Unit Overview

In these last two weeks we take a look at some of the biggest challenges we face looking ahead in building a more just world. These are dealing with the staggering levels of extreme poverty around the globe. Facing the challenge of reducing or eliminating war. And develop an ethic and political system that protects the environment that we all depend on for our survival. The Steven Pinker reading and video are summaries of his book The Better Angels of Our Nature which looks at the levels of violence in the world as related to historical levels. Evidence shows that violence has declined dramatically. Pinker also attempts to look at the causes of why violence has declined.

The essays we look at on each topic only take up one small aspect of these very large and complex issues. In the first essay Peter Singer argues that those of us in affluent countries have a moral obligation to donate to charity. Douglass Lackey looks at the traditional arguments that have been used to justify when it is morally appropriate to go to war. And Paul Taylor outlines a Kantian argument for why we ought to protect the environment.


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