Welcome to PL 311, Philosophical Approaches to Global Justice!
In this course, we will ask questions about how philosophical theories of justice function in a global context. What are our responsibilities to people living in poverty, either those far away or those in our immediate vicinity? What causes systematic poverty, and in what way, if any, are we complicit in it? What is a nation, and what ethical value does it have? When should nations be sovereign? What responsibilities do we have for collective wrongs committed by our nations? What ethical effects does the current dominant political model, namely the nation state, have? What responsibility does a state have to preserve different nations or cultures within it? What is the ethical status of violent protest within or against nation states, especially terrorism? How do historical examples of historical injustice play out in our own neighborhoods?
In this course, we will study issues of global justice through the philosophical frameworks articulated by four philosophers: Thomas Pogge, David Miller, Martha Nussbaum, and Peter Singer. With the exception of Miller, each of these philosophers has made a concerted effort to leave the ivory tower and put her or his theory into action. In addition to assessing their theories, we want to ascertain how effective their practical approaches are. You will find links to their work above.
I have chosen four case studies through which we will consider these theories. They are: Native Americans in Maine; the question of how women are treated around the world; the history of intervention and crisis in Haiti; and the dynamics of immigration to Maine. Links to resources about those topics are also above.
The Annual Humanities Theme for 2014-15 is “Migrations.” Historically, many immigration patterns are tied to global patterns of injustice. We will be referencing this theme frequently, and I encourage you to take advantage of the wide array of perspectives on migration being explored across campus this semester. The Theme's website is here, and a list of spring events is here. A general Library guide to the Migrations theme is here.