ETHICS 497: Capstone Seminar: Polarization and Morality

Spring 2019

Instructor: Walter Sinnott-Armstrong

This intensive senior seminar is the capstone for the Ethics & Society Certificate. Students in this course choose a topic, read about and discuss that topic and then write a book together on that topic, editing each other’s chapters. Students bring together interdisciplinary insights from previous work in the certificate program and work collaboratively to produce their book. Instructor consent required. This course is only open to seniors pursuing the Ethics & Society Certificate.

In Spring 2018, students in this course will ask: What makes people so antagonistic when they disagree about certain moral and political issues? Can we ever understand people who hold fundamentally different moral views than our own? Can we ever convince them or be convinced by their arguments? Have the internet and social media contributed to polarization? Is it any easier to communicate across racial or religious boundaries? Some African-Americans have befriended white supremacists, but how did they do it? Should they do it?

Each student in the class could compose a chapter about one controversial issue that divides us, about one barrier in the way of understanding and communication between groups, about one method for overcoming polarization or increasing mutual understanding or about empirical studies of sources of and changes in polarization about moral issues.

Curriculum Codes

EI, R, W