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.
Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- Identify and describe the major areas of moral and political theory, explain how those areas differ from and relate to one another, and place the views and arguments of major philosophical figures within those areas.
- Use ethical, moral, and political terminology correctly and consistently.
- Apply critical thinking and reasoning skills to ethical issues in a variety of professional contexts.
- Identify and describe several major theories of justice and morality, including utilitarianism, libertarianism, social contract theory, deontology, and the ethics/politics of virtue.
- Analyze how moral and political dilemmas are handled differently by each set of theoretical principles.
- Analyze the consequences of various moral principles, and interpret how these principles relate to concepts of justice.
- Discuss the relationship between morality and politics.
- Identify and describe the origins of western democratic politics and constitutional government.
- Analyze a range of difficult and controversial moral and political issues, including murder, the income tax, corporate cost-benefit analysis, lying, affirmative action, and same-sex marriage.
More info: http://www.saylor.org/courses/phil103/