In the fall of 2017, I’ll be teaching PHIL 4998 Virtues and Vices. Here’s a course description:
This course will examine the nature and structure of virtue and vice (moral and intellectual). In the first half of the course, we’ll examine several theories of what makes something a virtue or a vice. Does this depend on the motives of the trait in question? The consequences of acting on those motives? Both? Neither? Why? In the second half of the course, we’ll apply the theories we’ve been studying to three short, readable books: (1) Assholes: A Theory, by Aaron James; (2) On Bullshit, by Harry Frankfurt; and (3) Becoming Human, by Jean Vanier. Our reading of the first two books will prompt questions like: What exactly is an asshole or a bullshitter? What vices do these people exhibit? In what way are these qualities defective? Our reading of the third book will allow us to reflect on virtues like as love, humility and forgiveness. Here we’ll consider questions like: What exactly are these qualities? Why are they good? Are they signs of weakness or strength? What bearing do they have on intellectual activities (e.g. on inquiry or intellectual disagreement)?