Dan Brudney

Dan Brudney
Florin Harrison Pugh Professor, Director of Undergraduate Studies (2023-24)
Stuart Hall, Room 218
Office Hours: Winter Quarter: Mondays, 1:00 - 3:00 pm
773.702.7546
Harvard University PhD (1985) and BA (1976)
Teaching at UChicago since 1985
Research Interests: Political Philosophy, Philosophy and Literature, Bioethics and Philosophy of Religion

Daniel Brudney is Professor in the Department of Philosophy and the College; Associate Faculty in the Divinity School; Associate Faculty, MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics. He writes and teaches in political philosophy, philosophy and literature, bioethics, and philosophy of religion. He is the author of Marx's Attempt to Leave Philosophy (Harvard, 1998).

Selected Publications

“On Productivity Holism,” European Journal of Philosophy, online March 2022, forthcoming

Nostromo and Negative Longing,” Philosophy and Literature, forthcoming

“Changing the Question,” Hastings Center Report, March-April, 2019

“Two Marxian Themes:  The Alienation of Labour and the Linkage Thesis,” in Jan Kandiyali ed., Reassessing Marx’s Social and Political Philosophy: Freedom, Capitalism, and Human Flourishing, Routledge, 2018

“The Breadth of Moral Character,” in Garry Hagberg ed., Fictional Characters, Real Problems:  Essays on the Ethical Content of Literature, Oxford University Press, 2016

“Agency and Authenticity: Which Value Grounds Patient Choice?” (with John Lantos), Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics, vol. 32, no. 4, 2011

“Are Alcoholics Less Deserving of Liver Transplants?” Hastings Center Report, January-February 2007, reprinted in J. Parks and Victoria Wilke eds., Bioethics in a Changing World, Pearson 2009

“Justifying a Conception of the Good Life:  The Problem of the 1844 Marx,” Political Theory, vol. 29, no. 3, June 2001; published in German as “Zur Rechtfertigung einer Konzeption des guten Lebens beim frühen Marx,” Deutsche Zeitschrift für Philosophie, no. 3, 2002

Lord Jim and Moral Judgment:  Literature and Moral Philosophy,” The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, vol. 56, no. 3, Summer 1998

“Knowledge and Silence:  The Golden Bowl and Moral Philosophy,” Critical Inquiry, vol. 16, no. 2, Winter 1990

Recent Courses

PHIL 22202 Modern Social Contract Theory

Since the 17th century, the social contract has been a central metaphor to characterize the conditions under which political authority is legitimate.  However, the content of the social contract and its imagined mode of coming into being have varied widely.  In this course we will try to delineate the conditions that might make the concept of a social contract a plausible way to justify political authority.  We will read Hobbes, Rousseau, Kant, and Rawls.  We will focus on these writers’ conceptions of the person, on their views of how such conceptions generate specific institutional arrangements, and on their accounts of the justification of state power. (A)

2023-2024 Winter
Category
Social/Political Philosophy

PHIL 29902 Senior Seminar II

Students writing senior essays register once for PHIL 29901, in the Autumn Quarter, and once for PHIL 29902, in the Winter Quarter. The Senior Seminar meets for two quarters, and students writing essays are required to attend throughout.

Consent of Director of Undergraduate Studies. Required and only open to fourth-year students who have been accepted into the BA essay program.

PHIL 22702 Abortion: Morality, Politics, Philosophy

(BPRO 22700, GNSE 22705, HIPS 22701, HLTH 22700, HMRT 22702)

Abortion is a complex and fraught topic. Morally, a very wide range of individual, familial, and social concerns converge upon it. Politically, longstanding controversies have been given new salience and urgency by the Dobbs decision and the ongoing moves by state legislatures to restrict access to abortion. In terms of moral philosophy, deep issues in ethics merge with equally deep questions about the nature of life, action, and the body. In terms of political philosophy, basic questions are raised about the relationship of religious and moral beliefs to the criminal law of a liberal state. We will seek to understand the topic in all of this complexity. Our approach will be thoroughly intra- and inter-disciplinary, drawing not only on our separate areas of philosophical expertise but on the contributions of a series of guest instructors in law, history, and medicine. (A)

Third or fourth-year standing.

2023-2024 Autumn
Category
Social/Political Philosophy

PHIL 29901 Senior Seminar I

Students writing senior essays register once for PHIL 29901, in the Autumn Quarter, and once for PHIL 29902, in the Winter Quarter. The Senior Seminar meets for two quarters, and students writing essays are required to attend throughout.

Consent of Director of Undergraduate Studies. Required and only open to fourth-year students who have been accepted into the BA essay program.

PHIL 21609 Topics in Medical Ethics

(BIOS 29314, BPRO 22612, HIPS 21609, HLTH 21609)

Decisions about medical treatment and medical policy often have profound moral implications. Taught by three philosophers, a physician, and a medical lawyer, this course will examine such issues as paternalism, autonomy, informed consent, assisted suicide, abortion, organ markets, distributive justice in health care, and pandemic ethics. (A)

Third or fourth year standingThis course does not meet requirements for the Biological Sciences major.

2022-2023 Winter
Category
Ethics

PHIL 21403 Locke and Rousseau

(FNDL 20205)

John Locke’s political philosophy contributed mightily to the English and American constitutions.  It is still a significant force in modern debates about rights and the criteria of political legitimacy.  We begin the course with Locke’s Second Treatise of Government and go on to read his important “A Letter Concerning Toleration.”  Issues to be addressed include Locke’s conception of the state of nature, his explanation of the need for a political society, and his justifications of economic inequality and the right of revolution.

