Descriptions for ETHS 390 - Spring 2022
ETHS 390-01A/ETHS 309-02A - Happiness Is.....
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 390-03A - War and Memory
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 that 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 Troubles in Ireland, and the wars of genocide in our time - Yugoslavia and Rwanda, the post-Cold War conflicts of Russia, and the "war on terrorism."
ETHS 390-04A - Justice in the 21st Century
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 every Ethics Common Seminar, the goal of this course is to improve each student's ability to make good moral judgments.
ETHS 390-05A - Sex, Death & Ethics
Most students enjoy talking about sex (outside of class), haven't thought much yet about death, and are rather upset that a course on ethics is even required. Since the first seems amusing and the second far away, this class might seem like a pleasant way to satisfy an onerous requirement. So admit it, you just read this description because of the title. Be warned, however, this is a real class with difficult readings as well as a final paper graded on both style and content. It requires regular attendance, active participation, and daily reflection on the reading.
ETHS 390-06A - Building Fences? Understanding War Refugees, Immigration and National Identity
This course discusses immigration through the ethical problems it raises and the various forms of social tragedies and moral abuses that come with it in modern society. Thousands of immigrants lose their lives when trying to reach their destiny abroad. Do all people have a right to emigrate? Is the identity and safety of a given nation threatened by the flow of immigrants? Should nations adopt John Lennon's dream "Imagine all the people sharing all the world?" Students will be exposed to a selection of readings, films and documentaries dealing with moral issues raised by cultural and ethnic differences.
ETHS 390-07A (cross listed with POLS 358) - Ethics of War: What do Ethics Mean during a Time of War?
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 390B-01A (Cross listed with CHEM 390) - Science Ethics
Christen Strollo Gordon
This course will explore the idea of an ethical scientific process and its effect on our society. Topics may include: air pollution, persistent pollutants, disposal of waste, vaccines, energy production, work hazards, factory farms (antibiotic resistance), pesticides, GMOs, geoengineering, climate change (water, land, and food access; infectious diseases; impact of extreme weather), and pharmaceutical industry practices. Students will apply current ethical philosophies to examine their own place in the scientific world through readings, discussion, and case studies.