Really Big Questions (2)

Facilitator: Mac McNeill, 377-2012, Dates: Thursdays, March 21 - May 9, 2019 Time: 9:30 AM - 11:30 AM Text: Ethics in the Real World, Part 2, Peter Singer Presentation: No presentations are required, just your intelligent participation in the discussions.

Peter Singer is an Australian philosopher who teaches at Princeton University. He was recently chosen as one of the top three influential thinkers in the world. His specialty is practical ethics, the ethical situations that real people confront in the real world. He has written books on animal rights, the global poor, and our environmental responsibilities and short essays on many other topics, often for the New York Times.

Singer’s Ethics in the Real W orld is a collection of his short essays. Each of these essays is written for a general reader; no deep understanding of philosophy is needed. Each week we will read a few of Singer’s essays and discuss them in class, focusing on two or three of them as Really Big Questions. Some of the big questions will be:

  • What makes people happy?

  • Should government worry about personal happiness?

  • Should the Electoral College be replaced by a popular vote for President? Should voting be mandatory?

  • Are we ethically required to accept refugees and immigrants?

  • What should we do to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?

  • Who’s responsible when a driverless car kills someone?

  • When does a luxury become immoral?

Singer’s book Ethics in the Real World is required. We will cover the last half of the book in this course. (We covered the first half in Part 1 of this course.) Since the two parts are freestanding, you can take Part 2 without having attended Part 1.