Intro to Ethics; Social/Political (lower division)

Assigned Texts:

  • Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (Abridged, with Related Texts). Ed. Philip Barnard and Stephen Shapiro. Hackett 2013. ISBN: 1603849386

Suggested Schedule:

Day 1: Reading Lab (in class activity)
Day 2: Go over answers to Reading Lab, do discussion questions of: Intro, Ch. I-V
Day 3: Ch. VI-VII
Day 4: Ch. VI-VII

Daoism, dao, and metaphor

Texts and Courses

Primary Texts

  • Daodejing, ch.1

Secondary Texts for Instructor

  • Victoria Harrison, ‘Seeing the dao: Conceptual metaphors and the philosophy of religion’, Religious Studies 51 (2015): 307-322.

Suggested Courses

  • TBD


Daoism is the philosophy of the Way (dao), but an immediate problem is that, as the famous opening lines of the Daodejing tells us, dao ‘cannot be spoken of’.

Social Obligations in the Bhagavad Gita


In the first chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, Arjuna is asking an important philosophical question: what obligations do I owe to society when society has broken down (e.g. why should I fulfill my social obligation to fight in this civil war when the civil war itself represents a complete breakdown of society and society's obligations to people). This activity helps students connect that question with their own lives.

Perfect Rituals


The activity helps motivate the Confucian focus on the relationship between ritual activity (li) and ethics.

Background Information


Students (and more than a few philosophers) tend not to think of everyday social interactions as the paradigmatic realm of ethics, but for the early Confucians, small-scale social interactions were of central ethical importance.


This is best done as a group activity, but could be done as an individual or pair activity.

Care Ethics


Care ethicists do ethical theory with special attention to human connection and relationships of care. These relationships have ethical dimensions that other ethical traditions tend not to address, are poorly placed to speak to, or both. Care ethics is, thus, (at least) an important supplement to traditional ethical theories, offering us tools to analyze the ethical dimensions of particular kinds of caring relationships and practices.

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