What We Study
As a student in the Philosophy, Law, and Ethics (PLE) program, you'll be part of a dynamic intellectual community. Students engage in coursework across many disciplines, including core philosophy courses taught by senior faculty with advanced degrees in law, economics, and philosophy.
Analyze classic and contemporary books.
When you study in PLE, you read and analyze a wide range of classic and contemporary books in small group discussions. Check out some of the titles we’ve studied over the last several years:
|Aristotle||Nicomachean Ethics; Politics|
|Charles Beitz||Political Theory and International Relations|
|Allen Buchanan||The Heart of Human Rights|
|Alexis De Tocqueville||Democracy in America|
|James Griffin||On Human Rights|
|Hamilton, Jay, Madison||Federalist Papers|
|H.L.A. Hart||The Concept of Law; Law, Liberty, and Morality|
|Immanuel Kant||Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals|
|Joshua Kassner||Rwanda and the Moral Obligation of Humanitarian Intervention|
|John Stuart Mill||Utilitarianism, On Liberty|
|Jacob Needleman||The American Soul: Rediscovering the Wisdom of the Founders|
|Robert Nozick||Anarchy, State, and Utopia|
|Robert Putnam||Better Together: Building the American Community|
|John Rawls||A Theory of Justice; The Law of Peoples|
|Mattias Risse||On Global Justice|
|Steven Scalet||Markets, Ethics, and Business Ethics|
|Henry Shue||Basic Rights|
|Houston Smith||The World’s Religions|
Read journal articles and shorter writings.
Students read journal articles and shorter writings covering many topics, including the following authors in recent years:
- Elizabeth Anscombe
- St. Thomas Aquinas
- Simon Caney
- Daniel Dennett
- Rene Descartes
- Phillipa Foot
- Thomas Hobbes
- David Hume
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
- John Locke
- Mary Midgely
- Thomas Nagel
- Derek Parfit
- Blaise Pascal
- Plato’s dialogues
- James Rachels
- John Searle
- Peter Singer
- Bonnie Steinbock
- Judith Jarvis Thompson
- Mary Ann Warren
- Bernard Williams
Discuss classic Supreme Court cases.
Class discussions incorporate classic Supreme Court cases, such as:
- Roe v. Wade
- Gonzales v. Oregon
- Gregg v. Georgia
- Citizens United v. FEC
- Snyder v. Phelps
- Kelo v. City of New London
- Wisconsin v. Yoder
- Skokie v. Illinois
- Griswold v. Connecticut
- and others.
Engage in philosophical ideas drawn from current events and pop culture.
Some courses integrate a subscription to the New York Times and other news sources to ground the study of philosophy and its fundamental ideas in current events. Other courses incorporate films, field trips, and various co-curricular programming. We even taught a class on the philosophy of Star Wars.
In these ways and others, PLE students become immersed in the study of fundamental social, political, legal, and ethical ideas.