this course will examine such questions in light of some of our current ethical theories: considering what those theories suggest regarding the extent and nature of our environmental obligations; and also whether reflection on such obligations can prove informative about the adequacy of our ethical theories. In the second part of the course, we will use the tools that we have acquired to tackle various ethical questions that confront us in our dealings with the natural world, looking at subjects such as: animal rights; conservation; economic approaches to the environment; access to and control over natural resources; environmental justice and pollution; climate change; technology and the environment; and environmental activism.
Terms: not given this year, last offered Winter 2015 | Units: 4-5 | UG Reqs: GER:EC-EthicReas, WAY-ER | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)

PHIL 193D: Dante and Aristotle

Students will read all of Dante¿s Commedia alongside works by Aristotle and various ancient and medieval philosophers. Our aim will be to understand the way an Aristotelian worldview informs the Commedia. For instance, what is the role of pleasure in the ethical life? What is the highest good of the human being? All readings will be in translation.
Terms: not given this year, last offered Autumn 2015 | Units: 5 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, GER:EC-EthicReas, WAY-A-II, WAY-ER | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)

PHIL 194E: Ethical Antitheory

Terms: not given this year, last offered Winter 2015 | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: WAY-ER | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit
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