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PHIL 14N: Belief and the Will

Preference to freshmen. Is there anything wrong with believing something without evidence? Is it possible? The nature and ethics of belief, and belief's relation to evidence and truth. How much control do believers have over their belief?
Last offered: Autumn 2014 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, WAY-ER

PHIL 15N: Freedom, Community, and Morality

Preference to freshmen. Does the freedom of the individual conflict with the demands of human community and morality? Or, as some philosophers have maintained, does the freedom of the individual find its highest expression in a moral community of other human beings? Readings include Camus, Mill, Rousseau, and Kant.
Last offered: Winter 2014 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, GER:EC-EthicReas, WAY-A-II, WAY-ER

PHIL 21N: Ethics of Sports (ETHICSOC 21N)

This seminar will be focused on the ethical challenges that are encountered in sport. We will focus on the moral and political issues that affect the world of sport and which athletes, coaches, sports commentators and fans are faced with. For instance, we will ask questions such as: what is a fair game (the ethics of effort, merit, success)? Is it ethical to train people to use violence (the ethics of martial arts)? Are divisions by gender categories justified and what should we think of gender testing? Is the use of animals in sport ever justified? Which forms of performance enhancements are acceptable in sport (the ethics of drug use and enhancements through technologies)? Should we ban sports that damage the players¿ health? Does society owe social support to people who hurt themselves while practicing extreme sports? nnThe class will be structured around small group discussions and exercises as well as brief lectures to introduce key moral and political concepts (such as fairness, equality, freedom, justice, exploitation, etc.). I will also bring guests speakers who are involved in a sport activity at Stanford or who have worked on sports as part of their academic careers. By the end of the seminar, students will have a good understanding of the various ethical challenges that surround the world of sport. They will be able to critically discuss sport activities, norms, modes of assessments and policies (on campus and beyond). They will also be prepared to apply the critical ethical thinking that they will have deployed onto other topics than sports. They will have been introduced to the normative approach to social issues, which consists in asking how things should be rather than describing how things are. They will be prepared to take more advanced classes in ethics, political theory, as well as moral and political philosophy.
Last offered: Spring 2017 | UG Reqs: WAY-ER

PHIL 71Q: Emerging Issues in Neuroethics

What is the mind? Today, most philosophers and neuroscientists believe it is, in one way or another, just the brain. Brain research is progressing at a staggering pace. Neuroimaging technology seems to be closing in on `thought identification¿, i.e. determining an individual¿s thought content merely by scanning the brain. Do we have a right to keep our thoughts private or is it permissible to use imaging technologies, perhaps in judicial settings, to identify someone¿s thoughts? What happens to our concepts of moral responsibility when a brain scan reveals abnormalities in the brain? Do these findings have bearing on our understanding of free will? Commonplace drugs can prevent the forming of memories of painful events. Should we take these drugs to shield ourselves from traumatic memories or is it good for us to remember unpleasant events in order to learn and grow from them? Neurotechnology and pharmacology that enhances cognition is advancing rapidly. Is manipulating our brains into smarter, more efficient ones ethical? These are some of the questions we will consider in this course on the ethics of neuroscience that will allow you to critically assess complicated, cutting edge issues.
Last offered: Spring 2016 | UG Reqs: WAY-ER

PHIL 72: Contemporary Moral Problems (ETHICSOC 185M, POLISCI 134P)

Conflict is a natural part of human life. As human beings we represent a rich diversity of conflicting personalities, preferences, experiences, needs, and moral viewpoints. How are we to resolve or otherwise address these conflicts in a way fair to all parties? In this course, we will consider the question as it arises across various domains of human life, beginning with the classroom. What are we to do when a set of ideas expressed in the classroom offends, threatens, or silences certain of its members? What is it for a classroom to be safe? What is it for a classroom to be just? We will then move from the classroom to the family, considering a difficult set of questions about how we are to square the autonomy rights of children, elderly parents, and the mentally ill with our desire as family members to keep them safe. Finally, we will turn to the conflicts of citizenship in a liberal democratic society in which the burdens and benefits of citizenship have not always been fairly distributed. We will consider, among others, the question of whether or not civil disobedience is ever morally permissible, of whether there is a right to healthcare, and of whether or not some citizens are owed reparations for past injustices.
Terms: Spr | Units: 4-5 | UG Reqs: GER:EC-EthicReas, WAY-ER

