Social Ethics and Political Thought (PHIL 170.001)

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Instructor: Reid Blackman. This class meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:00 a.m. – 9:15 a.m. in Howell 106.

Freedom is great, right?  We all love freedom.  And the more of it, the better.
Well, not the freedom to kill whomever you like.  And not the freedom to take whatever you’d like from whomever you like.  So we should probably have a government curtail some of our freedom.  But how much?  Should the government just be there to stop people from killing and stealing?  What about stopping the powerful from exploiting the weak?  After all, a minimum wage enforced by the government is a good idea, no?  So when should the government intervene in our relations with others, and when does that intervention constitute an unacceptable  breach of our freedom?
Ok – once we figure that out, we’ve figured out everything there is to figure out about freedom…except what about freedom to have the time to do what you find fulfilling?  Communities think you’re beholden to them.  Employers think you’re beholden to them.  Just think about all that time you spend working “for the man.”  How can your life be your own when the landlord keeps knocking on your door for rent, the electricity company keeps sending you bills, and you’re working 50 hours a week to support your family?  So maybe there isn’t only freedom in relation to government intervention, but also freedom in relation to everyone else, as well.  All of these ideas, and more, will be discussed throughout the semester.

Reid Blackman’s webpage