Monday, April 01, 2013

POLS 250 Concluding Video (and plans for the future)

Tonight concludes another year of my teaching the undergraduate course POLS 250 here at Queen's (the concluding music video to the course is above).

This was my fourth consecutive year of teaching this full year survey (from Plato to Marx) course to approximately 250 students each year.

I am on sabbatical all of next year, so I will not be teaching the course in 2013/14. I've truly enjoyed sharing this intellectual journey through the works of the great thinkers of the past with my students. And for the coming year I am very excited about the prospect of being able to dedicate most of my time and energy into a project that grapples with the future of humanity. Namely, making the final push to complete the research project I started over 12 years ago on the genetic revolution. I will examine how, and why, insights from the biological sciences (especially genetics, evolution, psychology and biogerontology) require political theorists to critically re-examine what they take the determinates of "distributive justice" to be, as well as how we theorize about ideals like justice and equality.

In my humble opinion, gone are the days of grand armchair normative theorizing! In its place we can advance contextual, provisional normative analyses that take seriously the complex challenges facing, as well as opportunities open to, humanity in the 21st century. Doing this requires interdisciplinary engagement, and a somewhat critical attitude towards the limited (and sometimes misguided) assumptions of contemporary theories of justice.