The Semester in Retrospect

This semester, we all came into our PLA class in the basement of Atherton having basically no idea about any of our classmates. True, we had been given bios about everyone, and we did share ice cream on an afternoon in May, but that didn’t really help me get to know everyone better. Over the summer we were tasked with reading the Critical Thinking book. I know many of us did not do that, but it clearly did not show as I think, on the whole, we had a very interesting, critical, intellectual class this semester. I know that blogging was a new thing for many people, but having read many of the blogs, everyone has gotten the hang of it quite nicely.

Out of the many issues we discussed this year, I think my favorite conversation concerned insider trading. Normally, I am not a financial type of guy. International Politics and Philosophy do not the I-Banker make. However, I enjoyed this conversation because I believe, as we were intended to do in this class, we transcended the issue at hand and delved into the more complex issues at its foundation. Ethics became the focus. What is the right thing to do ethically in this situation? Referring to the hypothetical elevator scenario, where you hear privileged  information in an elevator and then act on it, I was glad that there was a breadth of opinion on the topic. We didn’t just all agree, but our conflicts were civil. I agreed with Chris in that I would have a very difficult time not acting on the information. Is this ethically wrong? I would argue no. As Chris said, our moral values are our own moral values. We decide if what we are doing is right or wrong ethically.  This conversation really struck me.

Moving on, my thoughts about our trip to New York have been made plain in earlier blog posts. To sum up, I had a really good time, and really enjoyed the speakers we had and the experience itself. I realize that we got to do things that other people rarely get to do, and for that we owe a great deal of gratitude to those responsible for facilitating that. Washington D.C. should be really great as well.

I really think we had a great semester. Coming in to the first class we definitely needed our name cards in front of us, but after 15 weeks or so, everyone is a lot more friendly. Our class will be together for the next two and a half years, and I am certainly happy about that fact.

Have a great break everyone!

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