PHIL 73: The Ethics and Politics of Collective Action (ETHICSOC 180M, POLISCI 131A, PUBLPOL 304A)

Collective action problems arise when actions that are individually rational give rise to results that are collectively irrational. Scholars have used such a framework to shed light on various political phenomena such as revolutions, civil disobedience, voting, climate change, and the funding of social services. We examine their findings and probe the theoretical foundations of their approach. What does this way of thinking about politics bring into focus, and what does it leave out? What role do institutions play in resolving collective action problems? And what if the required institutions are absent? Can we, as individuals, be required to cooperate even if we expect that others may not play their part? Readings drawn from philosophy, political science, economics, and sociology.
Last offered: Spring 2016 | UG Reqs: GER:EC-EthicReas, WAY-ER

PHIL 74A: Ethics in a Human Life (HUMBIO 74)

Ethical questions pervade a human life from before a person is conceived until after she dies, and at every point in between. This course raises a series of ethical questions, following along the path of a person's life - questions that arise before, during, and after she lives it. We will explore distinctive questions that a life presents at each of several familiar stages: prior to birth, childhood, adulthood, death, and even beyond. We will consider how some philosophers have tried to answer these questions, and we will think about how answering them might help us form a better understanding of the ethical shape of a human life as a whole.
Last offered: Autumn 2016 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, WAY-ER

PHIL 76: Introduction to Global Justice (ETHICSOC 136R, INTNLREL 136R, POLISCI 136R, POLISCI 336)

This course provides an overview of core ethical problems in international politics, with special emphasis on the question of what demands justice imposes on institutions and agents acting in a global context. The course is divided into three sections. The first investigates the content of global justice, and comprises of readings from contemporary political theorists and philosophers who write within the liberal contractualist, utilitarian, cosmopolitan, and nationalist traditions. The second part of the course looks at the obligations which global justice generates in relation to a series of real-world issues of international concern: global poverty, human rights, natural resources, climate change, migration, and the well-being of women.. The final section of the course asks whether a democratic international order is necessary for global justice to be realized.
Terms: Win | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, GER:EC-EthicReas, WAY-ER

PHIL 90R: Introduction to Feminist Philosophy (ETHICSOC 173)

If feminism is a political practice aimed at ending the patriarchy, what is the point of feminist philosophy? This course provides an introduction to feminist philosophy by exploring how important theoretical questions around sex and gender bear on practical ethical and political debates. The first part of the course will examine some of the broader theoretical approaches in feminist philosophy, including: the metaphysics of gender, standpoint epistemology, and feminist critiques of liberal political philosophy. Questions will include: how should we understand the category `woman¿? How does gender intersect with other axes of oppression? Does experience of gendered oppression give one better knowledge of social reality? Are political liberalism and capitalism compatible with feminism? The second part of the course will address more specific ethical and political topics within feminist philosophy, such as: objectification, pornography, consent, markets in women¿s sexual and reproductive labor, and the institution of marriage.
Terms: Spr | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: WAY-ER

PHIL 101: Introduction to Medieval Philosophy (PHIL 201)

This course is an introduction to medieval moral philosophy, broadly construed. In addition to doctrines that we would nowadays readily think of as falling within the domain of ethics, we will be looking at closely related topics that might today be thought to belong more properly to metaphysics, the philosophy of religion, or the philosophy of human nature.
Last offered: Autumn 2015 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, GER:EC-EthicReas, WAY-A-II, WAY-ER
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