• Instructor: Baldino, Anthony | Dykstra, Denise | Lyons, Lauren
  • Description:

    * Saturday meeting

    01 (L. Lyons) Examination of fundamental philosophical issues such as the meaning and basis of moral judgments, free will and determinism, theism and atheism, knowledge and skepticism, and consciousness and the brain.

    03 (A. Baldino) Philosophy begins in a sense of wonder – a wonder about the very world itself and our own conspicuous existence in it. This class is an introduction to the field of inquiry that arises out of this sense of wonder, and it is an invitation to the student to convert that sense of wonder into specific questions and ways of addressing those questions.

    The questions we will consider focus on the possibility of truth and value, the existence of God, ethics, metaphysics, epistemology, and theory of mind. Questions like: How is knowledge possible and what justifies our beliefs? Is there a God? Do we have free will? What is the nature of mind and how does it differ from matter? How should we treat one another, what is of value, and how should we live our lives? The ways of addressing these questions will be through reading original works of philosophy, discussing openly and impartially these works with one another, critically examining the ideas presented, and (if all goes well) developing our own thoughts about the issues under discussion.

    This introduction to philosophy will have been a success if, by the end of the course, you are able to think of yourself as a philosopher – as someone open to thinking philosophically and about philosophical questions, and connecting ideas from philosophy to the things you encounter, experience, think about, and hope for in your everyday life.

    Assessment: There will be two short papers (3-5 pages) and three tests. Class participation will also factor into assessment.

    90 (D. Dykstra) This course invites students to consider a wide range of philosophical questions including: Does it make sense to believe that a morally perfect and all-powerful God exists given the unjustified suffering we see in the world around us? What is the difference between knowledge and true belief? Can we trust what our senses tell us about the external world? How do we justify our prediction that the sun will rise tomorrow? Is it wrong to buy and eat meat? Is abortion morally wrong? What sort of obligations do we have toward the needy? Do we have free will? What is a mind, and how are minds related to brains? In addition to exploring responses that prominent philosophers have given to these questions, students will be invited to formulate their own responses and defend them.

  • Credits: 3
  • Sample Syllabus
  • Syllabus Disclaimer: The information on this syllabus is subject to change. For up-to-date course information, please refer to the syllabus on your course site (e.g. Canvas) on the first day of class.