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PROVIDENCE COLLEGE School of Continuing Education

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In a society sans government [a 'State of Nature'], people may attack each other. And, fearing each other's attacks, they have motives for pre-emptive strikes. Hobbes thought that the need to escape from this spiral of fear and war made
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  -1- PROVIDENCE COLLEGE School of Continuing Education Philosophy of Violence (PHL 470)   “ Another trap [making war inescapable] was noticed by Thucydides in the Peloponnesian War: ‘What made war unavoidable was the growth of Athenian power and the fear this caused in Sparta.’ His book’s first  English translation was by Thomas Hobbes, who used his own experience to write a history of the English Civil War. His political theory generalized from the Spartan fear of Athenian power. In a society without government (a ‘State of Nature’) people may attack each other. And, fearing each other’s attacks, they have motives for pre- emptive strikes. Hobbes thought that the need to escape from this spiral of fear and war made it rational to accept an absolute ruler strong enough to impose peace.” -- Jonathan Glover, Humanity: A Moral History of the Twentieth Century.   Preface to 2nd Edition (YALE, 2012). Fall, 2016 Location: Feinstein Center, Room 207 / HYBRID [CDL] COURSE 9/3/2016 – 12/17/2016 • Saturdays, 9:30 am to Noon Online: 9/3, 9/10, 9/24, 10/8, 10/22, 10/29, 11/5, 11/12, 12/3, 12/17. On Campus: 9/17, 10/1, 10/15, 11/19, & 12/10. Instructor: David A. Buehler, Ph.D. davebuehler@providence.edu Office Hours: Thursday by appointment OR Skype: < david_buehler_phd > Grading:  The Letter Grade is based on Written Essays, Term Project, Exams, Oral Disputation, Forum discussions, and Weekly Participation in class Discussion. I.   Rationale: Decades ago, H. ‘Rap’ Brown (aka  Jamil Abdullah al-Amin   ) said that " Violence is as  American as cherry pie  ."  Thus did emerge a powerful and compelling theme in our culture in news media, entertainment, the arts, and a major concern of educators and ethicists. Terrorism (both domestic and imported), Unabomber, Jonesboro, Littleton, Virginia Tech, Aurora; Sandy Hook, CT; Oak Creek; Tucson; Radical Jihadism  : San Bernardino, Brussels, Paris, Nice, Wurzburg, Road Rage, Workplace Rage, Parental Sports Rage, Genocide, “Eye in the Sky” and a century saturated by global warfare all reveal pandemic Global Violence today. This course offers a comprehensive survey of recent trends in the study of violence, as well as its prevention and  -2- control. A multidisciplinary approach to the topic will examine the philosophical roots of  violence, theoretical concepts of violence, contemporary developments in research, and humane  ways of dealing with violence as a social problem or cultural artifact. Thinkers introduced in this course include Aristotle, Arendt, Augustine, Aquinas, Himes, Hobbes, Murdoch, Neiman, McCabe, Nietzsche, Plaw, Rorty, Sun Tzu, and Weil. At every point in the course, learners will be challenged to nurture the habit of reflective moral reflection upon everyday moral problems. Fresh approaches to question about War and Violence, Good and Evil are explored through military cases, research, and concrete examples drawn from history drawn from the Classical Era down to the present. II. Course Aims and Outcomes: Aims In the most general terms, PHL 470 is designed as a course in the fields of Philosophy & Ethics  in order to allow students to critically evaluate Violence both orally and in writing, examining in detail the historic relationship between Violence & our Humanity, a manifestation of both Good and Evil in the cosmos. Of particular interest in the dialogue between Violence & Non-Violence is the way in which each succeeding generation, along with successor Traditions  within spirituality &   religion, tends to re-examine both the nature of the Good and the Problem of Evil in light of human conflict. Both non-theologians and non-philosophers have attempted to proclaim a new atheism, yet the ongoing debate on the nature of Good, God, and Evil has not been essentially changed or curtailed by this trend. PHL 470 will therefore focus on both classic and modern approaches to the nature of Good & Evil, seen through the experience of humanity during the violent XXth century in the recent past. Core Objectives: • PHL 470 will focus primarily on the analysis of philosophical questions, arguments, and perspectives. • PHL 470 will provide students with the opportunity to trace evolving philosophies of both violence and nonviolence, by explaining analyzing, and evaluating philosoph ical questions, arguments, and /or perspectives. • PHL 470 will demonstrate how understanding philosoph ical concepts helps to illuminate contemporary moral issues and moral dilemmas, chiefly in light of both Ancient and Modern Catholic Social Teaching.  -3- Specific Learning Outcomes:   By the end of this course, students will be more able to: • Better articulate the place of the human person within the Judeo-Christian Tradition. • Clearly understand the philosophical roots of all human violence, as well as the dynamics of effective moral decision-making processes. • Explore philosophical approaches to War from Sun Tzu to the present. • Examine the historical shape of institutionalized violence, war and pacifism. • Explore the Philosophy of Spectacle, the Stadium, & violence as cultural catharsis • Learn how to identify the influences of Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas, Arendt, Murdoch, Neiman, Weil, and others on the 21 st  Century view of violence and nonviolence. • Refine one’s own moral vocabulary for speaking about Violence today in light of the above as  well as one’s own applied moral philosophy.  Note: This class does not fulfill the Undergraduate PHL Core Requirements for Day Students. (It can be taken as an elective, but not towards the Undergraduate Core Requirement.)  Your Final Term Project  Throughout the term, much of your time will be spent writing essays, especially on case studies of both good and evil violent actions taken by people like yourself, including historic atrocities in  wartime. In all, each student will write the equivalent six to ten essays of at least two pages each, as well as the team-based Debate on Violence. About one half of this writing will be Short Essays and the other half will be prepared (I will present Study Guides for both Exams and the Final Term Project.) This means that each student will be expected to produce approx. 