Course Descriptions – Spring 2010

Philosophy 101, Introduction to Philosophy: Reflections on the Human Condition (HU)
LEC 403, MW 11:00 – 11:50, MER 131
LEC 404, MW 2:00 – 2:50, ENG 105
Instructor: Edward Hinchman,
Enrollment in one of the large lectures requires enrollment in a discussion section.

This course is an introduction to Western Philosophy. Students need not have any background in philosophy, or any plans for further study. The course has three broad aims:

  1. to introduce students to the tradition of philosophical argument in the West via primary texts,
  2. to teach students how in general to make and evaluate philosophical arguments,
  3. to demonstrate to any student who cares to participate actively how exciting and even fun philosophy can be.

Since philosophy is simply informed public reflection on what we're up to as we try to do and believe what we ought to do and believe – as Socrates put it, "What we are talking about is how one should live" – I hope that by the end of the term the third aim of the course will have taken priority over the other two.

Philosophy 101, Introduction to Philosophy: Selected Topics & Issues (HU)
LEC 001, M 6:30 — 9:10, CRT 309
LEC 002, R 6:30 — 9:10, CRT 309
Instructors: TBA

We will look at a representative selection of topics from the history of philosophy and current philosophical debates: ethics, social and political philosophy, the scope and nature of our knowledge of the world, the nature of the self and mind.

Philosophy 111, Informal Logic: Critical Reasoning (HU)
LEC 001, MW 11:00 – 12:15, TBA
LEC 002, MW 2:00 – 3:15, TBA
Instructor: Matthew Knachel,

Logic is reason turned inward: it is the systematic study of correct and incorrect reasoning. As discursive creatures, we humans make assertions and back them up with reasons—we construct arguments. Since this activity is central to all fields of study, the tools that logic develops for identifying and analyzing good and bad arguments are universally applicable; anyone can benefit from a study of logic by becoming a more self-aware reasoner. It is possible to approach the study of logic more or less formally. A more formal approach to the subject abstracts from natural language and deploys sophisticated mathematical tools in the analysis of arguments. This course takes a less formal approach, focusing more on ordinary-language arguments found in everyday reasoning, and giving only a small taste of more formal techniques.

Philosophy 211, Elementary Logic (HU)
LEC 401, MW 10:00 – 10:50, MER 131
LEC 402, MW 12:00 – 12:50, MER 131
Instructor: Richard Tierney,
Enrollment in one of the large lectures requires enrollment in a discussion section.

The Island of Knights and Knaves is a place where only Knights and Knaves live. A Knight is a person who always tells the truth. Knaves, on the other hand, never tell the truth. Harry, who lives on the island, says: "If I am a Knight, then I'll eat my hat." Did you know that you can prove from the above information that Harry will eat his hat? Did you know: 1) Given that Sarah loves either Jim or Tom and that if she loves Jim then she loves Tom, you can prove that she loves Tom? 2) that if everyone loves a lover and there is even one lover in the world, then everyone loves everyone? Learn how to solve these and other puzzles in Philosophy 211, where we will study formal deductive logic -- the science of what follows from what.

The concepts and techniques encountered in the study of deductive logic are of central importance to any analysis of argument and inference. They reflect fundamental patterns of proof found in science and mathematics, they underlie the programs that enable computers to "reason" logically, and they provide tools for characterizing the formal structures of language. This is an introductory course intended for students who have had no previous work in logic. There will be 3 exams and weekly homework assignments.

Philosophy 212, Modern Deductive Logic (HU)
LEC 001, TR 2:00 – 3:15, CRT 309
Instructor: Stephen Leeds,
Prereq: grade C or better in philos 211 (P)

Formal logic, at the level taught in this class, is a central tool in present day philosophy. This is in part because writing out arguments in symbolic logic notation helps to make them clearer; even more, however, it is because the language of symbolic logic is both simple enough that we understand how it works, and complex enough to shed light on the symbolic systems that really interest us – particularly, English, and the language of mathematics. The goal of the class is to bring you up to the point where, given a valid argument (one where the conclusion follows from the premisses), you will be able to translate the argument into logic, and show that it is valid. You will also be learning a few deep theorems about logic, first proved about 80 years ago: that if an argument is valid, we can use logic to show it is, and that there is no general method by which we can pick out the valid from the invalid arguments. (You will also be learning why, despite first appearances, these two theorems don't contradict one another).

