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Descriptions for ETHS 390 - Fall 2017

ETHS 390-01A:  Ethics of War:  What do Ethics Mean during a Time of War?
Christi Siver
If General Sherman was right that "war is hell," the concept of ethics seems completely irrelevant.  However, as human society has evolved, numerous politicians, philosophers, and religious figures have agreed on the need for an ethics in war, even if they have not agreed on the content of those ethics.  Students will be introduced to formal ethical frameworks and discover the dilemmas they encounter when applying these frameworks to real world situations.  Students will compare how these ethical frameworks overlap and diverge from political values.  We will debate particular dilemmas in warfare, including which authorities can declare war and when they are justified in doing so, what methods can be used in war, and what obligations both combatants and non-combatants have.  Students will work with a basic ethics text supplemented by contemporary articles outlining modern dilemmas related to ethics of war.

ETHS 390-02A:  Others
Anthony Cunningham
We share our lives by both necessity and design with others.  Born utterly dependent, we rely entirely upon the care and kindness of others for our very survival.  Even when we no longer depend upon others to feed, clothe, and protect us, we must figure out what sorts of responsibilities we bear to others and what responsibilities they have to us.  Some people may seem relatively distant, bound to us only in the basic sense that we share in some common humanity.  Others can seem so important to us that we might not wish to go on without them.  In this course we'll examine the responsibilities we bear to each other in various respects-as human beings, as friends, as family, as brothers and sisters in common causes.  We'll also look at the ways in which people turn their backs on others and misuse them in cruel and oppressive ways.  Using sources drawn from philosophy, literature, history, memoir, and the social sciences, we'll put our minds to what we owe others and what others owe us.

ETHS 390-03A:  Others
Anthony Cunningham
We share our lives by both necessity and design with others.  Born utterly dependent, we rely entirely upon the care and kindness of others for our very survival.  Even when we no longer depend upon others to feed, clothe, and protect us, we must figure out what sorts of responsibilities we bear to others and what responsibilities they have to us.  Some people may seem relatively distant, bound to us only in the basic sense that we share in some common humanity.  Others can seem so important to us that we might not wish to go on without them.  In this course we'll examine the responsibilities we bear to each other in various respects-as human beings, as friends, as family, as brothers and sisters in common causes.  We'll also look at the ways in which people turn their backs on others and misuse them in cruel and oppressive ways.  Using sources drawn from philosophy, literature, history, memoir, and the social sciences, we'll put our minds to what we owe others and what others owe us.

ETHS 390-04A:  Justice in the 21st Century
Dan Finn
Few issues are as fundamental to human life as justice: everyone is in favor of it.  Yet few issues are as controversial: justice has widely divergent meanings for different people.  This course will examine in detail five rival understandings of justice prevalent in debates today.  Students will read two novels, and five philosophical or theological treatments of the notion of justice in our joint efforts to come to grips with what justice means in our lives: personally and on a national and global scale.  Like all Ethics Common Seminar, the goal of this course is to improve each student's ability to make good moral judgments.

ETHS 390-05A:  Happiness Is.....
Rodger Narloch
When people are asked what they want in life, a common response is that they just want to be happy.  But what is happiness and how do we attain it?  In this course, we will discuss a variety of different perspectives on these questions.  We will address what self-focused happiness might look like, but then transition to questions of how an individual's happiness relates to the happiness of others (and which others?).  Furthermore, we will discuss what it means to be morally good and the extent to which being good is a necessary component in being happy.  Finally, we will think about the nature of choices and decision making, especially as they relate to the formation of one's identity and vocation or path in life.  Ultimately, students will have to propose their own educated model or theory of happiness and articulate its implications for how they plan to live their lives.  These topics will be covered through extensive class discussion based on significant amounts of writing in response to readings from philosophical, psychological, as well as Catholic and Benedictine perspectives.

