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PHIL 209


An introductory course to a systematic field of philosophy, history, philosophical movement, or set of philosophical problems. May be repeated for credit with different topics.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1 course

Spring Semester information

Jennifer Everett

209A: Tps:Animal Ethics

Are humans the only animals with moral rights? Does the suffering of a pig or a chicken matter more than, less than, or the same, morally speaking, as the suffering of a dog, a chimpanzee, or a human? Is it wrong to eat meat? Should animals be used for research? What should we think about hunting, zoos, or rodeos? This course examines theories concerning the moral status of nonhuman animals, the ethics of certain practices of using animals for human purposes, challenges to the legal status of animals as property, and/or questions of ethical activism.

Richard Cameron

209B: Tps:The Examined Life

Socrates famously claimed that the unexamined life is not worth living. But that claim is extremely puzzling -- we all know people who lead unexamined lives that, nevertheless, seem eminently worth living. Was Socrates just wrong, or was he getting at something deeper? If so, what might that deeper meaning be? We'll look at both Platonic texts about Socrates and examples of more contemporary issues calling on us to examine our own lives as we work through this puzzle.

Claudia Mills

209C: Tps:Immigration Policy: Boundaries and Birthrights

This course will examine a series of ethical questions involving immigration, citizenship, national identity, and cultural belonging, with special attention to recent controversies raised by U.S. election rhetoric and the refugee crisis in Europe. Isn't freedom of movement, including movement across often arbitrarily drawn national boundaries, a fundamental human right? But how can a nation-state exercise its right to sovereignty if it can't control its own borders and regulate access to the privileges of citizenship? Drawing on social science literature regarding the causes and effects of both historical and contemporary migration, as well as normative principles from leading ethical theories, we will assess the case for open borders as well as the case for limits on immigration. If we do open our borders, what do we owe to those who cross them? Is it morally permissible to establish different degrees of political membership: from citizen, to permanent resident, to temporary guest worker? Is there a moral duty to admit refugees fleeing war and persecution? On whom does this duty fall, and why? How can we best address involuntary migration through human trafficking? What role do race and gender play in migration patterns, and what special ethical issues do they pose for immigration policy? These are only some of the timely and challenging questions we will explore together in this discussion-based class.