Philosophy 213, Introduction to the Philosophy of Science (HU)
LEC 001, TR 11:00 – 12:15, CRT 309
Instructor: Aaron Schiller,

Our world is increasingly shaped by science. The fruits of scientific research power our modern lifestyles. And science is often held up as an example of the best of human reasoning. Understanding ourselves and our world, therefore, means understanding science. In this course, we'll work toward an understanding of science by considering the following questions: How does science work? What does it mean to give a "scientific" explanation of something? How does science differ from other, non-scientific endeavors? Can science tell us everything about the world, or does it have limits? Should science be limited by our values? Is it necessarily value-laden anyway? Along the way, we'll consider some controversial case studies that test our understanding of what science is, and what it should be.

Philosophy 217, Introduction to Metaphysics (HU)
LEC 001, MW 2:00 – 3:15, CRT 309
Instructor: Fabrizio Mondadori

The course deals with the nature of metaphysical thinking and the issues arising from such thinking. Representative philosophers from ancient, modern, and contemporary philosophy will be read and discussed: Plato (Parmenides); Aristotle on Plato's Theory of Forms; Descartes (Meditations); Hume (Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding); Michael Dummett (on realism and anti-realism).

Philosophy 232, Topics in Philosophy: The Nature and Identity of Persons (HU)
LEC 001, MW 3:30 – 4:45, CRT 309
Instructor: Aaron Schiller,
Retakable w/chg in topic to 6 cr max.

The concept of personhood is central to many philosophical and practical issues. We give persons special moral and legal status over non-persons. We think of persons as special kinds of objects fundamentally different from other types of objects. Yet it isn't at all clear that we really know what persons are. In this class, we will consider some answers to philosophical questions such as: What is it to be a person? Why am I this person and not another? Can non-human animals, or even intelligent machines, be persons? And what's so special about being a person anyway? No special background in philosophy will be assumed for this topical introductory course.

Philosophy 232, Topics in Philosophy: Existentialism (HU)
LEC 002, TR 3:30 – 4:45, TBA
Instructor: Elizabeth Silverstein,
Retakable w/chg in topic to 6 cr max.

Common Existentialist themes include: the tension between the individual and the "public" (including alienation from self and others); an emphasis on the worldly or "situated" character of human thought and reason; a fascination with the experiences of anxiety, death, and nihilism; the rejection of science (and above all, causal explanation) as an adequate framework for understanding human beings; and the introduction of "authenticity" as the norm of self-identity, tied to the project of self-definition through freedom, choice, and commitment. The course will investigate these themes through engagement with the works of major figures in Existentialist thought.

Philosophy 232, Topics in Philosophy: Theories of Human Nature (HU)
Instructor: Miren Boehm,
Retakable w/chg in topic to 6 cr max.

What is this enigma called "human"? It is hard to imagine a subject more important than the study of human nature. What are we? What is our origin? What is our destiny? Different answers have been offered to these questions throughout human history and if we were to put together all of these answers into a single view we would have to say that we are part angel, part demon, part rational, part animal, part nothing, part infinite, and more. In this class we shall examine the main theories in Western philosophy and religion, and to a lesser extent in Eastern thought. We begin with biblical views of human nature and Greek conceptions of our nature. These two are the most important sources for our self-understanding in the Western tradition. We then look at Hindu and Buddhist views of human nature followed by an in depth study of the Western, modern philosophical and scientific tradition: Hobbes, Rousseau, Kant, Schopenhauer, Marx, Freud, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Sartre, Camus and Darwin. Towards the end, we approach the question of human nature by examining the mind/body problem and here we discuss some of the most prominent positions on the relationship between the mind and the brain: dualistic interactionism, materialist monism and functionalism. And finally we raise the question of free will. Are we really free agents, or are we entirely determined by antecedent causes? And can determinism and free will be reconciled?

Philosophy 241, Introductory Ethics (HU)
LEC 401, MW 11:00 – 11:50, END 103
Instructor: Julius Sensat,
Enrollment in the large lecture also requires enrollment in a discussion section.

We shall study three basic approaches in moral philosophy: ethical rationalism, which takes moral principles to describe an independent order of values fixed in the nature of things, the ideal-spectator approach, which takes morally wrong actions to be those an impartial sympathetic observer would disapprove of, and contractualism, according to which the correct moral principles are those which would be agreed to by all reasonable beings as a basis for their community. We shall see how the second approach leads naturally to utilitarianism, while contractualism has important sources in Immanuel Kant's moral philosophy. We shall see how the three basic approaches get reflected in theories of social and economic justice.

