PHIL 355 - Contemporary Moral Problems
Summer 2015, Section 201
Instruction Mode: Section 201 is (see other Sections below)
Subject: Philosophy (PHIL)
Department: LSA Philosophy
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Requirements & Distribution:
Credit Exclusions:
No credit granted to those who have completed or are enrolled in PHIL 455.
Waitlist Capacity:
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:


Some of the greatest moral problems that we face today are caused by or result from past or current oppression. This class will attempt to grapple with understanding what oppression is, how it works in the world, and what kinds of normative problems it creates for oppressors, the oppressed, and uninvolved third parties (if there are any). To do this, we will explore narratives of oppressed people (some real world, some fictional), read work by oppression theorists and their critics (whose work is informed by empirical research as well as philosophy), and we will tackle some of the major problems of justice as rectification, such as whether reforms need to be gradual, whether remedial measures like affirmative action are ever appropriate, and how seriously we need to take people’s preferences if they were formed under unjust background conditions.

The class will be heavily discussion based. Students will be expected to have done all assigned reading and come to class prepared to work through the complex issues we will be focusing on.

Some of the questions we will focus on are: What is the nature of oppression? Should we think of the paradigmatic cases of oppression as involving individuals, social groups, or both? What do we owe to oppressed people(s)? What do oppressed people(s) owe to themselves? How should we dismantle oppressive social structures? What should we do about past cases of oppression that still have lingering effects? Where do notions of blameworthiness and responsibility come in? Can people be blameworthy/responsible for participating in oppressive social structures, even if they have no intent to do so or no other choice?

Course Requirements:

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PHIL 355 - Contemporary Moral Problems
Schedule Listing
201 (LEC)
 In Person
TuTh 1:00PM - 4:00PM

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