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The Quest for Justice:
Jerusalem, Athens, Philadelphia

“She took my toy!” wails the toddler. A concern for justice seems deeply rooted within us. And yet struggles over the meaning of justice persist, often with very high stakes. We constantly disagree about what is just or find ourselves in situations where the forces of injustice seem insurmountable. This seminar will explore key moments in the ongoing human debate about what justice is and what it demands from us: justice in the biblical narrative of Abraham, Socrates’s attempt to clarify the definition of justice in Plato’s Republic, and Abraham Lincoln’s reconceptualization of the Declaration of Independence as part of his campaign against the injustice of American slavery. By studying these four moments, students will reflect on the larger issues involved in understanding justice as well as the challenges that we face in seeking to build a just society.