Course 9, “The American Founding: Rights, Reason, and the Question of the Good”

Course 9 teaches how to reason carefully about the tension between individual rights and the common good. In Unit 1, students see that scientific expertise cannot by itself address moral and political problems, and that intelligent discussion of these problems requires being open to traditional philosophical and religious truths. In Unit 2, documents from the American Founding and related texts are introduced to introduce the Founders’ way of thinking about individual rights and the common good. In Unit 3, contemporary debates about the meaning and scope of “rights” to show how we still benefit from the Founders’ careful thought, which drew both upon the Enlightenment and more traditional sources of understanding the common good.

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