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    Vassar College
   
 
  Sep 25, 2017
 
 
    
Catalogue 2017-2018
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PHIL 330 - Seminar in Ethics & Theory of Value

Semester Offered: Spring
1 unit(s)


Topic for 2017/18b: Capitalism, Globalization, Economic Justice and Human Rights. This seminar focuses on questions about capitalism, globalization, and economic justice. A central project of this course is to understand the different ways in which capitalism is conceptualized by various thinkers and philosophical perspectives and to critically evaluate the benefits and problems attributed to capitalism as a global economic system.  We complicate the tendency to focus on “wage labor” by asking where colonialism, slavery, subsistence production fit into an account of capitalism We consider the various ways in which women’s unpaid labor as well as their growing induction into wage labor and income generation fit into our understanding of capitalism. We address debates on private property and the division of labor, and examine the functions of states, markets, corporations, international institutions like the IMF and WTO, development agencies in economic globalization. We address controversies over the role private charity and state-provided international aid play in ameliorating the situation of the global poor and securing their human rights. We examine some of the ecological consequences of contemporary capitalism and our own locations as consumers within the system.  Readings include the works by figures such as Adam Smith, Karl Marx, Karl Polanyi, Nancy Fraser, Peter Singer, Thomas Pogge, Antonio Negri, Immanuel Wallerstein, and Zygmunt Bauman. Uma Narayan.

Prerequisite(s): three courses in Philosophy.

Topic for 2017/18b: Reviving the dead? Neo-Aristotelianism in Ethics and Metaphysics. The second half of the Twentieth Century saw a powerful revival of long-neglected Aristotelian approaches to ethics. In Aristotle’s own work, those approaches are grounded in a metaphysically-laden conception of nature, according to which humans (and other species) have eternal, unchanging forms. In light of what we now know about evolution, this conception of nature is untenable. Many philosophers who have sought to revive Aristotle’s ethical thought have argued that most of his ethics can be neatly separated from his metaphysics and philosophy of nature, and that we can (and should) keep the former while jettisoning the latter. We consider their arguments, and the opposing arguments of those who claim that Aristotelian ethical thought can make no sense once we give up the metaphysics in which it was originally situated. And finally, we consider attempts to argue that much more of Aristotle’s metaphysical thought than many have assumed is compatible with the teaching of contemporary science, and is worth reviving.  Likely authors include: Foot, Hursthouse, McDowell, Wiggins, Dawkins, Dupré, Fine, Boyle, Lavin, Setiya. Jeffrey Seidman.

Prerequisite(s): two 200-level courses in Philosophy.

One 3-hour period.



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