Courses

Justice & Law Courses

JLST 101(F)Introduction to Justice and Law

This course will examine various aspects of America?s legal system, including its historical and constitutional underpinnings; the processes of resolving disputes, e.g., trials, plea-bargaining, and civil settlement; and the roles of diverse participants in the system, e.g., judges, jurors, litigants, lawyers, and legislators. The course will emphasize the deeply interdisciplinary nature of law, exploring the law?s intersections with politics, history, economics, anthropology, statistics, psychology, philosophy, art, sports, science, religion, and cyberspace. [ more ]

JLST 250 TTrials

Last offered Fall 2013

Humans are social creatures. In organized societies, when conflicts arise, people rely on the law and, within the law, on trials to sort out competing claims and assign proper consequences. "Trials" include other tests such as the trial of battle, experimental trials, trials to qualify for athletic finals, and probationary periods. At it core, then, a trial is a way to test the veracity or quality of some person or thing. This tutorial traces the application and various meanings of trials, focusing on three themes: trials as a test of personal character; trials as a way of knowing; and trials as social institutions designed to protect the social order by offering justice. [ more ]

JLST 401(S)The Unwritten Constitution

"The eight thousand words of America's written constitution only begin to map out the basic ground rules that actually govern our land." So begins Akhil Amar's book America's Unwritten Constitution. Amar recasts the debate over whether America has a "living Constitution," a debate usually revolving around whether change in constitutional meaning requires resort to the formal amendment process or can be achieved through judicial interpretation. Amar supports the latter view, but proposes something far-reaching: history itself effectively amends the Constitution. Thus, for example, he argues that speeches by Martin Luther King and precedents set by George Washington, as well as the daily activities and assumptions of ordinary Americans, have become constitutional subtext requiring consideration when we interpret the Constitution. Is that notion convincing? Preposterous? A healthy way of understanding the inevitable intersection of law, history, and politics? A transparent excuse to read one's own views into the Constitution? Through a careful reading of Amar, and other important constitutional theorists (including Antonin Scalia, Robert Bork, Laurence Tribe, Ronald Dworkin, and Richard Posner), we will probe different ways of thinking about the Supreme Law of the Land. [ more ]

JLST 402International and Transitional Justice

Last offered Spring 2017

Before the 1990s, the world saw only occasional, discrete war crimes trials after major-power cataclysms. In the last two decades, trials expanded dramatically in number, scope, and philosophy. Separate Ad Hoc Tribunals for crimes in Yugoslavia and those in Rwanda, in Sierra Leone and in Cambodia are giving way to a permanent International Criminal Court, which has begun to hand down indictments and refine its jurisdiction. The UN Security Council, alongside national governments, decides on legitimacy and punishment. At the same time, worries about residual impunity or the effect that punishment might have on societies' futures has led to the development of national and social courts, as well as national military tribunals, to complement those at the international level. Meanwhile, national activists look to international apologies and reparations for models of what to demand. Examples of internationalized transitional justice abound. This research seminar examines the intent, process, meaning and consequence of these new practices, particularly in terms of national constitutions, international law, and principles of justice. [ more ]

JLST 403Senior Seminar in Human Rights in International Politics and Law

Last offered Spring 2018

The idea that all humans have rights simply because they are human-independent of anything they might do or achieve-has transformed local and international politics, probably permanently. This concept's place in international politics, its strengths and limitations, depend on how people use it. Beginning with the 18th-century's transatlantic movement to abolish slavery, we will examine international movements and institutions that have affected what human rights mean, to whom, and where. Readings draw on philosophy, history, sociology, and international relations, but as a political science class we emphasize politics. Who benefits from the idea of universal human rights? Who loses? How does this idea about individual value liberate and entrap? Does this idea ultimately reinforce American hegemony, or plant the seeds of a non-American order? [ more ]

