What classes are you teaching now or next?

Fall 2017:

(1) Introduction to Christian Ethics – (a) face-to-face (b) online

This course is designed to introduce students to the field of Christian ethics. We will read diverse selections from classical and contemporary Christian thinkers, examine various sources of and approaches to Christian ethical reflection, and critically assess a variety of contemporary moral issues. We will explore whether and how ethics done from a Christian perspective should differ from other (especially secular) traditions of moral inquiry. We will also discuss what role (if any) Christian ethics should play in the formation of public policy.


(2) Independent Study: Normative Ethics

Specific questions of good and bad or right and wrong (e.g., about abortion or war) are the matter of applied ethics. When we ask more general questions about ethical properties (e.g. what makes something good or bad, right or wrong?), we move into the realm of normative ethical theory. When we concern ourselves further with the status of morality or ask ourselves what sort of activity morality is, we move into the terrain of metaethics (e.g., are moral judgments true or false, objective or subjective and relative, and can they be established in the same ways that empirical and scientific claims can?).

This course will focus on the second set of questions (normative ethics); a companion course focuses on the third set (metaethics). It is designed for serious students in ethics who wish to study both the classics and contemporary commentary and critique on those seminar texts. Normative ethical theories to be examined include the following: utilitarianism, Kantian ethics, contractualism, natural law, intuitionism, theories building on Aristotle’s virtue-based approach to ethics, and feminist ethics. We will also consider the various ways in which religious ethics intersects with philosophical ethics.

Spring 2018:

(1) Feminist Ethics

The field of feminist ethics can be understood as an attempt to reformulate traditional ways of doing ethics insofar as the latter has been faulted for insufficiently attending to women’s perspectives and experiences. We will  discuss  whether and how feminist moral theorizing not only challenges existing patriarchal structures and modes of inquiry, but also presents novel ways of doing ethics. We will also explore several varieties of feminist ethics that arise from the different answers feminists give to the questions what explains women’s  second-sex  status  and  whether  the  universal category  “woman” is useful or itself oppressive in social analysis. Class readings will primarily be drawn from the Western philosophical and Christian theological traditions.

(2) Religion and Human Rights

What is the relationship between religion and human rights? Is it fundamentally adversarial or complementary — i.e., do religions impede the promotion of human rights or do religious communities offer resources to support their global protection and implementation? Is the very universality inherent the concept of human rights compatible with the particularity and plurality of the determine religion faiths? This course will explore such questions through philosophical and comparative ethical analysis. Other topics include international human rights law, the theoretical bases of human rights, and selected case-studies of historical conflict between religion and human rights (e.g., proselytization, blasphemy laws, women’s rights pertaining to reproductive health, children’s rights).

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