Philosophy 243, Moral Problems (HU)
LEC 001: War and Torture, TR 12:30 – 1:45, TBA (1/25-2/27)
LEC 002: Sex and Marriage, TR 12:30 – 1:45, TBA (3/1-4/10)
LEC 003: Punishment, TR 12:30 – 1:45, TBA (4/12-5/13)
Instructor: Elizabeth Silverstein,
Retakable w/chg in topic to 6 cr max.

Note: LEC 001, 002, & 003 are worth one credit each. You do not have to enroll for all three sections.

Each section of the course will begin with the presentation of ethical tools that will be useful in our examination and discussion of particular moral problems related to the chosen topics: war and torture; sex and marriage; and punishment. The goal of the course(s) is to come to a deeper understanding of the issues involved in complex moral problems and too be able to better assess and argue for one's position with regard to such issues.

001: War & Torture
This five-week course will address moral issues related to war, particularly the use of torture. Questions that will be addressed include: Is war always wrong? Is there such a thing as a "just" war? How should we define torture? Is torture ever justified? Do humans have an inalienable right not to be tortured?
002: Sex & Marriage
This five-week course will examine moral problems related to sex, sexuality, and marriage. Questions that will be addressed include: What is the purpose of sex? Why are some sexual encounters morally problematic and not others? What is adultery, and is it always wrong? Is homosexuality immoral? What is marriage? What is its purpose? Is marriage a right? If it is who has the right to marry?
003: Punishment
Punishment by definition involves the deliberate infliction of suffering or deprivation on someone, usually, as the result of wrongdoing. In this five-week class we will address questions that arise about the morality of punishment. For example, on what basis do we justify inflicting suffering on another person? When is punishment justified? What sorts of punishments are permissible for what crimes? Is capital punishment morally justified? If so, when?

Philosophy 244, Ethical Issues in Health Care: Contemporary Problems (HU)
LEC 101, R 6:00 – 8:40*
Instructor: Kristin Tym,
Retakable w/chg in topic to 6 cr max.

This course will provide a general overview of many of the challenging ethical issues faced in health care delivery today. We will begin the course with an introduction of ethical theories and other approaches to moral decision-making. These theories and approaches will then be applied to ethical problems currently confronting health care providers, patients and their families, and society at large. Issues we will consider include informed consent and confidentiality, futility and withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment, euthanasia and assisted suicide, assisted reproduction, genetics, allocation of scarce resources and research ethics.

  *This course is taught off-campus at Shorewood High School, Physical Education Building, Room 209, 1701 E. Capital Drive, Shorewood, WI 53211

Philosophy 245, Critical Thinking and the Law: Law of Contracts (HU)
LEC 001, M 6:30 – 9:10pm, TBA
Instructor: Paul Santilli,
Retakable w/chg in topic to 6 cr max.

The goals of critical thinking are to instill in the student an understanding of the fundamental principles of analysis, problem solving and construction of an argument. In order to convey these principles, students are taught how to use contract law using legal materials, including but not limited to, the language used by the legal profession and legal resources. It is through the study of law that teachers hope to impart to their students a system for analytical thinking which they may use in their every-day lives.

Philosophy 250, Philosophy of Religion (HU)
LEC 401, MW 12:00 – 12:50, END 103
Instructor: William Bristow,
Enrollment in the large lecture also requires enrollment in a discussion section.

In this course we bring philosophical reasoning to bear on central questions concerning religious doctrine and faith. Some major questions we will address in this course are: What do (or should) we mean by "God"? Can the proposition that God exists be proved on the basis of unaided reason? Or does reason in fact support atheism? What is religious faith? Must one have religious faith in order to be moral? Or, alternatively, is there an irresolvable tension between the demands of morality and the demands of religious faith? Is the existence of evil compatible with the existence of an all-powerful, benevolent creator God? Is the hypothesis of an after-life reasonable or intelligible? -- We engage these and other related questions by studying and discussing texts from major philosophers and religious thinkers in various traditions.

