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Learning to live together is the challenge of our age. This course looks at Jewish, Christian and Muslim ideas of community and universality in light of our global situation. It considers what universalist ethics look like when not based on religious assumptions, and examines what such ethics have 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. Questions of environmental responsibilities and economic justice as they relate to these perspectives will also be explored.
Monday, April 8th through Friday, April 12th 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the Institute for Interfaith Dialog at the Turquoise Center in Houston, Texas
Some of the questions/themes of the course are:
What are the major moral themes evoked by processes and dynamics of the various aspects of globalization?
Globalization to the extent which we all experience it, is a new phenomenon. How does ethical thought, developed many centuries ago, address globalization?
Religious ethics are grounded in specific religious communities. How does one apply ethical thought developed inside specific communities and in response to specific beliefs and experiences to questions and peoples beyond those communities? Are religious ethics - Muslim, Christian, Jewish - broad enough to address universal and not simply particular ethical concerns? Where do they, or might they come up short in the sense that they are too parochial, or in other ways inadequate to deal with the moral questions that face humanity.
What are the themes in specific religions that contribute the most to the conversation?
Authors such at Tariq Ramadan insist that religious people must learn not only from their own tradition and be in conversations with and learn from other religions, but also with the secular world. What do religious people learn from secular ethics, about global moral issues?
In the light of a globalized world, does the whole question of who I have responsibility for, who I think my neighbor is change?
Course Objectives Include:
The student is able to grasp the subject of globalization conceptually and discern how processes and dynamics of globalization shape our individual lives and the lives of our religious and secular communities, nationally and internationally.
The student will grow in his/her understanding of the ways in which ethical thought is carried out in Christianity, Islam and Judaism, and explore some of the ways these religions learn morally from each other.
The student will learn to think critically about the moral thought of his/her own religious tradition, so that he/she is able to articulate and "see" the strengths, potential limits, and the methods of his/her moral tradition, as well as those of other religious moral traditions.
The student will be able to articulate some of the primary ways in which his/her own religious moral thought and that of others contributes towards the broader human conversation about common moral concerns and dilemmas. In addition, students will develop some knowledge of secular approaches to issues raised by globalization.
Each student is expected to do the assigned reading (at least) and to contribute to informed, lively discussions in class.
Three (3) papers, about 5-10 pages each, based on the reading, will be turned in; one on each religious tradition’s thought on globalization and one on secular moral thought and globalization. Many of the papers will be presented in class (students can decide which they want to present – to a point) and will therefore play an important role in class discussions. Please turn them in as hard copy!!
Articles mentioned, and sometimes chapters, will be uploaded onto SONISWEB.
The following books should be purchased:
- Kwame Appiah, Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers; W.W. Norton & Co, 2006
The following books will be on reserve in the library; readings will also be on SONISWEB;
- Mohammed Abu-Nimer, Nonviolence and Peace Building in Islam: Theory and Practice; University Press of Florida, 2003
- Marc Gopin, To Make the Earth Whole: The Art of Citizen Diplomacy in an Age of Religious Militancy; Rowman & Littlefield, 2009
- M. Fetullah Gulen, Toward a Global Civilization of Love & Tolerance; The Light, Inc., 2004
- Mehran Kamrava, ed., The New Voices of Islam: Rethinking Politics and Modernity; University of California Press, 2006
- Lewis S. Mudge, The Gift of Responsibility: The Promise of Dialogue Among Christians, Jews and Muslims; The Continuum International Publishing Group, Inc., 2008
- Rebecca Todd Peters, In Search of the Good Life: The Ethics of Globalization; The Continuum International Publishing Group, Inc., 2004
- Tariq Ramadan, Radical Reform: Islamic Ethics and Liberation; Oxford University Press, 2009
- Peter Singer, One World: The Ethics of Globalization, Yale University Press, 2004
- William M. Sullivan and Will Kymlicka, eds, The Globalization of Ethics, Cambridge University Press, 2007
- Martin D. Yaffe, ed., Judaism and Environmental Ethics, Lexington Books, 2001
- Fareed Zakaria, The Post-American World; Release 2.0; W.W. Norton & Company, 2011
Bring to class on the first day a 5 page description of what you think is the greatest moral challenge of globalization, why, and what religious people can do about it.
