Introductory Seminars for First-Year Students

Justice across Borders


Most people are not your fellow citizens. (Over 95% of human beings, for example, are not Americans.) What do you owe to them as a matter of justice? What do they owe to you?

Should you save a foreigner’s life instead of buying luxuries for yourself? Should you boycott ‘fast fashion’ produced by exploited workers abroad? Should universities divest from fossil fuels? How can a country like the United States justify forcefully preventing anyone from crossing its borders? Is anything absolutely prohibited to win a war?

When examining such issues, we need to start with facts—facts about poverty, inequality, climate change, immigration, etc. After surveying the basic facts, we will use philosophical readings to focus and deepen our discussions of what justice requires across borders. Some of the topics we discuss will be chosen on the basis of students’ interests.

Meet the Instructor(s)

Leif Wenar

"My last book was Blood Oil: Tyrants, Violence, and the Rules that Run the World—about why oil-producing countries are often afflicted by repression, corruption, and violence, and about how we can work to change this. I have also written philosophical articles on international development aid, on human rights, on whether and why democratic peoples do not go to war, and on the philosophy of John Rawls. In my spare time, I’ve run an NGO."