PHIL451 SP24

Liberty and Justice: Race, Ethnicity, and Gender in American Law
Dr. Amanda Trefethen
Tuesdays  ·  7:00pm–9:45pm  ·  LA5–246
GE/GR areas: upper-division C (humanities), WI (writing), HD

This course will examine the nature of philosophical concepts, such as liberty, justice, and equality, against the backdrop of the treatment of marginalized groups in American law. Through the study of numerous legal cases and philosophical works, we will look at how the law has identified and distinguished different groups on the basis of race, ethnicity, and gender; how these distinctions have been justified and implemented under the law; and how it is the law has come to reject differential treatment on these bases. In the process, we will ask various questions relevant to contemporary moral problems such as: what is justice? Is race real? What is it for citizens to be equal under the law? When should differences matter? Do we have a duty to compensate for the wrongs of the past?

We will be reading philosophical texts by John Stuart Mill, Naomi Zack, John Rawls, Martha Minow, Frederick Douglass, Susan Okin, Martin Luther King Jr., Catherine MacKinnon, Mari Matsuda, Anthony Appiah, and Thomas Nagel, among others. Students will also get an introduction on how to read and analyze U. S. Supreme Court cases.

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