Current and upcoming “variable topic” philosophy courses

Fall 2018–2019

PHIL 416: Seminar in Philosophy: Moral Pluralism and Democracy
As a political system, liberal democracy endorses the primacy of individual autonomy and the need to preserve it against authoritarianism. This includes defending the choice to peacefully affiliate with groups that may, in some regards, advocate illiberal values. Is it possible to universalize liberal principles while tolerating illiberal doctrines?  This course will examine the challenge moral pluralism presents for democratic liberal theory. (Instructor: Torcello.)

PHIL 449: Special Topics: The Dred Scott Decision
A constitution can fail to have the resources to resolve major political and social problems. Our Constitution’s failure to settle the issue of slavery led to the Civil War. It is instructive, especially now, to determine why it failed and what its failure tells us about whether it will be able to resolve other problems. So we will look at the Dred Scott case. The arguments used in this decision are morally powerful, but the conclusions are morally repugnant. Among issues to be examined are what appeals within an on-going constitutional system someone opposed to slavery might have and how the Dred Scott case affected those appeals. We shall also examine whether contract theory is in any practical way morally helpful in an on-going constitutional system presumptively adopted by contract of the states and of the citizens of the states. Students will be required to write the Supreme Court decision they would have written had they been on the Supreme Court when the Dred Scott case came before the court. (Instructor: Robison)