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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Jason Mayerfeld
POL S 511
Seattle Campus

Seminar in Ethical and Political Theory

Ethical writings of major political philosophers. Coherent themes arising from these works and assessment of their impact on concepts of politics.

Class description

"Human Rights in Theory and Practice." In this course we examine the meaning, justification, and promotion of human rights. Among our questions: How should human rights be justified, and what should they include? What is the relation between human rights and law? What factors can lead to improved respect for human rights? Should we welcome the growing prominence of human rights discourse in domestic and international politics? While some weight is given to theoretical approaches, we will also study empirical works drawn from history, political science, socio-legal studies, journalism, and international law.

Tentative reading list:

William Talbott, Which Rights Should Be Universal? George Kateb, Human Dignity Kathryn Sikkink, The Justice Cascade Mark Drumbl, Atrocity, Punishment, and International Law Charles Epp, The Rights Revolution Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, Half the Sky Jamie Mayerfeld, The Architecture of Human Rights (working manuscript)

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading

Students will write two short (7 to 10 page) essays or one long (15 to 20 page) term paper.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Jason Mayerfeld
Date: 03/08/2013