Introduction to Philosophy: The Big Questions

Fall 2020 Courses

Introduction to Philosophy
10101 01 (10327)
McDaniel
2:00-3:15 MW
First Year Students Only


Introduction to Philosophy
10101 02 (17617)

Bays
12:30-1:45 TR
First Year Students Only


Introduction to Philosophy
10101 03 (20397)
Audi
12:30-1:45 MW
First Year Students Only

This course will explore major works of philosophy and, through discussing them in depth, will introduce some of the major problems of philosophy and some of its methods for understanding them.  Students will be asked to write short essays on some of the readings or on philosophical problems related to them. These problems include the nature of knowledge, the varieties of goodness, the scope of our obligations to others, the types of evidence for the existence of God, and the objectivity of ethics.  A special aim of the course is to help participants both to write well and to acquire skill in discussing issues effectively in a setting conducive to wide-ranging inquiry and to the development of distinctive views of one’s own.

Texts will likely include works by Plato and Aristotle, Aquinas, Descartes, Hume, Kant, and Mill. The works in question have had an enormous influence and are still considered valuable resources for dealing with their main topics.  Readings will be discussed in detail, often with close attention to important passages. Critical interpretive reading is encouraged, and the appraisal of major positions on knowledge and reality, good and evil, theism and atheism, freedom and compulsion, and the nature of human persons will be central concerns.


Introduction to Philosophy
20101 01 (15421)
Duarte
2:00-3:15 TR

Through a reading of various classical and contemporary philosophical works, we shall consider a number of fundamental questions, such as: What is virtue? What makes for a good human life? Is true and certain knowledge about the world even possible for human beings? Can human beings be said to be free if their choices are causally determined? Is there a God, and if so, why is evil permitted? Is death a bad thing, and if so, why? Authors to be read will include Plato, Bertrand Russell, and Thomas Nagel. Emphasis will be placed on carefully and critically reading philosophical texts, evaluating philosophical arguments, and learning how to write clearly and precisely.


Introduction to Philosophy
20101 02 (11134)
Seachris
9:30-10:45 MW

Why are you here? What is real? What can you know? What should you believe? How should you live? For what should you hope? What is your destiny? You did not choose to exist, but here you are. In virtue of being here, and in virtue of being a human being, questions like these define and depict the condition in which we find ourselves. Philosophy was and continues to be a discipline that systematically attempts to frame and answer such questions with intellectual rigor—questions that we all ask at one time or another in one form or another.

This course offers a targeted glimpse into key problems and questions in philosophy, with central aspects of the human condition serving as our guide. Course readings will include a thoughtful mix of historic and contemporary philosophical sources, as well as publicly-engaged pieces aimed at connecting perennial philosophical questions to twenty-first century life.  

Most classes will consist of a combination of lecture, discussion, and group activities. Our aims in this course include: (1) promoting a fuller understanding of the central issues in western philosophical history, (2) deepening our appreciation for how our current beliefs about ourselves and the world are set within the larger context of this history, (3) connecting timeless philosophical questions with some of the most pressing issues of our day, (4) cultivating a spirit of humility and respect as we listen to and dialogue with those who disagree with us on important matters, and (5) improving our capacity to think, speak, and write well.


Introduction to Philosophy
20101 03 (14838)
Seachris
11:00-12:15 MW

Why are you here? What is real? What can you know? What should you believe? How should you live? For what should you hope? What is your destiny? You did not choose to exist, but here you are. In virtue of being here, and in virtue of being a human being, questions like these define and depict the condition in which we find ourselves. Philosophy was and continues to be a discipline that systematically attempts to frame and answer such questions with intellectual rigor—questions that we all ask at one time or another in one form or another.

This course offers a targeted glimpse into key problems and questions in philosophy, with central aspects of the human condition serving as our guide. Course readings will include a thoughtful mix of historic and contemporary philosophical sources, as well as publicly-engaged pieces aimed at connecting perennial philosophical questions to twenty-first century life.  

Most classes will consist of a combination of lecture, discussion, and group activities. Our aims in this course include: (1) promoting a fuller understanding of the central issues in western philosophical history, (2) deepening our appreciation for how our current beliefs about ourselves and the world are set within the larger context of this history, (3) connecting timeless philosophical questions with some of the most pressing issues of our day, (4) cultivating a spirit of humility and respect as we listen to and dialogue with those who disagree with us on important matters, and (5) improving our capacity to think, speak, and write well.


Introduction to Philosophy
20101 04 (14429)
Galbraith
11:00-12:15 TR

This course will provide an introduction to the methods and themes of contemporary philosophy. In discussion-based seminars, students will learn to use critical thinking skills to analyze a number of major questions in ethics, epistemology, and philosophy of religion. These questions concern the foundations of morality, the nature of the mind, our knowledge of scientific facts, and the existence of God. Finally, we will discuss the applicability of philosophy to modern problems, applying philosophical methods to the analysis of pressing and controversial issues in politics, law, and technology.