Undergraduate and Graduate Ethics Classes Offered Fall 2010-Spring 2015
Open to Undergraduates:
HIPS-25901. Evolution of Mind and Morality: Nineteenth to Twenty-First Centuries. (=CHSS 35900, HIST 25501/35501, PHIL 24300/34300, PSYC 28200)
PQ: Third- or fourth-year standing. R. Richards
PHIL 21700. Human Rights I: Philosophical Foundations of Human Rights.
(=HIST 29301, HMRT 20100, LLSO 25100)
The aim of this course is to help students think philosophically about human rights. We ask whether human rights has or needs philosophical foundations, what we need such foundations for, and where they might be found. We also ask some questions that tend to generate the search for philosophical foundations: Are human rights universal
or merely the product of particular cultures? What kinds of rights (e.g., political, cultural, economic, negative, positive) are human rights? Can there be human rights without human duties? Without universal enforcement? Do the rights we enshrine as human mark only some of us (e.g., men) as human?
PHIL 20950. Ethics and Utopian Dreaming.
Given the many ways disappointment permeates our relation to the political realm, difficult questions arise concerning the wisdom of compromise and the courage of intransigence in our efforts to live well and to act ethically. It is often difficult to distinguish instances when compromise is prudent and constitutes true progress, moving concrete, lived conditions towards one’s ultimate goals and ideals, from instances when compromise is a kind of moral failure, revealing insufficient commitment to the ideals supposedly animating the agent. This course concerns the necessity of dreams and frustrated desire for producing a vision of who we want to become. The difficulty is to craft an ideal that manages to make the right sort of contact with the reality we live, where human interactions are often disappointing, unjust, and even cruel. Starting from Plato’s Republic, the central example of utopian thinking in the construction of ethical theory, the class considers both the substance and method of utopian thinking. Examples of questions we consider: What is the nature of the activity identified as utopian thinking? What gets rejected as mere wishful thinking and what is accepted as psychologically realizable? How are these judgments as to what is possible or impossible justified? Is the philosopher’s removal from more practical concerns an asset in utopian thinking, allowing for a more faithful exposition of the ideal? Or is this remove from the harsh realities others must confront damning to their project of articulating the social good? Is there a distinction to be made between political and moral concerns in working towards this vision of the ideal?
E. Holberg. Winter.
29407. Bioethics and Democratic Reason (=HIPS 29407) How should we apply the principle of equality to allocating scarce organ transplants? How can we create fruitful public discourse about critical issues in biotechnology? These questions bring the concepts and ideals of democracy to the ethical problems created by new technologies. In fact, bioethicists often integrate democratic ideals into their publications and consultations, which often makes their work publicly relevant because they are tackling bioethical problems in the same framework as public policy and health care. In addition, being relevant to public concerns means that bioethics stands out compared to many academic disciplines, which often struggle to relate their specialized research to everyday problems. But there is a cost to straddling the abstractions of academia and the concrete situations of the hospital or legislature: bioethics has historically struggled to develop a single method or discipline to address the entire range of ethical issues posed by biomedical technologies. In this class, we will investigate if and how bioethics can thrive as a practically relevant discipline of ethical reasoning and judgment. In specific, we will cover a variety of important bioethical topics in the context of democratic political philosophy, including terminal life support and the right to privacy, equality and resource allocation, and genetic engineering and the pursuit of happiness. B. Sterner.
Open to Undergraduates and Graduates:
PHIL 20210/30210. Kant’s Ethics.
In this course, we read, write, and think about Kant’s ethics. After giving careful attention to the arguments in the Second Critique, portions of the Third Critique, the Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, the Metaphysics of Morals, and several other primary texts, we conclude by working through some contemporary neo-Kantian moral philosophy, paying close attention to work by Christine Korsgaard, David Velleman, Stephen Engstrom, and others.
C. Vogler. Autumn.
PHIL 21610/31610. Medical Ethics: Who Decides and on What Basis?
(=BIOS 29313, BPRO 26210, HIPS 21911, HIST 25009/35009)
PQ: Third- or fourth-year standing. This course does not meet requirements for the biological science major.
Decisions about medical treatment take place in the context of changing health care systems, changing ideas about rights and obligations, and among doctors and patients who have diverse religious and cultural backgrounds. By means of historical, philosophical, and medical readings, this course examines such issues as paternalism, autonomy, the commodification of the body, and the enhancement of mental and/or physical characteristics.
