VIC166H1 Common Vices and Neglected Virtues: Intro to Ethics of Character
Vice is popular: a prestigious university press has brought out a series of seven books on the Seven Deadly Sins. This course examines such questions as the following. Are greed, lust and gluttony just bad names for necessary and otherwise acceptable instincts? What is the place, in a good human life, of such qualities as honesty, trust, civility and the like? Are vices and virtues culturally determined or a matter of individual preference? Can character be taught, or is it rather a matter of genes and luck? Corequisite: VIC167H1, VIC168H1, VIC169H1, and 1 FCE in ANT100Y1 / PHL100Y1 / RLG100Y1
VIC167H1 Ideas and Fine Thoughts
Prof. David Cook
Let us begin with a tour of Paris; just before the outbreak of the Second World War, where part of the drama before us will unfold. Start with the national library where we discover a librarian by day and writer by night. An archive is opened that challenges the morality and politics of the day. Bring into the city two writers: one from the then French colony of Algeria, the other from the French bourgeoisie. Looking for responses to life's questions they both get caught up in the philosophical questions often called existentialism. Heightened by the collapse of morality as violence ensues, justice and freedom become central to rethinking of politics. Whether resistance, revolution or rebellion is called for will result in one the famous quarrels of the period. We will end with a 'visit' from Switzerland raising the question whether the scores can be settled, whether revenge is called for and whether the loss of the political has turned justice into a second order effect of capitalism. The class will discuss these topics in a seminar setting where each student will have an opportunity to engage in debate while expressing her or his viewpoint.
Not eligible for CR/NCR option.
Prerequisite: Admission to Vic One
Corequisite: VIC166H1, VIC168H1, VIC169H1, and 1 FCE in ANT100Y1 / PHL100Y1 / RLG100Y1
VIC168H1 Identity and Equality in the Public Sphere
Prof. Sophia Moreau
In this course, we will examine a number of questions about the moral importance of identity and the role of the state in respecting our different individual and group identities. Our aim won’t be to eliminate or explain away the conflicting perspectives that we find! It will be to acquire a more complex conceptual framework and a deeper understanding of what is at stake for the different groups in these debates.
We will start with some philosophical writings about the value and source of our identity. Some philosophers, such as John Stuart Mill, have argued that we value the opportunity to shape our own lives in our own way. But of course we also see ourselves as members of certain groups, whose lives are crucially shaped by others and who don’t often have a choice in how we are portrayed or what obligations we take on. We are raised in certain cultural and religious traditions; we find ourselves of a certain gender and sexual orientation; we take on obligations as parents or as daughters and sons. Do these group identities limit our autonomy or simply provide the necessary framework for our becoming autonomous? Who decides what our identity is, within these groups? And what should the government’s role be, in protecting our identities? Of course these questions arise not just in theory but also in legal practice. And one of the areas of law in which they are currently being debated by Canadian litigators and courts is equality rights law. We will read some of the courts’ judgments on equality and will look at the questions about identity that arise in these judgments. Interestingly, when minority groups challenge laws as discriminatory, part of what they want is to reclaim their identity: they want to eliminate the stereotypes that often invisibly shape our perceptions of them. So it is not surprising that questions about identity –how to recognize it, how to preserve it, who gets to define it-- constantly arise when courts try to interpret equality rights. We will conclude the course by looking at some current political debates involving equality and identity, such as the wearing of religious garments in courtrooms or in citizenship ceremonies, genetic discrimination, and pay equity for women.
Corequisite: VIC166H1, VIC167H1, VIC169H1, and 1 FCE in ANT100Y1 / PHL100Y1 / RLG100Y1
VIC169H1 Ethical Living in a Pluralistic World
Prof. Yiftach Fehige
This course invites students to discuss the provocative view that ethical living in a pluralistic world requires the world to have a "soul." Without a "soul" the world mutates into a mere collection of facts-a world without values, without normativity, without order, a world deprived of free will, and without any meaning. Class discussions will focus on a variety of intriguing topics, including the political dimension of diversity, the nature of ethics, the sacred space of music, and most importantly the relationship between biology and religion.
Corequisite: VIC166H1, VIC167H1, VIC168H1, and 1 FCE in ANT100Y1 / PHL100Y1 / RLG100Y1