Prof. David Haslett

24 Kent Way, Rm.205

Home Phone: 366-8579  


Fall, 2002











This course has two objectives.  The first is to provide some insight into what moral criteria should govern political decisions and, according to these criteria, what socioeconomic system is most justified for our society. The second main objective is to sharpen your skills at critically examining and debating social and political issues and, in general, at coming to well thought-out solutions of your own.





Your work in this course will consist of the following:  1.  reading assignments; 2.  class participation; and 3.  three tests.  These are explained below.



1.  Reading Assignments


Most of the readings are not difficult, if read carefully and with patience.  Class discussion each week will presuppose that all of the readings have been completed by everyone.  To benefit fully from this course, it is essential that you read the assignments and attend class regularly.  WARNING:  Although all of the readings present ideas and proposals that it is instructive for us to debate, many of these ideas and proposals, including those set out by Haslett, may not be justified.  Be careful not to be deceived by false ideas and bad proposals.  Read critically


The required texts are the following:


a.  Applied Social and Political Philosophy, ed. by Elizabeth Smith and H. Gene Blocker  (referred to here as "S & B")


b.  What It Means to Be a Libertarian, by Charles Murray                      


c.  Capitalism with Morality, by D. W. Haslett

2.  Class Participation


Class participation consists of the following: 

a.  Answering questions I ask in class about the readings and topic for the day.             


  b.  Asking questions about, or disagreeing with, views presented during class or in the readings .  NOTE:   Since many of my own views may not be justified, I especially encourage the expression of disagreement with my own views as presented in class and in the readings.   The more differing viewpoints we have debated in class, the more interesting the course will be for everyone, and more we are all likely to learn.


3.  Tests.


Each test will consist of multiple choice questions that cover all material assigned since the last test.  Test questions will come not just from material presented in the readings, but also from material that I present in class that goes beyond the readings.  Since many test questions will come from material presented only in class, it is important that you take good notes.  The dates for each test are set out below.






Note:  Our discussion of the topics below will often carry over somewhat into the following class meeting





Wednesday, Sept. 4:  Introduction



Friday, Sept. 6:  Democracy 


Reading:  Plato, “The Republic  (S & B, pp. 3-34)



Monday, Sept. 9:  (1)  Aid to the Starving;  (2) Relativism and Ethical Theory


Reading:    Singer, “The Famine Relief Argument,” S & B, pp. 456-65



Wednesday, Sept. 11:  Relativism and Ethical Theory


            No new reading assignment.


Friday, Sept 13:  Animal Rights  (Principle of Universalizability)


Reading:   Regan, “The Moral Basis of Vegetarianism,” S & B, pp. 382-95        



Monday, Sept 16   Direct (Act) Utilitarian Political Morality


Reading   Bentham, An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and                                            

                                     Legislation,  S & B, pp. 111-13



Wednesday, Sept. 18:  Indirect (Rule) Utilitarianism


            Reading:  Haslett, “Libertarianism,” pp. 47-54 only



Friday, Sept. 20:  Libertarian Political Morality


            Reading:  Murray, pp. 3- 59



Monday, Sept. 23:  Libertarian Political Morality—The Economy       


Reading:  Murray, pp.  60-78



Wednesday, Sept.  25:   A General Critique of Libertarianism


Reading:  1.  Haslett, “Libertarianism,” Secs. 2.6 through 2.8, pp. 73-86



Friday, Sept. 27:  Homosexuality and Prostitution


Reading:  Devlin, “The Enforcement of Morals,” S & B, pp. 252-61



Monday, Sept. 30:  Paternalism


Reading:  2.  Mill, “On Liberty,”  S & B, pp. 115-119—through first column              




Wednesday, Oct. 2:  Murray views on “Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll”


            Reading:  Murray, pp. 102-13



Friday, Oct. 4:  A Critique of Murray’s Views on Drugs


            No new reading assignment.



