Dirty-hands politics: war, terrorism, torture

A.A. 2020/2021
Crediti massimi
Ore totali
Obiettivi formativi
"Dirty Hands Politics" in general refers to the idea that the right political action can conflict with profound morality. From a Machiavellian perspective, political responsibility rests on the availability to dirt one's hands, to endorse morally reprehensible means in order to achieve valuable ends. The first part the course introduces students to the controversial nature of the dirty hands dilemma as it is closely linked to the concepts of morality and responsibility. The main aim here is to offer, through the notion of dirty hands and the evaluation of the means-ends problem, a deeper understanding about political responsibility, about the ethics of political leadership and about the implications connected to political decisions, especially in times of trouble. The second part the course will explore the main philosophical reflections on the nature of torture and terrorism - its causes, aims, and forms - and of counter-terrorism measures introduced by the international community and individual states. The course examines the implications of terrorism for international politics in the 21st century. By the end of this course students will be able to provide a clearer definition of the relationship between politics and morality; to better understand why terrorism occurs, how terrorists organize and operate, and what are the consequences of reacting in different ways to terrorism. More in details, this course intends:
- to equip students with an introductory knowledge of the dirty-hands question;
- to deepen students' understanding of major ethical problems and concepts by applying those systems and concepts to the issue of war, terrorism, and torture;
- to equip students with the skills for engaging in the process of making ethical judgments and defending them in speech and writing;
- to further cultivate student's own intellectual and moral virtues by calling them to engage in moral reflection on the means-ends problem.
Risultati apprendimento attesi
In the framework of the PPPA degree, at the end of the course, students will have obtained knowledge of some of the most central questions and positions in contemporary debates about the dirty-hands problem, torture and terrorism:
- Do "good" and "evil" mean the same in theory and in practice?
- What is torture and can it ever be morally justified?
- What can we learn about torture and terrorism from the history of the social and political theories?
-What are the limits and possibilities of contemporary practices in "the war against terror"?
- How should torture be situated in a wider social and cultural context?

In terms of skills, students will:
- learn to interpret, analyze and critically discuss scholarly texts, official documents and cultural representations with a view to their possible implications for social and political practices;
- learn to compare and evaluate moral, political and legal ideals and proposals.

In terms of competence, students will:
- enhance their capability to question and discuss urgent and sensitive aspects of the dirty-hands problem;
- enhance their capability to formulate and reflect on their own ideas of the legitimacy of means and ends in the (in)security state.
Programma e organizzazione didattica

Edizione unica

Primo trimestre
Classes will be held on the Microsoft Teams platform and can be followed in sync, based on the first trimester time-schedule.
The program and reference material will remain unchanged.
The examination will take place in oral form using the Microsoft Teams platform or, where the context allows it, in the presence, always in oral form.
The exam, in particular, will be aimed at:
- ensure that the objectives in terms of knowledge and understanding are achieved;
- ascertain the ability to apply knowledge and understanding through the examination and commentary of cases presented in class;
- check the student's autonomy of judgment also through the analysis of cases discussed during the course.
Calendar (Provisional - Course Outline and Reading Assignments will be available until September 15th)

1. Sept. 24 Ethics and/or Politics? General presentation
2. Sept. 25 Presentations
3. Oct. 1 Machiavelli and the means-ends problem
4. Oct. 2 Presentations
5. Oct. 15 Do "good" and "evil" mean the same thing in theory and in practice? The realm of political action and the Dirty-Hands Dilemma
6. Oct. 16 Presentations
7. Oct. 22 Integrity and Responsibility
8. Oct. 23 Presentations
9. Oct. 29 Can ethics and politics survive wars? The challenge of violence
10. Oct. 30 Presentations
11. Nov. 5 Torture: Causes, Aims, Forms
12. Nov. 6 Presentations
13. Nov. 12 Coming To Terms With Torture?
14. Nov. 13 Presentations
15. Nov. 19 Inside Terrorism I
16. Nov. 20 Presentations
17. Nov. 26 Inside Terrorism II
18. Nov. 27 Presentations
19. Dec. 3 Political Philosophy and Compromise
20. Dec. 4 Presentations and Recap
No prior knowledge is required to attend the course or to take the exam.
Metodi didattici
Teaching will be provided according to a path that will alternate frontal lessons with group work, individual presentations, case analysis and seminary discussions. The teaching uses e-learning teaching materials on the Ariel platform (the material will be defined in detail later).

Course Policies

As attendance and active participation is considered vital to success in this course, your attendance during both Thursday and Friday classes is considered mandatory and will count towards your overall participation grade. Further, it is the responsibility of every student to ensure they come to class prepared and on time each week.
Students who miss a discussion class for an excused university absence will be given the option to write a short written assignment to make up for the missed attendance and participation points for that class. In such cases, it is the responsibility of each student to get in touch in advance of any absence by email to give notification that you will be unable to attend class or complete an assignment.
Except in cases of emergency, students who contact the instructor after a class has already begun will not be allowed to make up the absence and all make-up assignments must be submitted no more than one week from the date of absence.

