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THINK 2: The Art of Living

Where do our ideals for living come from, and how should they be structured? How do we justify them in the face of criticism? What role do great works of art play in this creative process?nnnOur lives are not simply given to us, but also something we make: as we examine the circumstances of our existence, recognizing certain facts as immutable and others as subject to our control, each of us faces the challenge of fashioning out of them a way of living that is both meaningful and justifiable. The Art of Living will explore different ways to think about the nature of that challenge ¿ how to accommodate conflicting demands and values, how to make our choices ¿artfully,¿ how we might use works of imaginative literature to inspire us. We will read important works of literature and philosophy, each of which implies a different value by which to live, whether reason, authenticity, community, art, or faith. In each case, you will be presented with different perspectives and asked to work out for yourself what you find most persuasive, thereby fine-tuning skills essential to your own lifelong project of self-construction.
Last offered: Autumn 2012 | UG Reqs: THINK, WAY-A-II, WAY-ER

THINK 5: Justice and the Constitution

How does justice incorporate the ideals of liberty, equality, and security? How are these ideals balanced against each other? How are they made concrete in the US Constitution and law? What is the relationship between justice and the law? In this course we consider three core ideals that animate the idea of liberty: freedom, equality and security. We explore the relationship between these different ideals through an interdisciplinary inquiry that includes political philosophy, history and law. In your reading, writing and thinking, you will move between the realm of abstract ideas and actual legal cases. We begin with the philosophical roots of the ideals of liberty, equality and security and then focus on their articulation in the US Constitution and the overarching US legal framework and public policy. Students will learn to analyze the distinctive challenges posed to the ideals of liberty, equality and security by twenty-first century developments such as the emergence of the internet and the rise of non-state warfare.
Last offered: Autumn 2014 | UG Reqs: THINK, WAY-ER, WAY-SI

THINK 7: Journeys

Is death final or only the beginning of another journey? How do the mysteries of destination give rise to our most basic questions of purpose, meaning, and faith, and challenge us to consider our proper relation to others? Journeys will examine works written across a span of some 2,300 years, from Chinese philosophy to American short stories. Each of these forms and genres presents some essential aspect of the journey we all share, and of the various passages we make within that one great journey that relentlessly challenge and transform us even as we advance toward what the poet Thomas Gray called our "inevitable hour." By reading, discussing, and interpreting these works, we will ask you to consider how each text compels us, by the penetration of its vision and the power of its art, to make part of our own journey in its company.
Last offered: Autumn 2014 | UG Reqs: THINK, WAY-A-II, WAY-ER

THINK 9: Technological Visions of Utopia

How do science and technology shape the frameworks for imagining utopian or dystopian societies? Sir Thomas More gave a name to the philosophical ideal of a good society - a word that is now a part of common language: utopia. In the almost 500 years since More's Utopia appeared, changes in society - including enormous advances in science and technology - have opened up new possibilities for the utopian society that More and his predecessors could not have envisioned. At the same time science and technology also entail risks that suggest more dystopian scenarios - in their most extreme form, threats to humanity's very survival. We will look at several works that consider how literary visions of society have evolved with the progress of science and technology. The readings begin with More and include examples of more technologically determined visions of the late 20th century, as imagined in works of fiction.
Last offered: Autumn 2014 | UG Reqs: THINK, WAY-A-II, WAY-ER

THINK 11: Bioethical Challenges of New Technology

How might we apply ideas from ethical theory to contemporary issues and debates in biotechnology? This course will provide critical encounters with some of the central topics in the field of bioethics, with an emphasis on new technologies. Controversies over genetic engineering, stem cell research, reproductive technologies, and genetic testing will provide an opportunity for you to critically assess arguments and evidence. We will begin with an overview of the field and the theoretical approaches to bioethics that have been derived from philosophy. You will then have the opportunity to engage in debate and learn how to identify underlying values and how to apply ideas from ethical theory to contemporary problems.
Last offered: Winter 2016 | UG Reqs: THINK, WAY-ER

