The Ethics of Love

Spring 2017
TH 3:30pm - 5:20pm
Area II
Permission Required
Limited Enrollment
Course Description: 
Course Description
Jesus calls those who follow him beloved. He enjoins them to love God above all and to love their neighbors as themselves. He also calls them friends and encourages them to love the unlovable and befriend the friendless—the outcast, the outsider, the unclean. But what is love? What stirs us to love, what transforms our loves, what makes us beloved? What are the joys of love, its benefits and charms, and what are the dangers of love, its threats and its tyrannies? What about friendship? Is friendship love? What is a friend? Are friendship and love compatible or does the particularity of the former threaten the universal trajectory of the latter? Can love be commanded? Can it be due? Can one be obliged to befriend another or do such demands undermine the spontaneity of friendship? This course will investigate several prominent attempts to answer these questions. We will begin with the famous replies of Plato and Aristotle before considering how some ancient, medieval, and modern Christians have adapted their accounts in effort to speak truthfully about the nature and significance of love in the Christian moral life. 
Course Objectives
1) To gain a critical understanding of fundamental concepts and vocabularies inherent in philosophical and theological accounts of love and friendship.
2) To become familiar with, and to reflect critically on, some ongoing disputes over these concepts and vocabularies and their significance for the work of Christian ethics.
3) To cultivate facility in bringing these elements to bear on contemporary issues of public concern.
Background Expected: 

Prerequisite:  REL 615a or REL 615b or REL 631 or strong background in theological and/or philosophical disciplines.

Course Requirements: 

To pass this course students must: (1) carefully prepare for and responsibly participate in our weekly seminar discussion, which each student must initiate on one occasion with a brief presentation [15%]; (2) submit one question per week to the online discussion forum [15%]; (3) complete one 15-20 page paper [70%].

Basis of Evaluation: 

See directly above.