Electives

WGSS 210 / AFR 210 / AMST 210 / INTR 210 / PSCI 210Culture and Incarceration

Last offered Fall 2011

This seminar examines incarceration, immigration detention centers, and the death penalty from historical and contemporary perspectives. Students will study and examine interdisciplinary texts as well primary sources (legislature and criminal codes and writings by the incarcerated). The emphasis will be on the study of social attitudes concerning ethnic groups, gender/sexuality and class as they pertain to a "penal culture" in the United States. [ more ]

SOC 215Crime

Last offered Spring 2014

An examination of crime, criminals, and crime-fighters. Topics include: violent urban youth gangs in America; the recruitment, socialization, argot, culture, worldviews, and ethics of professional criminals, both in America and in the international arena; the stages of criminal careers; the violence inherent in the drug trade; the trafficking of girls and women; the illegal immigration industry; white-collar scams, fraud, and financial depredations; identity theft; the work worlds and habits of mind of crime-fighters, with a special focus on the work of uniformed police officers, detectives, federal agents, and state and federal prosecutors; the symbolic representations of criminals and crime-fighters in American and international popular culture; and the crisis of public social order. Special attention to the nature of criminal investigation. [ more ]

JLST 250 TTrials

Last offered Fall 2013

Humans are social creatures. In organized societies, when conflicts arise, people rely on the law and, within the law, on trials to sort out competing claims and assign proper consequences. "Trials" include other tests such as the trial of battle, experimental trials, trials to qualify for athletic finals, and probationary periods. At it core, then, a trial is a way to test the veracity or quality of some person or thing. This tutorial traces the application and various meanings of trials, focusing on three themes: trials as a test of personal character; trials as a way of knowing; and trials as social institutions designed to protect the social order by offering justice. [ more ]

PHIL 114(F)Freedom and Society

Freedom is one of our fundamental values as Americans. It is emphasized in our founding documents, and it occupies a central place in our contemporary political discourse. But do we ask: What is freedom? and Why do we value it? In the first unit of this course, we will consider the relationship between freedom and social order. Do society's laws limit our freedom in order to make us safe? Or do laws somehow enhance or enable our freedom? We will read Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau in seeking answers to these questions. We will then turn to some specific social forms in the second unit. We will ask whether they promote or preclude our freedom. We will read Adam Smith and Karl Marx on capitalism, and Simone de Beauvoir on gender. [ more ]

AFR 132 / AMST 132 / PSCI 132(F)Contemporary Africana Social and Political Philosophy

This introductory seminar investigates the relationship between three major schools of thought in contemporary Africana social and political philosophy, namely the African, Afro-American, and Afro-Caribbean intellectual traditions. We will discuss a range of thinkers including Aime Cesaire, Angela Y. Davis, Edouard Glissant, Lewis R. Gordon, Kwame Gyekye, Paget Henry, bell hooks, Charles W. Mills, Nkiru Nzegwu, Lucius Outlaw, Oyeronke Oyewumi, Tommie Shelby, and Sylvia Wynter. A primary goal of the course is to provide students with the intellectual resources to decipher problems central to philosophical discourse and to allow students an opportunity to apply what they learn to critical issues in current geopolitics. [ more ]

HIST 153 TEstablishment & Exercise: Religion and the Constitution in the United States

Last offered Spring 2017

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." This 100-level tutorial examines the constitutional history of conflicts over religion in the United States, and asks how the law has weighed religious freedom against other cultural values, legal rights, and social needs. This course will consider the following questions: How has the interpretation of the First Amendment's religious clauses changed over time? What happens when the establishment clause and free exercise clause come into conflict with each other? Is the American state secular? What is the difference between religious beliefs and moral beliefs? How have constitutional arguments about religion intersected with social movements and political culture? Topics will include: the origins and early interpretations of the religion clauses; the changing scope of constitutional protections for the beliefs and practices of religious minorities; controversies over religion in schools, workplaces, and public spaces; debates about tax exemptions for religious organizations; the rights of conscientious objectors; and the emerging conflicts between claims for religious liberty and anti-discrimination laws. This course examines the ways these conflicts illuminate tensions between the competing values of equality and liberty, and interrogates the ways that the very act of legal decision-making defines the boundaries of what counts as religion. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

