Introduction: The University of Toronto's Major in Ethics, Society, and Law (ES&L)
The Ethics, Society, and Law Major is a Type 2 limited enrolment program. Enrolment is limited to students with an overall average of 73% or higher in 3 FCEs (at the end of first year) selected from courses that are categorized as BR=2 and/or BR=3. For students applying at the end of second year, a minimal overall average of 73% is required in 3 FCEs, as follows: (a) PHL271H1, (b) 2.5 FCEs from other courses that count towards the program including at least 0.5 FCE from: POL200Y1, PHL265H1, PHL275H1, ETH201H1, ETH210H1, ETH220H1, and ETH230H1. In either case, achieving the threshold mark does not necessarily guarantee admission to the program in any given year. Applications beyond second year will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
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Is it ever right to lie? Is it ever permissible to kill a person? When, if ever, is it right for one state to intervene in the affairs of another? Are developed nations obliged to aid underdeveloped nations? Is it wrong to use animals in medical research? Is it wrong to experiment on human embryos? Is it wrong to constrain individuals to use public health care? Is progressive taxation legitimate? These are ethical questions.
Individuals face ethical challenges in ordering their lives, and societies face ethical challenges in regulating their affairs. There is nothing new about this. However, today we face new ethical challenges, many of which arouse deep feelings and resist easy solutions. Some of these challenges are rooted in our advanced global, bureaucratic, technological, and capitalistic social and political formations. Thus if we are to respond adequately to the ethical challenges of our time, we need to understand the very nature of the society in which we live.
Some of the ethical questions we face as a society concern the law. For example: Should the law permit the virtually unlimited interrogation of terrorist suspects? Should the law permit pre-emptive war? Should the law permit surrogate motherhood? Should there be legally enforced guidelines for genetic research? Should the law extend the concept of property rights to the commercial use of new life forms? Should assisted suicide be a crime? Should the possession of child pornography be a crime? Should provincial film review boards have censorship powers? Should the law permit those with the greatest financial resources to have the greatest access to legal resources?
There are various disciplines in the humanities, the social sciences, and the natural sciences that can help us arrive at reasonable answers to such questions. A number of these disciplines are combined in the major program Ethics, Society, and Law (ES&L).
Mindful is an undergraduate journal that is affiliated with the Ethics, Society, and Law (ES&L) program at Trinity College, University of Toronto. The undergraduate ES&L program is distinctively interdisciplinary, emphasizing and engaging with issues that have both theoretical and practical resonance. Mindful has a similarly interdisciplinary mission: the journal seeks to gather excellent undergraduate papers in a range of fields that address topics that are relevant to society today.