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Ethics, Politics, and Society

The purpose of these seminars is to wrestle with the philosophical underpinnings of some of the deepest questions that animate our modern and political lives. Previous courses include:

Economics and the Human Good

How can economics contribute to the prospects of creating a humane and just society? In this course, we will investigate political economy, or the discipline that attempts to join moral philosophy with economic reasoning. We will read selections from a handful of the most important contributors to political-economic inquiry, including Bernard Mandeville, Adam Smith, Karl Marx, Wilhelm Röpke, Friedrich Hayek, and Irving Kristol. Our goals will be not only to understand their contributions, but also to explore the benefits and liabilities—including the moral benefits and liabilities—of a market economy.

Left, Right, and the Future of American Politics

By reading the smartest minds on the left and right debate issues such as foreign development, crime, constitutional law, inequality, and war, we will unearth the assumptions that inform political thinking. Not only will we become grounded in the arguments of right and left on specific matters of public concern. We will also begin to understand why some people are on the right and others are on the left. And maybe, just maybe, how right and left could work together.

America-Israel Policy from Truman to Trump

In this course, we will explore the unfolding logic of the U.S.-Israel relationship as it has grown from the founding of Israel in 1948 through the Cold War, from Oslo to the intifadas, from 9/11 through the Obama years. With a firm grasp of this history, we will chart the possible paths ahead for the United States and the Jewish State.

The Future of Religious Liberty

The advancement of religious freedom raises important policy questions and depends upon answers to deep philosophical questions. The First Amendment, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the Second Vatican Council’s Dignitatis Humanae all promote religious freedom in different ways and in different contexts. This course will explore the nature and scope of religious freedom and a variety of public policy questions concerning the limits of the right in principle and in practice.

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