Instructor: Professor Steve Guglielmo

Course snapshot: This course explores how and why we make moral judgments about people and their behavior.

Why should I take this class? We make moral judgments all the time—we might condemn a politician’s behavior, view a corporation’s policies as immoral, or blame a friend for how they’ve treated us. This class investigates the psychological processes that underlie our moral judgments. When do we blame other people, and why? Are our moral judgments driven by emotion or by reasoning? Why is our own moral behavior sometimes inconsistent or hypocritical? We examine such questions in this class, first gaining a broad understanding of moral psychological processes, and then applying this understanding to specific topics like climate change, artificial intelligence, and criminal justice.

Pro tip: Be open to reevaluating your own moral beliefs. Students often take this class because they want to better understand other people’s moral beliefs. But learning more about the psychological underpinnings of morality inevitably leads to introspection and a re-examination of one’s own values and judgments.

Building community and staying connected: I designed the class so that students have many opportunities to discuss the material with a small and familiar group of students. They have small group discussions once a week, as well as discussions with a “buddy” (from their small group) once a week. Then we come together for a full-class discussion at the end of the week.

December 15 2020

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