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The Origin and Conduct of America’s Culture Wars

The West produced the first civilization in which societies function primarily to elevate the dignity of the individual and protect his liberties. This emphasis on liberty, however, has produced passionate culture wars, in which proponents of each side of various issues see their policy preferences as necessarily following from the demands of a free society.   

 This course begins by exploring the development of Western understandings of liberty from ancient to modern times, before proceeding to analyses and discussions of four culture war issues in which each side claims that liberty demands that its side prevail: religious liberty, firearms, abortion, and the death penalty. We will read some of the best arguments for each side of the issue, critique them during debates, and consider alternatives. 

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