PHIL 24098/ECON 12300 Character and Commerce: Practical Wisdom in Economic Life
Most of us seek to be reasonably good people leading what we take to be successful and satisfying lives. There is a mountain of evidence suggesting that most of us fail to live up to our own standards. Worse, we often fail to mark our own failures in ways that could help us improve ourselves. The context in which we try to live good lives is shaped by the vicissitudes of the global economy. The global economy is obviously of interest to those of us studying economics or planning on careers in business. Aspiring entrepreneurs or corporate leaders have clear stakes in understanding practical wisdom in the economic sphere. But anyone who relies upon her pay – or someone else’s – to cover her living expenses has some interest in economic life.
In this course, we will bring work in neo-Aristotelian ethics and neo-classical economics into conversation with empirical work from behavioral economics and behavioral ethics, to read, write, talk, and think about cultivating wisdom in our economic dealings. While our focus will be on business, the kinds of problems we will consider, and the ways of addressing these, occur in ordinary life more generally – at home, in academic settings, and in our efforts to participate in the daily production and reproduction of sound modes of social interaction.
Led by Candace Vogler.
PHIL 20001/30001 Emotions and Their Ethical Significance
It has been said that one’s emotions bespeak one’s character even more truly than one’s actions do. At the same time there is a long tradition of opposing the emotions to reason, and some ethical conceptions, e.g. Stoicism and Buddhism, suspect them of undermining virtue. Such positions are not without foundation. Doesn’t fear prevent you from pursuing an excellent project? Do not greed and envy stand in the way of justice and charity? Does not pride prevent veracity and deprive you of friends? Nevertheless, those pessimistic views fail to do justice, first, to the importance of emotions in human life, second to the role of reason in their constitution and, third, to their indispensable contribution to a life of virtue. – In the first half of the course we are going to investigate how reason is at work in typical emotions, providing the soul with patterns of inclination that take it (inferentially, as it were) from kinds of occasion and their ostensible significance to kinds of inward and outward response. We’ll also see that the apparent involuntariness of emotions does not in fact remove them from our accountability. Nevertheless, being “passions”, they expose us to the impact of our surroundings. What is the significance of the resulting “passivity”? – This question takes us to the second half of the course: an exploration of the relevance of our emotionality to a good life. Emotions enhance motivation: acts of loyalty or charity, for instance, find support in affection and sympathy. Likewise, admittedly, acts of cruelty are helped by hatred! Emotionality is indeed ambivalent. But, if all goes well, our feelings support the practice of virtue, and thwart its obstruction. Moreover readiness to emotional responses goes with alertness to occasions and opportunities – again for better or worse. One’s readiness to appropriate feelings of gratitude makes one notice undeserved support and the need to acknowledge it; the compassionate person is aware of distress that he / she may be able to alleviate. Similarly, of course, the resentful person is good at perceiving affront and injury (even where there are none!). Still, it may be doubted that morality would have a grip on human living even to the moderate extent to which it does shape people’s conduct, if practical reason were not assisted in its task by a well-formed emotionality – where “well” means both in accordance with virtue or right reason and to a sufficient extent. Does all this mean the value of “virtuous feelings” is essentially instrumental?
Led by Anselm Mueller.
PHIL 20002/30002/FNDL 21002 Thomas Aquinas’s Metaphysics of Morals: The Goodness and Badness of Human Actions
Thomas Aquinas’s account of the goodness and badness that are proper to human actions—moral goodness and badness—is fundamental for his entire ethical teaching. It provides the rationale for his way of dividing human actions into kinds; it sets the reference points for his theory of virtues and vices, which he takes to be nothing other than principles of good and bad actions; it explains the moral function that he ascribes to law; and so on. The aim of this course will be to understand and think about that account. Its fullest presentation is found in Aquinas’s masterpiece, the Summa theologiae. However, the Summa’s approach to ethics is heavily metaphysical, and nowhere is this more true than in its treatment of moral goodness and badness. We shall therefore need to consult background passages from other parts of that work and other works of his, on such metaphysical topics as good and bad in general, powers and their objects, the nature of circumstances, and the relation between intellect and will. We shall also want to consider to what extent the account depends on strictly theological notions.
Led by Fr. Stephen Brock.
CHRM 30030/MEDC 30030 Religious Perspectives on the Clinical Encounter
Medicine is a moral practice, and suffering, illness, and dying are among the most deeply challenging of all human experiences. It is not surprising then that religious and spiritual traditions inform the ways many patients and clinicians understand, navigate, cope with, and make decisions related to illness. These traditions are a significant source of personal identity for some clinicians and also serve as a moral framework through which groups of patients and providers address challenges in healthcare. A burgeoning literature on the religious characteristics of clinicians delineates how clinicians’ religious traditions and commitments can shape their clinical practices (Program on Medicine and Religion). Drawing from this literature and the primary course text, Spirituality and Religion Within the Culture of Medicine (Editors: Michael Balboni, PhD & John Peteet, MD, Oxford University Press, 2017), this course will provoke learners to consider the religious and spiritual dimensions of the clinician-patient relationship through the lens of different specialties and disciplines in medicine, while covering broad concepts relevant to the intersection of the clinical encounter with religion (the Abrahamic traditions of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism). Guest speakers will also enrich the course by sharing a clinical encounter that addresses, and/or personal perspective on, how their own religious traditon attends to the question, “How does one become a good clinician (healer)?”