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ETHICSOC 257: Moral Theory and Current Debates

This course is an introduction to contemporary moral and political theory for students outside of philosophy or other fields that concentrate on normative theory. We will study some of the most cutting edge research in moral philosophy and political theory. No prior knowledge of these topics is required. The course aims to equip students with the tools they need to engage with moral questions that are hotly debated in the public sphere, that are connected to students' own research, and that are relevant to their professional and personal lives. Class discussions will be guided by participants' specialized knowledge of their own disciplines and assessment topics will be flexible to allow students to explore topics that they are particularly interested in. The first half of the course will focus on key concepts and first-order moral theories, including utilitarianism, Kantian ethics, and feminist care ethics. The second half of the course will deploy these tools to consider topics of pre more »
This course is an introduction to contemporary moral and political theory for students outside of philosophy or other fields that concentrate on normative theory. We will study some of the most cutting edge research in moral philosophy and political theory. No prior knowledge of these topics is required. The course aims to equip students with the tools they need to engage with moral questions that are hotly debated in the public sphere, that are connected to students' own research, and that are relevant to their professional and personal lives. Class discussions will be guided by participants' specialized knowledge of their own disciplines and assessment topics will be flexible to allow students to explore topics that they are particularly interested in. The first half of the course will focus on key concepts and first-order moral theories, including utilitarianism, Kantian ethics, and feminist care ethics. The second half of the course will deploy these tools to consider topics of pressing importance. The kinds of questions we will study in the second half of the course include: How can social media platforms be reformed to benefit democratic debate and society more generally? What is algorithmic injustice and what (if anything) can be done about it? What is wrong with colonialism and how should we respond to its legacy? Should state borders be open? What is structural racism and what can individuals and governments do to help mitigate it? Would it be desirable to make politics more democratic (or less polarized) and, if so, how might that be possible? And how might transwomen best be included in elite sport?
Last offered: Winter 2022
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