THINK 19: Rules of War

When, if ever, is war justified? How are ethical norms translated into rules that govern armed conflict? Are these rules still relevant in light of the changing nature of warfare? We will examine seminal readings on just war theory, investigate the legal rules that govern the resort to and conduct of war, and study whether these rules affect the conduct of states and individuals. We will examine alternative ethical frameworks, competing disciplinary approaches to war, and tensions between the outcomes suggested by ethical norms, on the one hand, and legal rules, on the other. Students will engage actively with these questions by participating in an interactive role-playing simulation, in which they will be assigned roles as government officials, advisors, or other actors. The class will confront various ethical, legal, and strategic problems as they make decisions about military intervention and policies regarding the threat and use of force in an international crisis.
Terms: Win | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: THINK, WAY-ER, WAY-SI

THINK 24: Evil

What is evil? Are we naturally good or evil? How should we respond to evil? There are many books and courses that focus on the good life or the virtues. Yet despite their obvious apparent presence in our life and world, evil and the vices are rarely taken as explicit topics. We will read philosophical and literary texts that deal with the question of evil at a theoretical level, but will also focus on some practical implications of these issues. By exploring evil, we will confront larger questions about the nature of human beings, the appropriate aims of the good society, the function of punishment, and the place of morality in art.
Terms: Aut | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: THINK, WAY-A-II, WAY-ER

THINK 47: Inventing Government: Ancient and Modern

How might the study of the successes and failures of democratic and republican government in ancient Greece and Rome help us to fix what is broken in our own political systems? Democracy and republic are ancient names for revolutionary approaches to government of, by, and for citizens. Today, almost every state proclaims itself to be a democracy, a republic -- or both. Democratic and republican revolutions transformed ancient Greece and Rome - and later transformed the modern world. We explore how political thinkers, from Machiavelli to Madison and Mill, used the lessons of ancient politics to design bold new systems of government. Ancient politics may still hold lessons for us. We analyze what is broken in modern government (corruption, polarization, gridlock), how it broke, and how the tool kit of ancient political history might help us to analyze and repair the damage.
Terms: Spr | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: THINK, WAY-ER, WAY-SI

THINK 56: Health Care, Ethics, and Justice

Is there a right to a basic level of health care? Are there limits to how much should be spent on health care? How should resources, like human organs, be allocated?nWhat obligations does the U.S. have regarding health care in resource-poor environments, such as underdeveloped nations?nWe live in a world of constrained resources. Nowhere are these constraints more controversial and significant than in health care where lives literally hang in the balance of the decisions we make. This course will provide students with the tools to address these questions through the theoretical framework of justice and ethics. We will address the question of allocation at the level of health policy and health economics before applying the concepts to the institutional and bedside level. Using real world examples, you will be asked to actively engage in debating controversial topics such as organ transplants and how to assign scarce ICU beds. Using both empirical data and the framework of ethics, you will be asked to consider how a health care committee, or a hospital, or an individual doctor might make decisions.
Terms: Win | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: THINK, WAY-ER

THINK 63: Justice and the University

How do the fundamental purpose of the university, the pursuit of knowledge, and the pursuit of justice coincide? Or do they conflict and pull us in different directions? Our goal in this class will be to focus on the intersection of justice and knowledge by examining how issues of liberty, equality, and security arise on college campuses. University campuses have a long history as sites of activism across a wide variety of domains and this course will cover a number of them including trigger warnings and ¿safe spaces¿; free speech; ethics in research; Dreamer Act and college access for undocumented persons. Our goal in this course is to get students to think critically about tradeoffs among society¿s most treasured goals. When these goals come into tension, how should decisions be made about which goal must give way? We aim to teach students how to identify and think about these conflicts and how to craft arguments¿both written and oral¿in support of their positions, using a variety of source materials.
Terms: Win | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: THINK, WAY-ER
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