Monday, Oct. 7:  FIRST TEST







Wednesday, Oct. 9::  (1)  Anarchism; (2) The Duty to Obey the Law


            Reading:  Kropotkin, “Law & Authority,” S & B, pp. 146-53




Friday, Oct. 11:   Marxism 


Reading:  Marx, “Alienated Labor,” S & B, pp. 153-55



Monday, Oct. 14:  Marxism


Reading:   Marx and Engels,  Manifesto of the Communist Party,”  S &  B, pp.




Wednesday, Oct. 16:  Central Planning Socialism


Reading:   Haslett, “Central-Planning Socialism,” pp. 87-103



Friday, Oct. 18:  Central Planning Socialism—A Critique


            Reading:  Haslett, “Central-Planning Socialism,” pp103-35



Monday, Oct. 21:  Worker-Control Socialism


            Reading:  Haslett, “Worker Control,” pp. 136-50



Wednesday, Oct. 23:  Worker-Control Capitalism


Reading:   Haslett, “Worker Control,” pp. 150-169



Friday, Oct. 25:  Worker-Control Capitalism vs. Traditional Capitalism


            Reading:  Haslett,  Worker Control,” pp. 169-90



Monday, Oct. 28:  Socioeconomic Systems and Distributive Justice--Rawls


Reading:    Rawls, “A Theory of Justice,” S & B, pp. 194-210



Wednesday, Oct. 30:  A Critique of Rawls



Friday, Nov. 1:  Distributive Justice and Capitalism--Nozick


 Reading:   Nozick, “Anarchy, State and Utopia,” S & B, pp. 210-19



Monday, Nov. 4:  Distributive Justice as it relates to Equal Opportunity--Dwarkin


Reading:  Dworkin, “Why Liberals Should Care About Equality,” S & B, pp.  



Wednesday, Nov. 6:  Distributive Justice


            No new reading assignment



Friday, Nov. 8:             SECOND TEST





Monday, Nov. 11:  Freedom from Discrimination:  Defining “Discrimination”


No new reading assignment


Wednesday, Nov. 13:  Freedom from Discrimination:  Civil Rights Legislation


Readings:  1.  Murray, pp. 79-89


      2.  Bork, “Civil Rights—A Challenge,” S & B, pp. 336-38


      3.  New Republic Editors, “Civil Rights--a Reply,” S & B, p. 339



Friday, Nov. 15:  Freedom from Discrimination:  Affirmative Action 


Reading:    Mosely, “In Defense of Affirmative Action,” S & B, pp. 431-38



Monday, Nov. 18:  Freedom from Discrimination:  Affirmative Action


            No new reading assignment



Wednesday, Nov. 20:  Equal Opportunity


Reading:   Haslett,  Capitalism with Equal Opportunity,” pp 235-57 only



Friday, Nov. 22:  Equal Opportunity


            Reading:  Haslett, “Capitalism with Equal Opportunity,” pp. 257-63



Monday, Nov. 25:  Abolishing Poverty


Readings:  1.  Murray, pp. 124-38


2.  Haslett,  Capitalism without Poverty,” Sections 5.1 through 5.5,         

     pp. 191-212



Wednesday, Nov. 27:  Equal Access to Necessities


Reading:  Haslett, “Capitalism without Poverty,” Sections 5.6 through 5.8, pp.




Friday, Nov. 29:  Thanksgiving Holiday



Monday, Dec. 2.  Equal Access to Necessities


Reading:  Haslett, “Capitalism without Poverty,  Section 5.9, pp. 228-34



Wednesday, Dec. 4:  Free Speech;


Readings:   1.  Mill, “On Liberty,” S & B, pp. 119-123 to first new paragraph



2.  Humphrey and Bork, “U.S. Senate Hearings on Flag Desecration,”  

    S & B, pp. 281-84



Friday, Dec. 6:  National Security:  Understanding and Preventing Terrorism


            Reading:  Imam Khomeini, “Islam and Revolution,  S & B, pp. 519-26



Monday, Dec. 9:  A Clean Environment


            Reading:  Murray, pp. 114-23



Wednesday, Dec. 11:  Conclusion


            No new reading assignment



Thursday, Dec. 19, 1:00 to 3:00:  THIRD TEST