F101 | Forcing Justice: Violence and Nonviolence in Selected Texts by Thoreau and Gandhi


9:00 - 10:30 am


1/21, 1/28, 2/4, 2/11, 2/18 & 2/25

Six Sessions 

This course is offered online via the easy-to-use Zoom program.

This is a time of extreme moral, political, and economic division in the United States and throughout the world. The depth of that division is symbolized by the murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This course focuses on the philosophical question concerning the means that should be used to promote justice. Is violence justified in responding to such cases and the broader issues they pose, or is it better to use nonviolent tactics?

Henry David Thoreau prepared the way for this discussion through his analysis of slavery in America and his defense of civil disobedience, including several murders perpetrated by John Brown and his followers. Mohandas K. Gandhi, on the other hand, strongly favored nonviolence as the best way to force others to be just. Half of this course will examine essays by Thoreau, and the other half will analyze Gandhi’s defense of nonviolence.

We will spend most of the six class sessions evaluating Thoreau's and Gandhi's lectures and essays published online by Agora Publications in Forcing Justice: Violence and Nonviolence in Selected Texts by Thoreau and Gandhi. Participants are expected to read and/or listen to those works. Current topics such as defunding police forces, reducing the military, closing private prisons, and restricting the right and power to vote show how timely are the moral and political questions examined by Thoreau and Gandhi who lived in different times on opposite sides of the world.  


Required Reading: Forcing Justice: Violence and Nonviolence in Selected Texts by Thoreau and Gandhi. [Agora Publications, 2021] The text will be emailed to the course participants in advance. Click here to preview the Table of Contents and Introduction. Click here to purchase the audio book, if you prefer that format.

Albert A. Anderson, Ph.D., is Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at Babson College and President of Agora Publications.  Dr. Anderson has held tenured positions in philosophy at Babson College, Clark University, and Albion College. He has also held full-time faculty positions at Rhode Island School of Design, where he served as Chair of the Liberal Arts Division, and at Bates College, where he taught in the Cultural Heritage program.  At Babson College he served as Chair of the Liberal Arts Division and as the Murata Professor of Ethics. He holds Ph.D. and M.A. degrees in philosophy from Boston University, and a B.A in English and Theater Arts from Morningside College.

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