Summer 2009 Courses241:Introductory Ethics
This course introduces students to ethical theory through selected classics from some of the most historically influential contributors to moral philosophy, including John Stuart Mill, Immanuel Kant, and Aristotle. These classics will be supplemented with contemporary reflections by African American thinkers, a feminist philosopher, and a Holocaust survivor. Questions to be addressed range from "What is a good life?" and "What ought I to do?" to "Is everyone basically selfish?" and "Are there any universal standards of right and wrong?" Course objectives are to offer a foundation in ethical theory for students to do further work in ethics, political philosophy, or philosophy of law and to develop skills in ethical reasoning and sensitivity to the nuances of ethical argument and perception. There will be cumulative essay examinations at the end of each week. (review questions distributed in advance).
243: Ethics in Business
Profit-seeking business as we now know it came into existence after centuries of moral thinking which looked askance at any activity which is aimed solely at material gain. It is not surprising that some people think that most business activity is somewhat shady, while others think that business takes place in a peculiar world of its own where distinctions between right and wrong can have no meaning at all. In this course we will rethink our moral assumptions and apply them to business as it is actually done. We will discuss the moral legitimacy of corporate enterprise, the moral arguments for various sorts of business regulation, and some of the difficult decisions which people in business must sometimes face. Readings for the course illustrate and clarify the issues covered in the course.
Course requirements will include two written essays and a final exam.
341: Contemporary Moral Issues
How should we respond to terrorism? According to Noam Chomsky (who has been called by the New York Times@ arguably the most important intellectual alive@), the United States is Aone of the worst terrorist states in the world@, and there is an easy way to greatly reduce the amount of terrorism in the world: stop participating in it. This course critically examines Chomsky=s and others= ideas on terrorism, and also addresses the death penalty and abortion. A main objective of the course is to provide students with analytical tools that they can use to make up their own minds on controversial moral issues like the above.
341: Contemporary Moral Issues
4-week session (June 15-July 12)
261/501: Philosophy of Religion
Religious experience: what is a “religion” an experience? What sorts of religious experiences are there, and how do you tell? Are religious experiences ineffable or indescribable? Can they be explained by natural and social science in a way that shows that they are not reliable? Are they subjective in a way that rules out their being evidence for any religious belief? Are any experiences evidence for any religious beliefs? How would you tell? If some religious experiences are evidence for religious beliefs, are all of them evidence for religious beliefs?
Particular doctrines: one of the new trends in philosophy of religion is to look philosophically at particular religious doctrines rather than simply to deal, say, with generic theism; is the concept of God logically inconsistent and/or inconsistent with other doctrines of the tradition in which it appears? Is there a way of putting the doctrine of the Trinity that is not self-contradictory and/or inconsistent with other doctrines of the tradition in which it appears? Is there a way of putting the doctrine of the Incarnation that is not self contradictory and/or inconsistent with other doctrines of the tradition in which it appears? Is there a way of putting the doctrine of reincarnation and karma that is not self-contradictory and/or inconsistent with other doctrines of the tradition in which it appears? Is not self-contradictory and/or inconsistent with other doctrines of the tradition in which it appears? In each case, if not why not? In each case, if so, how?
441: Environmental Ethics
This course is an examination of attempts to understand our moral obligations towards nonhuman entities in nature and nature as a whole. Do we have obligations with respect to nonhuman animals? Plants? Inanimate objects such as stones and water? Ecosystems? If so, what are the natures and grounds for these obligations?
We will investigate traditional ethical theories insofar as they address these issues. Further, we will discuss recent attempts to extend the domains of traditional views so as to include within these theories all or some of the nonhuman beings noted above. Finally, we will turn our attention to views which hold that the fundamental objects of moral concern are not individuals but natural “communities” as such.
4-week session (July 13-August 9)
101/201 Introduction to Philosophy
Free will: what sort of freedom is required if we are responsible for our actions, and do we have it? Mind/body: how are the mind and body related? Are they identical? Are they distinct and of different kinds? Is consciousness a problem for the view that they are identical? Is causality a problem if they are distinct? Ethics: are there cross-cultural moral principles or ethical truths? Are duties simply socially sanctioned behaviors? God: what arguments are there for, and against, the existence of god? Is belief that God exists rational only if we have a proof that god exists? Is belief that God does not exist rational only if we have a proof that god does not exist?
211 Elementary Logic
341: Contemporary Moral Issues
Professor Shafer Landau
This course, which presupposes no prior philosophical background, seeks to provide students with the tools needed to carefully analyze issues in five areas of topical ethical interest: euthanasia, the death penalty, war and terrorism, sexuality and marriage, and animal rights. The emphasis throughout will be on respectfully and sensitively appreciating the complexity and the argumentative structure of the various positions on these issues, allowing students to decide for themselves where they stand on these important matters.