Philosophy 253, Philosophy of the Arts (HU)
LEC 001, TR 2:00 – 3:15, CRT 109
Instructor: Margaret Atherton,

Many of us, whether or not we are makers of art, choose to include art in our daily lives. We go to the movies, read novels and go to concerts. But what is it that art adds to our lives? What is art? What is it to enjoy art? What makes art valuable? Are some arts more valuable than others? In this class we will try to understand what lies behind questions like these and how we might go about answering them by looking at different sides of some relatively concrete questions: Is food art? Why is horror enjoyable? Why do some people reject rock music while others value it? What does a photograph represent? What is public art?

Philosophy 324, Philosophy of Science
LEC 001, MW 12:30 – 1:45, CRT 309
Instructor: Robert Schwartz,
Prereq: jr st & 3 cr in philos.

This course will explore the nature of scientific inquiry, as well as consider what, if anything, is special about the scientific enterprise. We will start by trying to get a firm understanding of such core notions of scientific methodology as: explanation, cause, laws, and probability. Next we will explore how concepts and hypotheses of science get their empirical meaning. This study will lead us to consider questions about the relation of theoretical terms to "reality" and to problems concerning how science can or cannot test its theories. The last third of the course will focus on recent challenges to both the "objectivity" of science and the "rationality" of scientific practice.

Philosophy 332, Philosophical Problems: Moral Dilemmas
Instructor: Carla Bagnoli,
Prereq: jr st & 3 cr in philos. Retakable w/chg in topic to 9 cr max. Not open for cr to students w/cr in Philos 381 w/similar subtitle.

Moral dilemmas are cases where the agents are bound by conflicting moral obligations and cannot resolve the conflict by further deliberation. No matter what they do, they will do something wrong and feel guilty. This seems to be the case with tragic characters such as Agamemnon, who is led to sacrifice his daughter to please the gods, and then left with "the painful memory of pain, dripping before the heart". Ancient philosophers take moral dilemmas very seriously, as signs of human vulnerability to luck, which undermines happiness and shows the fragility of goodness. But moral dilemmas seem to be far more pervasive and ubiquitous than focus on tragic choices suggests. Some contemporary philosophers argue that dilemmas show the plurality of moral values and richness of moral life. Others argue that moral dilemmas threaten the agent's autonomy and are like contradictions. This course investigates the nature and philosophical consequences of moral dilemmas, with special attention to the issues of the role of coherence and emotions in ethics. Readings include Aristotle, Kant, Williams, Hare and Nussbaum.

Philosophy 341, Modern Ethical Theories
LEC 001, TR 3:30 – 4:45, CRT 309
Instructor: Blain Neufeld,
Prereq: jr st; & 3 cr in philos.

This is a course in contemporary normative ethics. We will explore the four approaches to ethical thinking dominant in contemporary philosophy: virtue ethics, consequentialism, Kantian ethics, and contractualism. 'Virtue ethics' refers to those normative ethical theories that take considerations of 'character' as fundamental to ethical evaluation. Consequentialism takes the establishment of certain outcomes – namely, the production or maximization of 'good' (e.g. 'welfare'), and the prevention or minimization of 'bad' – to determine whether actions, rules, or policies are morally right or wrong. Kantian ethics understands morality to consist in those rules that autonomous agents could rationally will for all on the basis of 'pure practical reason.' Contractualism refers to those normative ethical theories that understand morality to consist in principles that mediate relations of mutual respect between free and equal persons. Our discussion of all four moral views will involve some preliminary readings from historical sources, and more extensive consideration of the arguments of contemporary authors.

Philosophy 358, Action, Will, and Freedom
LEC 001 MW 9:30 – 10:45 CRT 309
Instructor: William Bristow,
Prereq: jr st, 3 cr philos; or grad st.

In this course, we will examine the nature of human action and of the will. We will ask the following questions, among others: Do human beings possess the capacity of free will, or are human actions determined by laws of nature? Or both? How is freedom of the will to be defined exactly? What is the faculty of the will? How do we define the distinction between a free and an unfree action? How do we distinguish a voluntary from an involuntary action? How do we distinguish an intentional from an unintentional action? And how do these various distinctions relate to each other? Must an action be free (or voluntary? Or intentional) in order for the agent to be morally responsible for the action? -- We will mostly read articles by contemporary analytical philosophers. There will be approximately 30 pages of reading per week.

Philosophy 360, Philosophy of Perception
LEC 001, MW 11:00 – 12:15, CRT 309
Instructor: Aaron Schiller,
Prereq: jr st & 3 cr in philos.

