In the light of a globalized world, who is my neighbor? What is my responsibility to my
neighbor, near and far? The moral thought of specific religious traditions is intended to guide people within that tradition. Often, it is concerned primarily with behavior towards others who are also within the tradition, and only secondarily, if at all, with behavior towards those beyond the boundaries of that tradition. Today, in a world grown small, elements and assumptions of our religious moral traditions may be too limited to deal with the moral questions that face us all. This course looks at Jewish, Christian and Muslim ideas of community and universality in the light of global challenges. It also considers what universalist ethics looks like when it is not based on religious assumptions, and examines what such an ethics has to offer religious moral discourse. The course will also consider a moral argument towards a way of being in the world that both maintains and moves beyond our own particularities. The course will look at the question of environmental responsibilities, and the question of economic justice in the light of the perspectives we have examined.
This course is intended to:
a) Enable students to perceive and to develop the connections between religious beliefs and current global ethical issues;
b) Introduce to students several of the most pressing global issues in the world today so that they learn not only about these issues, but also so that they learn the skills necessary to carry out their own ethical analyses of them;
c) Provide students with a chance to think with others about the relationship of their own religious communities to these issues, and specifically to think about how they might contribute to their communities greater awareness and involvement in the public debate relating to these issues.
If you want to get an early start on reading, please start with the Amartya Sen book, The Idea of Justice. The following books are required for this course:
The Idea of Justice, Amartya Sen
Life Abundant, Sallie McFague, Fortress Press, 2001
One World, Peter Singer, Yale Univ. Press, 2002
Cosmopolitanism, Kuame Appiah, W.W. Norton and Company, 2006
Readings from the books listed below will be posted online, but you can choose to purchase them:
The Globalization of Ethics, William Sullivan, Will Kymlicka, eds., Cambridge University Press, 2007
Radical Reform, Islamic Ethics and Liberation, Tariq Ramadan, Oxford University Press, 2004