PHIL 203: BIAS, BELIEF, COMMUNITY, EMOTION
Anna Moltchanova, 4,5c
What is important to individuals, how they see themselves and others, and the kind of projects they pursue are shaped by traditional and moral frameworks they didn’t choose. Individual selves are encumbered by their social environments and, in this sense, always ‘biased’, but some forms of bias are pernicious because they produce patterns of inter and intra-group domination and oppression. We will explore various forms of intersubjectivity and its asymmetries through readings in social ontology and social epistemology that theorize the construction of group and individual beliefs and identities in the context of the social world they engender.
**Extra Time Required
PHIL 210: LOGIC
Jason A Decker, 2,3c
The study of formal logic has obvious and direct applicability to a wide variety of disciplines (including mathematics, computer science, linguistics, philosophy, cognitive science, and many others). Indeed, the study of formal logic helps us to develop the tools and know-how to think more clearly about arguments and logical relationships in general; and arguments and logical relationships form the backbone of any rational inquiry. In this course we will focus on propositional logic and predicate logic, and look at the relationship that these have to ordinary language and thought.
PHIL 213: ETHICS
Daniel M Groll, 1,2c
How should we live? This is the fundamental question for the study of ethics. This course looks at classic and contemporary answers to the fundamental question from Socrates to Kant to modern day thinkers. Along the way, we consider slightly (but only slightly) more tractable questions such as: What reason is there to be moral? Is there such a thing as moral knowledge (and if so, how do we get it)? What are the fundamental principles of right and wrong (if there are any at all)? Is morality objective?
PHIL 255: COMPARATIVE PHILOSOPHY
Hope C Sample, 5a
Philosophical problems are motivated by human concerns that are often shared across cultures. In this course, we will analyze how philosophers from different traditions have approached problems concerning the structure of reality, the nature of knowledge and experience, and how we ought to live. We will identify how their cultural context impacts their resolution of metaphysical, epistemic, and ethical problems. Moreover, beyond comparing and contrasting, we will consider how philosophers from different philosophical traditions could have learned from or inspired one another if they had engaged with one another. By engaging in this cross-cultural and critical investigation, we will gain a broader view of how philosophy has been used to make sense of the world and its limitations and prospects.
PHIL 289: DEATH, DINNER, AND DISCUSSION
Daniel M Groll, Tues., 10:10-11:55 am
We’re all going to die. We all know that. But we seem to spend a lot of our lives avoiding thinking and talking about it. This course aims to remedy that. We will meet weekly to talk about death and, more specifically, the choices we think we might want to make about how we will die and how we want to live at the end of our lives. Students in the class will be asked to think seriously and share their thoughts about these issues. Students will read some popular books that invite people to think about the end of their lives, hold a Death Over Dinner discussion as a class (with the professor), and hold (and write about) a Death Over Dinner discussion with some of their peers outside of class. Be ready to talk and to listen! We’ll provide the Kleenex.
PHIL 373: REPTILES AND DEMONS
Jason A Decker, 5,6c
Skeptical arguments—like Descartes’ malignant demon argument—threaten to completely undermine our claim to have any knowledge of this world. Philosophers (and non-philosophers) have often met our apparent inability to answer these skeptical arguments with a shrug. The skeptical scenarios exert no gravitational pull on most minds and can be safely filed under “philosophical curiosities.” Meanwhile, global conspiracy theories—like David Icke’s theory that the world’s governments are overrun with shapeshifting reptilians from the constellation Draco—also threaten to undermine our knowledge of the world. Trying to answer them runs us into the very same cognitive and epistemic roadblocks that we run into with philosophical skepticism. We can’t, however, meet these theories with a shrug. Conspiracy theories—even the wilder ones—do attract adherents and do have real-world (and sometimes devastating) consequences. Intensifying our predicament is the undeniable fact that we live in a world that is rife with conspiracies—some of them rather wild. In this seminar we will examine the cognitive architecture and evidential conditions that contribute to our predicament and then ask whether cognitive science or formal epistemology can offer any useful tools or strategies for confronting philosophical skepticism and conspiracy theories.
**Prerequisite: A prior 200-level course in philosophy