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Global Justice: Health, Aid, and Human Rights

Course enrollment will be available for this course once it is scheduled.

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Course Description

Do we have duties to help the poor in other countries? Is every human being owed a human right to health as a basic moral entitlement? This course introduces students to the most important ethical debates about global politics. The course strongly appeals to students who are interested in ethics, political philosophy, public policy, and international relations.

This is the first part of a two-part course, each lasting two weeks. Students will benefit the most from taking both parts, but can opt to enroll in them separately. Part A covers issues of global poverty, health, and distributive justice. Malaria kills a child every thirty seconds in the developing world, according to the United Nations Children Fund. Do we have a moral duty to prevent and treat illness in other countries? Should we go further, and give aid to reduce poverty globally? Or should we give greater priority to people in our country?

After addressing issues of aid, we will turn to global distributive justice. While aid asks how much the wealthy should give to the poor, distributive justice examines how the economic structure distributes wealth and opportunity in the first place. For example, where you happen to be born greatly affects how well or badly your life goes. You will have far more wealth and opportunity if you are born in the United States or Australia instead of sub-Saharan Africa. Is this fair, or is it as morally arbitrary as your life chances being determined by your race or gender?

We will examine global distributive justice including: should there be global equality of opportunity? Should state borders be more open and immigration freer to allow the poor to seek better paying jobs? How should the earth’s resources be divided?

By the end of the course, students should develop:

  • A deeper understanding of the most important debates in global justice, as an introduction to further work in this field.
  • The ability to analyze arguments from political philosophy, taken from journal articles, scholarly books, and public policy case studies.
  • The skills to present a fair, informed, reasoned, and confident position in both written and verbal assignments.

These written assignments include position papers and a final course paper. The verbal assignments comprise presentations on the readings at the beginning of class, and debates between sections during class.

To learn the most in the course, students are recommended to follow the international news in the New York Times in the months leading up to the summer. A helpful book to read is One World by the Princeton philosopher Peter Singer.

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