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Courses That Focus Primarily on Ethics

The schedule of course offerings varies from semester to semester; in other words, not all courses listed here are offered every semester. See the College Catalog for details.

CLA 346 - Ethics in Archaeology

Using the case method, this course considers a range of ethical dilemmas involving stewardship, commercialization, public education, intellectual property, public reporting and publication, indigenous rights, and more, including issues faced by museums. Instructor: Peter Krentz.

ENG 110 - Introduction to Literature: Ethical Issues and Literary Texts

The topics addressed in this course spring from questions that literature asks about ethics, that ethics asks about literature, and that both ask about life. Instructor: Onita Vaz-Hooper.

ETH 236 - Ethics and Warfare

All human societies prescribe some moral rules against killing other human beings, but they also typically permit killing under certain conditions, e.g., in self-defense, in defense of family or community, or as punish­ment for particular offenses. War, which usually involves killing on a large scale, is a peculiar human activity in that it can produce tremendous cruelty and suffering yet also bring out admirable traits like courage and self-sacrifice. These factors and more make war a fascinating subject for ethical analysis and reflection. This course examines key philosophical and religious concepts in the history of moral deliberations about war, modern analyses of the diverse and sometimes conflicting moral principles that those traditions have bequeathed to us, and theories about why human beings engage in mass killing. Students will develop an appreciation for the richness of ethical thinking about war, and enhance their skills in applying moral philosophical reasoning to con­tem­porary wars. 

ETH 237 - Business Ethics

What does society have a right to expect from corporations in the realm of moral respon­si­bility? Do corporate leaders have any obligations beyond serving the interests of the stockholders and obeying the law? Do they have moral obligations to other "stakeholders" such as employees, consumers, suppliers, members of communities living near factories, et al.? In business as in other arenas of life, it's important for us to develop moral wisdom and moral courage:  wisdom to recognize when an ethical problem arises, as well as to make sound decisions in situations of moral conflict; and courage to do what we know is right even when there are strong pressures or incentives to do otherwise. 

ETH 238 - Ethics in Professional Life

Studying ethics in the professions can help you anticipate ethical issues, challenges and dilemmas before you encounter them personally. Some professions also have such profound impact on wider society that comprehending their influence is vital to being informed, responsible citizens, even if we ourselves are not members of those professions. The overall objectives of this course are:  to increase your awareness of a wide range of ethical challenges that can arise across several significant professions (such as medicine, law, and business management); to enable you to test the strengths and weaknesses of various moral beliefs and ethical arguments relevant to professional practices; and to reinforce your personal sense of compassion and fairness in the context of your future roles as professionals and citizens. 

ETH 239 - The Moral Status of Humans and Other Animals

There is a general consensus today that all people share a set of basic rights, or what might also be called full moral standing or status. But we are less likely to agree about the moral status of human beings at the edges of life, such as early embryos (may we use them to extract stem cells, or freeze them indefinitely?) and individuals who are permanently unconscious (should they be considered dead?). We also have not reached a consensus about the moral status of various non-human animals: Some cultures revere all living things, while others grant non-human animals little or no independent moral status at all. Some contemporary theorists argue that any sentient animals (capable of suffering) deserve to have their interests count in our moral deliberations; among them are many proponents of vegan and vegetarian diets who regard our treatment of food animals as unnecessarily cruel. A few philosophers go so far as to argue that highly intelligent animals like chimpanzees and dolphins have rights like ours, and should not be kept in zoos or used in biomedical experiments. This course will explore these and other fascinating ethical questions. 

HHV 120 - Introduction to Clinical Ethics

This course will introduce students to the history, evolution and current topics relevant in clinical ethics. Topics will include issues around birth, reproduction, organ donation, refusal of vaccinations and blood transfusions, experimental treatments, alternative medicine, euthanasia, physician assisted suicide, and issues around death. Students will navigate ethical principles from a theoretical perspective, such as autonomy (self-determination), beneficence, non-maleficence and justice. At the same time they will discuss these principles in practical applications through case analysis, and examine the tension between theory and practice. The course seeks to create awareness of the health care setting as an enterprise with different stakeholders and tensions, and to develop methods and analytical reasoning skills to discuss value-based conflicts in the health care setting.