Catalog details

HIST 167 / AFR 167 / AMST 167(F)Let Freedom Ring? African Americans and Emancipation

This course will examine African Americans' transition from slavery to freedom. In the years that encompassed the Civil War and immediately after, most African Americans changed from being legal property, able to be bought, sold, mortgaged, rented out, and leveraged into U.S. citizens, with the Constitutional right to male suffrage. This course examines this transition. How did it come about? To what extent were African Americans able to exercise their rights that the constitution guaranteed? How did Emancipation shape African American family relations, culture and demography? This is a research seminar. We will examine work of historians and discuss the contradictions and nuances of emancipation. Readings will include monographs, scholarly articles and heavy dose of primary sources, as many as possible written by African Americans themselves. Assignments include an original research paper on an aspect of Emancipation. We will devote considerable time throughout the semester to finding primary and secondary sources and on the writing process. [ more ]

REL 203 / JWST 101Judaism: Before The Law

Last offered Fall 2017

This course introduces the academic study of Judaism through a humanistic exploration of "the Law" as a concept in Jewish thought and practice. Coverage will include the Law of Moses in the Hebrew Bible, the rabbinic distinction between "Oral Law" and "Written Law," medieval philosophical justifications for the Law, modern interpretations of the Law as Moral Law, Hasidic challenges to the centrality of the Law, and twentieth-century Jewish fiction that is haunted by a felt absence of the Law. Topics may also include the nature of rabbinic authority, methods of Jewish legal interpretation and innovation, and Jewish law as it pertains specifically to women, gentiles, idolaters, food consumption, and the Land of Israel. Course materials will include classical sources such as the Talmud and Midrash, modern philosophical texts by Franz Rosenzweig, Leo Strauss and Joseph Soloveitchik, Kafka's The Trial with his parable "Before The Law," Woody Allen's film Crimes and Misdemeanors, and ethnographic accounts of contemporary Jewish observance. All readings will be in translation. [ more ]

REL 214 / PSCI 271(F)Religion and the State

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution begins: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." What does "religion" mean in this formulation? Should "religion" be singled-out for exclusion from government? Are "religious" reasons ever legitimate reasons for laws, policies or popular political action? Should "religious" organizations be exempt from otherwise generally applicable laws? Is "religion" good or necessary for democratic societies? In this course we will respond to these and related questions through an investigation of "religion" as a concept in political theory. Particular attention will be given to the modern liberal tradition and its critics. Coverage will range from modern classics to innovative contemporary arguments. Classics may include John Locke's A Letter Concerning Toleration, selections from Jean-Jacques Rousseau's The Social Contract, James Madison's Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments, Immanuel Kant's Religion Within the Boundaries of Mere Reason, John Stewart Mill's Three Essays On Religion, and John Dewey's A Common Faith. More recent arguments may come from John Rawls, Alasdair MacIntyre, Nicholas Wolterstorff, Martha Nussbaum, Jeffrey Stout, Winnifred Sullivan, Brian Leiter and Andrew Koppelman. [ more ]

PSCI 223(S)International Law

International law embodies the rules that govern the society of states. It spells out who can be a state and how to become one, what states can do, what they cannot do, and who can punish transgressions. It also determines the status of other actors, such as international organizations, heads of state, refugees, transnational religious institutions, and multinational corporations. International law is similar to domestic law, with one very crucial difference: it is not enforced by a centralized, sovereign state. In other respects, it is the same: it protects the status quo, including the distribution of power among its members, it spells out legitimate and illegitimate ways of resolving conflicts of interest; it is biased toward the powerful; it tells its members how to act to coordinate their interests and minimize direct conflict; some of it is purely aspirational, some of it necessary for survival. And like domestic law, it is enforced only some of the time, and then against the weak more than the strong. Yet, law is still where we look for justice. [ more ]

