Thus far this semester, we have studied sources of law as well as three major areas of private law: contracts, torts, and property. In our next class, by contrast, we will focus on the extralegal domains of ethics and morality: how should we decide between right and wrong? To this normative end, we will consider the following three major theories of moral philosophy, i.e. three competing theories for deciding between right and wrong: (1) consequentialism, an instrumental theory of ethics originating with the great British essayist David Hume, (2) universal moral duties, an influential theory of morality developed by the great German philosopher Immanuel Kant, and (3) the highly original contractarian theory of justice proposed by Hungarian-American economist John Harsanyi as further developed by Harvard professor John Rawls. In addition, we will debate whether the fictional Mark Zuckerberg (as portrayed by the actor Jesse Eisenberg in the movie “The Social Network”) flouted Harvard College’s Honor Code in his dealings with the Winklevoss twins. Also, beyond the narrow walls of the Ivory Tower–i.e. in the broader world of commerce and markets–what does a motto like “don’t be evil” mean?
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