PHIL 122: Identity and Leadership
Eddie O’Byrn 5a, Online
Leaders who face tragedy and violence inspire others with their personal narratives of self-creation and meaning-making. This course invites students to investigate the relationship between the subjective meaning-making experience and various manifestations of the ‘problem of evil’. We will read a variety of texts that highlight narrative experiences of tragedy, self-transformation, and models of leadership as empowerment. The course approaches these topics from a variety of philosophical lenses including: Existentialism, Feminist Philosophy, Africana Philosophy, Queer Studies, Disability Studies, and Religious Studies. The texts of this course will include: Book of Job, Victor Frankl’s Man’s Search For Meaning, Lucy Delaney’s From the Darkness Cometh the Light, Susan Brison’s Aftermath: Violence and the Remaking of the Self, and Eli Clare’s Exile and Pride.
PHIL 236: Proof, Knowledge, and Understanding of Mathematics
Douglas Marshall 2,3c, Online
An introduction to the philosophy of mathematics focusing on the history and development of mathematical proofs. The course is organized around three central questions: i. What is the relationship between a mathematical proof and our knowledge of the theorem that it proves? ii. Do some mathematical proofs go beyond establishing the truth of their theorems and actually explain why the theorems are true? iii. How has our mathematical knowledge grown throughout history? We will first address these questions by reading and discussing Imre Lakatos’s book Proofs and Refutations. We will continue with readings drawn from classic and contemporary sources in the history and philosophy of mathematics. This course has no formal prerequisites, though it does presuppose a willingness to read, assess, and write about mathematical proofs.
PHIL 273: Kant’s Metaphysics
Douglas Marshall 5,6c, Online
In this course, we aim to understand the metaphysics and the theory of cognition developed by Immanuel Kant in his monumental work, Critique of Pure Reason. Some of the main questions Kant addresses: How does the mind represent the world? Can we distinguish the way things appear to us from the way they are in themselves? What are space and time? Does every event have a cause? Is it possible to have knowledge independent of experience? We will think about these questions and attempt to shed light on Kant’s systematic answers to them by means of careful reading and interpretation of Kant’s text.
PHIL 274: Existentialism
Anna Moltchanova 3a, Hybrid
We will consider the emergence and development of major themes of existentialism in the works of Kierkegaard and Nietzsche, as well as “classical” existentialists such as Heidegger, Sartre and De Beauvoir. We will discuss key issues put forward by the existentialist movement, such as “the question of being” and human historicity, freedom and responsibility, and look at how different authors analyzed the nature and ambitions of the Self and diverse aspects of subjectivity.
PHIL 287: Conspiracy Theories and Dogmatism
Jason Decker 1,2c, Face to Face
Conspiracy theories hit us where we are intellectually most vulnerable. They suggest a gap between appearance and reality. They suggest that we have formed our beliefs on the basis of massively misleading evidence. The volume of evidence and arguments conspiracy theorists offer for their theories can be vast and intricate. We are often right to ignore it. But this won’t do as a general policy for the simple reason that history shows conspiracy theorists are sometimes right. This course will look at how philosophers, psychologists and political scientists think about conspiracy theories. We will consider topics such as cognitive dysfunction and bias, epistemic trust, peer disagreement, the puzzle of misleading evidence, dogmatism, and formal theories of probabilistic reasoning. Along the way we will encounter many strange and fascinating conspiracy theories—a few of which have turned out to be true.
PHIL 320: Virtue Ethics
Allison Murphy 2a, Hybrid
What is a good human life? Who is a good person? Virtue ethicists think about these questions in terms of two central ideas. Virtues, such as justice or courage, make us a certain type of person (they give us a certain character). Wisdom (phronesis) enables good judgments about how to act in particular situations. How should we think about the relationship between virtues and wisdom? How does being wise differ from being (merely) intelligent or clever? These will be central questions for us to reflect on as we read several core texts from the contemporary tradition of virtue ethics. We will also spend some time on related concerns, such as what view of human nature, if any, is presupposed by virtue ethics, and how we should understand the relationship between being virtuous and being happy.
IDSC 250: Color!
Marty Baylor, Jason Decker, Julia Strand 4,5c, Face to Face
If you had to explain to a blind person the nature of color, how would you describe it? Is it a property of objects, oscillations of an electric field, a feature of how the eye generates electrochemical signals to send to the brain, or perhaps a property of the experiences themselves? This team-taught course takes a multidisciplinary approach to color, drawing from physics, psychology, and philosophy. We will explore topics such as the nature of light, visual anatomy, the process by which light is converted to a neural code, color mixing, linguistic differences in color processing, and how color leads us to confront the tension that sometimes exists between appearance and reality.
PHIL 122: Identity and Leadership