HHV 390 - Health Care Ethics

This course is an introduction to the interdisciplinary nature of ethical thinking and decision making in health care. It has two components: didactic (lectures, class discussion, library research, paper writing, etc.) and "experiential," involving an externship assignment to a clinical or administrative department at the Carolinas Medical Center. Examples of externship activities include observing on clinical rounds, attending departmental conferences, journal clubs and Grand Rounds, and doing administrative projects.

HHV 391 - Research Ethics

This course provides students with a comprehensive overview of the responsible conduct of research. Students will learn the conventions for appropriate animal and human research. They will also develop critical thinking and moral reasoning skills to resolve situations that may arise during the course of research. The course will address the following topics: historical and social context of science; government oversight and regulation of research; guidelines for research involving animals; and guidelines for research involving human subjects. Special consideration will be given to topics where moral dilemmas in research are more likely to occur, including conflicts of interest, informed consent, confidentiality, data ownership and intellectual property, disclosure, and dissemination of results.

HHV 470 - Global Health Ethics

Global health ethics seeks to understand values and principles which guide medical and public health practice throughout the world. Particular attention will be given to health inequalities and how medicine and public health may work to resolve these problems. Students will apply ethical frameworks to identify and clarify the dilemmas posed intra- and internationally related to the study, prevention and treatment of disease. Ultimately, students will be able to analyze various courses of actions and their consequences and propose pragmatic and value-driven solutions to current global health concerns.

PHI 120 - Applied Ethics

Introduction to the philosophical analysis of contemporary moral controversies. Topics vary, and have included abortion, euthanasia, feminism, world hunger, business ethics, nuclear war, and human rights.

PHI 130 - Medical Ethics

Ethical analyses of: the patient-physician relationship; contraception, abortion, sterilization, artificial insemination, in-vitro fertilization, surrogate motherhood; euthanasia and the care of dying patients; refusal of medical treatment; use of "unorthodox" medical treatments; experimentation on human subjects; human genetic control; allocation of scarce medical resources; and health care delivery systems.

PHI 140 - Environmental Ethics

Introduction to ethical analysis of environmental values and decision-making. Likely topics include: 1) the value of different aspects of the environment including non-human animals, species, non-living natural objects, and ecosystems; 2) ethical analysis of different approaches to risk as this bears on environmental policy-making; 3) the moral merits and liabilities of institutions such as private property as applied to the natural environment. Instructor: Sean McKeever.

PHI 215 - Ethics

A critical introduction to theories of value and obligation, analysis of the meaning and function of moral language, and the relationship between morality and happiness. Instructor: Sean McKeever.

PHI 220 - Political Philosophy

Introduction to the philosophical evaluation of political power and the social and economic institutions through which it is exercised. Discussion of such questions as: What justification is there for government? What moral duties do citizens have? Are there moral limits to government authority? Analysis of such concepts as freedom, rights, justice, and equality. Instructor: Sean McKeever.

PHI 325 - Philosophy of Law

Analysis of the nature and function of law. Various theories of law, relation of law to morality, economic analysis of law. An assessment of the principles of legal reasoning and jurisprudence, emphasis on discussion of decided cases.

POL 202 - Classical Political Theory

Through a study of works by Aristophanes, Plato, and Aristotle, this course examines the Socratic revolution in the history of thought, why Socrates founded political philosophy, and the radical challenge that classical political philosophy poses to modern and contemporary political thought. Instructor: Peter Ahrensdorf.

POL 203 - Medieval Political Theory

Major political thinkers of medieval Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. Instructors: Peter Ahrensdorf and Brian Shaw.

