Spring 2007 not offered
The question, "What is evil?" is awkward to answer except by posing the roundabout question, "What are we doing when we call something evil?" To speak of "evil" is often to posit a motive which is beyond moral understanding. Does this mean that there really are actions motivated by a morally opaque force of evil, or does it simply show that we wish to justify certain failures of understanding? While we represent evildoers as ideal targets for blame, they are simultaneously depicted as practically impervious to blame. Thus, we must examine the nature and point of blame. While some argue that the concept of radical evil can be abandoned, they risk charges of optimistic blindness and moral spinelessness. Are these charges justified? Given all of its function and connotations, does the wise moral critic employ the concept of evil?
||Gen Ed Area Dept:
|Course Format: Seminar||Grading Mode: Student Option|
||Prerequisites: (PHIL 212 AND ANY OTHER PHIL COURSE) OR PHIL266 OR PHIL331 OR (PHIL217 AND ANY OTHER PHIL COURSE)
||Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (PHIL-Philosophy)(SISP-Phil Ethic)
Texts will be drawn mostly from European and American sources since Nietzsche, and will include Arendt's EICHMANN IN JERUSALEM and other commentaries on recent cases of apparent evil. Rorty's historical and Lara's contemporary anthology will provide most of the additional reading.
|Examination and Assignments: |
Weekly commentaries 50%
Midterm essay 15%
Final essay 25%
Participation, etc. 10%
|Additional Requirements and/or Comments: |
Students will arrive with some background in ethics, and some advanced work in philosophy. Each student will be expected to initiate analysis and evaluative commentary in response to weekly readings. In addition, the semester's work will culminate in an essay presenting a clear position synthesizing the student's insights over the course of the semester.