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Why is it so hard for human beings to live in peace?
Why is our culture increasingly polarized between opposite views on important moral questions?
What is our responsibility to others?
What do our brains have to do with our judgments about Us and Them?
How can you develop your own ethical stance and also respect people who think differently from you?

24.s10 Spring 2009 Undergraduate Ethics Seminar

Getting Beyond Us and Them: Living Ethically in a Complex World

Mondays from 3:30-5:00 pm
Location: 24-622
ES.S40 (6 credits; P/F)

In this lively, interactive seminar, students read excerpts of Joshua Greene’s book Moral Tribes: Emotion, Reason and the Gap Between Us and Them. The seminar kicked off with a public forum with Dr. Greene and Dr. Emile Bruneau (MIT SaxeLab) in early February. We deepened our conversations with invited guests, video resources, and short articles from history, cognitive science and philosophy.

Students were required to prepare 3, one-page reflections and present a 5-minute presentation/reflection on one moral dilemma that mattered to them and how the readings, discussions, and guests influenced their thoughts. Questions included: Where do I draw the line between what is or is not my responsibility? What are my responsibilities to the greater good? How much can mainstream society accommodate people with special needs, and at what cost? How can we avoid using harmful stereotypes in fundraising efforts?