Brady Seminars, 2012-2013
The Good One
Fall Quarter, Professor Laurie Zoloth, Religious Studies
This seminar is about personal morality and ethical choices, largely the choices of character and being that start with the way one acts when you believe you are alone, small and large, that shape you and allow you to become a responsible, self-aware and decent human being. It is the first in the sequence of ethics seminars. We will deal with some basic concepts in the discipline of ethics— the experience of being within a “plight,” the capacity to speak and listen, the reliance on the words of others, the capacity to make promises and the ideas of moral imagination, reason and empathy that make ethical action possible. We will focus on the issue of veracity, or the act of telling the truth. I will try to argue a case—that one must always tell the truth. We will discuss this claim, that it can and has been rebutted and whether this principle is possible in modernity. We will discuss reasons to lie and see if they can be defended.
The Good Neighbor
Winter Quarter, Professor Anne W. Eaton, Philosophy
What does being a good neighbor require of us? Do we have special obligations to neighbors? Or are our obligations to neighbors the same asour obligations to all persons qua persons? Who counts as a “neighbor,”anyway? If we are all “citizens of the world” (a phrase that comes to us from Diogenes in the 4th century BCE), then perhaps we do not owe any special service to those who are proximate. After exploring some of these questions, we turn to a pressing issue pertaining to neighbors and neighborhoods, namely racial segregation. Despite progress toward racial equality in the U.S., some of our neighbors – in the Chicago area and across the country – remain disadvantaged according to multiple measures of well-being. What are our duties to our systematically disadvantaged neighbors?
The Good Society
Spring Quarter, Professor Andrea Westlund, Philosophy
The project of shaping a good society is at once philosophical and practical. Philosophical argumentation can help us to think more clearly and critically about the values and ideals we want to see embodied in our institutions and practices. But many policy dilemmas are the subject of sharp moral and political disagreement, and it is not always clear how to bring philosophical arguments to bear on practical problems that require resolution in the here and now. This course will focus on the challenges and rewards of bringing philosophy and public policy together. What can policy makers learn from philosophical ethics, and what can philosophers learn from the messy, real-world processes of policy-making? The course will be organized topically around problems such as the ethical treatment of animals, drug policy, crime and punishment, disability, and the scope and limits of the market. Throughout the course, however, we will keep an eye on the broader, methodological and ethical questions that emerge from the case studies.
Required text: Jonathan Wolff, Ethics and Public Policy: A Philosophical Inquiry
Other readings will be made available on Blackboard.