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Steve Viner

Associate Professor of Philosophy

 
 work(802) 443-5708
 After class, 2:50-3:50 Tuesday and Thursdays and Tuesday noon to 1pm, and by appointment.
 Twilight Hall 303B

Steve Viner earned his PhD in philosophy from Washington University in St. Louis. He also has a JD from William Mitchell College of Law, an MA from Marquette University and a BA from St. John’s University. Before going to graduate school to get his PhD, he practiced law in both the private and public sectors.

Professor Viner’s primary area of research concerns moral issues pertaining to the law, including international laws and conflicts. He is the editor of a book titled The Morality of War: Classical and Contemporary Readings (Pearson Prentice Hall 2006). Currently, he is working on projects concerning the moral legitimacy of a State, the moral rights and norms applicable to armed humanitarian intervention, and the punishment of combatants who fight on the unjust side of a war.

He teaches classes in ethics, social and political philosophy and legal philosophy.  PDF icon Prof. Viner's CV

 

Courses

Course List: 

Courses offered in the past four years.
indicates offered in the current term
indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]

FYSE 1317 - The Philosophy of Human Rights      

The Philosophy of Human Rights
What are human rights? What duties, if any, flow from them, and who is morally obligated to bear those duties? In this course, we will investigate the philosophical origins and development of the concept of human rights. We will critically analyze both historical and contemporary moral perspectives on the existence and nature of human rights. What does it mean to say that one possesses a human right? In addition to examining the existence and nature of human rights, we will take a closer look at the issue of human rights related to world poverty and humanitarian intervention. 3 hrs. sem. CW PHL

Fall 2018

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INTD 1202 / PSCI 1202 - Democ Deliberation Citizenship      

Democracy, Deliberation, and Global Citizenship
Around the world, democratic self-governance is celebrated as a political ideal. Arguably, such self-governance requires informed and engaged citizens who intentionally participate in the decisions that govern their lives. Clearly many factors like wealth, power, institutions, culture, democratic procedures and access to information, e.g. social media, and education all facilitate or impede political dialogue and civic action. In this course, we explore local and global conceptions of democracy and citizenship to help us better understand the obligations and challenges that are part of being an informed and engaged citizen in our various communities. CMP SOC WTR

Winter 2019

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PHIL 0156 - Contemporary Moral Issues      

Contemporary Moral Issues
We will examine a selection of pressing moral problems of our day, seeking to understand the substance of the issues and learning how moral arguments work. We will focus on developing our analytical skills, which we can then use to present and criticize arguments on difficult moral issues. Selected topics may include world poverty, animal rights, abortion, euthanasia, human rights, just and unjust wars, capital punishment, and racial and gender issues. You will be encouraged to question your own beliefs on these issues, and in the process to explore the limit and extent to which ethical theory can play a role in everyday ethical decision making. 2 hrs.lect./1 hr. disc. PHL

Spring 2019, Spring 2022

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PHIL 0198 / INTD 0198 - Privilege and Poverty      

Privilege and Poverty: the Ethics of Economic Inequality
In this course we will study the ethical implications of domestic and global economic inequality. Drawing from history, economics, sociology, philosophy, theology, and other disciplines, we will examine the causes and consequences of inequality, critically evaluate our usage of the terms “privilege” and “poverty,” and consider the range of moral responses individuals and society might have to inequality. We will ask whether it is unfair, unfortunate, or necessary that some citizens live with significantly less material wealth than others, and whether those who experience “privilege” have any moral responsibility to those who exist in “poverty.” (not open to students who have taken RELI/INTD 0298) 3 hrs. lect./1 hr. disc. PHL SOC

Spring 2020

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PHIL 0207 - Philosophy of Human Rights      

The Philosophy of Human Rights
What is a human right? If there are human rights, what moral obligations, if any, follow from them, and who bears those obligations? In this course, we will investigate the philosophical origins and development of the concept of human rights. We will critically analyze both historical and contemporary moral perspectives concerning the existence and nature of human rights. What does it mean to say one possesses a human right? We will also take a close look at the issue of human rights as they relate to world poverty and humanitarian intervention. Authors will include Hobbes, Bentham, Rorty, Nickel, and Pogge. (Not open to students who have taken FYSE 1317). PHL

Fall 2020

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PHIL 0208 - Morality & War      

Morality & War
Are there any Just Wars? What would make a war a Just War? In the first part of this course we will investigate the historical origins of Just War Theory. In the second part, we will analyze contemporary moral perspectives on whether war can be morally justified and if so, what actions in war are morally justified or prohibited. In the final part, we will read articles concerning war and humanitarian intervention and on what actions, e.g. punishment, are morally permissible or demanded after war. Authors will include Augustine, Grotius, Nagel, Walzer, Luban. 3 hrs. lect. PHL

