About This Course

Philosophy 190 is a course for senior philosophy majors. The centerpiece of this course is a literature review on a topic of your choosing. A literature review summarizes and evaluates the scholarly literature on a topic. The summary should identify what the major ideas in the literature are and how they are related to one another. A literature review involves evaluation in two ways. First, you have to exercise judgment in deciding which works are important enough to be included in the review. Second, you should seek to identify significant limitations in the works under review. At the end of the term, you should be able to explain both the major positions taken by scholars writing on your topic and also the chief strengths and weaknesses of those positions.

Having completed the literature review, you will have done the senior project required to graduate as a philosophy major. You will also be in a position to write a senior thesis in the spring; having done a critical review of the scholarly literature, you will be able to forge ahead with a contribution of your own.

The syllabus (PDF) has a schedule of topics for discussion, readings, and assignments; it also describes the standards for grades and other policies for the class. Registered students can find all other materials on Sakai.

Class Notes

Tue, Sep 4
First Day
Thu, Sep 6
How to Assemble a Reading List
Tue, Sep 11
What is a Literature Review?
Thu, Sep 13
Nagel on the Absurd
Tue, Sep 18
What is Your Topic?
Thu, Sep 20
Russell’s First Presentation
Tue, Sep 25
Paskalina’s First Presentation
Thu, Sep 27
Bay’s First Presentation
Tue, Oct 2
Oscar’s First Presentation
Thu, Oct 4
James’s First Presentation
Tue, Oct 9
Adrian’s First Presentation
Thu, Oct 11
Coleman’s First Presentation
Tue, Oct 16
Russell’s Second Presentation
Thu, Oct 18
Paskalina’s Second Presentation
Thu, Oct 25
Bay’s Second Presentation
Tue, Oct 30
Oscar’s Second Presentation (updated Sun, Nov 11)
Thu, Nov 1
James’s Second Presentation
Tue, Nov 6
Nothing Happened
Thu, Nov 8
Coleman’s Second Presentation
Tue, Nov 13
Adrian’s Second Presentation