The Ethics of Rights, Gender and Global Justice, East and West
General Catalog Course Title:
Topics in Religious Studies
Terms Offered:
Spring 2016
Spring 2011
Course Thread: 
Human Rights
Course Thread: 
Law & Humanities
Bilimoria, Purushottama

The course focuses on certain founding insights, principles and practical explications of the ethics of rights and ideas on justice, in both Western and Eastern traditions and in-between (Islamic, Chinese, African, Indigenous, Postcolonial). In part the course examines the foundational ideals in morality for cultural values, religious beliefs and practices, law, justice, rights, and ecological attitudes, as these have developed from classical to contemporary times. Following a survey of key Western moral systems in their respective philosophical and religious texts, including theories of practical ethics and liberalism, and their critiques, the course critically engages Indian ethics (Hindu, Buddhist-Jaina Dharma), and their responses to the subcontinent’s moral, social and legal challenges. Similar issues are examined in the context of the Confucian and Daoist debates in Chinese texts. The theoretical section will map the formative impact of competing ethical theories that have determined the culture, or have in turn been criticized and transformed in their respective intellectual and spiritual histories. The next section will focus on practical moral issues, notably the dialectic of communitarian constrains versus individual autonomy, hierarchic governance vs democratic/liberal processes, rights trumping rites (duties), patriarchy vs gender justice, virtues vs instrumental rationality, intuition vs normativity, national vs global needs, as well as bioethical, animal, ecological and environmental challenges in a rapidly globalizing world. How the cultures of East & West, have met these challenges, amidst diversity and plurality of communities, moral ideas, legal systems and practices is a question that will also inform the inquiry throughout. 

For more detailed information about classes, please visit the UC Berkeley Online Schedule of Classes.