Ethics in the 21st Century: Business, Politics, & Technology


3.0 units of USC credit




Monday through Friday, 9:00am – 5:00pm

Special Dress Code



The world has undergone a social and technological revolution in the 21st century. How ought we live in this new world? We are employees, managers, citizens, patients, caregivers, consumers, family members, and — not least — human beings. Given the complexity and rapid change of the modern world, it often seems far from obvious what these roles morally demand of us.

In this course we will apply traditional methods of philosophical inquiry and critical thinking to some of the most pressing moral questions of life in the 21st century. Among the questions this course will explore: What do businesses morally owe their employees, customers, and competitors? Are corporations agents, and what sorts of rights should they have? Are there moral limits to capitalism? How should we respond to globalization? Is democracy the best form of government? What do doctors owe their patients? How does social media alter our relationships with one another? Should self-driving cars be programmed to make decisions based on a particular moral theory? Is there such a thing as too much technology? How much of the work that has normally been done by humans should be done by machines or artificial intelligence? What duties do we have to future generations?

This course will prepare students to be more reflective (and we hope, more ethical) members of society, in addition to equipping them with skills in critical thinking, discourse, and writing that are highly sought after in the academic, legal, and business world.


  • Participate in structured and respectful debates in which students articulate and defend positions of their own, while considering objections.
  • Develop university-level argumentative essays.
  • Hear from guest speakers on a range of topics in the ethics of business and technology.

Topic of Study

  • Logic and critical thinking
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Responsible citizenship
  • Globalization and borders
  • Medical ethics
  • Cloning
  • Corporate rights
  • Ethical investing
  • Social media
  • Decision theory