Religious Studies | Religion, Ethics & Public Life
R170 | 11476 | Wilson


This is an introductory course in religion and ethics, focusing on
social responsibility and American public life.  We will begin by
examining basic methods and theoretical tools in ethics, and will
then spend the majority of the semester examining topics in
environmental, medical, economic, and socio-political ethics.
Utilizing real-world cases to frame our study, we will explore the
challenges and tensions in applied moral reasoning.  The chief goal
of the course is to understand the complexity of these topics and to
understand how religious thought, belief, and practice inform moral
discussion in the United States 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, 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--debates in newspaper articles, religious gatherings,
political elections, professional meetings, evening talk shows, shop
floor conversations, and family dinners. With each case we will
examine different arguments and points of view.  Sources draw from
Judaism, Christianity, and contemporary social thought.