Sophomore Academic Year
Sophomore Year Academic Core
How have the classical traditions in the humanities reflected on the question of the good citizen?
Students will be introduced in three small sequential seminars to the issues of ethics and civic life.
In this course we study such questions as these: What is it for a human life to go well? What is happiness? What is the place of pleasure in a good life? What makes lives meaningful, rich, flourishing? Are the lives of human beings in some way more valuable than other forms of life, and if so, what is it about us that grounds such superiority? What is human dignity? Can the well-being of different individuals be added up, and if so, should we promote the well-being of as many people as we can? Is death the final end to human life, and if so, is that a bad thing? Are there objective answers to such questions as these, and how can we know that we have the right answers?
We will consider how we are to treat and interact with others. Should we try, in all our actions, to bring about the greatest good, or are there other considerations to which we should be responsive? Are there some things that we should never do, no matter how much good we could bring about by doing so? Should we always keep our promises, and if so why? Do we have, or can we justify, special obligations to our friends and family? Do our professional and other roles shape what we have reason to do? How do we understand our obligations towards strangers?
This course investigates domestic and international questions. Is democracy necessarily the best form of government? Is it the only legitimate form of government? Do laws have moral authority simply because of the value of the rule of law? What is freedom and why is it important? What is the basis for such democratic freedoms as liberty of conscience and religion? What is it to have a right, and how do we know what our rights are? What is it for human beings to be equal? Is income disparity inherently a bad thing? Should the government try to make all citizens equally happy? What would an ideally just society look like? Is justice the only virtue of a state or a society—could a society be radically defective even if it is just? What is the moral basis for the institution of private property, or is it merely a means to economic ends? Is taxation a form of theft? What does justice require of our penal institutions? Is the death penalty inherently wrong? Is it unjust that some nations are much wealthier than others and have more power? Is it wrong for one nation to intervene in the internal affairs of another? Under what conditions, iif any, is war justified? Is torture a morally acceptable tactic?
Throughout the sophomore year students will also become better acquainted with Evanston's needs and will meet with members of the local community. Their goal will be to select a target issue that will be further refined when they return to campus from their junior year abroad, and that will be carried out as a collaborative capstone project in their senior year.
Brady Scholars - Class of 2016
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