Summer 2016 Courses
104-1 Special Topics in Philosophy-Freshmen Science & Religion
The common view portrays science and religion as often in conflict. But what is science, and what is religion? Is it true that they conflict, and has that always been true? We’ll begin the course examining these questions and will then turn to particular issues where science and religion propose different answers. We’ll see that when religion turns to science to defend various doctrines, as it has done, e.g., in order to defend the idea of an intelligent designer, it often gets the science wrong. On the other hand, we’ll also see that when scientists look to science to address perennial philosophical problems, such as free will or consciousness, they also err. We will have to decide in the end what morals to draw from the misuse of science that occurs within both the religious and scientific communities.
243-1 Ethics in Business
During the first several days of this course, we will examine the moral foundations of commercial civilizations: the principles that underly cultures, like ours, in which people typically are related to one another as traders. After that, we will discuss a number of controversial ethical issues that arise in business, ones in which there are arguments on both sides. Included among these issues will be the ethics of bribery and extortion, the validity (or invalidity) of intellectual property rights, insider trading, and paternalistic safety regulations. Work for the course: a midterm and final exam on the assigned readings and a short (5 pg.) paper.
141-1 The Meaning of Life
This course enters the subject of philosophy through a question that is familiar to nearly every student: What is the meaning of life? This question will be approached through reading both classical philosophical works (by Plato, Aristotle, Epictetus, Tolstoy, Kant, etc.) and the works of contemporary philosophers (Wolf, Nozick, Nagel, Kazez, etc.).
241-1 Introductory Ethics (fulfills category B requirement for the major)
In deciding how to act, we frequently guide ourselves by principles, which forbid or require various kinds of action. Moral philosophy is the attempt to systematically explore a number of questions which arise in connection with such principles. We may ask, for example: What are the correct moral principles? Is morality a matter of personal or cultural preference? Is God the source of morality? Why should I be moral? Is there any way for us to know what one ought to do in a given circumstance? In this class, we will explore what philosophers have had to say about these issues. Prerequisites: Sophomore Status.
211-1 Elementary Logic
Suppose I say, "If no one moved the cheese since last night, it's in the fridge. If I didn't move the cheese, then no one did. I didn't move the cheese. So it's still in the fridge." This argument concerning the whereabouts of the cheese contains some premises followed by a conclusion. The argument is structured so that if the premises are true, the conclusion must be true as well.
In this course we will represent arguments in symbols to reveal their structure, then study argumentative structures that guarantee a true conclusion from true premises. We will also learn how to prove that an argument with a particular structure is valid. The techniques we will learn are necessary for every area of contemporary philosophy, and are relevant to areas of economics, mathematics, computer science, rhetoric, and the law.
341-1 Contemporary Moral Issues (fulfills Comm B requirement)
We will begin with a discussion of how we might be able to tell whether a certain action is morally permissible or not. We will then apply some of what we've learned about moral theories in our consideration of a variety of controversial moral issues. For example, we'll consider the question of whether we're obligated to help those in need and, if so, to what extent. Among other topics, we'll also consider whether it's morally permissible to eat meat, use performance enhancing substances, and to clone human beings.