Ethics, Religion and International Politics
Boston College, Spring, 2011, M W 3-4:15. Cushing Hall 209
David Hollenbach, S.J.
Office: 21 Campanella, Room 318
Office Hours: Wed. 4:30-5:15, Th  2:30—4:00, or by appointment.
Email:; phone: 617-552-8855; webpage:

Teaching assistant: Kevin Ahern. TA email:  TA office: 21 Campanella, Cubicle 360C. 

Aims of the course:

The course is an examination of ethical approaches to international affairs and the role of religion in international politics. It explores diverse models for relating ethics to international affairs and specific areas of international politics where ethical questions are likely to arise, especially the protection of human rights, the historical development and contemporary formulations of ethical norms for the use of force, and distributive justice in the global economy. Special emphasis will be given to religion as a source of conflict, religious communities as transnational agents for justice, protection of human rights, and peace; and ethical and religious contributions to reconciliation, solidarity, and peacemaking.

Books marked * are available in the BC bookstore and will be on reserve in O’Neill Library. These books are:

*Kwame Anthony Appiah, Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2006.  Paperback. 
*Jonathan Sacks, The Dignity of Difference. Paper. Continuum Books.
* Reza Aslan, No God but God : the Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam. Paper.  Random House
*Walter Wink, Jesus and Nonviolence: A Third Way. Paper. Fortress Press.
*Michael Walzer, Just and Unjust Wars: a Moral Argument with Historical Illustrations, 4th edition. Paperback. Basic Books.
*Amartya K. Sen, Development as Freedom. Paper. Anchor Books.
*National Conference of Catholic Bishops, Economic Justice for All: A Pastoral Letter on Catholic Social Teaching and the U.S. Economy, Tenth Anniversary edition. Paper.

Readings marked + are available in online reserve with the BC Library. To obtain these readings go to the BC Libraries homepage ( Then, under Quick Links, click on Course Reserves, and enter Name of Course ("Ethics, Religion, and International Politics") or Name of Instructor ("Hollenbach"), Title of Reading, or Author. You will need a BC user name and password to access these readings. Cross registrants can arrange this with the TA.

Other readings (marked #) are available on the Blackboard site of the course

Others are online as indicated in the syllabus, with links provided on the electronic syllabus.


  1. Read all assigned readings before the class for which they are assigned.


  1. Attend class and participate in class discussion. Active engagement in discussion can help your grade.
  1. There will be a quiz on the assigned readings of each week in the first class of that week.  You are expected to have the entire week’s reading done before the first class of each week unless the instructor announces otherwise.  There will be no makeup quizzes, and misses will be averaged as a grade of zero.  Absences due to medical causes, with a note from your physician, will not be averaged into the grade.  Quizzes count for 15% of final grade.  Students may make up for a missed quiz by submitting a 2 page paper on a relevant lecture given on campus which has been approved by the instructor. 


  1. Three short papers (5 pages, double-spaced, 12 point type). The topics will be assigned by the professor. Due on 2/7, 3/14, and 4/6.  Students must turn in the paper on the date assigned. Credit will be deducted for late papers. Each paper 16.66% of final grade.
  1. Final exam or paper. 35% of final grade


For undergraduates:

Final examination. A number of essay topics for the exam will be distributed in advance; you will be asked to respond to two of these selected by the professor in the exam. The topics will be synthetic and will presume that the student has done all the readings assigned for the course. 35% of final grade. The exam will take place on Thursday, May 12, 12:30 to 2:30 pm., in the regularly scheduled classroom. Make all travel plans so you can be present at this exam time.

For graduate students:

Either the final exam as described above,

Or: a final paper, approximately 15 pages, on a topic agreed in advance with the professor. Graduate students choosing this option should submit a one page proposal for the paper to the professor by 3/17 and should meet with the professor to discuss it and have it approved by 3/29. It is the responsibility of the student to take the initiative in submitting the proposal and scheduling this meeting by these dates. If either of these deadlines is missed the student will take the final exam. 35% of final grade.

An electronic version of this syllabus, with links to some readings, is available on the course Blackboard site and instructor's webpage:

  1. Approaches to the role of ethics in international politics.


1/19             Introduction: Models of the relation of ethics to international politics.
Recommended reading:

#Leslie Gelb and Justine Rosenthal, “The Rise of Ethics in Foreign Policy,” Foreign Affairs, May/June 2003, pp. 2-7.

