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Honors Core Seminar on Ethics and Globalization

Fall 2011


In your journal you need to respond to all of the following questions.  You should also include your responses to any events for which you would like participation credit.  In addition,, you may also write on anything else that is relevant to the class.  In particular, your responses to current events would make a good addition.


1.  Explain how an advocate of World Systems theory would argue against modernization theory.  Discuss why you agree or disagree with the arguments you explain.


2.  Evaluate Locke's proposal about how land might be justly claimed in the state of nature.  (If you are more ambitious, and if you don't agree with Locke, you might also explain your view on how land might be justly claimed.)


3.  Using Locke's formulation regarding just acquisition of land, conquest and subjugation, was the conquest of the America's, as described in Marks, a just acquisition? Could one apply any of his ideas in support of the indigenous people's right to revolution or resistance to European control?  Need only look at Spanish conquest of the Aztec and Inca and what followed.


4.  Locke and Marx are both advocates of "freedom" as a central value.  Describe the different ways in which they understand this concept.  Then present and defend your own view.  (Please note that Marx's view cannot be understood outside the context of the theory of alienation.)


5.  Consider Marks' The Origins of the Modern World as a whole.  What was your general response to this book?  Discuss what you found valuable or problematic in this book.  Also discuss whether you  think that he is presenting a convincing case against modernization theory.

6.  How does Marx's Theory of Ideology relate to your understanding of the debate between Modernization Theorists and World Systems/Dependency Theorists?  Does it provide any insights into the dominance of Modernization in American/Western Culture?

7.  Marks describes the 20th century as the "American Century."  How has the rise of the United States to Core status in the global system impacted development in the 3rd world? 
What is your reaction to his analysis?
8.  Consider the contrast between Rawls' liberalism and Nozick's libertarian conservatism.  Which theory do you support?  What do you see as its strengths?  Having presented this, answer the
 arguments put forward by the opposing theorist.  Of course, you may reject both of these theories.  In this case, show what is wrong with both of these theories.
9.  Do you think that a philosophically consistent libertarian conservative would support neoliberalism as described by Harvey?  Why or why not?  Provide specific arguments.
10. Harvey describes the neoliberal project as an effort by the "ruling class" to regain power they had ceded during the era of Liberalism. Do you agree 
with his assessment based on what we have studied to date? While Rich and a few others have commented on this push for neoliberal policies as a "conspiracy," 
it is clear that much of the efforts to convince the public that this is the best option for everyone's well-being has been out in the open or at least known.
Perhaps it reflects a recognition by capitalists that the best way for them to preserve their interests is to band together as a class to promote neoliberalism.
Why, in your view, has the "working class" not responded in kind? Why have they been unable to galvanize class solidarity to counter the neoliberal project? 

11. Which of the philosophers studied thus far regarding "distributive justice" best explains the developments mentioned in the preceding question? Why? 

12. What is your initial evaluation of Schweickart's proposal for economic democracy?
13. Give your final evaluation of Schweickart.  Consider both the ethics and the economic practicality of his proposals.
14. Write about your reactions to the film Inside Job that we viewed in class.

15.  The United States has been involved in the Middle East for the past 60 years.  Based on your understanding of the foreign policy perspectives discussed in class, which one of the perspectives has been dominant among American foreign policy makers? Whom have these policies benefitted? What is your view? Has US policy benefited Americans, those in the Muslim world, both, or neither? Do you see yourself as a Realist, Idealist or Marxist? Why?


16.  Franz Fanon argues that the structures of Imperialism in the colonized world are violent. He redefines how we think of violence. Do you agree with his definition of violence? Why? Why not? Given your perspective, would/could a "violent" response by the colonized seeking independence ever be justified?

17.  Evaluate Gandhi's arguments against violence.  Give your views and philosophically defend them.


18.  Evaluate the justice of the U.S. military action against Iraq.  Before writing this, you may want to read the article on "War" in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.  This journal entry should show knowledge of the situation in Iraq as well as the ability to apply an ethical theory.

19. In evaluating Cole's overall argument throughout the book, what do you think has been the dominant foreign policy perspective (Realist, Idealist,
Marxist and variations within each) guiding US intervention in the Muslim World?  Do you think that such an approach served the United States and
the people's of the region well? Do you think the behavior has been ethical? Please explain.

20. Vandana Shiva provides a critique of Economic Globalization and provides an alternative model of "Living Economies" What is her ethical
critique of economic/corporate globalization? How does a Living Economy reflect her underlying ethical position(s) and what is your reaction to
her proposal? Do you think it is achievable?
21.  Compare Vandana Shiva's concept of earth democracy to the principles of deep ecology developed by Naess and Sessions.  Which do you prefer?  Why?
22. If you have additional evaluations to make of Cole's book or Shiva's book please add these.
23.  Looking back over the entirety of the semester, how have your views developed or changed?  (If you would like to discuss your reaction to current events, including the Arab Spring or the Occupy Movement, this would be fine.)
24.  Don't forget to include your event reactions (both required and extra credit) as well as your proofs of attendance.




Author: Hollace Graff
Oakton Community College
Updated: November 15, 2011