Introduction to Philosophy: The Big Questions

PHIL 10100 is our traditional general introduction to philosophy. This course is typically structured around a number of philosophical questions of enduring interest, like:

  • Does God exist?
  • What am I?
  • What can we know?
  • Do we have free will?
  • What, if anything, does morality require of us?

The course typically involves two lecture meetings per week, followed by a smaller discussion group meeting on Friday.

Fall 2018 Courses

Introduction to Philosophy
10101 01 (10339)
Roeber
9:30-10:45 TR
First Year Students Only

This course will explore the nature and relevance of philosophy, as well as major themes in Western philosophy, including the existence of God and the origins of the universe, knowledge of the external world, the mind-body problem, personal identity, free will, morality, and the meaning of life. It also aims to teach how to think, read, and write critically about philosophical issues.


Introduction to Philosophy
10101 02 (10352)

Audi
11:00-12:15 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 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
10101 03 (15932)

Rodriguez
8:20-9:10 MWF
First Year Students Only

This class will provide an overview of issues that are both important problems of philosophy and issues relevant to the lives of each of us: the existence of God and the problem of evil, the nature of human beings (whether we are more than just bodies, and whether we are free), and what moral standards we should follow (if any). We will also deal with the particular moral issue of war and peace, examining in some detail the positions of pacifism and just war theory.

The goal is for students (a) to become familiar with the issues involved for each topic and with responses that have been posed to these questions (to this end students will be required to read pieces both classical and modern), and (b) to develop the abilities to analyze the alternatives and to adopt more well-thought-out positions of their own (to this end students will be required to participate in class discussions and regularly write papers responding to readings). Class requirements include participation, three papers, and two exams.


Introduction to Philosophy
10101 04 (11893)

Tolly
5:05-6:20 TR
First Year Students Only

Philosophers ask and seek answers to important questions about the fundamental nature of reality—questions that aren’t specifically addressed by the other disciplines in the humanities or the empirical sciences. These include (but are not exhausted by): “What exists?,” “What does having free will amount to, and do we have it?,”  “What does it take to know something?,” “What is personal identity?,” “What is morally right for me to do?,” “What is race?,” “Is time travel possible?,” “Does God exist?,” “What is the meaning of life?,” etc.

In this course, students will investigate a handful of these central questions in philosophy.  We will focus on the key arguments in play on both sides of these debates, with an aim to equip students to form their own considered judgments on these philosophical questions.  Along the way, we will work as a class to develop the following philosophical skills: critical and careful reading, understanding and reconstructing arguments, philosophical discussion with one’s peers, and philosophical writing.


Introduction to Philosophy
10101 05 (11892)

Rodriguez
9:25-10:15 MWF

First Year Students Only
 

This class will provide an overview of issues that are both important problems of philosophy and issues relevant to the lives of each of us: the existence of God and the problem of evil, the nature of human beings (whether we are more than just bodies, and whether we are free), and what moral standards we should follow (if any). We will also deal with the particular moral issue of war and peace, examining in some detail the positions of pacifism and just war theory.

The goal is for students (a) to become familiar with the issues involved for each topic and with responses that have been posed to these questions (to this end students will be required to read pieces both classical and modern), and (b) to develop the abilities to analyze the alternatives and to adopt more well-thought-out positions of their own (to this end students will be required to participate in class discussions and regularly write papers responding to readings). Class requirements include participation, three papers, and two exams.


Introduction to Philosophy
10101 06 (19799)

Rodriguez
11:00-11:50 MWF
First Year Students Only

This class will provide an overview of issues that are both important problems of philosophy and issues relevant to the lives of each of us: the existence of God and the problem of evil, the nature of human beings (whether we are more than just bodies, and whether we are free), and what moral standards we should follow (if any). We will also deal with the particular moral issue of war and peace, examining in some detail the positions of pacifism and just war theory.

The goal is for students (a) to become familiar with the issues involved for each topic and with responses that have been posed to these questions (to this end students will be required to read pieces both classical and modern), and (b) to develop the abilities to analyze the alternatives and to adopt more well-thought-out positions of their own (to this end students will be required to participate in class discussions and regularly write papers responding to readings). Class requirements include participation, three papers, and two exams.


Introduction to Philosophy
10101 07 (19798)

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

In this discussion-based course we’ll discuss central questions and arguments in philosophy. Course content is divided into four units: ethics, metaphysics, epistemology, and philosophy of religion and death. We’ll be puzzling over whether there are moral facts, how we could survive tele-transportation, what it means to have free will, and whether we should believe in an afterlife.


Introduction to Philosophy
10101 08 (19800)

Schmitt
11:00-12:15 TR
First Year Students Only

Philosophy engages a capacity we all have to wonder—about ourselves, the world, and our place in the world. This course enables you to systematically examine these topics, reflecting on your own views as well as the relationships between your views and alternative views espoused by great thinkers throughout history. We explore questions falling under five main headings:

(1) Epistemology: What is knowledge? What justifies us in believing what we do?
(2) Metaphysics: What are we like as human beings? Are we free? Are we morally responsible? Are we primarily thinkers or doers?
(3) Philosophy of Religion: Does God exist? If God exists, why is there evil in the world? Should we practice a religion?
(4) Ethics: How should we live? Are there objective moral truths? What does morality require?
(5) Existentialism: Is death bad? What makes our lives meaningful?


Introduction to Philosophy
10101 09 (19797)

Snapper
2:00-3:15 MW
First Year Students Only

This course introduces students to some philosophical questions and helps them become more skilled at formulating and understanding arguments. Each class will be a mixture of lecture and discussion. We will discuss arguments, morality, God, religion and science, race, climate change, robot ethics, abortion, personhood, knowledge, and freedom.