Course Communication Policy

The best way to reach either me throughout the course will be via email. With all emails it is my policy to try and respond within 1 business day whenever possible. If there is a larger or more detailed question you need help with, just send an email and we can arrange to meet during office hours or schedule an appointment to talk things over. Please do note that all formal course correspondence (including updates, changes to theschedule, changes to the reading, or potential cancellations) will be sent to you via email.
Accordingly, it is the responsibility of all students to check their email accounts on a daily basis throughout the duration of the course.

Statement on Student Conduct

In the university environment, especially in this dark times, it is essential that our discussions take place in an environment of mutual respect and consideration between you, your fellow students and the course instructor (in both in-class and online environments). This involves remaining actively engaged and listening when the course instructor or your fellow students are speaking or presenting and arriving on time to class prepared and ready to participate. Here you have a Student Code of Conduct, that I prepared for you and me:

The Code of Honour - Nine Commandments for Student (and Professor) Conduct

"On my honor, I pledge that I have neither given nor received help on this assignment."

1. Read the syllabus. It will answer most of your questions about course procedure.
2. Be respectful, of me and of others. You are an adult, and should comport yourself as such.
3. Come to (even virtual) class on time, with all the materials you'll need, and be ready to learn.
4. Ask questions if you don't understand. Other people may be in the same boat.
5. Do your reading. It's the surest path to success in this class.
6. Pay attention in class, and don't bring other things to do. This is your course, your time, my course, and my time.
7. Please turn off your cell phone during class, or at least set it on vibrate. If I hear a cell phone go off during my class, I reserve the right to answer it myself (unfortunately not valid in pandemic times)
8. If you're having problems, come by my (virtual) office hours. That's what they're there for.
9. Don't cheat. If you are caught committing plagiarism, you will fail the entire course (and me too).

Materiale di riferimento
Course Outline and Reading Assignments will be available until September 15th
Modalità di verifica dell’apprendimento e criteri di valutazione

Presentation, Debate and Discussion (30%)

Active student engagement with the course material and frequent participation in class discussions is considered vital to success in this course. Each week, class time will be divided roughly in half, with Friday's class being devoted to a brief talk/discussion on the weekly topic provided by the professor oh Thursday. This includes raising appropriate questions and making constructive comments based on the course material to further our group discussions. In essence, active involvement for participation will be measured by both the quantity and the quality of each student's engagement during the discussions. The majority of the participation grade will be assessed according to the student's level of involvement in our weekly discussion sessions though attendance during both Thursday and Friday classes is considered mandatory and will count towards your overall participation grade. As such, it should be noted that active engagement in the course also includes attendance and attentive listening during talks delivered by the professor or students speakers.
In addition, for course dates that you sign-up to write critical research papers (see below), students will also be required sometimes to take on the role of discussant leader and come to class prepared with comments and questions that will help to begin our discussion of the readings and the weekly topic.

Research Paper (30%)
During the course of the trimester each student must submit one critical analysis research paper reflecting on and evaluating some assigned readings. In these papers students are to apply their own independent critical analysis to the set of assigned readings. This analysis should be focused on identifying and critically assessing common themes or key points of debate and disagreement between the readings, and/or your independent reflection regarding the significance of the points you've identified to the broader topic being discussed during our weeks. These papers should be approximately 5-6 pages in length (and they should follow standard formatting guidelines: double-spaced; Times New Roman 12-point font). All late paper submissions will be penalized at a rate of -5% per day (or fraction therefore) past the deadline. No papers will be accepted more than five days past the due date. Here you can find some useful suggestions: https://advice.writing.utoronto.ca/types-of-writing/philosophy/

Oral text presentation (30%)
Two students prepare a text presentation of some of the texts of the program. It has to be a critical and problematized analysis of the general problem, the key concepts and arguments of the text(s) in a clear and non-paraphrasing way. In the last part of the oral presentation, you will be asked some questions on the assigned readings and lecture/discussion in class.

Attendance and Class participation (10%)
Discussion of the weekly readings, participation to the debates, class attendance (attendance is required, more than two absences in the trimester would lead to fail the class). Students are responsible for all material presented in class.

Evaluation and Course Requirements in a nutshell

1. Presentation, debate and discussion (30%): Two students prepare an informed debate on a given topic and based on two reading assignments (at least), presenting pro and con arguments. You need to problematize the topic, have a structured presentation, and give relevant examples. After about 30 minutes, you open the debate to the rest of the class and lead the discussion. Please prepare a powerpoint presentation for the rest of the class.
2. Take-home essay (Research Paper) (30%): About 5.000 words. You will write a research paper and the research subject must be related to at least one of the course subjects of students' choice but after consultation with the instructor. It has to be a critical and problematized analysis of the general problem, the key concepts and arguments of the text(s) in a clear and non-paraphrasing way. You will send the Word document to the following e-mail address: beatrice.magni@unimi.it. Due January 6th.
3. Oral text presentation (30%): Two students prepare a text presentation of some of the texts of the program. It has to be a descriptive (one student) and a critical and problematized analysis (the other student) of the general problem, the key concepts and arguments of the text(s) in a clear and non-paraphrasing way. Due II part of the course.
4. Attendance and Class participation (10%).
Lezioni: 40 ore
Docente: Magni Beatrice
Martedì h. 15 - 18
stanza 14 - sopralzo cortile