PHIL 228 / WGSS 228Feminist Bioethics

Last offered Fall 2016

In this course we'll explore the ways in which feminist approaches to moral thinking have influenced both the methodology and the content of contemporary bioethics. The first portion of the course will address the emergence of the "Ethics of Care," critically assessing its origins in feminist theory, its development within the context of the caring professions, and its potential as a general approach to bioethical reasoning. The second portion of the course will use feminist philosophy to inform our understanding of the ways in which gender structures the individual's interactions with the health care system. To do this we'll explore topics that might traditionally be considered "women's issues" in health care, such as medicine and body image (e.g., cosmetic surgery, eating disorders), reproductive and genetic technologies, and research on women and their health care needs. In addition we'll also look at feminist analyses of topics that traditionally have not been regarded as "gendered," such as resource allocation and end of life issues. [ more ]

PHIL 291 T(F)Violence: Its Trajectory and Its Causes

This tutorial focuses on two books by Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker: The Better Angels of our Nature. Why Violence Has Declined (2011) and Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress (2018). We focus first on the controversial theses that---despite two world wars and the Holocaust---the twentieth century was not the most violent so far, and that, over the entire course of history, human beings have become decreasingly violent. We then turn to the books' explanations of the factors they identify as leading us to be violent---our "inner demons"---and as curbing our violence---our "better angels," among which the books particularly emphasize reason, science, and humanism. [ more ]

HIST 302 / ARAB 243 / REL 243 / WGSS 243(F)Islamic Law: Past and Present

From fear of the Shari'a to its implementation in so called "Islamic countries," Islamic law is perhaps best associated with draconian punishments and the oppression of women. Islamic law is ever present in our public discourse today and yet little is known about it. This course is designed to give students a foundation in the substantive teachings of Islamic law. Islamic law stretches back over 1400 years and is grounded in the Quran, the life example of the Prophet Muhammad, and juridical discourse. Teetering between legal and ethical discourse, the Shari'a moves between what we normally consider law as well as ethics and etiquette. The course will explore four key aspects of the law: its historical development, its ethical and legal content, the law in practice, and the transformation of Islamic law through colonialism and into the contemporary. Specific areas we will cover include: ritual piety, family and personal status law, criminal law, and dietary rules. [ more ]

PSCI 309 / LEAD 309Problems and Progress in American Democracy

Last offered Fall 2015

"I confess," French aristocrat Alexis de Tocqueville wrote in the introduction to his Democracy in America, "that in America I saw more than America. I sought the image of democracy itself, with its inclinations, its character, its prejudices, and its passions, in order to learn what we have to fear or hope from its progress." What would Tocqueville see if he returned to America today, almost 200 years later? What types of institutions, dynamics, and processes animate American political life in the twenty-first century? With Tocqueville as a guide to thinking about political ethnography, this course investigates four central elements of political life--religion, education, difference, and crime and punishment--that simultaneously pose problems for and represent sites of progress in American democracy. For each subject, we will ask several key questions. How has that particular aspect of political life changed in the recent past? How might it change in the near future? Does it conform to how American politics is designed to work? To how we want American politics to work? Using a diverse set of readings drawn from empirical political science, contemporary democratic theory, American political thought, historical documents, political punditry (from the left and the right), and current events, our focus, like Tocqueville before us, is on teasing out both the lived experience--the character and challenges--of American democracy and examining any disconnect between that experience and the ideals that undergird it. Among the many specific questions we will consider are whether particular religious traditions might be incompatible with democratic values, the extent to which recent changes in higher education have affected the health of democratic politics, the effects of ideological polarization on democratic discourse, and the place of the jury system in securing democratic justice. Throughout the semester, we will not only approach these questions from the joint perspectives of theory and practice but also seek to enrich our understanding by exploring American democracy as it happens all around us with several exercises in the community at large. [ more ]

