Le cours se propose d'explorer des questions d’éthique liées notamment au champ de la bioéthique (entendue au sens large). L’enjeu est double. Il s’agit tout d’abord de circonscrire le champ de la bioéthique au sein du domaine plus large de l’éthique appliquée et de définir le type de raisonnement délibératif le plus pertinent pour traiter les questions éthiques en rapport avec le  progrès des biotechnologies médicales. Il s’agit ensuite de définir des concepts et des problématiques particulièrement saillantes qui traversent la pratique et le discours biomédicaux (comme le consentement, la décision, la dignité, l’annonce) en lien avec des situations cliniques impliquant des vivants humains (de la reproduction à la fin de vie).

The course offers to investigate questions of direct relevance for the society. It aims at raising the philosophical underpinnings and implications of current social debates (e.g. climate change, happiness and wellbeing, inequality).

For 2021/2022, the focus will be on climate change and engineering. Climate change represents one of the most pressing global challenges faced by humanity. Traditional responses include mitigation (reduction of CO2and other greenhouse gas emissions) and adaptation (preparation for shielding populations against specific changes, e.g. by building seawalls, switching to drought-resistant crops). Another response has recently gained traction among some scientists and decision makers: geoengineering or climate engineering, which could be defined as the voluntary alteration of the climate to slow/revert it or lessen some of its adverse impacts. 

While humans have tried, throughout history, to influence the climate by various means more or less efficient (e.g. rituals, cloud seeding, wildfires), geoengineering has been gaining momentum during the last decade due to the failure of nations to seriously commit to mitigation. Because governments have difficulties to coordinate and agree on sufficient carbon abatement for averting drastic changes, the possibility of modifying the climate through carbon dioxide removal (CDR) or solar radiation management (SRM) has become increasingly attractive.

The course’s aim is to introduce to the challenges caused by climate change and present the main technologies of CDR and SRM. The goal is to reach a fine-grained view of the multiplicity of issues raised by geoengineering techniques. At the end of the seminar, students should be able to:

Understand the major political and ethical dimensions of climate change,

Have a clear comprehension of the various CDR and SRM interventions and explain the differences between them,

Critically assess how the benefits, efficacy, risks/uncertainties of each technique, 

Present and discuss the key arguments for and against geoengineering research and deployment,

Identify and evaluate the major questions in terms of global governance and justice posed by geoengineering.


This semester, we will be focusing on American politics; we will explore the U.S. presidency as a historical and political object. By studying texts by Richard Hofstadter, Arthur Schlesinger, Gloria Steinem and others, as well as extracts from speeches, T.V. shows and novels, we will try to understand the presidency as an institution, a political power but also as a social and cultural construct. This approach will enable us to analyze features of American contemporary political life while taking a step back from the immediacy of current events. 

Each week, students will be given texts to read, accompanied by vocabulary and reference notes as well as guiding questions. Vocabulary lists and grammar exercises will also be provided.

Instructor: Alice Béja