ETHS 390-06A:  Reading for Life
Anthony Cunningham
Everyone loves a good story.  Great stories can provide us with far more than mere recreation.  Stories can provide us with rich character portraits that can reveal the subtleties and nuances of what it means to live well and responsibly.  In this course we'll use novels and films to address Socrates' most basic ethical questions, "How should one live?" and "What sort of person should I be?"  We'll do so by attending to all the concrete, particular details of real life and fictional characters thoroughly embroiled in the "business of living."  Reading well offers the possibility of vicarious experience and ultimately, ethical insight. 
Our readings will include: The Crucible (Arthur Miller),
Ransom (David Malouf),
The Remains of the Day (Kazuo Ishiguro),
Beloved (Toni Morrison),
How To Be Good  (Nick Hornby),
Glengarry Glen Ross (David Mamet), Cold Mountain (Charles Frazier), and A Constellation of Vital Phenomena (Anthony Marra).

ETHS 390-07A:  Healthcare Ethics
Kathy Ohman
This course directs students to re-think ethics in today's system of healthcare, where the best possibilities for ethical healthcare in this century lie beyond traditional and mainstream thought. Students will question assumptions guided by the major principles of healthcare ethics and reflect deeply on clinical cases across healthcare disciplines from the perspective of professional and consumer.

Ethics Common Seminar Learning Outcomes:

  • Identify ethical issues inherent in situations common in modern life and professional careers in healthcare.
  • Articulate multiple theoretical perspectives on contested ethical issues.
  • Articulate coherent arguments in support of personal normative judgments about contested ethical issues, including arguments that are grounded in ethical and other analytical or scholarly perspectives.
  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of the conceptual foundations of the ethical and other scholarly perspectives addressed in the course.

ETHS 390-08A:  Healthcare Ethics
Kathy Ohman
This course directs students to re-think ethics in today's system of healthcare, where the best possibilities for ethical healthcare in this century lie beyond traditional and mainstream thought. Students will question assumptions guided by the major principles of healthcare ethics and reflect deeply on clinical cases across healthcare disciplines from the perspective of professional and consumer.

Ethics Common Seminar Learning Outcomes:

  • Identify ethical issues inherent in situations common in modern life and professional careers in healthcare.
  • Articulate multiple theoretical perspectives on contested ethical issues.
  • Articulate coherent arguments in support of personal normative judgments about contested ethical issues, including arguments that are grounded in ethical and other analytical or scholarly perspectives.
  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of the conceptual foundations of the ethical and other scholarly perspectives addressed in the course.

ETHS 390A-01A:  Healthcare Ethics
Georgia Hogenson
This course directs students to re-think ethics in today's system of healthcare, where the best possibilities for ethical healthcare in this century lie beyond traditional and mainstream thought.  Students will question assumptions guided by the major principles of healthcare ethics and reflect deeply on clinical cases across healthcare disciplines from the perspective of professional and consumer.

ETHS 390A-02A:  Healthcare Ethics
Georgia Hogenson
This course directs students to re-think ethics in today's system of healthcare, where the best possibilities for ethical healthcare in this century lie beyond traditional and mainstream thought.  Students will question assumptions guided by the major principles of healthcare ethics and reflect deeply on clinical cases across healthcare disciplines from the perspective of professional and consumer.

HONR 390A-01A:  The Medical Professional in the Modern World
Jeffrey Anderson
The word "professional" today connotes an individual with well-developed skills, specialized knowledge, and expertise, who conforms to the standards of a profession.  The original meaning of "professional" as one who "makes a profession of faith" in the face of demanding circumstances has been all but lost in the medical profession.  This class will use the burgeoning literature of medicine, written by, for, and about medical professionals, in order to explore the full range of "professional" challenges facing today's medical professionals.
The practice of medicine is rife with ethical dilemmas.  By exploring the efforts of medical professionals to counter the institutional forces that constrain them and to find their own solid ground to stand upon, this course aims to cultivate the habit of moral reflection in future medical professionals.  Although this course will primarily focus on the experiences of medical doctors, it should also be of interest to those aspiring to other medical and non-medical careers.