Perception seems a simple matter. It is the way that we take in the world around us. But is the world at all like it seems to us through perception? Many philosophers have argued that the world is nothing like our perception of it, with the result being that perception is in fact much more complicated than we might at first believe. In this class we'll consider questions about the nature of perception and how it fits into our experience more generally. We'll also consider questions about how perception can give us knowledge, or if it even can at all. By course's end, students will have a good grounding in these important and central philosophical questions.

Philosophy 432, History of Modern Philosophy
LEC 001, TR 11:00 – 12:15, TBA
Instructor: Margaret Atherton,
Prereq: jr st & 3cr in philos.

The philosophers of the 17th and 18th centuries in Western Europe put a highly characteristic stamp on philosophical thought, one that is still influential today. The period, characterized as "Modern" because it ushered in a new approach to knowledge, particularly knowledge of the natural world, but also a knowledge of human nature. Philosophers of this period, starting with Descartes, struggled to find an understanding of the makeup of the natural world and of the way in which we can know this natural world while simultaneously struggling to find the place of religion within these new developments. The period is also called the Age of Enlightenment, reflecting widespread confidence in human ability to understand the natural order and human nature within that order. We will follow the leading philosophers of this period as they develop various and unique accounts of what there is, how we know it, and what we are like as knowers, tracing the implications of their respect for science, their increasing curiosity about the nature of the human mind and their struggles to understand the relationship between science and religion. We will hope to understand the work of these philosophers both as foundational to the development of the sciences of their time and as providing the framework within which we continue to address their issues. We will be reading selections from leading philosophers of this time, including Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley and Hume, but because this was also a period in which philosophy was carried out by many people in many different venues, we will also be reading brief excepts from some of the little known women philosophers of the period.

Philosophy 535, Philosophical Topics in Feminist Theory: Feminist Liberalism and its Critics
LEC 001, TR 3:30 – 4:45, CRT 607
Instructor: Andrea Westlund,
Prereq: jr st; a course in philos or women's stds advisable.

Feminist liberals (also known as liberal feminists) analyze and address the oppression of women from within a broadly liberal framework. This does not mean that feminist liberals are uncritical of mainstream liberal theory (quite the contrary), but simply that their analyses proceed from the assumption that individuals are morally and ontologically primary. Feminist liberalism has a long history, stretching back to the writings of Mary Wollstonecraft and John Stuart Mill. Its contemporary defenders include philosophers such as Ann Cudd, Jean Hampton, Susan Okin, and Martha Nussbaum. Liberal notions of equality, individual rights, and autonomy have often been central to the arguments pressed by feminist activists seeking social and political reform. Nonetheless, feminist liberalism has faced considerable criticism from within feminism itself. It has, for example, been criticized as too abstract and individualistic, and as unable to deal appropriately with differences of race, class, and sexuality. In this course we will carefully consider both older and newer versions of feminist liberalism (including readings from all those philosophers named above) along with feminist critiques from Allison Jaggar, bell hooks, Catherine MacKinnon, Lisa Schwartzman, and others. We will consider the meaning of central liberal concepts (especially equality and autonomy) and examine liberal responses to problems such as oppressive cultural practices, pornography, hate crimes, and reproductive freedom.

Philosophy 554, Special Topics in the History of Modern Philosophy: Marxism and Philosophy
LEC 001, MW 2:00 – 3:15, CRT 607
Instructor: Julius Sensat,
Prereq: jr st, 3 cr philos; & Philos 432 (R); or cons instr. Retakable w/chg in topic to 9 cr max.

We'll study Marx's philosophical, political, and economic writings in an effort to understand and assess the critique they provide of capitalist society, their relation to Hegel's philosophy, and their significance for issues in contemporary moral and political philosophy, such as John Rawls's theory of justice, for example.

Philosophy 681, Seminar in Advanced Topics: Contemporary Theories of Modality
SEM 001, W 5:00—7:40, CRT 607
Instructor: Fabrizio Mondadori
Prereq: sr st & 12 cr in philos at 300-level or above; or grad st. Retakable w/chg in topic to 9 cr max. Consent required to audit.

The following topics will be discussed: proper names and rigidity; quantification into modal and belief contexts; essentialism; inter-world identity; counterpart theory. Readings will include papers by Russell, Quine, Kaplan, David Lewis, and Kripke.

Philosophy 685, Senior Capstone Research Seminar: Hume
SEM 001, TR 2:00—3:15, CRT 607
Instructor: Miren Boehm,
Prereq: sr st; declared Philos major; or cons instr. Retakable w/chg in topic to 6 cr max. Consent required to audit. Satisfies L&S research requirement. Undergraduates Only.

