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ETHICSOC 174B: Universal Basic Income: the philosophy behind the proposal (ETHICSOC 274B, PHIL 174B, PHIL 274B, POLISCI 338)

The past three decades have seen the elaboration of a vast body of literature on unconditional basic income a radical policy proposal Philippe Van Parijs referred to as a disarmingly simple idea. It consists of a monthly cash allowance given to all citizens, regardless of personal desert and without means test to provide them with a standard of living above the poverty line. The seminar will seek to engage students in normative debates in political theory (feminism, liberalism, republicanism, communism, libertarianism, etc.) by appealing to the concrete example of basic income. It will allow students to learn a great deal about a policy that is gaining tremendous currency in academic and public debates, while discussing and learning about prominent political theorists - many of whom have written against or for basic income at one point in their career.nnnThe seminar is open to undergraduate and graduate students in all departments. There are no pre-requisites. We will ask questions suc more »
The past three decades have seen the elaboration of a vast body of literature on unconditional basic income a radical policy proposal Philippe Van Parijs referred to as a disarmingly simple idea. It consists of a monthly cash allowance given to all citizens, regardless of personal desert and without means test to provide them with a standard of living above the poverty line. The seminar will seek to engage students in normative debates in political theory (feminism, liberalism, republicanism, communism, libertarianism, etc.) by appealing to the concrete example of basic income. It will allow students to learn a great deal about a policy that is gaining tremendous currency in academic and public debates, while discussing and learning about prominent political theorists - many of whom have written against or for basic income at one point in their career.nnnThe seminar is open to undergraduate and graduate students in all departments. There are no pre-requisites. We will ask questions such as: is giving people cash no strings attached desirable and just? Would basic income promote a more gender equal society through the remuneration of care-work, or would it risks further entrenching the position of women as care-givers? Would alternative policies be more successful (such as the job guarantees, stakeholder grants or a negative income tax)? How can we test out basic income? What makes for a reliable and ethical basic income pilot? Students in Politics, Philosophy, Public Policy, Social Work, and Sociology should find most of those questions relevant to their interests. Some discussions on how to fund basic income, on the macro-economic implications of basic income and on the existing pilots projects (in Finland, Namibia, India, Canada and the US) may be of interest to Economists; while our readings on the impact of new technologies and artificial intelligence on the future of work and whether a basic income could be a solution, are likely to be on interest to computer scientists and engineers. By the end of the class, students will have an in depth knowledge of the policy and will have developed skills in the normative analysis of public policy. They will be able to deploy those critical and analytical skills to assess a broad range of other policies.
Terms: Spr | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: WAY-ER | Repeatable for credit | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit

ETHICSOC 174E: Egalitarianism: A course on the history and theory of egalitarianism and anti-egalitarianism (PHIL 174E, PHIL 274E, POLISCI 138E)

Egalitarianism is a conception of justice that takes the value of equality to be of primary political and moral importance. There are many different ways to be an egalitarian - it all depends on what we take to be the `currency¿ of egalitarian justice. Are we simply trying to equalize basic rights and liberties, or also resources, opportunities, positions, status, respect, welfare, or capabilities? Is equality really what we should try to achieve in a just society? An alternative would be to make sure everyone has enough or to promote individual freedom instead of equality. Why do egalitarians think that such society would still be unjust? How do they proceed to argue for equality?nnThis class will introduce students to egalitarian and anti-egalitarian thought by looking both at the history of egalitarian thinking and at contemporary accounts in defense of equality. It will provide an in depth introduction to the concepts that are used when inequalities are discussed by philosophers, e more »
Egalitarianism is a conception of justice that takes the value of equality to be of primary political and moral importance. There are many different ways to be an egalitarian - it all depends on what we take to be the `currency¿ of egalitarian justice. Are we simply trying to equalize basic rights and liberties, or also resources, opportunities, positions, status, respect, welfare, or capabilities? Is equality really what we should try to achieve in a just society? An alternative would be to make sure everyone has enough or to promote individual freedom instead of equality. Why do egalitarians think that such society would still be unjust? How do they proceed to argue for equality?nnThis class will introduce students to egalitarian and anti-egalitarian thought by looking both at the history of egalitarian thinking and at contemporary accounts in defense of equality. It will provide an in depth introduction to the concepts that are used when inequalities are discussed by philosophers, economists, scientists and politicians. The class will attest of the varieties of approaches and perspectives to equality. For instance, we will learn from the 19th century debate on racial inequalities to understand how anti-egalitarian discourses are constructed; we will look into Rousseau¿s conception of social equality in the Second Discourse and the Social Contract; and we will engage with contemporary egalitarian theories by studying Rawlsian and post-Rawlsian forms of egalitarianism.nnThere are no prerequisites for this course. The class will enable you to develop your own interests and expertise as you work towards understanding egalitarian thinking. If you have prior experience in ethics, political philosophy or political theory, it will allow you to deepen your knowledge and to learn new theories of justice. If you do not have any such knowledge, this class will introduce you to the normative approach to politics (that is the approach that consists in asking what a just society requires) and will help you develop some understanding of how one proceeds when arguing for justice.nnA substantial part of the 3 hours we have each week will be devoted to discussions and presentations, since this is the best way to `practice normative thinking¿. The class will also include mini-lectures lead by the primary instructor.
Terms: not given this year | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: WAY-ER | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)