We then turn to a very different writer, Jean-Jacques Rousseau.  Rousseau has been read as defending, among other things, liberalism, totalitarianism, civic republicanism, and communism.  We will read his First and Second Discourses, On the Social Contract, and parts of the short essay On the Government of Poland.  Issues to be addressed include Rousseau’s account of developmental psychology, his conception of the initial political agreement, the nature of the General Will, the role of the Legislator, and what is meant by his infamous claim that citizens can be “forced to be free.”  Our goal is to grasp Locke and Rousseau in their historical and intellectual contexts but also to determine what is true and vital in their views. (A)

2022-2023 Autumn

PHIL 21821 Justice as Fairness and Social Pathologies

(HMRT 21821)

For many decades John Rawls’s theory of “justice as fairness” has been criticized from the left. One recurrent criticism is that justice as fairness cannot respond to the social pathologies that afflict modern societies. The criticism says (i) Rawls’s ideal society (his “well-ordered society”) cannot forestall the presence of significant social pathologies, and (ii) no alteration of justice as fairness that successfully responds to such pathologies could remain within a broadly liberal tradition. In the first half of the course we will read parts of A Theory of Justice as well as other Rawls writings to set the conceptual stage. In the second half we will read several recent writers from the tradition of the Frankfurt School (Axel Honneth, Rahel Jaeggi, Fabien Freyenhagen) as well as others (e.g., Miranda Fricker) who focus on social pathologies. We will ask whether (i) is true and, if it is, whether (ii) is true. (A)

2020-2021 Spring
Category
Social/Political Philosophy

PHIL 24803 Political Philosophy: Hume and Rousseau

(FNDL 20204)

In this course we will look at central texts by Hume and Rousseau.  We will be trying to understand them in their own terms, not as precursors to, say, Kant.  We will connect these writers to other intellectual movements of their time, reading works of fiction along with the philosophical texts.  Writers to be read include Butler, Diderot, Hume, Rousseau and Austen. (A)

2020-2021 Winter
Category
Social/Political Philosophy

PHIL 41815 Political Philosophy: Hume, Rousseau, the 1844 Marx

Kant is a watershed in political philosophy (as he is everywhere).  This often means that earlier work gets read as “pre-Kantian.”  In this course we will look at central texts by Hume and Rousseau in order to understand them in their own terms.  We will connect these writers to another non-Kantian, the early Marx.  The goal is to find, develop and assess ways of thinking of the tasks of political philosophy that do not presuppose a Kantian framework.

 

 

 

2020-2021 Winter
Category
Social/Political Philosophy

PHIL 21609 Topics in Medical Ethics

(BIOS 29314, BPRO 22612, HIPS 21609, HLTH 21609)

Decisions about medical treatment, medical research and medical policy often have profound moral implications.  Taught by a philosopher, three physicians, and a medical lawyer, this course will examine such issues as paternalism, autonomy, assisted suicide, abortion, organ markets, research ethics, and distributive justice in health care. (A)

Third or fourth year standing. This course does not meet requirements for the Biological Sciences major.

2020-2021 Autumn
Category
Ethics

PHIL 21609/31609 Medical Ethics: Central Topics

(BPRO 22612, HIPS 21609, BIOS 29314, HLTH 21609 )

Decisions about medical treatment, medical research, and medical policy often have profound moral implications. Taught by a philosopher, two physicians, and a medical lawyer, this course will examine such issues as paternalism, autonomy, assisted suicide, kidney markets, abortion, and research ethics. (A)

Third or fourth year standing. This course does not meet requirements for the Biological Sciences major.

 

2019-2020 Winter
Category
Ethics

PHIL 51816 How Do We Do Critical Political Philosophy?

Political philosophy is always of its time, yet many political philosophies have tried to be deeply critical of their times.  The seminar will investigate different ways to justify such criticism.  We will look first at Rousseau and the young Marx, and then turn to recent writers such as Rawls, Walzer, Anderson, Waldron, Horkheimer/Adorno and Jaeggi. (I)

 

2019-2020 Winter
Category
Social/Political Philosophy

PHIL 51821 Political Liberalism and Social Pathologies

The exercise of state power is supposed to pass a test of "legitimacy." However, it has been difficult to find a legitimacy criterion that is both compelling and satisfiable. In Political Liberalism John Rawls proposes a criterion of legitimacy that he thinks will be compelling, satisfiable, and, crucially, acceptable to a wide range of citizens' (reasonable) fundamental beliefs (or, as he calls them, "comprehensive doctrines"). Rawls's proposal has been criticized in many ways. In the seminar we will go through and try to understand the structure and content of Rawls's political liberal view. We will then examine several challenges to his criterion of legitimacy. Finally, we will look at a challenge that stems from work by recent writers of the Frankfurt School. This challenge says (i) Rawls's legitimacy criterion does not preclude significant "social pathologies" associated with a capitalist economy, and (ii) no criterion of legitimacy that could preclude these pathologies would be consistent with the basic agenda of political liberalism. The seminar will read work by Rawls, Colin Bird, Corey Brettschneider, Jürgen Habermas, Axel Honneth and Rahel Jaeggi. (I)

2018-2019 Autumn
Category
Social/Political Philosophy

For full list of Dan Brudney's courses back to the 2012-13 academic year, see our searchable course database.