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Robert G. Moser, Chair BAT 2.116, Mailcode A1800, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-5121

Fall 2006

GOV 335M • Ethics and Everyday Life

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
39690 MWF
11:00 AM-12:00 PM
CBA 4.324

Course Description

Course may be repeated for credit when the topics vary.

This course examines the necessary and unnecessary tensions between reason and convention. Social conventions, like those that structure our families and our work, offer people a kind of groove (sometimes a rut): we participate in them without fully knowing why they are as they are or whether they are good. As such, the life of convention is often blind. Through reflection, we step back and hold conventions up to scrutiny; we assess, criticize, and reform. To examine even the most familiar conventions with rigor and sympathy may point to a more full understanding of the reasonsor may illuminate what ought to be changed. The course moves between works drawn from the history of moral and political thoughtPlato, Aristotle, Kant, Milland cases and questions drawn from contemporary life. Should moral reasoning regulate everything about everyday lifewhat we eat, our romantic lives, our families, our work? What kinds of moral reasons bear on these domains most forcefully? Are they similar to the moral reasons that should regulate politics? Through these questions and others, we will explore how moral reasoning speaks to the ultimate question, "how should I live?"


Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem (Penguin) Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics (Oxford World Classics) Coetzee, Lives of Animals (Princeton) Franklin, Autobiography (Dover) Kant, Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals (Hackett) J. S. Mill, On Liberty, with the Subjection of Women (Cambridge) Rawls, A Theory of Justice (Harvard) Sullivan, ed., Same-Sex Marriage: Pro and Con (Vintage) Weber, The Protestant Ethic (Routledge)


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