Religious Studies | Religion, Ethics, and Public Life
R170 | 28573 | L. Sideris


This is an introductory course in religion and ethics, focusing on social responsibility and
moral reasoning. We begin by examining basic methods and tools in ethics, after which we
will examine six topics: abortion; war and peace; death and dying in medicine; economic
justice; discrimination; and environmental ethics. The chief goal of the course is to explore
the complexity of these topics and to understand how religious thought, belief, and
practice inform moral discussion in American public life today. Along the way, we will ask
whether individuals or groups have a responsibility to protect the interests of vulnerable,
or “at-risk” populations: fetuses, political communities under attack, women in the
economic and cultural marketplace, sick and dying patients, the poor, racial minorities, and
nonhuman lives. These groups, and the issues that surround their needs, stand at the
center of debates in public culture today. With each topic we will examine different
arguments and points of view. Sources draw from Judaism, Christianity, and contemporary
social thought.