PHI 102: Ethical Foundations of the Just

PHI 102 is a First Year Seminar for incoming John Jay students, and in it the relationship between ethics and politics is explored accross an extremely diverse set of readings. From Rand to Buber, from Plato to Goldman, from Pateman to Dussel, this course covers: (1) theoretical ethics, (2) ideal political philosophy, and (3) non-ideal political philosophy, which is the political philosophy of the exploited, oppressed, and too-often deumanized.

This is the official course description: "Ethics is the discipline that asks the questions: What is the right thing to do, and how do we know it is right? The course looks at some of the most influential theories of rightness and goodness, and then applies these theories to questions of relevance to the creation and maintenance of a modern, just society, such as: How do we educate people to be good?; is goodness something all humans hold in common, or is it merely the name we give to whatever our individual cultures judge to be good?; and how do our individual differences, such as race, sex, gender, wealth, and time and place of birth, affect our ethical interactions?"

These are the materials that we usually cover:


Ethical Egoism.  "The Objectivist Ethics by Ayn Rand; PDF

Virtue Ethics.  Selections from Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle; PDF

Utilitarianism.  Selections from Utilitarianism by John Stuart Mill; PDF

Alterity Ethics.  Selections from I and Thou by Martin Buber; PDF

Care Ethics. "Why Care about Caring? by Nel Noddings; PDF


The Social Contract.  Selections from Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes; PDF

African Communitarianism.  "Ubuntu and Its Socio-moral Significance by Mluleki Munyaka and Mokgethi Motlhabi; PDF


Non-Ideal Theory.  "'Ideal Theory' as Ideology by Charles W. Mills; PDF

Feminism II.  "Contracting In by Carole Pateman; PDF

Critical Race Theory II.  "The Fact of Blackness by Frantz Fanon; PDF

Liberation Theory I.  Selections from Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire; PDF

Film: District 9

© Douglas Ficek