Ronald Stanley Krabill
A philosophical investigation of conceptual and normative issues associated with one of several broad domains of social and political thought: human rights, the varieties of human conflict, and war and peace. Examines both classical and recent texts. Brings theoretical perspectives to bear on contemporary issues.
Winter 2004 Issues in Social and Political Philosophy: Social Action
What are the philosophical and theoretical underpinnings of contemporary political and social debates? What kinds of assumptions do we bring to our opinions about the world without realizing it? And how do these ideas shape our actions, individually and collectively?
We will examine both classical and contemporary social theories, but we will pay special attention to how those theories enter into popular discourse, particularly through mass media. We will consider the ways in which these theories, either explicitly or implicitly, shape our everyday choices regarding the seemingly mundane (e.g., Should I buy that cheeseburger?) to political allegiances (e.g., Who should I vote for?) to expressly moral and ethical decisions (e.g., Is abortion wrong?). In so doing, we will also consider debates surrounding how and whether to bring about large-scale social change.
Due to time limits, the course will be structured around several key theoretical case studies; it will not be possible to cover all significant social and political theories over the course of the quarter.
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
This course will involve extensive reading of challenging, theoretical texts. Students will be expected to come to class having given the assigned readings some thought in preparation for discussion. In addition to general participation, students will serve as discussants for the readings. This policy comes out of the instructor’s belief that the best learning is collective as well as individual. Class discussion is not only a way to share what has been learned, but also a chance to ask questions, experiment with new ideas and explore issues which are unclear. The instructor will also utilize group work, film, and other methods of instruction.
Class assignments and grading
A number of short writing assignments will be assigned throughout the course, in order for students to demonstrate both their comprehension of and, more importantly, their ability to interrogate social theories.
Students will also be asked to focus on a particular theorist or school of thought that they find especially compelling, and explore those ideas in more detail. This will include further research, applying the theory or theories to a contemporary social issue, and facilitating course session(s) on their chosen topic.
Some quizzes and tests may also be assigned as necessary.