PHIL 163.002 – Practical Ethics

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Instructor: Jeff Sebo. This course meets TR 3:30 – 4:45 p.m. in PE 218.

Ethics and Activism

This course examines the ethics of activism, with a focus on ethical issues that confront a wide range of social movements. We start with a survey of moral philosophy. Is there a moral difference between causing and allowing harm? Are we morally responsible for the harms that we cause and allow collectively as well as for the harms that we cause and allow individually? We then consider some of the moral problems that arise in legal activism, including abolition vs. regulation, symbolic vs. strategic activism, and intersectional vs. single-issue activism. Finally, we consider some of the moral problems that arise in illegal activism. For example, are we ever morally permitted, or morally required, to engage in civil disobedience, property destruction, violence, or revolution?