Problems of Philosophy Philosophy 1 Fall 2023

The Course

Philosophy attempts to gain insight into important questions about human life through posing questions and attempting to answer them with arguments. We will cover some of these problems from these groups: ethics, political philosophy, epistemology, or the study of knowledge, metaphysics, or study of the nature of reality, and the meaning of life in the face of death.

Students who complete the course will be familiar with some of the central ideas in philosophy. They will also have extensive experience at presenting their ideas in class discussions and developing analytical essays.

The materials make heavy demands on their readers’ analytical and interpretive skills. Our discussions and writing assignments will focus on the arguments in these works. That is where your analytical skills will come into play. Since we are reading works from different periods in history, we will also have to work hard at interpreting material that is written in ways that are unfamiliar and that reflects the concerns of different kinds of societies.

The syllabus 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.

The Classes

Tue, Aug 29
Thu, Aug 31
Singer on Famine
Tue, Sep 5
Shared Responsibility
Thu, Sep 7
Thomson on Abortion
Tue, Sep 12
Criticism of Thomson
Thu, Sep 14
Plato on the Duty to Obey the State
Tue, Sep 19
Hobbes’s Social Contract Theory
Thu, Sep 21
Mill on Freedom of Expression
Tue, Sep 26
Plato on Knowledge
Thu, Sep 28
The Problem of Induction
Tue, Oct 3
Thu, Oct 5
Criticism of Hume
Tue, Oct 10
Providence and a Future State
Thu, Oct 12
Free Will and Compatibilism
Thu, Oct 19
Free Will and Incompatibilism
Tue, Oct 24
Subtle Compatibilism
Thu, Oct 26
Locke on Identity
Tue, Oct 31
Locke on Personal Identity
Thu, Nov 2
Williams on Personal Identity
Tue, Nov 7
The Branch-Line Case
Thu, Nov 9
The Combined Spectrum
Tue, Nov 14
Life Is Absurd and That Is OK
Thu, Nov 16
Life Is Absurd and That Is Not OK
Tue, Nov 21
Is Death Bad?
Tue, Nov 28
Is Immortality Good?
Thu, Nov 30
Do We Care About the Afterlife?
Tue, Dec 5
Picture Day