Unit 1: The Ethics of Major Political Systems

Video: “The Global Power Shift,” TEDx Brussels Talk by Paddy Ashdown (20 min)

What I love about this video is the 10,000-foot, macro-view of the 21st-century world.  The talk was given way back in 2011, but everything he says has come true, including, I might add, a global pandemic that has been spread by those of us with economic power.   It’s a great way of introducing the topic of this unit on the ethics of political systems.

I recommend reading the transcript after you listen to it, because he makes several distinct, but complex points about how global power is shifting and stretching, and what is happening in those new, lawless spaces (he alludes to the ultra-rich and tax evasion!), but warns of the evils (e.g. pandemics) that can also infest those spaces.  

Lecture Slides (With NEW Audio Commentary!)

These are the slides I would have gone through in class. You don’t have to take notes (obvs), but these are the meat and potatoes ideas for the unit.

Supplemental Readings

Use these as sources in your paper (assignment at the bottom of the page). I mention most of these in the audio commentary on the slides.

There are No Libertarians in an Epidemic,” Peter Nicholas, The Atlantic, 3/20/20.  No man is an island in a global crisis.

China’s Aggressive Measures May Have Slowed the Coronavirus.  They May Not Work in Other Countries,” Kai Kupferschmidt & Jon Cohen, Science Magazine, 3/2/2020.  Ya think?

Don’t Let the Chinese Communist Party Use the Coronavirus to its Advantage,” Michael Sobolik, The National Review, March 2020.  Authoritarianism is still terrifying to the West, even during a pandemic.

The Coronavirus Pandemic Demonstrates the Failures of Capitalism,” Kandist Mallett, Teen Vogue, 3/24/2020.  Who knew that Teen Vogue would become a leading voice in American left-wing Gen-Z politics?

Can Social Democrats Save the World (Again)?” Sheri Berman, Foreign Policy, 1/15/2020.  Oddly prescient essay published just before the global pandemic struck.  

In Desperation, New York State Pays Up to 15 Times the Normal Prices for Medical Equipment,” Lydia DePillis and Lisa Song, ProPublica, April 2, 2020.  Coronavirus is a “crisi-tunity” of epic proportions.  Some people are getting very rich.

Coronavirus Vindicates Capitalism,”  Kimberley Strassel, Wall St. Journal, April 3, 2020.  Too bad there’s a paywall, or we could read it!  Huge LOL.

Paper #1 Assignment

Specs: 3-4 pages, double-spaced, 1″ margins, 12 pt. Times New Roman, APA format.

Due: Friday, April 10, via email.

In your opinion, if a vaccine for the Covid-19 is developed by a private company, should it be administered to every U.S. citizen for free? Who should pay for it? Who should set the price? Which ethical framework best supports your opinion? Use three sources (can be the ones listed above) to support your argument.

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