PHIL 170.001 – Liberty, Rights, and Responsibilities: Introduction to Social Ethics and Political Thought
Instructor: Graham Clay. This course meets TR 3:30 – 4:45 p.m. in PE 2080.
This political philosophy class is dedicated to helping you develop your views on some of the major ethical issues related to liberties, rights, and responsibilities. The primary lens through which we will inspect these issues is that of citizenship (and, more generally, in terms of the relationships between individuals, groups, and sovereign/territorial states). Our focus will be on representative democracies like the United States, but many of the issues we will analyze and discuss have broad application. We will have five in-class debates, each concerned with one of the following questions:
1. Is taxation just?
2. Must citizens vote?
3. Is civil disobedience permissible?
4. Does the majority’s judgment represent the will of the people?
5. Should it be easy to become and stay a citizen?
Since many great philosophers of the past develop persuasive positions on these topics, and our current thinking is indebted to them in many ways, we will spend some of our time studying their views. Nonetheless, our focus will not be on history for its own sake.