Practical Ethics (PHIL 163.001)

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Instructor: Alexander Jech. This course meets Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:00AM – 9:15AM in Caldwell 105.

The purpose of this course is to introduce students to philosophical modes of reflection upon the nature of “work.” The philosophical core of the course will be provided by the divergent perspectives of Aristotle, Adam Smith, and Marx, but the majority of the course will focus upon investigating the ethical dimensions of several different kinds of work, or vocations, such as agriculture and land management; skilled manual labor; business and entrepreneurship; and politics and civil service. This examination will have two purposes: to obtain a better understanding regarding what the vocation requires of those working within it (is the purpose of entrepreneurial activity profit, or the expression of freedom and creativity? is the purpose of manual work located solely in the product, or are there values internal to the practice?) and to better understand how the vocation should be fit within the broader moral, social, and political fabric of society (can the benefits of modern factory farming justify its inhumane conditions? do current policies incentivizing higher education denigrate the value of manual labor and lead to a shortage of skilled labor? should politicians simply provide a framework within which individuals seek various kinds of work, or should they be involved more intimately in determining “winners and losers”? does politics have a purpose of its own beyond protecting individuals’ ability to pursue their individual interests?).

This course satisfies the PH general education requirement.

Alexander Jech’s webpage