HONR 390D-01A:  War and the Memory of War
Nick Hayes 
Our course examines the ethical issues of the conduct and representation of war from the Great War (WWI) to today's "war on terrorism." Our theme follows the shift of strategy from targeting military casualties to the predominant emphasis on civilian casualties as evident in the case studies of the Vietnam War, WWI, the Holocaust, the wars of genocide in our time, Yugoslavia and Rwanda, and the "war on terrorism."

PHIL 321-01A:  Moral Philosophy
Erica Stonestreet
The questions of ethics--of how to live and what to do--are continually confronting us in public and private life.  Philosophical ethics tries to organize ethical experience, presenting theories of good and bad, right and wrong to help guide us.  In this course we will use significant Western philosophical texts from ancient times to the last few decades to study different approaches to the classic questions of ethics.  The theories we'll discuss include virtue, Kantian, utilitarian, and care ethics.  We'll examine the different ways each framework can contribute to arriving at answers to ethical questions, noting strengths and weaknesses, with an eye to understanding how these theories might guide us in our own ethical decision making.

PHIL 321-02A:  Moral Philosophy
Erica Stonestreet
The questions of ethics--of how to live and what to do--are continually confronting us in public and private life.  Philosophical ethics tries to organize ethical experience, presenting theories of good and bad, right and wrong to help guide us.  In this course we will use significant Western philosophical texts from ancient times to the last few decades to study different approaches to the classic questions of ethics.  The theories we'll discuss include virtue, Kantian, utilitarian, and care ethics.  We'll examine the different ways each framework can contribute to arriving at answers to ethical questions, noting strengths and weaknesses, with an eye to understanding how these theories might guide us in our own ethical decision making.

PHIL 322-01A:  Environmental Ethics
Charles Wright
What does it mean to have an ethical relationship with the Earth and its living systems?  The class starts with the question:  how did we get where we are?  "Where we are" is a condition where it is difficult for people living in the modern developed societies of the Western world even to imagine what it might mean to interact with the Earth and its living systems with moral concern and respect.  We will start the class by examining deep roots that the current failure of ethical recognition has in the philosophical and religious traditions that gave rise to the modern world.  Once we have considered these roots, we will turn to philosophical and religious efforts to reconceive the relation between humans and the other than human world.  The religious reflections of theologian Sally McFague, farmer and poet Wendell Berry, and his holiness Pope Francis will introduce us to contemporary religious perspectives on the right relation between humans and the Earth.  The writing of Aldo Leopold and indigenous activists will offer us philosophical reflections on the nature and possibility of ethical relations between humans and the other than human world.  Finally, we will consider the role consumer culture plays by encouraging us to maintain an exploitative and destructive relationship with the natural world.  Economist Juliet Schor will dissect for us the cultural and economic dynamics of consumer culture.  We will then finish with the memoir of a family living in the heart of New York City that tried to re-order their lives in a way respectful of the Earth.

PHIL 322-02A:  Environmental Ethics
Charles Wright
What does it mean to have an ethical relationship with the Earth and its living systems?  The class starts with the question:  how did we get where we are?  "Where we are" is a condition where it is difficult for people living in the modern developed societies of the Western world even to imagine what it might mean to interact with the Earth and its living systems with moral concern and respect.  We will start the class by examining deep roots that the current failure of ethical recognition has in the philosophical and religious traditions that gave rise to the modern world.  Once we have considered these roots, we will turn to philosophical and religious efforts to reconceive the relation between humans and the other than human world.  The religious reflections of theologian Sally McFague, farmer and poet Wendell Berry, and his holiness Pope Francis will introduce us to contemporary religious perspectives on the right relation between humans and the Earth.  The writing of Aldo Leopold and indigenous activists will offer us philosophical reflections on the nature and possibility of ethical relations between humans and the other than human world.  Finally, we will consider the role consumer culture plays by encouraging us to maintain an exploitative and destructive relationship with the natural world.  Economist Juliet Schor will dissect for us the cultural and economic dynamics of consumer culture.  We will then finish with the memoir of a family living in the heart of New York City that tried to re-order their lives in a way respectful of the Earth.