INTR 322 / PSCI 313 / AFR 322 / AMST 322(F)Race, Culture, Incarceration

This course explores racially-fashioned policing and incarceration from the Reconstruction era convict prison lease system to contemporary mass incarceration and "stop and frisk" policies of urban areas in the United States. Also explored will be political imprisonment in the United States. [ more ]

ENVI 328 / PSCI 328Global Environmental Politics

Last offered Fall 2017

This seminar draws on the last five decades of international efforts to regulate the environmental commons. The process of negotiating and implementing international environmental treaties will be a core focus of the course, yet emphasis will also be placed on emerging non-state means of addressing global environmental challenges. A variety of challenges faced in global environmental policymaking (compliance, participation by civil society and industry, incorporation of science, efficiency.) will be examined through the study of several international regimes, including on climate change, endangered species, biodiversity, biosafety and mercury pollution. [ more ]

PHIL 337 T(F)Justice in Health Care

Justice is a notoriously complex and elusive philosophical concept, the conditions of which are even more difficult to articulate within real world institutions and contexts than in the abstract. In this course we'll explore justice as a fundamental moral principle and as a desideratum of the US health care system. The first portion of the course will be devoted to considering general theories of justice as well as alternative conceptions of justice within the health care context. This will provide the background for subsequent examination of specific topics, which may include, among others: justice in health care financing and reform, which may itself include an analysis of the Affordable Care Act or current legislative proposals; justice in health care rationing, with particular attention to the relationship between rationing criteria and gender, "race," disability, and age; justice in the procurement and allocation of organs for transplantation; obesity and personal responsibility for illness; and justice in medical research, including "double standards" for research conducted in less developed countries. [ more ]

WGSS 343 T / AFR 343 / AMST 343 / INTR 343(F, S)Representations of Racial-Sexual Violence from Enslavement to Emancipation

This tutorial examines representations of and resistance to racial-sexual violence in American society, from colonial America to contemporary US culture. Interdisciplinary texts cover history, politics, literature, film, feminist studies, American studies, lgbtq and ethnic/black studies. Books include Southern Horrors; Intimate Matters; Scenes of Subjection; Trauma and Recovery; The Delectable Negro; At the Dark End of the Street; films include Birth of a Nation; Bush Mama; To Kill a Mockingbird. The primary focus is on racial and sexual vulnerability to violence and mobilization for freedom from the 18th-21st centuries. [ more ]

AFR 350Organizing Resistance: Black Activism, Then and Now

Last offered Spring 2016

This Africana class will be an experiential learning class designed both to study and to do activism as a way of learning how to be effective organizers in the Black world today. Our study component will focus on important past organizations and movements--Fannie Lou Hamer and the organizing of the Mississippi Freedom Summer and "Freedom Democrats" challenge to the Democratic Party, The Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, The National Welfare Rights Organization, The Poor People's Budget, The Free Breakfast Program of the Black Panther Party--with an eye towards understanding how they actually organized and determining their successes and failure. The activism component of the class will include work in Pittsfield and/or Albany--with immigrant rights group, prison rights organizations, educational entities--and we will take a Spring break activism trip (for one of our two weeks off), either to Ferguson, Missouri, or to Florida to continue work on environmental justice already in place via Africana WS 25. We will also be exploring online activism, especially in relationship to the growing activism against police and other racist violence in Ferguson, Missouri, Sanford, Florida, Oakland, California and New York City. [ more ]