D. Brudney, A. Winter, J. Lantos. Spring.
Open to Undergraduates:
PHIL 21000. Introduction to Ethics. (=HIPS 21000) In this course, we will read, write, and think about central issues in moral philosophy. This survey course is designed to give a rapid introduction to philosophical ethics (largely in the Anglo-North American tradition (although not entirely as a product of Anglo-North American philosophers). We will begin with work by Immanuel Kant and Henry Sidgwick and conclude with important twentieth century work in metaethics and normative ethics (one thing that we will consider is the distinctions between metaethics, normative ethics, and the various fields united under the rubric 'applied ethics'). This course is intended as an introductory course in moral philosophy. Some prior work in philosophy is helpful, but not required. (A) C. Vogler.
PHIL 21300. Torture and Contemporary Moral Thought. Recent history has unfortunately made questions of the nature and permissibility of torture a pressing concern for both moral philosophers, and the wider intellectual community. We will first engage with some reports from torture victims, and look briefly at contemporary torture practices, and how torture is defined in international law. Then we will turn to study a large part of the recent academic literature about torture. This literature is authored both by moral philosophers and by academics in other fields, such as political theory, history and law. However, our focus, or “take” on the readings, will be specifically moral-philosophical.
The course has two central aims. Firstly, to bring analytical precision and rigour to the concept of torture itself: sharpening our understanding of torture as distinctive kind of act, or practice – i.e. getting clearer on what torture is; and pinning down the unique form of violation or harm that torture constitutes – i.e. understanding how, why and to what extent, torture is a form of harm, violation or wrongdoing. Secondly, we will use the literature on this topic as a lens through which to see clearly the influence of some important moral theories – their assumptions, methods and approaches – on contemporary thinking about torture, both within moral philosophy and in the wider intellectual sphere. This will be achieved through close critical analysis of some characteristic lines of response to perhaps the most pressing question about torture that we have faced in recent years: Is interrogational torture ever morally permissible? I hope that the course will allows students to clarify and refine their own understanding of, and perspective on, torture in the world today, and to gain a sense of the lay of the land in contemporary moral philosophy, so that they can locate their perspective within the discipline. D. Holiday.
PHIL 21610. Medical Ethics: Who Decides and on What Basis? (=BPRO 22610, BIOS 29313, HIPS 21911) PQ: Third or Fourth year standing. This course does not meet requirements for the biological science major. Decisions about medical treatment take place in the context of changing health care systems, changing ideas about rights and obligations, and among doctors and patients who have diverse religious and cultural backgrounds. By means of historical, philosophical, and medical readings, this course will examine such issues as paternalism, autonomy, the commodification of the body, and the enhancement of mental and/or physical characteristics. D. Brudney, J. Lantos (Biology).
HIPS 25901. Evolution of Mind and Morality: Nineteenth to Twenty-First Centuries. 100 Units.
Instructor(s): R. Richards Terms Offered: Autumn
Prerequisite(s): Third- or fourth-year standing
Equivalent Course(s): CHSS 35900,HIST 25501,HIST 35501,PHIL 24300,PHIL 34300,PSYC 28200
HMRT 21400. Health and Human Rights. 100 Units.
This course attempts to define health and health care in the context of human rights theory and practice. Does a “right to health” include a “right to health care?” We delineate health care financing in the United States and compare these systems with those of other nations. We explore specific issues of health and medical practice as they interface in areas of global conflict: torture, landmines, and poverty. Readings and discussions explore social determinants of health: housing, educational institutions, employment, and the fraying of social safety nets. We study vulnerable populations: foster children, refugees, and the mentally ill. Lastly, does a right to health include a right to pharmaceuticals? What does the big business of drug research and marketing mean for our own country and the world?
Instructor(s): J. Schumann Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): MEDC 60405
Open to Undergraduates and Graduates:
PHIL 21700/31600. Human Rights - 1. Topic: Philosophical Foundations of Human Rights. (=HMRT 20100/30100, HIST 29301/39301, LLSO 25100, INRE 31600, LAWS 41200, MAPH 40000) Human rights are claims of justice that hold merely in virtue of our shared humanity. In this course we will explore philosophical theories of this elementary and crucial form of justice. Among topics to be considered are the role that dignity and humanity play in grounding such rights, their relation to political and economic institutions, and the distinction between duties of justice and claims of charity or humanitarian aid. Finally we will consider the application of such theories to concrete, problematic and pressing problems, such as global poverty, torture and genocide. (A) B. Laurence.
