Course Description

Course Name

Public Philosophy and Ethics

Session: VSOS3221

Hours & Credits

3 Credits

Prerequisites & Language Level

Taught In English

  • There is no language prerequisite for courses at this language level.

Overview

Course Objectives:
This course overviews some important normative and ethical theories and approaches in public philosophy and ethics. It will cover readings from classical theorists such as Aristotle, John Locke, and John Stuart Mill to contemporary theorists including John Rawls, Michael Sandel, and Michael Walzer. In particular, this course not only examines various philosophical understandings in public affairs and social justice, but also relates philosophical reflection to practical issues and policies of current society.

Required Textbook:
Michael Sandel (ed.), Justice: A Reader (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007).

Topics and Readings:

Introduction

1st Memo Due
Chapter II - Utilitarianism
Jeremy Bentham, Principles of Moral and Legislation
John Stuart Mill, Utilitarianism, ch. 2

2nd Memo Due
Chapter III - Libertarianism
Robert Nozick, Anarchy, State, and Utopia
Robert Nozick, Anarchy, State, and Utopia

3rd Memo Due
Chapter IV - Locke: Property Rights
John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, chaps. 1-9
John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, chaps. 1-9

Markets and Morals
Group Presentation (topic: military service) Group A
Group Presentation (topic: surrogate motherhood) Group B
[Reference: Chapter V]

4th Memo Due
Chapter VI - Kant: Freedom as Autonomy
Immanuel Kant, Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals, pp. 158-166, 172-177.
Immanuel Kant, Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals, pp. 158-166, 172-177

5th Memo Due
Chapter VII - Rawls: Justice as Fairness
John Rawls, A Theory of Justice, pp. 203-209 & 214-221.
John Rawls, A Theory of Justice, pp. 203-209 & 214-221.

6th Memo Due
Chapter VIII - Distributive Justice: Equality, Entitlement, and Merit
John Rawls, A Theory of Justice
Robert Nozick, Anarchy, State, and Utopia

Midterm Take?Home Exam Due

Equal Opportunity?
Group Presentation (topic: affirmative action at the Michigan Law School) Group C
Group Presentation (topic: vouchers that Made Milwaukee famous) Group D
[Reference: articles to be distributed]

7th Memo Due
Chapter X - Aristotle: Justice and Virtue
Aristotle, The Politics, pp. 278-284 & 287-295
Aristotle, The Politics, pp. 278-284 & 287-295

Ability, Disability, and Discrimination
Group Presentation (topic: cheerleaders) Group E
Group Presentation (topic: golf carts) Group F
[Reference: Chapter XI]

8th Memo Due
Chapter XII - Justice, Community, and Membership
Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue
Michael Sandel, Democracy?s Discontent

9th Memo Due
Chapter XIII - Moral Argument and Liberal Toleration
John Rawls, Political Liberalism, pp. 343-349 & 352-355
Michael Sandel, ?Political Liberalism,? pp. 359-364

Morality and Law
Group Presentation (case: making marriage gay) Group G
Group Presentation (case: federal funding for stem cell research) Group H
[Reference: articles to be distributed]

Final Take?Home Exam Due

*Course content subject to change