ETHICSOC 176: Political Philosophy: The Social Contract Tradition (PHIL 176, 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: Win | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, WAY-A-II, WAY-ER | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit
Instructors: Hills, D. (PI)

ETHICSOC 178M: Introduction to Environmental Ethics (ETHICSOC 278M, PHIL 178M, 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: Spr | Units: 4-5 | UG Reqs: GER:EC-EthicReas, WAY-ER | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)
Instructors: Adams, M. (PI)

ETHICSOC 180M: The Ethics and Politics of Collective Action (PHIL 73, 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.
Terms: not given this year, last offered Spring 2016 | Units: 3-4 | UG Reqs: GER:EC-EthicReas, WAY-ER | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit

ETHICSOC 181: Architecture, Space, and Politics

We spend most of our lives in buildings and cities that are planned by architects and urbanists. What are the normative considerations that should guide how these spaces are designed? What social role should architecture aim to play? and what criteria should we use to assess whether an architectural intervention is successful or not? This course seeks to address these questions by bringing architecture in conversation with contemporary normative political theory. It examines both how political theory can inform our thinking about architecture, and how the work of architects -- with its attention to the specificities of the built environment -- can advance our thinking about politics.
Terms: not given this year, last offered Spring 2017 | Units: 4-5 | UG Reqs: WAY-ER | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit

ETHICSOC 181X: Computers, Ethics, and Public Policy (COMM 181, CS 181, PHIL 75C, POLISCI 181, PUBLPOL 181)

Ethical and social issues related to the development and use of computer technology. Ethical theory, and social, political, and legal considerations. Scenarios in problem areas: privacy, reliability and risks of complex systems, and responsibility of professionals for applications and consequences of their work. Prerequisite: 106A.
Terms: Aut, Win | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: GER:EC-EthicReas, WAY-ER | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit

ETHICSOC 185M: Contemporary Moral Problems (PHIL 72, 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: Win | Units: 4-5 | UG Reqs: GER:EC-EthicReas, WAY-ER | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)

ETHICSOC 203R: Ethics in Real Life: How Philosophy Can Make Us Better People

Socrates thought that philosophy was supposed to be practical, but most of the philosophy we do today is anything but. This course will convince you that philosophy actually is useful outside of the classroom--and can have a real impact on your everyday decisions and how to live your life. We'll grapple with tough practical questions such as: 'Is it selfish if I choose to have biological children instead of adopting kids who need homes?' 'Am I behaving badly if I don't wear a helmet when I ride my bike?' 'Should I major in a subject that will help me make a lot of money so I can then donate most of it to overseas aid instead of choosing a major that will make me happy?' Throughout the course, we will discuss philosophical questions about blame, impartiality, the force of different 'shoulds,' and whether there are such things as universal moral rules that apply to everyone.
Terms: not given this year, last offered Winter 2014 | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: WAY-ER | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit

ETHICSOC 233R: The Ethics of Religious Politics

Is it possible for a deeply committed religious person to be a good citizen in a liberal, pluralistic democracy? Is it morally inappropriate for religious citizens to appeal to the teachings of their tradition when they support and vote for laws that coerce fellow citizens? Must the religiously committed be prepared to defend their arguments by appealing to 'secular reasons' ostensibly accessible to all 'reasonable' citizens? What is so special about religious claims of conscience and expression that they warrant special protection in the constitution of most liberal democracies? Is freedom of religion an illusion when it is left to ostensibly secular courts to decide what counts as religion? Exploration of the debates surrounding the public role of religion in a religiously pluralistic American democracy through the writings of scholars on all sides of the issue from the fields of law, political science, philosophy, and religious studies.
Terms: not given this year, last offered Winter 2015 | Units: 5 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, GER:EC-EthicReas, WAY-A-II, WAY-ER | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)
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