30 or more pages of writing or the equivalent of approx. 12,000 words [Times New Roman 12].  Written Total = 12,000 words = approx. 30+ pages [ http://www.wordstOPages.com/ ]   Two concerns I have about your writing:  ACADEMIC INTEGRITY   - With so much writing ahead of you, prioritize all of your assignments  and monitor   syllabus deadlines , proper citing of sources, and appropriate vs. inappropriate paraphrasing. Last minute cramming may lead to academic misconduct, or an assignment that compromises acceptable writing standards.  ACADEMIC SUPPORT   – Everyone has access to the Office of Academic Services (OAS) which offers individual help and study workshops throughout the year. The Writing Center is  -4- available to help students at any stage in the writing process, from the outset to your final edit. [ See VI, below .]   III. Format and Procedures Classes will meet weekly Online (TEN weeks) and also FIVE times on campus from 9:30 a.m. to Noon Saturday [  see  p. 1 for dates   ].   Perfect attendance [logged weekly] assures comprehensive learning. If your schedule ever conflicts with   a session, notify me one week in advance via SAKAI Message and I will attempt to help you manage your absence. [There may be a break within a class, but this is no excuse for absence.] Since none of us is as smart as all of us, your    presence in class is vital for class discussion and dialogue. Since most of us are employed in multiple activities, I expect you to notify me in   advance via SAKAI if you ever expect to be tardy or absent for any reason.  Again, your involvement in class is expected and   needed for discussion, dialogue, and debate. Since many moral and ethical discussions will elicit a wide range of differing perceptions and moral opinions, it is essential that all students take part in the giving and sharing of honest feedback, even in areas of ethical controversy. This is especially true in our brief Quodlibet  discussions, but it applies to classroom civility and the desire for due process and fair treatment of all. As a team activity, your DEBATE  will require close cooperation by all teammates and a common concern for teamwork responsibility in the planning, composition, and presentation of your  Argument . Each team will elect a captain and co-captain, and I will consult with these members of your team to determine if the burden of responsibility is shared by all with equity.  This will include a team self-evaluation.  Your Final Term Project   is designed by you as an entirely srcinal capstone summary of your vision and  values for living with courage in a world that has become fundamentally challenged by violence, terrorism, and genocide—as well as a culture that celebrates violence in all its media. This Project may based on your study of courageous exemplars of nonviolence, or examples of violence drawn from the medias in any form, or even fictional discussions of human violence by writers such as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Cormac McCarthy, and others. I will expect you to declare the subject of your Final Term Project  no later than week Four of the Course so that you can begin working on it at home or in the Library as soon as we go online in late September.  W atch for P roject D eadlines [  W eek O NE].   IV. My Assumptions My first and central assumption is that every student will intend   to attend to this course in order to meet all of our objectives. This does not simply mean physical presence in a room. I expect that you will listen and respond to all you learn from classroom colleagues [in class or online], including me. To attend to an Other is to not just to listen but also to actively listen to  what the other person is saying. Ideally this means you could, if asked, repeat back to the other person  what s/he has just said, to their satisfaction. If you applied this rule to everyone in your social network, this would require you to practice true Moral Transparency .  -5-  The Second   assumption I make is that none of us is as smart as all of us , hence your focus on this course is vitally needed for discussion and dialogue.  The Third   assumption of mine is that our shared moral, philosophical, and ethical discussions undoubtedly elicit a wide range of differing perceptions or moral opinions. Thus it is essential that all students take part in the giving and sharing of open feedback  --even on controversial topics. This is especially true in the brief quodlibetals , but it applies to all classroom civility and our desire for due process and fair treatment of all.  V. Course Requirements: 1.   Class attendance and participation policy: Whenever   your schedule conflicts with this class, please notify me in advance via email and I will attempt to help you manage your absence. [There may be a break at mid-class, but this is no excuse for later absence.] As noted above, your presence in class is vital for class discussion and dialogue. Since many of us are employed in multiple activities, I expect you to notify me in advance via SAKAI if you expect to be tardy or absent for any reason .  (I often save about the last half hour of classes for open discussion of where we’ve been and where we’re heading next.) To contact me: Tel. 508-994-7907 (home) or 774-305-2295 (voicemail), OR email me  VIA SAKAI   [If you do not utilize SAKAI, I may miss your message.] However, if you cannot reach me, you may also try my two forwarding email addresses: davebuehler@post.harvard.edu   OR  davebuehler@providence.edu   I am happy to meet with you prior to class Saturday or anytime via Skype or Facetime . 2a. Required Readings:    ___________________________________________________________________________ Allman, Mark J. Who Would JESUS Kill?   Anselm, 2008. ISBN-13: 978-0-884899846  ___________________________________________________________________________ Baron-Cohen, Simon. Zero Degrees of Empathy. Penguin, 2012. ISBN-13: 978-0-141017969  ___________________________________________________________________________ Himes, Kenneth, OFM. Drones & The Ethics of Targeted Killing.  ISBN-13: 978-1-442231566  ___________________________________________________________________________  Junger, Sebastian. TRIBE: On Homecoming & Belonging  . ISBN-13: 978-1443449588  __________________________________________________________________________   (  A longer list of Suggested Readings will be distributed in Class  .)
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