PHIL 22215/32215. Cicero's De Finibus and Hellenistic Ethics. (=CLCV 25807/35807, LAWS 54201, RETH 34200) Cicero's dialogue De Finibus (On Ends) is his attempt to sort out the major arguments for and against the ethical theories characteristic of Epicureanism, Stoicism, and the "New Academy." It thus provides us with some of our best information about the views of these schools, as well as with critical arguments of great interest. We will read extracts from the dialogue in Latin, focusing on Epicureanism (Books I and II) and Stoicism (Books III and IV), and we will study the entire work in translation, along with relevant primary sources for the views of the schools (the surviving letters of Epicurus, central texts of Greek and Roman Stoicism). The course will thus aim to provide a solid introduction to the major ethical theories of the Hellenistic period.
The course is open to all who have had five quarters of Latin, or equivalent preparation. Translation will always take place during the first hour, and students without Latin are invited to take the course for an R or audit, arriving after that time and doing all the readings in translation. In some cases Independent Study numbers may be arranged for students who want to do some of the course requirements (paper and exam essays) without Latin. (IV) M. Nussbaum.
PHIL 24130/34130. Anscombe on Action and Ethics. PQ: At least 1 prior course in philosophy. G. E. M. Anscombe’s 1957 book, Intention, inaugurated the field of inquiry known as the philosophy of action. Though human action had always been an important philosophical topic, it had usually been discussed in a specifically ethical context, where questions of right and wrong were of primary importance. Anscombe sought a provisional isolation of the topic of action, on the grounds that modern ethics was confused about some of its fundamental concepts. In her influential essay “Modern Moral Philosophy,” Anscombe went so far as to say that it was no longer profitable to do ethics, and that it would not become so again until one regained some clarity about “what type of characteristic a virtue is… and how it is related to the actions in which it is instanced,” an account of which in turn presupposed an account of “what a human action is at all, and how its description as ‘doing such-and-such’ is affected by its motive and by the intention or intentions in it.” Nevertheless, over the course of her career, Anscombe wrote copiously on recognizably ethical topics—e.g., on war; on murder; on the authority of the state; on the nature of a promise; and on the doctrine of double effect. In this course, we will consider Anscombe’s theory of action alongside her ethical writings, each in part for its own sake, but guided by the question how the philosophy of action is related to ethics. (A) (I) A. Ford.
PHIL 24260/34260. Ethical Knowledge. (=MAPH 34260). In this course, we will explore the character of ethical knowledge: knowledge what to do or how to live. Our investigation will focus on three groups of questions: (1) What is the connection between ethical knowledge and acting well? Is ethical knowledge a form of practical knowledge? Does it consist in a grasp of rules and principles, or rather in a capacity to perceive the right thing to do in concrete circumstances? (2) What is the significance of the fact that ethical knowledge concerns how we are to live our lives -- that is, the fact that the subject and object of the knowledge are the same? And what is the scope of this “we”? Is ethical knowledge knowledge of how human beings ought to live? Or human beings round here, at this point in history? Or must it be knowledge of how rational beings ought to live, be they human or Martian? (3) Is (any) ethical knowledge a priori? What role does experience play in its acquisition? Our readings will be drawn from contemporary practical philosophy inspired by Aristotle and/or Kant. Authors we will read include G.E.M. Anscombe, John McDowell, Michael Thompson, David Velleman, Christine Korsgaard, and Sebastian Roedl. We will also read relevant excerpts of Aristotle and Kant; some prior familiarity with Aristotelian and Kantian ethics will be helpful, but by no means essential. W. Small.
Open to Graduates:
PHIL 51515. Contemporary Virtue Ethics. (=Law 99202, RETH 51700, PLSC 52110, GNDR 51700, CLAS 42811). This graduate seminar will study the revival of a neo-Aristotelian ethics of virtue in contemporary moral philosophy, considering, among others, Iris Murdoch, John McDowell, Bernard Williams, Philippa Foot, Nancy Sherman, Henry Richardson, and Alasdair MacIntyre. Is virtue ethics a single movement, with a single set of philosophical motivations and normative commitments, or is it a complicated plurality of positions, motivations, and debates? What is the relationship of virtue ethics to the idea of ethical theory? To the aspiration to put reason in charge of human life? Is virtue ethics inherently conservative, deferring to socially formed passions and patterns of conduct, or is (some form of) it capable of radical criticism of entrenched social norms, e.g. of class, race, and gender? And, if so, how, and with reference to what norms?
The seminar is listed in Philosophy, Law, Religious Ethics, Classics, and Political Science, but students from those units (and others) may enroll only if they have a very ample and solid background in philosophy, such as an undergraduate philosophy major or equivalent preparation, plus permission from me based on examination of written work. MAPH students will need an email from their MAPH preceptor. A written application for permission to enroll is due to me September 20.