+Jack Snyder, "One World, Rival Theories," Foreign Policy, November/December, 2004, 53-62. Online reserve.

Stanley Hoffmann, Duties Beyond Borders: On the Limits and Possibilities of Ethical International Politics, chap. 1, pp. 1-43.

Jose Casanova, Public Religion in the Modern World, chap. 1, 11-39.

1/24, 26     Raising the issues: duties to refugees--communitarian/statist and liberal internationalist approaches

+Antonio Guterrez, “Millions Uprooted: Saving Refugees and the Displaced,” Foreign Affairs, September / October 2008, pp. 90-99. On line reserve.

#Michael Walzer, “The Distribution of Membership,” in Thomas Pogge and Darrel Moellendorf, eds., Global Justice: Seminal Essays, pp. 145-178.

#John Rawls, “The Law of Peoples,” excerpts in Pogge and Moellendorf, eds., Global Justice, pp. 421-460.


+Daniel Philpott, Revolutions in Sovereignty: How Ideas Shaped Modern
International Relations, Princeton University Press, 2001, chaps. 1-3, pp. 3-45.

+John Stuart Mill, "A Few Words on Non-Intervention," in Mill, Collected Works, vol. 21, pp. 109-124 (online reserve).

United Nations Charter, Preamble and Chaps. 1 and 2. Available online at:

+Stanley Hoffmann, "The Crisis of Liberal Internationalism," Foreign Policy 98 (1995): 159-177.

1/31, 2/2            Cosmopolitan approaches

            *Kwame Anthony Appiah, Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers


+Martha Nussbaum, "Patriotism and Cosmopolitanism," Kwame Anthony Appiah, "Cosmopolitan Patriots," and Nussbaum, “Reply,” and related “Notes”), in Nussbaum, For Love of Country: Debating the Limits of Patriotism, pp. 2-29, 131-146, 150-151 (online reserve)

Immanuel Kant, "Idea for a Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Intent" in Perpetual Peace and Other Essays, Ted Humphrey, ed., pp. 29-40.
Immanuel Kant, "Perpetual Peace," in Perpetual Peace and Other Essays, pp. 107-143. Also available online at:

Pope John Paul II, "Address to the Fiftieth General Assembly of the
United Nations Organization," October 5, 1995. Available online at:­ii_spe_05101995_address-to-uno_en.html
First paper due 2/7 (next class).


  1. Human rights and religion in international politics

2/7, 2/9            The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the crime of genocide: and a Jewish approach to diversity

Film shown in class: "Frontline: The Triumph of Evil."

U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Available online at:

General Assembly of the United Nations, Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, available online at: /html/menu3/b/p_genoci.htm See esp. the definition of genocide (art. 2) and the commitment to prevent it (art. 1).

+Samantha Power, "Bystanders to Genocide" The Atlantic Monthly,
September, 2001, Vol. 288, No. 2, pp. 84-108. Online reserve.

*Jonathan Sacks, The Dignity of Difference, chaps. 1-3, pp. 1-66.


Alan J. Kuperman, "Rwanda in Retrospect,” Foreign Affairs, January/February 2000.

Alison L. DesForges and Alan J. Kuperman, "Shame: Rationalizing Western
Apathy on Rwanda,” Foreign Affairs, May/June 2000.

"Frontline: The Triumph of Evil," webpage related to the film viewed in
class available at:

"The U.S. and Genocide in Rwanda 1994," documentation on U.S. policy regarding the Rwanda genocide, available from the National Security Archive online at:

Scott Straus, "Darfur and the Genocide Debate," Foreign Affairs,
January/February 2005, 123ff.

2/14, 2/16  A Catholic approach to diversity and religion in international politics today

+R. Scott Appleby, The Ambivalence of the Sacred: Religion, Violence, and Reconciliation, pp. 1—56, “Introduction: Powerful Medicine, and chap. 1, "The Growing End of an Argument." Online reserve.

Vatican Council II, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et Spes), nos. 1-45.  Online at:

Vatican Council II, Declaration on Religious Freedom (Dignitatis Humanae), online at:

+J. Bryan Hehir, "Overview," in Religion and World Affairs, proceedings of a conference organized by the DACOR Bacon House Foundation, Oct. 6, 1995, pp. 11-19. Online reserve.


Vatican Council II, Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions (Nostra Aetate), available online at:

+Eva Bellin, "Faith in Politics: New Trends in the Study of Religion and Politics," World Politics 60 (Jan., 2008), 315-47. Online reserve.

