Contemporary Moral Problems (ETHICSOC 185M, POLISCI 134P)
Amaral, J. (TA)
Brophy, S. (TA)
Karhu, T. (PI)
This course is an introduction to contemporary ethical thought with a focus on the morality of harming others and saving others from harm. It aims to develop students' ability to think carefully and rationally about moral issues, to acquaint them with modern moral theory, and to encourage them to develop their own considered positions about important real-world issues. In the first part of the course, we will explore fundamental topics in the ethics of harm. Among other questions, we will ask: How extensive are one's moral duties to improve the lives of the less fortunate? When is it permissible to inflict harm on others for the sake of the greater good? Does the moral permissibility of a person's action depend on her intentions? Can a person be harmed by being brought into existence? In the second part of the course, we will turn to practical questions. Some of these will be familiar; for example: Is abortion morally permissible? What obligations do we have to protect the planet for the sake of future generations? Other questions we will ask are newer and less well-trodden. These will include: How does the availability of new technology, in particular artificial intelligence, change the moral landscape of the ethics of war? What moral principles should govern the programming and operation of autonomous vehicles?