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Loyola University Chicago

Department of Philosophy

PHIL 468: Topics in Ethics

PHIL 468: Topics in Ethics

The Generic Catalog Description

The various sections of this course discuss a wide variety of ethical issues.       


PHIL 468: Topics In Ethics: Social Contract Theory

David Ozar

Social contract theory or contractarianism is the approach to moral reflection that seeks to justify foundational moral standards (usually in the form of basic rules/principles) on the grounds that these are the moral standards that persons in a position of equality and voluntary choice would choose to govern their social lives, i.e. their lives together. We will review arguments to this effect given by Hobbes (De Cive and  Leviathan) and Locke (Second Treatise of Government), as well as (probably) selections from Rousseau and Kant.  We may also take notice of Grotius and/or Pufendorf in order to contrast contractarian accounts of justification with their similar use of the "law of the nations" as evidence rather than as justification for what often are, in other respects, arguably parallel social-moral positions. (All of these works are ordinarily considered examples of specifically political philosophy rather than social or moral philosophy more generally.)

Then we will turn to two contemporary philosophers, John Rawls and Thomas Scanlon, who argue for a similar account of the justification of foundational moral standards and who do so within the framework of the 20th century's intense interest on metaethical questions. It is a hard call to know if we should focus on Rawls's 1971 landmark work of political philosophy, A Theory of Justice, or on his later effort to restate and correct-as-needed the core positions of this work, namely Justice as Fairness and his extension of his earlier theses in The Law of Peoples.  The professor will make a decision about this by the time the course starts. We will then turn to Scanlon's What We Owe Each Other, in which the potential for contractarian thinking for supporting conclusions beyond the typical confines of political philosophy are mined more broadly than by the other authors.


PHIL 468: Topics in Ethics: Globalization Ethics

David Schweickart

In this course we will explore economic and cultural issues of globalization, with particular attention to their normative dimensions. The economic issues include the role of global financial institutions such as the World Bank, neoliberal views on market forces, the right to work, and so on. The cultural issues will involve nationalism, colonialism, cultural identity, group rights, and related topics such as global ecology.

We will draw on a variety of sources, including videos as well as books and articles. We will begin the course with two influential (short) classic texts: Immanuel Kant's Perpetual Peace and Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels's Communist Manifesto. Barely half a century separates these two works, and yet they are profoundly different even though both are provocative in light of contemporary reality.  We will then look at John Rawls's important attempt to extend his monumental theory of justice to the relationships among nations, The Law of Peoples, Peter Singer’s One World: The Ethics of Globalization, and Seyla Benhabib’s application of recent social and political theory in The Claims of Culture.

Other sources will take us in various different directions, sometimes well beyond the terrain of official philosophy. For example, we will read and discuss selections from the economist (and Nobel laureate) Joseph Stiglitz's Globalization and Its Discontents, Denis Heyck's anthropological study, Surviving Globalization in Three Latin American Communities and the journalist Thomas Friedman's The Lexis and the Olive Tree, as well as  essays by Peter Singer, Amartya Sen, Martha Nussbaum, Thomas Pogge, and Jurgen Habermas. The readings will be supplemented with several videos about some of the disturbing by-products of globalization.


PHIL 468: Topics in Ethics

Thomas Regan

This course will explore the topic of what is a "just" society. We will do so through the classic texts of the liberalism/communitarian debate, namely John Rawls'  A Theory of Justice, Robert Nozick's Anarchy State and Utopia, Michael Walzer's Spheres of Justice, Michael Sandel's  Liberalism and the Limits of Justice, and conclude with selections from Iris Young's Justice and the Politics of Difference, Martha Nussbaum's Creating Capabilities and Amartya Sen's The Idea of Justice.

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