SOC 252 Fall 2014 Moral Life in the Modern World

This course attempts to locate and examine modern moral life (i.e., the ethical dimension of modern culture) in its broader historical and cultural context. The aim of the course is less to analyze and debate the theoretical moralities of philosophers and theologians, than it is to interpret and attempt to understand the lived moralities that people actually practice and carry out; that shape conduct and selfhood in the modern world. There are two parts to the course. Part I will provide a guided introduction to a range of contested issues in the study of ethics and morality: moralism, moral relativism, nihilism, genealogy, moral truth, and value freedom; the differences between normative and descriptive ethical inquiry; "thick" and "thin" moral concepts, and the historically variable relationships between lived moralities, theoretical moralities, and moral customs. In proceeding as such, this section of the course will provide students with an overview of "classical" positions on these issues and subsequent interventions. In Part II we will shift our focus to learning about how to interpret and understand lived moralities by considering case studies that take up the following: morals and market society; the morality of images, numbers, and things; moral life in corporate, urban, and suburban contexts; moral panics; business and environmental ethics; race and racism; depersonalization and colonialism, war and genocide. The course will furthermore examine ethics and morality "in," "through," and "of' literature, as students will select, read, and critique an appropriate work of fiction, e.g. by Milan Kundera, Don Delillo, Margaret Atwood, or Cormac McCarthy.
Class Format: lecture
Requirements/Evaluation: weekly discussion précis, film screenings, two book review essays, class presentations, and a take-home midterm
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Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preference: Sociology and Anthropology students
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Divisional Attributes: Division II
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Enrollment Limit: 19
Expected Enrollment: 19
Class Number: 1937
SOC 252 - 01 (F) LEC Moral Life in the Modern World Division 2: Social Studies Grant Shoffstall
TR 08:30 AM-09:45 AM Hollander 158 1937
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