PHIL 324-01A:  Business Ethics 
Joe DesJardins
The course is divided into four topical sections.  We begin the first section by thinking about the place of business in a democratic market system.  We'll get familiar with the vocabulary of ethics and corporate social responsibility, and think about the relations between business, democracy, and market capitalism.  In the second part, we consider ethical issues that arise when we look to business as a place of employment.  What are the rights and responsibilities of employees?  Part three turns to consumers and considers the ethical responsibilities of businesses to the people who buy their products and services.  In the final section we look more generally at broader social responsibilities.  We will think about diversity in the workplace, business' responsibility towards the environment, and issues concerning international ethics and globalization.  The goal of this course is to help students develop the ability to make good moral judgments about crucial issues that affect our lives.  This course asks students to reflect on the role of business institutions within a democratic society.  Throughout the semester, students will be asked to take the point of view of employees, consumers, managers and, perhaps most importantly, citizens.  No matter what your future holds, your lives will be greatly influenced by decisions made within business institutions.  As a citizen in a democratic society, you have both the right and the responsibility to be informed about, and to participate in, those decisions.

PHIL 325-01A:  Feminist Ethics
Jean Keller
The U.S.  women's movement is deeply indebted to the values of western liberalism.  The Declaration of Independence's assertion that "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal" provided feminists with the intellectual grounds to argue that women, too, should be equal, thereby allowing them to argue for and, after 70 years of struggle, to win the right to vote.  In the 1960s and 70s, the concept of equal rights fueled feminist activism with regard to a range of diverse issues-from ending gender segregated job ads, to eliminating quotas limiting the number of women who could go to college, ensuring that boys' and girls' sports received equal funding, and activism to ensure that men and women would receive equal pay for equal work.  Despite these and other ways in which the women's movement has been predicated on the concepts of equality, individual rights, autonomy, freedom, and fairness embedded in the justice tradition of western liberalism, in the past 30 years the field of feminist ethics has increasingly challenged the basic premises of this tradition.  Feminist ethicists have argued that the conceptual tools of this tradition fundamentally misunderstand key aspects of women's lives and experiences and are inadequate to bring about the conceptual and social changes necessary to eradicate the oppression of women.  While feminist ethics has been developed in many different directions, in this course our primary focus will be multiple variants of care ethics, tracing its development from a "women's" ethic of interpersonal relationships to a critical tool for examining global inequalities.

PHIL 325-02A:  Feminist Ethics
Jean Keller
The U.S.  women's movement is deeply indebted to the values of western liberalism.  The Declaration of Independence's assertion that "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal" provided feminists with the intellectual grounds to argue that women, too, should be equal, thereby allowing them to argue for and, after 70 years of struggle, to win the right to vote.  In the 1960s and 70s, the concept of equal rights fueled feminist activism with regard to a range of diverse issues-from ending gender segregated job ads, to eliminating quotas limiting the number of women who could go to college, ensuring that boys' and girls' sports received equal funding, and activism to ensure that men and women would receive equal pay for equal work.  Despite these and other ways in which the women's movement has been predicated on the concepts of equality, individual rights, autonomy, freedom, and fairness embedded in the justice tradition of western liberalism, in the past 30 years the field of feminist ethics has increasingly challenged the basic premises of this tradition.  Feminist ethicists have argued that the conceptual tools of this tradition fundamentally misunderstand key aspects of women's lives and experiences and are inadequate to bring about the conceptual and social changes necessary to eradicate the oppression of women.  While feminist ethics has been developed in many different directions, in this course our primary focus will be multiple variants of care ethics, tracing its development from a "women's" ethic of interpersonal relationships to a critical tool for examining global inequalities.