Overview of Courses
(Sample Syllabi Linked)
This course surveys ethical issues that arise in connection with medicine and emerging biotechnologies. It examines topics such as the right to healthcare, research on human subjects, euthanasia, abortion, cloning, genetic selection, disabilities, and the biomedical enhancement of human capacities. Students can expect to gain not only training in the concepts and methods of moral philosophy, but also the resources needed for assessing ethically difficult questions faced by healthcare professionals every day.
What are rights? Do we have a right to rights? This course examines the development of these questions, and answers to them, through the history of western political thought. Students will examine the relationships between power and authority, law and justice, and sovereignty and legitimacy. Students can expect to gain a solid foundation in the history of political thought, and to apply this knowledge to contemporary political debates (including constitutional interpretation, international law, and the laws of armed conflict).
Introduction to Ethics
This course explores the topic of ethics. We \begin the course with topics in ethical theory and applied ethics, and conclude by considering the role of ethics in politics, law, and science. As the title suggest, one goal of this course is to introduce students to formal philosophy. In service of this goal, students can expect to be introduced to some of the major figures and ideas in the field of ethics, and to read articles and exerts from primary text. That said, another (equally important) goal of this course is to show students how engaging in ethics and philosophical thought is an unavoidable part of life. In service of this goal, students can expect engage with topics such as: meat eating; gender, sex, and identity; biomedical enhancement; and constitutional interpretation.
Law, Philosophy, and Society
This course examines issues concerning law and its place in society, such as law's relation to democracy, the nature of constitutional rights, and legal (especially constitutional) interpretation. Readings include social theory and judicial opinions as well as more narrowly philosophical sources.
Philosophy of International Law
What is international law? Is it law? Does it matter if it's not? In this course, we examine some of the literature by legal scholars and philosophers that has sought to answer these questions. The first part of the course considers what the practice of international looks like: providing students with a general understanding and knowledge of the international legal landscape.
The second part of the course moves from a description of what is commonly accepted as international law, to justificatory and other philosophical questions about its nature. In particular, we investigate whether and to what extent our theories of State law resemble (or ought to resemble) those we offer for international law. In pursuit of this goal, we focus on two core questions: (i) what are the sources of international law, and do these sources prevent international law from effectively proliferating into certain issue areas (e.g., humanitarian intervention)?; and (ii) what is state sovereignty, and how does our understanding of it change the relevant success conditions for theories of law (be it state-based law, international law, or transnational law)?