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Ethics of Sociability (PH372-15)

Timing & CATS

This module will run in the Autumn Term and is worth 15 CATS
(Formerly PH366-15)

Module Description

There is a growing body of evidence in psychology and neuroscience that human beings are fundamentally social creatures who need to live near and with each other in order to survive and flourish. This module will explore the ethical and political implications of being social. The issues will be grouped under three main headings: 1) social rights, 2) social virtues, and 3) social policies. The module will consider such questions as:

• What social human rights, if any, do we have?
• Do children have a right to be loved?
• Do we have a right to associate or not with whom we please?
• Is it morally wrong for someone to suffer chronic, acute, unwanted loneliness?
• Is it virtuous to be sociable?
• Can we exercise autonomy without other people?
• What ethical issues are raised by institutional segregation such as medical quarantine, isolated dentention, and solitary confinement?
• Could we defensibly replace social contact with robots and virtual worlds?

The module will draw on debates in various branches of moral and political philosophy, and will examine key contemporary articles on the social aspects of being human.

Learning Outcomes or Aims

Students will become familiar with some fundamental ideas in moral philosophy and political philosophy including human rights, needs, personal freedom, autonomy, conditions for flourishing, social justice, and the ethics of care. By the end of the module, students should have a grasp of the main philosophical theories that pertain to human sociality. Students should be able to develop, in a sustained and sophisticated way, arguments pertaining to the ethics and politics of sociability, specifically on social rights, freedoms, duties, virtues, values, and practices. Understanding will be developed through critical reading, lectures, and discussion.

Contact Time

Students should attend 2 hours of lectures and 1 hour of seminars per week.

Lectures for 2017-18

Tuesday 9am to 11am in B2.02 (Soc Sci)

There will be no lectures in reading week (week 6)

Seminars for 2017-18

Seminars for this course start in week 2
There will be no seminars in reading week (week 6)

Please sign up for a seminar group using Tabula.

Assessment Methods

This module will be assessed in the following way:

  • One oral presentation (worth 15% of the module)
  • One 2,500-word essay (worth 85% of the module)

Essays should be submitted to Tabula in line with the essay deadlines schedule.

Background Reading and Textbooks

Students are not required to purchase any books to support the course. Many of the required readings are drawn from a variety of books and journals. Seminar discussions will revolve around the issues raised in the lectures and students should read a selection of items listed under Further Reading as well as the Required Reading with a view to addressing those issues in the workshop discussions.

Some Relevant Texts: • Special issue on freedom of association, Social Philosophy and Policy, 2 (2008). • Special issue on freedom of association, Minnesota Law Review, 85 (2001). • Anderson, E. (2010), The Imperative of Integration. Princeton. • Gutmann, A. (ed.) (1998), Freedom of Association. Princeton. • Lichtenberg, J. (2013), Distant Strangers: Ethics, Psychology, and Global Poverty. Cambridge. • Mill, J.S. On Liberty (various editions). • Nussbaum, M. (2000), Women and Human Development: The Capabilities Approach. Cambridge. • Sen, A. et al (eds.) (1993), The Quality of Life. Oxford. • Shue, H. (1996), Basic Rights: Subsistence, Affluence, and US Foreign Policy, 2nd edition. Princeton. • Wolff, J. and de Shalit, A. (2007), Disadvantage. Oxford.

Course Materials

From October 2016 course materials will be available on Moodle. Simply sign in and select the module from your Moodle home page.

Module Tutor

Dr David Woods