Introduction to Philosophy
20101 01 (16954)
D. Cory
2:00-3:15 MW

The philosophical impulse is the desire to know, and this desire is shared by everyone. But while the desire might be common in our experience, it is hard to explain exactly what it is or what it is a desire for, because it is hard to say exactly what knowledge is and what knowledge is about. Philosophy 20101 considers why the thirst for knowledge such a pressing concern and just what it is we're so desperate to know. Is this desire our most fundamental desire or is it motivated by deeper desires, e.g. to prolong life, to alleviate suffering, or to increase wealth or pleasure? Are truth claims inherently manipulative? How is what we believe shaped by our feelings and vice versa, and does this interplay between the head and the heart undermine the reliability of our knowledge? Do we desire to know everything equally much or are there especially satisfying forms of knowledge, e.g. knowledge of our own history, or interpersonal knowledge (of each other or of God), or knowledge of scientific theory? Philosophy 20101 will focus on key primary texts in the history of philosophy, with special attention to Plato. Students will learn to read and reflect critically on these texts, and will learn how to engage and respond to them in writing and orally.


Introduction to Philosophy
20101 02 (11204)
D. Cory
3:30-4:45 MW

The philosophical impulse is the desire to know, and this desire is shared by everyone. But while the desire might be common in our experience, it is hard to explain exactly what it is or what it is a desire for, because it is hard to say exactly what knowledge is and what knowledge is about. Philosophy 20101 considers why the thirst for knowledge such a pressing concern and just what it is we're so desperate to know. Is this desire our most fundamental desire or is it motivated by deeper desires, e.g. to prolong life, to alleviate suffering, or to increase wealth or pleasure? Are truth claims inherently manipulative? How is what we believe shaped by our feelings and vice versa, and does this interplay between the head and the heart undermine the reliability of our knowledge? Do we desire to know everything equally much or are there especially satisfying forms of knowledge, e.g. knowledge of our own history, or interpersonal knowledge (of each other or of God), or knowledge of scientific theory? Philosophy 20101 will focus on key primary texts in the history of philosophy, with special attention to Plato. Students will learn to read and reflect critically on these texts, and will learn how to engage and respond to them in writing and orally.


Introduction to Philosophy
20101 03 (15748)

Snapper
11:00-12:15 MW

This course introduces students to some philosophical questions and helps them become more skilled at formulating and understanding arguments. Each class will be a mixture of lecture and discussion. We will discuss arguments, morality, God, religion and science, race, climate change, robot ethics, abortion, personhood, knowledge, and freedom.


Introduction to Philosophy
20101 04 (15131)
Spencer
3:30-4:45 TR

An introductory examination of many of the central issues in philosophy. Among the topics that may be discussed are: free will and determinism (What is free will, and do we have it? Is it compatible with the idea that everything in the universe is determined? Is free will a necessary condition for holding people morally responsible for their actions?), skepticism about knowledge (What and how do we know things? Do we even know we exist?), the existence of God (or that God exists?), the nature of the mind and its relation to the body (Are the mind and the brain identical? What is conscious experience and can it be described in physical terms?), the ground of moral judgment (how should we treat other human beings? What principles ought we to use in decided when an action is right and wrong?), and whether life has a purpose or is absurd and meaningless ( what does it mean for something to have a purpose, what are possible sources of a purpose?). Readings will be drawn from both classic and contemporary philosophers.


Introduction to Philosophy
20101 05 (11205)

Phillips
3:30-4:45 TR

In this discussion-based course we’ll discuss central questions and arguments in philosophy. Course content is divided into four units: ethics, metaphysics, epistemology, and philosophy of religion and death. We’ll be puzzling over whether there are moral facts, how we could survive tele-transportation, what it means to have free will, and whether we should believe in an afterlife.


Introduction to Philosophy
20101 06 (19803)
Phillips
5:05-6:20 TR

In this discussion-based course we’ll discuss central questions and arguments in philosophy. Course content is divided into four units: ethics, metaphysics, epistemology, and philosophy of religion and death. We’ll be puzzling over whether there are moral facts, how we could survive tele-transportation, what it means to have free will, and whether we should believe in an afterlife.


Introduction to Philosophy
20101 07 (12310)

Schmitt
12:20-1:45 TR

Philosophy engages a capacity we all have to wonder—about ourselves, the world, and our place in the world. This course enables you to systematically examine these topics, reflecting on your own views as well as the relationships between your views and alternative views espoused by great thinkers throughout history. We explore questions falling under five main headings:

(1) Epistemology: What is knowledge? What justifies us in believing what we do?
(2) Metaphysics: What are we like as human beings? Are we free? Are we morally responsible? Are we primarily thinkers or doers?
(3) Philosophy of Religion: Does God exist? If God exists, why is there evil in the world? Should we practice a religion?
(4) Ethics: How should we live? Are there objective moral truths? What does morality require?
(5) Existentialism: Is death bad? What makes our lives meaningful?


Introduction to Philosophy
20101 08 (16953)
TBA
11:00-12:15 TR


Introduction to Philosophy
20101 09 (10832)
Finocchiaro
12:30-1:45 TR


Introduction to Philosophy
20101 10 (15132)
Finocchiaro
2:00-3:15 TR


Introduction to Philosophy
20101 11 (19802)

Snapper
9:30-10:45 MW

This course introduces students to some philosophical questions and helps them become more skilled at formulating and understanding arguments. Each class will be a mixture of lecture and discussion. We will discuss arguments, morality, God, religion and science, race, climate change, robot ethics, abortion, personhood, knowledge, and freedom.


Introduction to Philosophy
20101 12 (19804)

TBA
11:00-12:15 MW