Fall 2019, Fall 2021

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PHIL 0209 - Philosophy of Law      

Philosophy of Law
In this course, we shall consider a number of questions concerning law and its institution in human society. What is the origin and authority of law? What is legal obligation? What is the connection between law and coercion, between law and morality, and law and rights? Are laws merely conventions or is there a law of nature? What is the role of law in judicial decisions and the effect of these on the law? We shall also consider and evaluate various theories of law: natural law theories, utilitarian theories, analytical philosophy of law, critical legal studies, feminist theories. 3 hrs. lect. PHL

Fall 2018

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PHIL 0306 - Philosophy of Law      

Philosophy of Law
In this course we shall consider a number of questions concerning law and its institution in human society. What is the origin and authority of law? What is legal obligation? What is the connection between law and coercion, between law and morality, and law and rights? Are laws merely conventions or is there a law of nature? What is the role of law in judicial decisions and the effect of these on the law? We shall also consider and evaluate various theories of law: natural law theories, utilitarian theories, analytical philosophy of law, critical legal studies, feminist theories. (formerly PHIL 0209) 3 hrs. lect. PHL

Fall 2020

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PHIL 0322 - Liberalism and Its Critics      

Liberalism and Its Critics
Liberal political thought is widely touted and accepted in Western societies. In this course, we will take a close look at what liberalism is by investigating the origins of liberalism in the writings of John Locke and John Stuart Mill and by evaluating the thought of contemporary liberal political philosophers, e.g. John Rawls and Will Kymlicka. We will also analyze the arguments of those like Michael Sandel and Yael Tamir who have criticized liberalism as misguided or incomplete. We seek to gain an understanding of the political and moral principles that give priority to liberty and related values or concepts like toleration, autonomy, and fairness. (One course in philosophy or waiver) 3hrs. CW PHL

Spring 2020, Spring 2022

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PHIL 0408 - Global Justice      

Global Justice
In this course, we will investigate questions of justice that arise in
global affairs. We will inquire into whether there are moral principles that
constrain the actions of states and how these principles support a
conception of global justice. Also, we will seek to understand what global
responsibilities are entailed by global justice. Specific topics that will
be considered include global distributive justice, world poverty, human
rights, humanitarian intervention, and the relationship between global
justice and nationalistic moral concerns. Authors will include Beitz,
Nussbaum, O'Neill, Pogge, Rawls, Singer, Miller, and Walzer. 3 hrs. sem. PHL

Spring 2019

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PHIL 0500 - Resrch In Philosophy      

Research in Philosophy
Supervised independent research in philosophy. (Approval required).

Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Fall 2021, Winter 2022

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PHIL 0700 - Senior Thesis      

Senior Thesis
(Approval Required)

Fall 2018

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PHIL 0710 - Senior Independent Research      

Senior Independent Research
In this course senior philosophy majors will complete an independent research project. The course has two components: (1) a group workshop in which students refine their research skills and develop parts of their projects, and (2) individual meetings with an adviser who is knowledgeable about the student's research topic. Students will engage in research activities such as tutorials and peer reviews. Before the course begins, students’ research topics and advisers will be decided in consultation with members of the department. (Senior majors.) 3 hrs. sem.

Fall 2019

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Select Publications

The Morality of War: Classical and Contemporary Readings, co-editor, with Larry May and Eric Rovie, Pearson Prentice-Hall, 2006.

“State Self-Defense and Guantánamo Bay” in International Criminal Law and Philosophy, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, October 2009, pp. 153-180.

“Fuller’s Concept of Law and Its Cosmopolitan Aims,” Law and Philosophy, Vol. 26, No.1 (Jan. 2007), pp. 1-30.

Select Presentations

“Self-Defense, Punishing Combatants and Justice in War,” XXIV World Congress of Philosophy of Law and Social Philosophy, Beijing, China, September 2009.

“Was Hobbes a Realist?” Pacific Division Conference – American Philosophical Association, International Hobbes Association, San Francisco, CA, Spring 2007.

“Recognizing State Rights: A Reply to Buchanan and Naticchia,” St. Louis University, Philosophy Department, and Central States Philosophical Association, Memphis, TN, Spring 2006 & 2007.

“On State Self-Defense and Guantánamo Bay,” Central Division Conference – American Philosophical Association, Chicago, IL, Spring 2006.

 

 

Department of Philosophy

Twilight Hall
50 Franklin Street
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753

802.443.6011 fax