Philosophy 373: Ethics and Theory of Value Fall, 2000
Ed Langerak: H 601C; 3494 (home: 645-8321); <langerak>; class alias:<philosophy-373>
Office hours: M-Th, 2:30-3:15 and by appointment
This seminar will begin by discussing the challenges to traditional ethical theory raised in Alisdair MacIntyre’s seminal book, After Virtue, including his claim that the Enlightenment project not only failed, it had to fail. We will then look at Rawls’s recent Political Liberalism, in which he reacts to criticisms of A Theory of Justice and argues for a version of liberalism that is responsive to some of MacIntyre’s worries.. The debate over political liberalism involves discussion about combining personal integrity with the tolerance required in a diverse society: Can we disagree about (our theories of) the good, and still reach consensus on the right? Can we flatly contradict each other on what makes life meaningful and still agree on basic justice? Participants in the seminar will explain and critique, in class presentations and term papers, current ethical thinkers or movements that engage this debate, making use of at least one of the many important recent works that combine analysis current issues with some attention to the historical factors influencing the contemporary debates. A list of books and topics appropriate for a project will be suggested, but students are also encouraged to suggest their own. In short, we will take seriously one of the strongest and most influential challenges to the possibility of developing a reasonable public ethic in a pluralistic world, then discuss the most important effort to do precisely that, and then listen to the critiques and alternatives that are of greatest interest to seminar participants.
This seminar will assume introductory level familiarity with ethical theory. The seminar presentation, which will involve reading assignments and study questions, will be developed into a term paper due December 12. There will be some sort of final exam, format to be decided. Weekly “response papers” are expected through November 9. Grade will be determined by an ideal observer taking into account class participation (15%), response papers (15%), the class presentation (15%), the term paper (30%), and the final exam (25%).
For purchase: Alisdair MacIntyre, After Virtue, 2nd ed.; John Rawls, Political Liberalism;
and handouts, including selections for class presentations.
Sept. 7: Introduction
Sept. 12-Oct. 12: MacIntyre and related readings.
Oct. 12-Nov. 9: Rawls and related readings.
(Oct. 31 is Fall Break)
Nov. 2: Owen Schott (Rorty).
Nov. 14: BJ Aanning (Schneedwind, Invention of Autonomy); Chris Phillips ( ).
Nov. 16: Graham Martin (Kant? ); Sam Evans (selfhood? ).
Nov. 21: Pete Kohlman (Kekes, Against Liberalism?); Laura Roberts (Sandel).
(Nov. 23 is Thanksgiving)
Nov. 28: Carla Essenberg (Stout, Ethics after Babel); Alicia Middleman (Narrative Ethics).
Nov. 30: Susanna Murley (Hampton, Authority of Reason); Andrea Boruta (Hampshire).
Dec. 5: Ben Muilenberg (Principlism); Jenny Makosky (Rights).
Dec. 7: Rachel Hooper (Decolonizing the Mind); Chris Grorud (Scanlon, What We Owe).
Dec. 12: Conclusion.
Dec. 16, 9-11am, final exam scheduled.
Date Last Modified: 8/10/03