I teach courses on the history of political thought, contemporary liberalism, global justice and international law. Here are some of the courses I have taught over the past few years.
The Philosophy of International Law. Should the US obey international law? Is international law really ‘law?’ It is just? Who should enforce it? What kinds of values should it reflect and what kinds of institutions should support it? Is it merely an expression of Western values or is it universal? This advanced course discusses the nature, sources, justification, and effects of international law. We use international law cases to tackle complicated philosophical and empirical questions about the character of international law. The readings blend analyses of core areas of public international law and classical texts in the philosophy of law.
Global Poverty and Justice. The course covers the nature, justification and limits of rights and responsibilities to reduce poverty across borders. The main focus of the course is normative, that is what "should" individuals, governments, or international institutions do about poverty. The course however has an interdisciplinary approach to the study of normative questions.
Introduction to Political Thought. Is the purpose of government to make you free, virtuous or to keep you safe? Is it to create and guarantee equality? What is the best form of government, or does such a thing exist? Where does liberal democracy come from? What kind(s) of freedom does it produce? In this course we investigate a series of debates about freedom and its relation to equality, justice and good government in the writings of key figures of political thought in classical and modern times. We will ascertain the relevance of their work for us today by connecting them to a number of contemporary debates. Our investigation will focus on four themes. 1. Freedom in relation to political obligation and civil disobedience in Plato, Thoreau, and Martin Luther King, Jr. 2. Freedom, virtue and the public good in Aristotle and Aquinas. 3. The social contract as a condition of individual freedom in Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau. 4. Commercial society, freedom and social progress in Marx, Smith and Mill.
Morality, Law and the State. Students explore the importance of moral reasoning to the study of legal and political institutions of the modern state. The course starts with basic questions about the values and principles enshrined in the law, and the justification for limitations on the authority of the state over the individual, and concludes with incursions into particular public policy areas.
Liberalism and its Critics. The course covers contemporary debates to illuminate the character, desirability and limits of liberal theory. Is liberalism the best theory about the role of government? What are its plausible alternatives? What kinds of values and principles does a commitment to liberalism entail? Does liberalism require respect for cultural diversity? Does it require respect for non-liberal cultures? Must the state make its citizens liberal? We reflect on these central issues in political philosophy through a rigorous and careful analysis of influential philosophical texts and the way they inform debates of special contemporary relevance.