Philosophical Perspectives on Social Justice (PHIL 273)

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Instructor: Jonathan Tresan. This course meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12:30 – 1:45 p.m. in Caldwell 105.

In this course we explore what some great thinkers have had to say about social justice.  Our method will be a careful reading and evaluation of texts, reflection on philosophical presuppositions and extensions of the ideas therein, and applications to real-life situations.  Our guiding questions center around justice:  What is it?  Is there such a thing?  How do and should we try to learn about it?  Why should we care about it?  Why do we care?  Are there different kinds?  If so, how do they relate?  Is everyone and every culture thinking of the same thing when they think of it?  What are the kinds of things which can have it (e.g., societies, social structures, people, actions)?  Where, what kinds, and how much is there in the world as we know it?  How might we increase the amount of it?  How does justice relate to morality, equality, desert, rights, liberty, democracy, the common good, the good life, and other important matters?  (These other matters will also come under investigation in their own right: we will ask some of the same questions about them.)  The only required text is Social Justice, Matthew Clayton & Andrew Williams, eds.  Further reading will be assigned, and students will be expect to do relevant outside research.  In general, though, quality of inquiry will have priority over quantity of inquiry: there won’t be a lot of reading, but much of it will be intense, and you’re expected to give it the attention it calls for.

Jonathan Tresan’s webpage