Chris Seiple, “What to Read on Religion and Foreign Policy,” an annotated bibliography of current writings on religion and foreign affairs. Foreign Affairs website, September 30, 2009, at:­policy

+Samuel Huntington, “Religion and the Third Wave,” National Interest 24
(Summer 1991), 29-42. Online reserve.

#Samuel Huntington, "The Clash of Civilizations," Foreign Affairs, 72,
no. 3 (Summer, 1993): 22-49.

Walter Russell Mead, "God's Country?" Foreign Affairs, Sept./Oct., 2006, 24-43. Online at:

Douglas Johnston and Cynthia Sampson, Religion: The Missing Dimension of Statecraft (1994)

Gilles Kepel, La Revanche de Dieu (The Revenge of God: The Resurgence of Islam, Christianity and Judaism in the Modern World, 1994).

Douglas Johnston, Faith Based Diplomacy: Trumping Realpolitik (2003)

2/21 and 2/23  Antecedents and Developments of human rights in Christian and natural law traditions

+Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, I-II, q. 91, arts. 1-4; q. 94, arts. 2-6; q. 95, arts. 1-4, in St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, (Westminster, Md. : Christian Classics, 1981, c1948), vol. II, pp. 996-999, 1009-1017. On law.  Online reserve.

+Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologiae, II-II, q. 42, art 2, (on sedition), q. 66, arts. 1, 2, and 7 (on possession of property, theft, and robbery). In St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, (Westminster, Md. : Christian Classics, 1981, c1948), vol. III, pp. 1359-60, 1470-71, 1474-75. Online reserve.

+Mary Ann Glendon, "Knowing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights," Notre Dame Law Review 73, no. 5 (1998), pp. 1153-1176. Online reserve.

Jacques Maritain, “Introduction,” and “On the Philosophy of Human Rights,” in UNESCO, ed., Human Rights: Comments and Interpretations, Columbia University Press, 1949, pp. 9-17 and 72-77.

Stephen J. Pope, "Natural Law and Christian Ethics," in Robin Gill, ed.,
The Cambridge Companion to Christian Ethics, 77-95.

Pope John XXIII, Pacem in Terris (Peace on Earth), 1963 Encyclical Letter
on world peace and human rights, esp. nos. 1-38, 80-145. Online at:­xxiii_enc_11041963_pacem_en.html or

+R. Scott Appleby, "The Promise of Internal Pluralism: Human rights and Religious Mission," chap. 7 of The Ambivalence of the Sacred: Religion, Violence, and Reconciliation, pp. 245-280. Online reserve.

On Campus event Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011 | 7:00 p.m., Heights Room, Corcoran Commons
(Students are urged to attend since this lecture is very relevant to the themes of the course): 

“International Human Rights and Democratic Sovereignty: The Contemporary Debates”
Professor Seyla Benhabib, the Eugene Meyer Professor of Political Science and Philosophy at Yale University;  author of The Rights of Others. Aliens, Citizens and Residents (2004) and co-editor of Mobility and Immobility. Gender, Borders and Citizenship (2009).


2/28 and 3/2 Human rights in a religiously diverse and conflicted world

#Desmond Tutu, “Preface,” in John Witte, Jr., and Johan D. van der Vyver, eds., Religious Human Rights in Global Perspective, pp. ix-xvi.

#J. Bryan Hehir, “Religious Activism for Human Rights: A Christian Case Study,” in John Witte, Jr., and Johan D. van der Vyver, eds., Religious Human Rights in Global Perspective, pp. 97-120

+Drew Christiansen, SJ, “Movement, Asylum, Borders: Christian Perspectives,”
International Migration Review 30, no. 1 (Spring 1996): 1-6.

#Martha Nussbaum, “Human Capabilities, Female Human beings,” in Pogge and Moellendorf, eds., Global Justice, pp.495-551.

Second paper due 3/14 (first class after break)

3/7 and 3/9   No class—spring break


On Campus Event:  Monday, March 7, 2011 | 7:00 p.m.
Law School campus, East Wing 115
Bob Drinan: The Controversial Life of the First Catholic Priest Elected to Congress Any students who are on campus during break are urged to attend since Fr. Robert Drinan was a scholar and advocate of human rights.  He was dean of BC Law School and then elected to the U.S. congress.            

Raymond Schroth, S.J., author of a new book on Robert Drinan, S.J., analyzes the Congressman's role as a priest, legal educator, and political figure. Respondents include Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA); political blogger Jerome Grossman, who was chairman of Fr. Drinan's Congressional campaign; and Gregory Kalscheur, S.J., associate professor at Boston College Law School. Law School Professor Sanford Katz moderates.