POL 204 - Modern Political Theory

Leading political philosophers from the Renaissance to the latter part of the 19th century. Instructor: Brian Shaw.

POL 206 - Contemporary Political Theory

Major political philosophers from Nietzsche to the present. Instructor: Brian Shaw.

POL 304 - Foundations of Liberalism

Major political philosophers within the liberal tradition, including Locke, Kant, de Tocqueville, Mill, Hayek, and Rawls. Instructor: Brian Shaw.

POL 305 - Education and Politics

This course examines the proper political and moral education of aspiring leaders in works by Plato, Machiavelli, and Shakespeare. Instructor: Peter Ahrensdorf.

REL 150 - Introduction to Theological Ethics

An introduction to fundamental questions and methods of ethical inquiry and theological thinking on the moral life. Instructors: Andy Lustig and Doug Ottati.

REL 250 - Issues in Theological Ethics

A focused study of a given ethical issue and its theological significance. Topics to be studied may include medical ethics, justice and poverty, war and peace, the meaning of virtue, and civil rights. Instructor: Andy Lustig.

REL 252 - Prophetic Christianity in America

A study of the theological ethics that contributed to the Social Gospel, Christian Realism, and the Civil Rights Movement in America. Resources include works by Walter Rauschenbusch, Reinhold Niebuhr, and Martin Luther King, Jr., as well as some secondary texts, recordings, and films. Instructor: Doug Ottati.

REL 256 - Religion, Ethics, and Medicine

An introduction of basic themes, methods, and issues in religious bioethics. Exploration of ways that religious perspectives differ from, complement, or converge with secular approaches. Instructor: Andy Lustig.

REL 258 - Vocation of Citizen and Soldier

Theological and philosophical perspectives on civil government, war, and military service with readings from biblical and classical sources. Emphasis on recent essays on specific moral questions and issues. Instructor: Doug Ottati.

REL 350 - Reformed Theology and Ethics

A study of the signal and dynamic ideas, themes, and issues of the Reformed tradition in theology and ethics, with emphasis on the sovereignty of God, predestination, sin, grace, law, faithfulness, and political participation. Instructor: Doug Ottati.

REL 352 - Protestant and Roman Catholic Ethics

Compares and contrasts Protestant and Roman Catholic approaches to theological ethics. Analyzes the historical, conceptual, and methodological similarities and differences in the two traditions, applying their distinctive perspectives to several contemporary issues. Instructors: Andy Lustig and Doug Ottati.

REL 354 - Major Figures in Theology and Ethics

Each time it is offered this course explores the theology and ethics of a different major figure, e.g., Jonathan Edwards, Karl Barth, H. Richard Niebuhr, Paul Tillich, or James Gustafson. Instructor: Doug Ottati.

REL 357 - The Bible and Modern Moral Issues

Examines patterns of scriptural reasoning within Christianity in order to understand how the Bible has been put to use in ethical debates in the past and how it might be sensitively deployed in debates about modern moral issues. Instructor: Greg Snyder.

REL 376 - Islamic Ethics

Various modes of ethical thinking within Islam. Emphasis is on the philosophical, theological, and historical dimensions of Islamic ethics, with some attention given also to the applications of Islamic thought to contemporary ethical issues. Instructor: Rizwan Zamir.

WRI 101 - The Ethics and Technologies of Medicine

Writing involves more than putting pen to paper or fingertip to keyboard. It is a challenge that invites us to go beyond the mundane and the obvious to the intriguing complexities inherent in any subject. In this course, we will extend ourselves to this invitation by exploring the knotty, ethical issues that emerge in the patient-physician relationship and in the application of certain medical technologies; we will learn through practice the importance of critical thinking, reading, and writing, and how to combine the three in coherent and well-organized essays that fully grapple with the implications of our topics. Instructor: Onita Vaz-Hooper.