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PSYC204 Justice, Race and Class

Ranking races and classes by intelligence or ‘merit’ from Plato to Jensen.

This paper is designed for those who are interested in problems that can be solved only by viewing psychology in the context of its relations with philosophy and other social sciences. These include the race and IQ debate, a proper theory of intelligence, how to defend humane ideals versus their opponents and the status of religious experience.

Paper title Justice, Race and Class
Paper code PSYC204
Subject Psychology
EFTS 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period Semester 1 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,092.15
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $5,004.75

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One of PHIL 103, POLS 101, PSYC 111, PSYC 112, SOCI 101
Schedule C
Arts and Music, Science
May not be credited together with PSYC321 passed before 2005.

Teaching staff

Dr Charles Gibson

Paper Structure
Jensen and The Bell Curve are used to show that psychologists study race and class without the necessary philosophical sophistication. Aristotle, Huxley and Skinner are cited as thinkers who tried to collapse moral philosophy into psychology. An overriding theme is whether a combination of these two disciplines can provide a defence of humane ideals. This culminates in a critical analysis of Nietzsche's anti-humane ideals. Full details are available on Blackboard.

A research essay contributes 33.3% to the final grade; the remainder is based on a two-hour final exam.

This paper is based on five themes:
  • Race and intelligence
  • Class and merit
  • Defending humane ideals
  • Our minds and God
  • Ethics and three psychologies
Teaching Arrangements
Three 50-minute sessions each week for a total of 39. Four are tutorials on preparation of essays, essay performance and reviews of the paper at mid-term and at the close. The remainder are lectures, but class participation introduces a tutorial element.

Required reading:
Deary, I. J. (2001). Intelligence. Oxford University Press.
Flynn, J. R. (2008). Where have all the liberals gone? Race, class and ideals in America. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
Flynn, J. R. (2016). Does your family make you smarter? Nature, nurture, and human autonomy. Cambridge University Press.
Flynn, J. R. (2016). Homage to political philosophy: The good society from Plato to the present. Cambridge Scholars Press.
Herrnstein, R. J., & Murray, C. (1994). The Bell Curve. New York: Free Press.
Rushton, J. P. (1999). Race, evolution, and behavior (abridged ed.). New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers.

Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Critical thinking.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete the paper will have a better understanding of:

  • intelligence and the variables which affect it
  • critical evaluation as a tool for responding to controversial claims
  • how social science, politics, and philosophy can asist one another
  • strategies for defending humane ideals
  • the epistemic limiation of narrow specialisations in education
  • the importance of supplementing education with additional reading and critical thinking

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Semester 1

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Tuesday 10:00-10:50 9-13, 15-22
Wednesday 10:00-10:50 9-13, 15-22
Thursday 10:00-10:50 9-13, 15-22