Recent social movements like the Occupy movement and #blacklivesmatter have renewed longstanding debates about income inequality and the ways in which it appears that members of minority groups are treated differently in society. The findings of climate change science have raised questions about our moral obligations to future generations and developing nations, and also about the value of development more generally. And, of course, moral issues of life and death remain perennial: Is abortion morally justified? Is the death penalty ever justified? Is physician-assisted suicide morally permissible?
These represent some of the contemporary moral problems that we’ll look at in this class from a philosophical perspective via a close examination of both historical and contemporary philosophical sources that tackle these issues. In addition to the questions hinted at just now, we’ll ask specific questions like the following (though perhaps we won’t tackle all of them and we might tackle others not listed):
- Is there a legitimate conflict of rights in the debate over abortion; if so, how best should we understand this conflict?
- Do I have a moral obligation to donate money to aid organizations (instead of spending money on a fancy new phone) in order to help prevent the suffering of those halfway of around the globe?
- And related: Should we tolerate massive differences in income among certain members in society or across different societies?
- Should people be imprisoned for non-violent drug offenses?
- Is racial profiling ever justified?
TEXT: All texts will be posted online. Readings will also be available in a Coursepack.