Dr. Hadsell will introduce the course.
What is ethics?
Who does ethics?
How is ethics related to religion?
What is the relationship between ethics and critical thinking?
What does the term ‘global ethics’ connote? What are some of the major moral issues today that might be included in the term “global ethics”? What makes these issues moral issues?
Some basic building blocks of ethics: including:
The fact/value split and conceptions of ‘is and ought.’
Characteristics of the descriptive and normative tasks: the ways they differ and the ways that they shade into each other.
Class exercise in learning to notice the intertwining of the descriptive and normative tasks.
The primary sources for doing religious social ethics
Human experience (which human experience?)
Religious tradition, texts, teachings, leaders,
Begin to share and to shape various definitions of Globalization. Where do they come from? What might be at stake in choosing one definition and not another?
One major driving force in globalization is economic. One description of current economic dynamics is demonstrated in the film The Corporation. The class will watch this film together.
Zakaria, The Post-American World; preface- Chapter 3
This class will consider several descriptions of our global reality and the engines of globalization.
Peters, In Search of the Good Life; The Ethics of Globalization; chapters 3 & 4
Gulen, Toward a Global Civilization of Love & Tolerance – pp.217-260
Singer, One World: The Ethics of Globalization; chapters 1, 3 & 4
Kamrava, ed., The New Voices of Islam: Rethinking Politics and Modernity; chapter 2
Topic: Normative descriptions of our globalized reality
What makes these descriptions normative? Where do the norms come from?
Religions as sources of norms
Philosophy as source of norms
Collective common sense as source of norms
Are the normative descriptions accurate? What might be missing? What might you not agree with?
Movie “The Corporation”
How would you make a normative argument based on moral teachings in your own tradition related to some issue in global ethics? Please give it a try in a 5 page piece due next class.
Gulen – pp. 217-260
Sullivan and Kymlicka, eds, The Globalization of Ethics; chapter 6
Topic: Case study of one common moral issue: humanly caused environmental degradation.
Small group presentations of religious and secular moral arguments related to the environment.
Yaffe, ed., Judaism and Environmental Ethics, chapter 14
Singer, chapter 2
Ramadan, Radical Reform: Islamic Ethics and Liberation, chapter 14
Topic: Community and Universality in our moral life
A look at the growing body of efforts towards global ethics charters, guidelines, declarations. Of what use are these declarations? What role do they play in global ethics?
Kung – Declaration of the Religions for a Global Ethic
Dialogue Among Civilizations – Khatami hand out
A Common Word – http://www.acommonword.com
The UN Declaration of Human Rights - http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/
Small group exposition and analysis, each one taking responsibility for one of these documents.
Sullivan and Kymlicka, eds, The Globalization of Ethics; chapter 3 (Walzer chapter)
Ramadan, chapter 16
Appiah, Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers – entire book
This session will be student organized and student led. This is a chance to research ethical issues we have not yet discussed that students really think we must discuss.
Topic: Building bridges towards a global future.
Written Assignment – to be turned in two weeks after the end of class
Where might the themes of this course take you in the future, as a religious leader, global citizen, and peace builder, intellectual?
Abu-Nimer, Nonviolence and Peace Building in Islam: Theory and Practice, chapters 1, 2 & 4
Gopin, To Make the Earth Whole: The Art of Citizen Diplomacy in an Age of Religious Militancy – chapters 1-3, 6-8
Mudge, The Gift of Responsibility: The Promise of Dialogue among Christians, Jews and Muslims – Introduction and Chapter 1
Kwame Appiah, Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers; W.W. Norton & Co, 2006. Buy now