We will be alluding to the Greeks throughout, so some background in ancient Greek ethics, particularly Aristotle, is highly desirable. Students should have a good translation of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics (Barnes/Ross, or Terence Irwin, or Christopher Rowe) at all times, and if they know even some Greek, they should bring the Greek to class too.
All students will write a 25 page seminar paper. I am happy to grant an extension to the end of the first week of the winter quarter, but if you need a grade to be recorded sooner than that for some reasons having to do with your program, you will need to make arrangements with me.
In addition, at each seminar meeting after the first, we will hope to have one student presentation, so please think about what topic and date you’d like, as you prepare for the first meeting. Presentation will occupy the final 30 minutes of class. The presenter will circulate a short paper by Friday night prior to the class meeting, and the presentation can thus be a brief introduction of the paper, with an aim to maximize discussion. (I) M. Nussbaum.
PHIL 51830. Topics in Moral, Political & Legal Philosophy (=LAWS 78603) The topic will be an examination of philosophical and empirical issues raised by Nietzsche’s moral psychology, including his account of the will, motivation, the sources of moral judgment, and related topics. We will look at both at selections from Nietzsche’s texts, as well as pertinent secondary literature on Nietzsche, and recent work in philosophy and psychology. M. Forster, B. Leiter (Law).
PHIL 51831. The Paradox of Rights. (=SCTH 51800; GRMN 51812)The form of "individual rights" ("subjektive Rechte") is the distinctive feature of modern legal, and in a broader sense normative orders. It develops out of the tradition of Roman Law by breaking with its most fundamental assumption of a conceptual and normative alliance between law and ethics. The importance of the idea of a "right" lies in a reflective rearrangement of the relation between the social and the natural: by its very form, "rights" guarantee an inner-social space to the non-social ("natural" freedom or "interests"). Rights are thereby the form of a revolutionary break in the history of Western societies which is deeply ambivalent. As Max Weber has claimed, rights are paradoxical: they are instruments of liberation which establish new and even more intense forms of social domination. This paradox of rights can be studied by exploring how they establish the dualisms that are at the centre of modern political, legal, and social thought: the dualisms of state and (civil or bourgeois) society, of democracy and capitalism, of the individual and community, of nature and society, and so on.
While the form of rights remains unanalyzed in contemporary liberalism (which takes it for granted and thereby neutralizes or naturalizes it), it has been a central topic of the thinking of modernity in philosophy and legal theory since the late 18th century. The seminar will explore this tradition by reading texts by Kant, Hegel, von Savigny, Constant, Mill, Marx, Weber, Jellinek, Schmitt, Benjamin, Luhmann, Habermas, Derrida, Ewald, Brown. C. Menke.
PHIL 58200. Psychoanalysis and Ethics. (=SCTH 55504) Admission requires consent of instructors. This research seminar begins from a point about the power of moral and ethical considerations in our lives: if you convince people that they are unethical or otherwise morally bad, you have done them a kind of damage much worse than you do if you take their money or break their bones, and much worse than if you convince them that they are ugly, or dim, or irrational. People can adjust to being unattractive. They can adjust to being less than reasonable or smart. But once they think that they are bad, it becomes very difficult for them to so much as take in any positive messages you have to give them about themselves. They can grow mean. They can become so abject that they lack even capacity to want more for themselves than what they have got so far. This in turn suggests that the varieties of personal inadequacy marked by winding up on the wrong side of a good/bad divide in the assessment of human beings, human action, and human life more generally are crucial to understanding human flourishing. In this seminar, we will turn to psychoanalytic work to account for this aspect of the place of ethical or moral assessment in human life. Although Sigmund Freud notoriously distanced psychoanalytic work from specific concern with morality, in working from and against Freud, both Jacques Lacan and Melanie Klein developed accounts of mental life that turn on how the mind copes with anxiety triggered in brushes against the good/bad divide. We will explore psychoanalytic work with an eye toward developing a philosophical moral psychology centered on the role of ethical or moral assessment of human beings, human life, and human conduct in mental functioning. We hope thereby to provide theoretical underpinnings for our starting observation about the power of moral and ethical considerations. J. Lear, C. Vogler.
