I woke up from a dream and saw some scary-looking men standing by my bed.
“Who are you?” I asked. They didn’t answer. They just put a piece of paper in my lap.
“We need you to sign this, old sport,” they said.
“What is it?” I asked.
“Oh, it’s nothing really. It’s the social contract. We just need you to sign it.”
I read the document.
“I’m not sure I want to sign this,” I whispered. “It has all these duties in it.”
“We know, we tried to keep that to a minimum. But note that others have the same duties toward you, so it’s a fair deal.”
“Can I have a day to think about it?”
They moved uncomfortably and mumbled to each other. Then they turned back to me. “Well, it’s a little urgent, you see. We used to get by with hypothetical contracts, and, well, it’s a little embarrassing, but it turns out that, ehm, such contracts are not binding? Some annoying technicality that just surfaced. So we now go with real contracts. Everyone already signed it, but you were sleeping and we didn’t want to wake you up.”
“I don’t think I wanna sign it,” I said.
“You realize you’d be irrational and unreasonable not to do so?” they urged me.
“Yeah, but I also never go to the gym and I watch Mean Girls a lot.”
“No, you see, it’s a different *kind* of irrationality. It’s a little hard to explain. Just sign it. We can discuss the theory later.”
“But I don’t wanna.”
They started crying. Sobbing. I felt sympathy for them. “We don’t want your sympathy,” they said, as if reading my mind, “we want your signature.”
“But why me?”
“Because it needs to be signed by EVERYONE.” They said, desperate. “We lied. No one signed it yet. No one is cooperating.”
“Oh, don’t worry,” I said, “the world will be over in 30 years. Climate change and all.”
That worked. Their sobs became quieter now. “But what shall we do in the next 30 years?” they asked.
“That depends on your conception of the good,” I answered, and went back to sleep.
Wrongful Discrimination: Legal and Philosophical Perspectives (Spring 2019). This seminar was taught at The University of Chicago Law School. Topics covered: the demarcation of wrongful discrimination, wrongful discrimination and the American Constitution, affirmative action, and disability.
Cognitive Disabilities and Human Rights (Spring 2018). This course is structured around The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Each week focuses on one central right from The Declaration, and with the help of contemporary philosophers (as well as scholars from other disciplines), we investigate the conceptual difficulties involved in securing the rights in question for people with cognitive disability. The course won the Pozen Family Center for Graduate Lectureship Award.
Equality and its Value Syllabus (Winter 2018). This course is designed as an upper-level seminar in philosophy. In the first part of the course, we discuss egalitarianism as a distributive ideal. In the second part, we discuss the idea of basic equality.
Moral Status: Who Deserves Moral Consideration? This course is designed as a philosophy class that can appeal to students from other disciplines. The course takes up the concept of “moral status” and explores its relevance to moral and political discussions. Case studies include nonhuman animals, fetuses, people with cognitive disability, Robots and “Superhumans.” The course won the Stuart Tave Teaching Fellowship.