In this class we shall study one of the most important philosophical works of modern philosophy, David Hume's A Treatise of Human Nature. Given the importance of this work it may come as a surprise to you that we still are not very clear about what this book is really about. Ever since it was published in 1739 interpreters have attempted to understand its nature and purpose. The arguments it contains singly are relatively easy to grasp, the problem is to put it all together and get a view of the whole. In this class we shall attempt to do this by focusing on the first Book of the Treatise, entitled "Of the Understanding." The theme of this book, I shall argue, is this: what can we say about the nature of the world from our human standpoint? Thus first: what is our standpoint? The topics of this fascinating book are fundamental to philosophy in general: the nature of experience and thought; our ideas of space and time and matter; the nature of causal reasoning and our idea of necessary connection; the similarity between human reasoning and animal reasoning; and finally, skepticism and an assessment of our human nature and our relation to the natural world.

Philosophy 712, Fundamentals of Formal Logic
LEC 001, TR 2:00 – 3:15, CRT 309
Instructor: Stephen Leeds,
Prereq: grad st.

Formal logic, at the level taught in this class, is a central tool in present day philosophy. This is in part because writing out arguments in symbolic logic notation helps to make them clearer; even more, however, it is because the language of symbolic logic is both simple enough that we understand how it works, and complex enough to shed light on the symbolic systems that really interest us – particularly, English, and the language of mathematics. The goal of the class is to bring you up to the point where, given a valid argument (one where the conclusion follows from the premisses), you will be able to translate the argument into logic, and show that it is valid. You will also be learning a few deep theorems about logic, first proved about 80 years ago: that if an argument is valid, we can use logic to show it is, and that there is no general method by which we can pick out the valid from the invalid arguments. (You will also be learning why, despite first appearances, these two theorems don't contradict one another).

Philosophy 920, Seminar in the Philosophy of Science: Mental Representation
SEM 001, MW 3:30 – 4:45, CRT 607
Instructor: Robert Schwartz,
Prereq: grad st; cons instr. Retakable w/chg in topic to 9 cr max.

Human thought and action are dependent on and mediated by the knowledge and mental skills we possess. Perhaps the core topic in the study of cognition is to explain how this knowledge and skill base is stored or represented by our mind/brain. This course will explore conceptual and theoretical problems that lie at the heart of current debates in philosophy, psychology, linguistics, and computer science over the nature of mentality and mental representations. We will consider such questions as: is there a language of thought?, can we really think in images?, in what way may our behavior be guided by rules?, may a significant part of knowledge base be innate? Issues concerning animal and machine intelligence will be examined in these contexts.

Philosophy 941, Seminar in Ethics and Social and Political Philosophy: International Justice
SEM 001, T 11:00 – 1:40, CRT 607
Instructor: Blain Neufeld,
Prereq: grad st; cons instr. Retakable w/chg in topic to 9 cr max.

Liberal political philosophy traditionally has applied its principles of equal treatment of persons (protection of basic liberties, provision of basic resources, etc.) only within the borders of the nation-state. In recent years, however, liberal thinkers have begun to ask how these principles might be understood in the global domain. This course is a critical introduction to recent attempts to develop a theoretical approach to international justice. One topic that we will explore is the nature and extent of liberal tolerance vis-à-vis non-liberal societies. How ought liberal political philosophy regard non-liberal political societies? What norms of tolerance, if any, should apply here? What human rights should be understood as ‘universal' in nature – all of the rights of democratic citizenship or a more restricted set? What political policies are appropriate with respect to states that violate human rights? A second topic we will examine in the course is the legitimacy (or illegitimacy) of the nation-state. Should nation-states or ‘peoples' be regarded as moral agents? Is ‘patriotism' a duty, a virtue, or a vice (i.e., a case of unjustified ethical parochialism)? A topic closely related to the moral status of nation-states is the scope of our duties of distributive justice. Are (some or all) principles of distributive justice limited in their scope of application to nation-states? How can we understand the wrongness of global poverty? Should we care about global economic inequality, and if so, why? Time permitting, additional topics (e.g., inter-generational justice, just war theory) may be considered. The course presupposes a basic knowledge of contemporary political philosophy (utilitarianism, libertarianism, and John Rawls's theory of justice).