Open to Undergraduates:
PHIL 21000. Introduction to Ethics. (=HIPS 21000). In this course, we will read, write, think, and talk about moral philosophy, focusing on two classic texts, Immanuel Kant's Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals and John Stuart Mill's Utilitarianism. We will work through both texts carefully, and have a look at influential criticisms of utilitarianism and of Kant's ethics in the concluding weeks of the term. This course is intended as an introductory course in moral philosophy. Some prior work in philosophy is helpful, but not required. (A) C. Vogler
PHIL 21610. Medical Ethics: Who Decides and on What Basis? (=BPRO 22610,BIOS 29313,HIPS 21911). PQ: Third- or fourth-year standing. Note: This course does not meet requirements for the biological science major. Decisions about medical treatment take place in the context of changing health care systems, changing ideas about rights and obligations, and among doctors and patients who have diverse religious and cultural backgrounds. By means of historical, philosophical, and medical readings, this course examines such issues as paternalism, autonomy, the commodification of the body, and the enhancement of mental and/or physical characteristics. D. Brudney, A. Dudley Goldblatt, L. Ross
PHIL 29200/29300-02. Junior/Senior Tutorial. Topic: Reasons, Motivation, and Morality. Meets with Jr/Sr section. Pre-requisite: Open only to intensive-track majors. No more than two tutorials may be used to meet program requirements. We often say things like “he ought to do so-and-so” or “she has a reason to do such-and-such”. But what do we mean when we talk about what people ought to do or about their reasons for action? What is the relation between people’s reasons and their motivations? Are there reasons which exist independently of our motivations? Or are all reasons somehow dependent on the motivations which we happen to have or which we would have if we were fully rational? Related questions extend into the realm of morality: Are there reasons which are specifically moral in nature? If so, how are they related to our motivations? Finally, is one irrational or in error if one does not act on moral reasons, or can there be a perfectly coherent, non-mistaken villain? In this course we will discuss some of the central meta-normative and meta-ethical positions regarding the nature of normative and moral reasons: Thomas Nagel’s realism, Christine Korsgaard’s Kantian anti-realism, Sharon Street’s Humean anti-realism, and Michael Smith’s hybrid of Humean-Kantian realism. We will introduce these positions by discussing Hume’s and Kant’s views on motivation and moral motivation, as well as the distinction between internal and external reasons and between motivating and normative reasons. We will also consider the nature of specifically moral reasons - in particular, reasons stemming from the motive of duty - and their alleged categorical force. Additional authors include Donald Davidson, Philippa Foot, Barbara Herman, John McDowell, Derek Parfit and Bernard Williams. N. Ben Moshe.
Open to Undergraduates and Graduates:
PHIL 21605/31605. Justice. PQ: At least one previous course in philosophy. This course explores a tradition of thought about justice extending from Plato through Kant. In addition to works by these authors, we will read selections from Aristotle, Aquinas and Rousseau. One of the distinguishing marks of this tradition is its emphasis on the relation between justice and the common good. Another mark, related to the first, is its tendency to conceive of justice as holding among the parts of a whole, and not—or not simply—among discrete individuals. (A) (I) A. Ford
PHIL 21700/31600. Human Rights-1: Philosophical Foundations. (=HMRT 20100/30100, HIST 29301/39301, LLSO 25100, INRE 31600, LAWS 41200, MAPH 40000) Human rights are claims of justice that hold merely in virtue of our shared humanity. In this course we will explore philosophical theories of this elementary and crucial form of justice. Among topics to be considered are the role that dignity and humanity play in grounding such rights, their relation to political and economic institutions, and the distinction between duties of justice and claims of charity or humanitarian aid. Finally we will consider the application of such theories to concrete, problematic and pressing problems, such as global poverty, torture and genocide. (A) (I) B. Laurence.
PHIL 26100/36100. Philosophical Interpretation of Scripture in the Middle Ages. Topic: The Problems of Evil and the Book of Job. (=HIJD 36100,JWSC 26250,RLST 25902). An important genre of philosophical writing during the Middle Ages was the commentary, both commentaries on canonical philosophical works (e.g., Aristotle) and on Scripture. This course is an introduction to medieval philosophical exegesis of Scripture, concentrating on the Book of Job and the philosophical problems of evil and suffering. Authors will include Saadiah, Maimonides, and Aquinas, and readings will include both their commentaries on Job and their systematic philosophical discussions of the problems of evil. (IV) J. Stern
PHIL 21713/31713. Aristotle on Virtue. (=FNDL 21715). Examination of Aristotle’s theory of moral virtue as it is developed in the Nicomachean Ethics, Eudemian Ethics, and Politics. How does virtue differ from self-control? In what way is virtue a perfection of both our capacity for non-rational desire and our reason? What does Aristotle mean by saying that virtuous people act for the sake of the beautiful? How is virtue promoted and sustained by political community? What is the relation between virtue and natural flourishing? (A) (IV) G. Lear
Open to Graduates:
PHIL 55910. Aristotle and the origin of the ethical. (=CLAS 46712). PQ: Undergraduates must email instructor for consent. Also, before the first class, students ought to carefully read book I, chapters 1-7. Note there are 2 class meeting times, plus required attendance of discussion section. This class is a close reading of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, devoting two class sessions to each book. We will be reading with the following line of questioning in mind: is Aristotle’s ethical theory consistent with our basic moral intuitions? If not, are we willing to take seriously the possibility that our moral outlook could be fundamentally mistaken? If not, can we take Aristotle seriously as an ethicist? The aim of the class is not primarily exegetical; our goal is to figure out whether Aristotle is right, and to think about how and whether it is possible to engage philosophically with an ethically alien point of view. (I) (IV) A. Callard.
