|Individual Morality & Social Justice
We will survey some basic questions of moral and political philosophy, as well as some influential attempts to answer them. The course consists of two sections. In the first section, we are concerned with the authority and the objectivity of morality. We will ask: Why should I care about what morality tells me to do? Are there objective moral truths, or is what one morally ought to do dependent on God, on one’s feelings, or on one’s society? In the second section, we will consider what morality is all about. Are we morally required to produce the best outcome? What is the best outcome? Is there something wrong with thinking of morality as aimed at producing the best outcome, and is there an alternative? Is being a morally good agent compatible with pursuing personal projects and with having deep relationships? We will relate these questions to concrete political issues such as warfare, distributive justice, toleration of alien practices, and respecting the majority vote in democratic states.
Readings for the class will be drawn from both historical and contemporary sources (among others, we will engage with the views of Plato, Aristotle, Hobbes, Hume, and Kant). A course reader containing most of the texts will be available in the week before classes start.