Course 9 teaches how to reason carefully about the tension between individual rights and the common good. In Unit 1, students see that scientific expertise cannot by itself address moral and political problems, and that intelligent discussion of these problems requires being open to traditional philosophical and religious truths. In Unit 2, documents from the American Founding and related texts are introduced to introduce the Founders’ way of thinking about individual rights and the common good. In Unit 3, contemporary debates about the meaning and scope of “rights” to show how we still benefit from the Founders’ careful thought, which drew both upon the Enlightenment and more traditional sources of understanding the common good.
The words of Presidents Obama and Bush are considered regarding fundamental questions of science and morality in the stem cell debate. Alexis de Tocqueville’s “dogmatic beliefs” are introduced, leading to a discussion of whether Americans share any fundamental beliefs.
Contemporary debates help us consider the meaning and scope of rights and how we still benefit from the Founders’ understanding, which drew upon both the Enlightenment and more traditional sources of understanding.
The words of John Locke and other documents from the American Founding bring to light the Founders’ way of reconciling individual rights and more traditional questions of the common good.
The Federalist Papers, speeches from Lincoln & British statesman Edmund Burke, in addition to G. K. Chesterton & Seymor Lipset, help us consider what it means to be an American people