PHIL 51508. Thomistic Moral Philosophy. PQ: Consent of Instructor. Vast areas of Anglophone practical philosophy have focused on Aristotle's ethics of late, and some new neo-Aristotelians have turned to work by Thomas Aquinas for help. Our tasks in this seminar will be three: (1) to consider recent work in neo-Aristotelian ethics; (2) to see what contemporary neo-Aristotelians seek in turning to Aquinas; and three, to consider how far Thomistic thought about virtue, happiness, practical reason and practical wisdom are compatible with contemporary neo-Aristotelian practical philosophy more generally. (I) (IV) C. Vogler.
PHIL 57602. Autonomy: Kant's Conception of the Essence of Morality. (=DVPR 57602) Autonomy is the centre of Kant’s conception of morality. Hence we must try to understand the idea of self-legislation if we want to understand his moral theory, and examine its consistency and implications if we want to know whether an account of morality can be based on it. The course is to include discussion of the Categorical Imperative and of wider ethical questions regarding topics such as moral motivation, law and virtue. Students will participate by reading relevant texts, presenting brief comments on them, and joining in the discussion. A. Mueller.
Open to Undergraduates:
PHIL 20211. Kant’s Moral Theory. Bernard Williams (1993: 63) famously rejected the Kantian claim that, as moral agents, we should think of ourselves as legislators. But why did Kant make this claim in the first place? The answer is first and foremost historical. In this course, we shall start by looking at the early Enlightenment context of moral thought (David Hume, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Christian August Crusius) to which Kant responds and try to locate the Kantian approach to moral theory within this context. After that, we shall read selected passages from Kant’s main writings on moral theory, the Groundwork, the Second Critique, and the Metaphysics of Morals. Finally, we shall look at some contemporary interpretations of Kant’s moral theory and – if time allows – on some contemporary moral theories that claim a Kantian heritage. C. Fricke.
PHIL 21611. Topics in Medical Ethics: Examining the Moral Boundaries of Medicine. (=HIPS 25301). Constant changes in healthcare settings, coupled with rapid advancements in technology, lead to increasingly complicated ethical dilemmas: Who decides what - patients, doctors or family members - and on what basis? What is the telos of the medical profession and how does it bear on what doctors can and cannot provide their patients? Can doctors refuse to provide treatment for conscientious reasons? Are abortions, assisted suicides, organ sales and surrogacy morally permissible? In this course, we attempt to answer these (and other) pressing questions. We will commence the course by analyzing two key concepts which are utilized in medical ethics debates: autonomy and paternalism. We will examine the value of autonomy and its relation to the question of competence, the difference between autonomy and authenticity, and the vexed question of when and how paternalism is justified. We will then discuss questions surrounding the telos of the medical profession, the physician’s duties as derived from this telos, and the circumstances, if any, in which the physician can deviate from this telos. We will also examine circumstances in which physicians can refuse to provide treatment on conscientious grounds. We will then proceed to examine specific medical ethical dilemmas surrounding the beginning and end of life. We will discuss ethical questions pertaining to abortion and parents’ right to refuse medical care for their newborn children, while examining the moral standing of fetuses and newborns. We will also examine ethical questions surrounding the autonomy, wellbeing and interests of demented patients, while raising broader philosophical questions pertaining to the nature of personal identity. Finally, we will discuss the moral permissibility of euthanasia and the right to assisted suicide. We will conclude the course by analyzing some of the key characteristics of markets, as well as their moral limits, and utilize our analysis in order to understand the moral status of organ sales and surrogacy. N. Ben Moshe.
PHIL 21301. Moral Theory. Why be moral? Is there any principled distinction between matters of fact and matters of value? What is the character of obligation? What is a virtue? In this course we will read, think, and write about twentieth century Anglo-North American philosophical attempts to give a systematic account of morality. (A) C. Vogler.
