Philosophy | Special Topics in Philosophy
P470 | 10499 | Baron


Topic: Kantian ethics

The focus of the course will be Kant's ethics, and Kantian themes in
ethics. We'll work not only to understand what Kant is saying, but
to evaluate the general approach to ethics taken in his works in
light of contemporary objections that have been raised against it.
So we will read, in addition to a lot of Kant and several
interpretive articles, some pieces directly critical of Kant's
approach. We will also examine some Kantian themes, e.g., are lying,
deceiving, and manipulating as bad as Kantians think they are?
We'll read a qualified defense of manipulation (in particular,
manipulation as part of seduction strategies by Sarah Buss),
defenses and clarifications of Kant's approach by Onora O'Neill and
Christine Korsgaard, and in connection with both self-respect and
respect for others as they relate to issues of sexual morality,
we'll read Martha Nussbaum's paper on prostitition, and Barbara
Herman's paper comparing Kant to Andrea Dworkin. In connection with
respect, we will probably also read a paper by David Sussman,
attempting to figure out just what it is that makes torture so
wrong. (Notice that even those who think capital punishment is
morally permissible almost always think torture is wrong.)

This course is offered with very advanced undergraduate philosophy
majors in mind, but is also offered to others who have studied
philosophy at an advanced level and are eager
to grapple with difficult texts and intriguing questions. (So, buyer
beware! Not for those who are half-hearted or too busy with other
courses and activities to throw themselves into this.)  It will be
taught at just a notch below the level of a 1st year graduate course.

No prior knowledge of Kant's ethics is necessary, but a willingness
to read a lot of it is. We'll read large portions of the Groundwork
for a Metaphysics of Morals, The Doctrine of Virtue (Part II of the
Metaphysics of Morals), and smaller bits of Critique of Practical
Reason, Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View, and Religion
within the Limits of Reason Alone.