PHIL103: Moral and Political Philosophy


This course will introduce you to the basic concepts and methods of moral and political philosophy. Its primary focus is on the development of moral reasoning skills and the application of those skills to contemporary social and political issues. Although the course is organized around the central concept of justice, it uses this notion as a point of departure for discussing a wide range of philosophical topics and perspectives. Topics range from the value of human life, the moral standing of the free market, and the notion of fundamental human rights, to equality of opportunity, the legality of same-sex marriage, and the conditions for a moral community. In order to investigate these topics, this course makes extensive use of Professor Michael Sandel’s video lecture course on justice, delivered at Harvard University in 2009. In addition to these lectures, you will study a number of important moral and political philosophers, including Plato, Aristotle, John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, Jeremy Bentham, John Stuart Mill, Immanuel Kant, Jean-Paul Sartre, Friedrich Nietzsche, and John Rawls. Supplementary readings will include texts from contemporary philosophers, such as Robert Nozick, John Finnis, Alasdair MacIntyre, and others, as well as news articles and primary source texts regarding important legal decisions. By the end of the course, you will have gained a detailed understanding of the philosophical issues involved in many contemporary debates in the public sphere, as well as a refined sense of your own moral and political positions and intuitions.

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