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Fundamentals of Philosophy, Ethics, and Social Science


- This module is an introduction to a broad range of topics within philosophy, ethics, and the social sciences with a focus on recognizing bad conduct and using personal, economic, and political means to do good things. In the Michaelmas semester, we focus entirely on how to recognize features of bad conduct especially in business contexts. This requires using tools from empirical psychology and the normative theories of ethics. In the Hillary semester, the focus shift towards the scope of our positive obligations to others and how best to use social institutions to satisfy them, which requires us to engage with economic and political theory.

Business Ethics


-  This module considers the source and scope of our moral obligations in business. The first segment of the module involves the different views of why firms exist and what obligations follow. The second segment of the module considers whether firms themselves have moral responsibilities, the extent to which they can be excused, and whether we should hold them criminally responsible. The third segment of the module considers a variety of other ethical issues when engaging in business, from discrimination in the workplace to whether it’s okay to invest in immoral companies and beyond. 

Are Corporations People?


We often hear the slogan in the news and on placards, “Corporations are not people!” Corporations don’t breathe or bleed, so, in one sense this sounds obvious. But then, what’s all of the fuss about? The question is: Just what is it to be a person? And what does it take to merit the rights and privileges to which people are entitled? In this class, we will explore the foundation of our rights as people and as citizens. Ultimately, thinking deeply about what makes us persons will help us arrive at a more informed opinion concerning whether or not there is a relevant sense in which corporations are people as well.

Name Your Price: The Ethics of Pricing

- Your hard work is worth something, but how much is it worth? What would be a ‘fair’ price for your labor, and will receiving it make you happy? Like it or not, much of our lives is spent interacting with the market in various ways, so much so that we often define our notions of value and justice in terms of it. However, there remain a number of significant questions open for debate. In this class, we will consider a slew of issues around the ethics of buying and selling. We will consider what makes for a fair price, how much compensation is deserved, the rules of negotiation, and whether there should be a market for kidneys. By answering these questions, we will not only come to grips with the place of justice in our Capitalist society, but with our own place in that society as well.


Introduction to Business Ethics

- We interact with businesses constantly in our daily lives, but we rarely think about how we ought to interact with them. First, we might wonder: what are businesses, and what are they for? We will also question the norms on the interaction between businesses and various groups. We regularly talk as if corporations have obligations to shareholders, employees, consumers, and the public at large. However, we should also consider whether the members of these groups have obligations of their own. After taking on these issues, we will conclude by asking whether a corporation itself is distinctly responsible for its actions.

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Metaphysics Big and Small

- Those engaged in metaphysics and ontology have long been concerned with just what kinds of things there are and of how those things are related to each other. In this class, we are going to go on a tour from the microscopic to as big as it gets, and we will investigate the issues that arise at each stage. Does the fact that physics postulates subatomic particles provide sufficient evidence to think those particles exist? Would you survive the transporter from Star Trek? Is the universe a thing; is it the only thing? Through asking these questions and more, we will see both the scope of the puzzles that abound as well as the common themes that arise when trying to answer them.


Mind in the World

- Hopefully, part of the reason you are in college is to enrich your mind. But just what is your mind, and how is it related to the firing neurons in your head? You have many thoughts, experiences, and so on; however, it’s not so easy to reconcile these items with the apparent truth that you are a part of the physical world. This 200-level course provides a survey of how thinkers have conceived of the mind and its relation to the body, and the arguments for and against these positions.

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