PHIL 21000. Introduction to Ethics. In this course, we will read, write, think, and talk about moral philosophy, focusing on two classic texts, Immanuel Kant's Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals and John Stuart Mill's Utilitarianism. We will work through both texts carefully, and have a look at influential criticisms of utilitarianism and of Kant's ethics in the concluding weeks of the term. This course is intended as an introductory course in moral philosophy. Some prior work in philosophy is helpful, but not required. (A) A. Ford
Anthropology-21619. Reading Ethnographies: Ethics of Medicine and Biotechnology. Advances in medicine and biotechnology are raising increasingly complex ethical questions, many of which are related to core anthropological concerns: how are boundaries are created—for instance between life and death? How are ‘nature’ and ‘culture’ defined, and what does this entail for uses of technology? What are the legacies of historic exploitation for disease epidemics, and what are adequate responses? This course will explore ethnographic perspectives on ethical problems raised by medicine and biotechnology. While bioethics, policy, or law typically provide the framework to think about ethical problems, we will explore how ethnographic contextualizations can denaturalize the tacit assumptions of these philosophical approaches: what are the larger social and political contexts within which ethical dilemmas emerge? How can we understand the consequences of these ethical shifts? What alternative resources are there to solve ethical problems? Addressing these questions by reading ethnographies will also illustrate the potential of anthropology to speak to ethical issues related to scientific progress.
Open to Graduates:
PHIL 54005. Moral Sentimentalism and Its Psychological Foundations. In his Moral Sentimentalism, Michael Slote provides an account of the moral judgment that gives a prominent place to the evaluative feeling of empathy as the natural sources of human morality. But rather than embracing an emotivist account of this judgment, his claim is that this judgment is true or false in very much the same way as descriptive judgments are and that all the shortcomings of emotivism can be avoided. As for his account of empathy, he relies on social psychological research on empathic feelings. In this course, we shall take our starting point from a critical account of Slote’s theory and of the social psychological foundations on which he claims to build it. We shall then turn to Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments where we find an earlier version of moral sentimentalism, one which claims a virtue theoretical heritage in a much more convincing way than the version suggested by Slote. C. Fricke.
PHIL 51830. Topics in Moral, Political and Legal Philosophy. (=LAWS 78603) PQ: Ph.D. students may register without instructor consent. All others by instructor permission only. The topic for Winter 2014 will be "Ideology." What makes moral, political, economic, or legal ideas "ideological," in the pejorative sense associated with the Marxian tradition? How do facts about the genesis of an ideology bear on its epistemic warrant? What is the relationship between ideology and "false consciousness"? How can an individual be mistaken about his interests? What concept of interests is needed for the theory of ideology and false consciousness? We will use some aspects of contemporary economics as a case study for the theory of ideology. Readings from some or all of Hegel, Marx, Horkheimer, Adorno, J. Elster, R. Geuss, M. Rosen, G. Becker. M. Forster, B. Leiter.
Anthropology-41905. Moral Imaginaries. Modernity is often said to herald the breakdown of morality. More recent developments associated with neoliberalism are similarly described as disruptive and amoral (if not immoral) extensions of market logics into pre-existing moral economies. This seminar starts from a different premise: Social actors moralize about a wide range of domains of contemporary social life, encompassing not only religion and “tradition,” but also fundamental aspects of modernity itself. The seminar will interrogate the moral aspects of key Western social imaginaries with particular interest in their transnational circulation. Topics will range from everyday language and conduct to colonial encounters, democratic politics, and market ethics. Readings will be diverse, encompassing philosophical, ethnographic, historical, and linguistic approaches. Susanne Cohen, Wed 12:30-3:20
Open to Undergraduates:
PHIL 21610. Big Problems: Medical Ethics: Who Decides and on What Basis? (=BPRO 22610, BIOS 29313. HIPS 21911) PQ: Third or Fourth year standing. This course does not meet requirements for the biological science major. Decisions about medical treatment take place in the context of changing health care systems, changing ideas about rights and obligations, and among doctors and patients who have diverse religious and cultural backgrounds. By means of historical, philosophical, and medical readings, this course will examine such issues as paternalism, autonomy, the commodification of the body, and the enhancement of mental and/or physical characteristics. (A) D. Brudney.
PHIL 21000. Introduction to Ethics. (=FNDL 23107) In this course, we will read, write, think, and talk about moral philosophy, focusing on two classic texts, Immanuel Kant's Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals and John Stuart Mill's Utilitarianism. We will work through both texts carefully, and have a look at influential criticisms of utilitarianism and of Kant's ethics in the concluding weeks of the term. This course is intended as an introductory course in moral philosophy. Some prior work in philosophy is helpful, but not required. (A) B. Callard.