  1. Ethical and religious traditions on the use of force


3/14 and 3/16  Nonviolence and Just war in Christian traditions

*Walter Wink, Jesus and Nonviolence: A Third Way.

+Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, selections in Arthur Holmes, ed., War and Christian Ethics, pp. 61-83; 106-117. Online reserve.

+ Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologiae, II-II, q. 64, arts.6 and 7 2, (on killing), In St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, (Westminster, Md. : Christian Classics, 1981, c1948), vol. III, pp. 1464-66. Online reserve.

National Conference of Catholic Bishops, "The Harvest of Justice is Sown in Peace," November 17, 1993, available online at:

+ J. Bryan Hehir, “Just War Theory in a Post-Cold War World,” Journal of Religious
Ethics 20 no 2 (Fall 1992), p 237-257. Online reserve

3/21 and 3/23 Islamic approaches to international society and war

*Reza Aslan, No God but God : the Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam.


Sohail  Hashmi, ed., Islamic Political Ethics

John Kelsay, Arguing the Just War in Islam.

John Kelsay, Islam and War: A Study in Comparative Ethics.


3/28 and 30  Just war in secular and legal contexts; preemption and intervention.

*Michael Walzer, Just and Unjust Wars, chaps. 1-6, 9, 12, pp. 1-109; 138-159; 197-206.

International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, The Responsibility to Protect (December 2001), Synopsis. Available online on the Commission's website at:


+J. Bryan Hehir, "Military Intervention and National Sovereignty: Recasting the Relationship," in Jonathan Moore, ed., Hard Choices, pp. 29-54.

Mahmood Mamdani," Darfur, ICC, and the New Humanitarian Order: How the ICCs Responsibility to Protect" Is Being Turned Into an "Assertion of Neocolonial Domination," Pambazuka News: Pan-African Voices for Freedom and Justice, September 17, 2008, no. 396.  Online    at:

Pope Benedict XVI, Address to the General Assembly of the United Nations, New York, 18 April 2008. Online at:­xvi_spe_20080418_un-visit_en.html

Report of the Secretary-General, “Implementing the Responsibility to Protect,” 12 January 2009. Available online at:


On Campus event:  April 1, 12:30-2:00 p.m., 21 Campanella Way, Room 328
CHRIJ Conversations at Lunch - Hope Lewis, Professor of Law, Northeastern University,
A Critical Insider’s Perspective on the Boston Principles on the Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights of Noncitizens
Prof. Lewis is a leading expert on public international law. A human rights scholar and advocate for more than two decades, she co-founded the Northeastern University law school's Program on Human Rights and the Global Economy

4/4             Reconciliation and peacebuilding

+Stephen Pope, “The Convergence of Forgiveness and Justice: Lessons from El
Salvador," Theological Studies 64, no. 4 (Dec. 2003), 812-835. Online reserve.

+ Mark Amstutz, “Restorative Justice, Political Forgiveness, and the Possibility of Political Reconciliation,” in Daniel Philpott, ed., The Politics of Past Evil: Religion, Reconciliation, and the Dilemmas of Transitional Justice, pp. 151-188. Online reserve.

Third paper due 4/6 (next class).


  1. Economic Justice

4/6 Moral challenges of global markets

*Jonathan Sacks, The Dignity of Difference, chaps. 4-5, pp. 67-104.

4/11--4/13  A philosophical/economic framework for international distributive justice
*Amartya K. Sen, Development as Freedom, Introduction and chaps. 1-4, pp. 3-110.
4/18  No class—Patriots Day.

4/20 and 4/27 Jewish and Christian Frameworks for distributive justice

*Jonathan Sacks, The Dignity of Difference, chaps 6, 7, 9, pp. 105-141.
National Conference of Catholic Bishops, Economic Justice for All, chap. II, secs. A and B, chap. III, sec. D, These sections are nos. 28-95, and nos. 251-294 of this document.    NOTE: the paragraph numbers of the "Pastoral Message" that precedes the
document should not be confused with the paragraph numbers of the document itself,
which begins with "Chapter I" It is available on the internet at this URL:
5/2 and 5/4
*Amartya K. Sen, Development as Freedom, chaps. 5-8 and 12, pp.111-203, 282-298.

Exam:  Thursday, May 12, 12:30 to 2:30 pm.