PSCI 359 T(S)The Body as Property

From an ethical standpoint, human bodies are fundamentally different from objects that can be owned, acquired, and exchanged. Yet history furnishes us with countless examples of laws, administrative rules, and social conventions that treat the human body as a form of property. The institution of slavery is a particularly egregious example. But there are other examples of treating the body as property that seem more ambiguous, or even benign: the employment contract in which bodily services are offered in exchange for payment; the feminist slogan "my body, my choice"; or even the every-day transfer of bodily properties into creative projects that then become part of the things people own --- chairs, tables, houses, music, art, and intellectual property. If it is not itself a form of property, how can we explain the use of the human body to acquire possessions, create wealth, and mediate the exchange of other kinds of property? These and other tensions between the concept of property and that of humanity will be the focus of this course. How is property defined, and how far should law go to erode or reinforce distinctions between property and humanity? Course readings focus on Locke, Hegel, Marx, and critical perspectives from feminist theory, critical theory, and critical legal studies (Cheryl Harris, Alexander Kluge, Oskar Negt, Carole Pateman, Rosalind Petchesky, and Dorothy Roberts, among others). [ more ]

ENGL 371 T / COMP 331 / RUSS 331(S)The Brothers Karamazov

Widely hailed as one of the greatest novels ever written, Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov contains a series of enigmas, not the least of which is precisely who murdered the Karamazov father. In addition to exploring the shared guilt of all four of the brothers Karamazov in the crime of patricide, Dostoevsky poses the most probing questions of his day: Are families tied together merely by blood or by deeper spiritual bonds? Is religious faith possible in an age of reason, science, and technology? Can man's earthly laws ever carry out divine justice? Is humanity prepared to bear the burden of responsibility that comes with freedom? This tutorial will spend an entire semester exploring Dostoevsky's masterwork, and we will read a variety of secondary sources alongside The Brothers Karamazov, including history, philosophy, and literary theory. Our goal will be to understand Dostoevsky's answers to these so-called "accursed questions" through the unique artistic form of The Brothers Karamazov. [ more ]

ECON 374 TPoverty and Public Policy

Last offered Spring 2017

Since 1965, the annual poverty rate in the United States has hovered between 10% and 15%, though far more than 15% of Americans experience poverty at some point in their lives. In this course, we will study public policies that, explicitly or implicitly, have as a goal improving the well-being of the poor in this country. These policies include safety net programs (Aid to Families with Dependent Children/Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program/Food Stamps, Medicaid/Children's Health Insurance Program, and housing assistance), education programs (Head Start and public primary and secondary education), and parts of the tax code (the Earned Income Tax Credit). We will explore the design and functioning of these programs, focusing on questions economists typically ask when evaluating public policy: Does the policy achieve its goals? Does the design of the policy lead to unintended effects (either good or bad)? Could it be redesigned to achieve its goals in a more cost-effective manner? Through in-depth study of these programs, students will learn how economists bring theoretical models and empirical evidence to bear on important questions of public policy. [ more ]

HIST 376 / WGSS 376(F)Sex, Gender, and the Law in U.S. History

This course explores how the law in America has defined and regulated gender and sexuality. We will evaluate how the law has dictated different roles for men and women, how sexual acts have been designated as legal or illegal, and the ways that race, class, and nationality have complicated the definition and regulation of gender and sexuality. We will examine how assumptions about gender and sexuality have informed the creation and development of American law, contested interpretations of the Constitution, and the changing meanings of citizenship; We will consider how seemingly gender neutral laws have yielded varied effects for men and women across race and class divides, challenging some differences while naturalizing others. Finally, we will examine the power and shortcomings of appeals to formal legal equality waged by diverse groups and individuals. Throughout the course, we will consider the various methodologies and approaches of the interdisciplinary field of legal history. Topics to be covered will include the Constitution, slavery, marriage, divorce, custody, inheritance, immigration, sexual violence, reproduction, abortion, privacy, suffrage, jury duty, work, and military service. [ more ]

WGSS 405 / HIST 458Sr.Sem:Sexual Rights,Gender Equality, and Religious Liberty: Conflicts in Law, Culture, and Politics

