Fall 2013 Courses

  • Please note that for the 2013-14 academic year, official course numbers are now four digits. This page only shows the older three-digit course numbers. If you need to see both the old and the new numbers, consult the College Catalogue.
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014. Personal Identity
Matthew Stuart M 10:30 - 11:25, W 10:30 - 11:25, F 10:30 - 11:25
What is it that makes you a person, and what is it that makes you the same person as the little kid in your parents’ photo album? Philosophers have defended a number of different answers to these questions. According to some, it is persistence of the same soul that makes for personal identity. Others argue that it is persistence of the same body that matters, or the continuity of certain biological processes. Still others contend that it is psychological relations that matter. We will canvas all of these answers, and will consider thought experiments about soul swapping, brain transplants, and Star Trek transporters. Readings from both historical and contemporary sources.
025. On the Power and Limits of Persuasion
Nathan Rothschild T 8:30 - 9:55, TH 8:30 - 9:55
Examines the robust debate in Classical Athens about the power of words—both in public and private—to shape our opinions, desires and even our character. Authors studied will include Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, Thucydides, Plato and Aristotle. Concurrent with considering what persuasion can accomplish, the course will explore these authors’ views concerning what it cannot. Of particular concern will be the relationship of persuasive speech to true speech, whether persuasion can lead to character change, and the dangers of false public opinion and debate. In part this course is intended as a philosophically inflected introduction to the thought and literature of Ancient Greece.
111. Ancient Philosophy
Denis Corish T 11:30 - 12:55, TH 11:30 - 12:55
A survey of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century European philosophy, focusing on discussions of the ultimate nature of reality and our knowledge of it. Topics include the nature of the mind and its relation to the body, the existence of God, and the free will problem. Readings from Descartes, Locke, Hume, Kant, and others.
145. Truth and Morality: One, Many, or None?
Scott Sehon M 11:30 - 12:55, W 11:30 - 12:55
If we disagree about whether or not the earth is flat, or whether Obama was born in Kenya, it seems that we are disagreeing about something to which there is a single true answer; we can’t all be right. On the other hand, when we contemplate the complexity of cultural diversity and worldviews in different times and places, it might seem implausible that there is a true moral view that applies to everyone at all times. Investigates whether there is moral truth: whether there are objective moral truths that hold for everyone, whether moral truth is somehow relative to particular cultures or whether there is no such thing as truth or morality. Readings from mostly contemporary sources.
152. Death
Matthew Stuart T 10:00 - 11:25, TH 10:00 - 11:25
Considers distinctively philosophical questions about death: Do we have immortal souls? Is immortality even desirable? Is death a bad thing? Is suicide morally permissible? Does the inevitability of death rob life of its meaning? Readings from historical and contemporary sources.
222. Political Philosophy
Lawrence Simon M 2:30 - 3:55, W 2:30 - 3:55
Examines some of the major issues and concepts in political philosophy, including freedom and coercion, justice, equality, and the nature of liberalism. Readings primarily from contemporary sources.
223. Logic
Scott Sehon M 1:00 - 2:25, W 1:00 - 2:25
Examines some of the major issues and concepts in political philosophy, including freedom and coercion, justice, equality, and the nature of liberalism. Readings primarily from contemporary sources.