HIPS 21400. Intro To Medical Ethics. 100 Units.
Equivalent Course(s): BIOS 29281
Open to Undergraduates and Graduates:
PHIL 20212/30212. Ethics with Anscombe. Elizabeth Anscombe has deeply influenced moral philosophy ever since the publication of her book Intention and the article “Modern Moral Philosophy”. The rise of contemporary Virtue Ethics is only one indication of this influence; and the important themes addressed in those writings are only some among a great many topics raised and absorbingly discussed in Anscomnbe’s work on ethics and matters moral.
This class is intended to track and discuss the most central issues she brings to our attention in her uniquely original and searching way. It is to cover both question in the area of “meta-ethics” and the discussion of basic moral standards, including such topics as: Teleological and psychological foundations; Kinds and sources of practical necessity; The importance of truth; Practical reasoning; Morally relevant action descriptions; Intention and consequence; “linguistically created” institutions; Knowledge and certainty in moral matters; Upbringing versus conscience; Sex and marriage; War and murder; Man’s spiritual nature. (I) (A) A. Mueller.
PHIL 21700/31600. Human Rights I: Philosophical Foundation. (=HMRT 20100/30100, HIST 29301/39301, LLSO 25100, INRE 31600, LAWS 41200, MAPH 40000) Human rights are claims of justice that hold merely in virtue of our shared humanity. In this course we will explore philosophical theories of this elementary and crucial form of justice. Among topics to be considered are the role that dignity and humanity play in grounding such rights, their relation to political and economic institutions, and the distinction between duties of justice and claims of charity or humanitarian aid. Finally we will consider the application of such theories to concrete, problematic and pressing problems, such as global poverty, torture and genocide. (A) (I). B. Laurence.
PHIL 23005/33005. Metaphysics and Ethics of Death. What is death, and what is its significance for our lives and how we lead them? In this course we will tack back and forth between the metaphysics of death (What is nonexistence? Are death and pre-birth metaphysically symmetrical?) and the ethical questions raised by death (Is death a misfortune—something we should fear or lament? Should we be glad not to be immortal? How should we understand the ethics of abortion and capital punishment?) Our exploration of these issues will take us through the work of many figures in the Western philosophical tradition (Plato, Augustine, Descartes, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Heidegger), but we will be concentrating on the recent and dramatic flowering of work on the subject. B. Callard.
Open to Graduates:
PHIL 51206. Utilitarian Ethics. (=RETH 51206, PLSC 51206, GNSE 51206). Admission by permission of the instructor. Permission must be sought in writing by September 15. Prerequisite: An undergraduate major in philosophy or some equivalent solid philosophy preparation. The British Utilitarians were social radicals who questioned conventional morality as a basis for both personal and public choice and proposed an alternative that they believed to be both more scientific and more morally adequate. In part because of the widespread acceptance of pieces of their views in economics and political science, the original subtlety and radical force of the views is often neglected. This seminar, focusing on John Stuart Mill and Henry Sidgwick, aims to examine sympathetically what classical Utilitarianism may still offer to philosophical ethics, and to see how the strongest criticisms of Utilitarianism measure up to the texts of its founders. Although it is hardly possible to study Utilitarianism as an ethical theory without attending to its political role, we shall focus for the most part on ethics, and on two works above all: Mill’s Utilitarianism and Sidgwick’s The Methods of Ethics, combining these with Mill’s The Subjection of Women, his Autobiography, and several key essays. Along the way we shall be investigating the views of Bentham, Mill, and Sidgwick about animal suffering, women’s equality, and sexual orientation. Among the critics of Utilitarianism, we shall consider writings of Bernard Williams, John Rawls, Amartya Sen, Jon Elster, Elizabeth Anderson, and John Harsanyi. M. Nussbaum.
PHIL 51830. Topics in Moral, Political and Legal Philosophy. The topic for Winter 2015 is “Freedom and Responsibility, Contemporary and Historical.” We will begin by canvassing the major philosophical positions in the Anglophone literature on free will and moral responsibility over the past half-century, with readings drawn from some or all of P.F. Strawson, G. Strawson, R. Kane, H. Frankfurt, G. Watson, and others. In the second half of the seminar we will step back to look at the treatment of these same issues by major figures in the history of philosophy, including M. Frede’s A Free Will: Origins of the Notion in Ancient Thought, as well as primary texts by some or all of Hume, Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and Sartre. The seminar is open to philosophy PhD students without permission; to J.D. students with instructor permission; and to others with instructor permission. M. Forster, B. Leiter.