Last offered Spring 2016

Legal systems, political leaders, religious groups, and social movements, have generated and responded to conflicts and perceived conflicts between religious freedom, gender equality, and sexual rights in a variety of ways over the past twenty-five years. This course will consider these conflicts in a comparative context, and will examine when, why, and how appeals to religion, tradition and/or culture have been used to carve out exceptions to otherwise generally applicable laws. [ more ]

ENGL 407 / COMP 407Literature, Justice and Community

Last offered Spring 2018

Can we imagine possibilities of justice not dictated by already determined norms? What would a community founded on such a conception of justice look like? Can we imagine a version of community not founded on exclusion? What would the members of such a community look like-what version of subjectivity would that community imply? And might literature in particular have something to say about the possibilities for such versions of community, selfhood, and justice? This course will look at recent, theoretically-oriented writing on justice and community, with an emphasis on the work of Hannah Arendt, Jacques Derrida, Jean-Luc Nancy and Giorgio Agamben. We will place this challenging and exciting philosophical work in relation to fiction from Euripides to Kafka, Farah and Kushner, films (Almodovar, Farhadi), photography (Silva, Badlands) and worldly examples of competing claims to justice. The course pursues the aims of the EDI initiative by engaging works in which cultural differences reveal the limits of universalizing accounts of law and justice, works such as Euripides' Bacchae, Nuruddin Farah's Maps, Louise Erdrich's poetry, and Farhadi's A Separation. But the course will equally suggest that such contingency is inherent in the concept of justice as such, insofar as the problem of justice is bound up with forms of constituting indebtedness that define humans as communal beings. In that sense, contingency and difference mark justice even in its most familiar instances-intimately and close to home, as it were. [ more ]

ECON 470(F)The Indian Economy: Development and Social Justice

The Indian economy has grown rapidly in the last two decades, but poverty has declined relatively slowly. Is this the persistence of long-standing historical disadvantages such as those faced by Scheduled Castes and Tribes? Does this reflect failures in policy, in areas such as trade or labor law? Or is the quality of governance, especially the level of corruption, primarily to blame? We will use the traditional theoretical and quantitative methods of an economist to consider these questions. [ more ]

AFR 476 / HIST 476(F)CAPSTONE: Black Radicalism

Amandla! Black Power! Venceremos! A Luta Continua! Ever since the end of slavery--brought about by the Haitian Revolution, slave rebellions, maroons, Quilombos, Civil War and various other means of resistance--transatlantic people of African descent have demanded radical change in the organization of modern societies. Their struggles and ideas have changed the ways we think and study--through the formation of Africana/African-American/Black-Studies--and the ways in which we express ideas--through the creation of rich traditions of music, dance, theater, poetry, carnivals, sculpture, and art that have acted as global conduits of cultures of resistance. In this Senior Seminar, we will study the most tumultuous period of Black radicalism in the 1960's, focusing on the Black Panther Party, the League of Revolutionary Black Workers, the Third World Women's Alliance/Angela Davis, and Caribbean and African radical movements, with an eye to examining their relevance to Black radical movements today. [ more ]

PHIL 272 TFree Will and Responsibility

Last offered Fall 2014

Our practice of holding people responsible seems justified as long as people are free to make the choices that they do. But which criteria must a decision meet to qualify as free? Clearly, a free decision must not be the result of external coercion. But must it also be free from any outside influence at all? If so then freedom seems impossible, for we are all deeply influenced by external factors ranging from the general laws of nature to specific features of our genetic endowment and social environment (including religion, political ideology, and advertising). These affect not only our particular choices but also, more fundamentally, who we are and what we value. Since it is undeniable that we are pervasively influenced by such forces, the real question is whether, and how, free choice is possible amidst all of these influences. In this course we will examine recent philosophical attempts to make sense of the nature of free will and responsibility. Since these issues have a direct bearing on which theory of legal punishment we should accept, we will also examine influential theories of punishment. Our focus will be on works by contemporary authors. Emphasis will be placed on developing skills in reading, interpretation and oral argument as well as critical reasoning and writing. [ more ]