This course introduces students to some of the central questions in philosophy and identifies some potential answers to them. For example, we consider epistemological questions such as whether we can trust our senses and, more generally, whether we can know anything. We consider metaphysical questions such as whether God exists and whether we could survive the death of our bodies. Finally, we consider normative questions such as whether we have a moral obligation to donate money to famine relief and whether it is morally wrong to buy and eat factory-farmed meat, pollute the environment, and/or play violent video games.
This course introduces students to the most influential philosophers of the 17th and 18th centuries, including Descartes, Princess Elisabeth, Malebranche, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, Reid, and Kant. Along the way, we consider whether there is an external world and, if so, what it is like and how we acquire knowledge about it.
This course helps students improve their ability to identify and evaluate the arguments they encounter every day. After learning the fundamentals of good reasoning, including some basic formal logic, students learn how to identify cases of bad reasoning, specifically those that appear in formal arguments, informal arguments, analogical arguments, and statistical arguments.
This course introduces students to some ethical questions and identifies some potential answers to them. We consider practical questions such as whether we have a moral obligation to donate money to poverty relief and whether we are morally permitted to buy and eat factory-farmed meat. We also consider theoretical questions such as what makes our lives go well, whether there are any moral rules, and, if so, what they are.
This course introduces students to a number of normative questions and helps them develop the skills they need to answer them. In particular, we consider what we owe the global poor, animals, and the environment. Next, we look at whether affirmative action is justified and ask whether our federal drug and immigration policies are just. Finally, we consider whether abortion and/or physician-assisted suicide should be legal and whether we should require would-be parents to be licensed.
This course prepares students to think more critically about your relationship to the environment. In general, we investigate what we owe (if anything) to future generations, animals, plants, species, and ecosystems. We discuss whether it is wrong to eat meat and consider what we should do about endangered species, climate change, and GMOs. Along the way, students develop the philosophical skills they need to answer these questions.
What should we eat? In this course, we take a closer look at the U.S. food system in hopes of answering this question. In particular, we investigate how our eating habits affect us, food workers, the international community, animals, and the environment. Along the way, students develop the habits of mind and critical thinking skills necessary for succeeding in college. They learn to read academic papers, take positions on controversial issues, and defend those positions in writing. They also identify moral principles that they can apply not only to moral questions that arise within their fields of study but also to moral questions that arise in everyday life.
This course prepares students to think more critically about the ethical questions they will face as professionals. With that goal in mind, students become familiar with the leading ethical theories (namely, utilitarianism, Kantian deontology, and virtue ethics) and learn how to apply those theories to a variety of practical problems. In particular, they investigate what professionals owe their clients, their local communities, their societies, and the environment. Accordingly, students try to figure out when (if ever) they should give clients more information, break confidentiality, blow the whistle, participate in service organizations, etc. Along the way, students develop the philosophical skills they need to answer these questions and justify their answers.
This course introduces students to some philosophical questions that arise within the United States legal system and identifies some potential answers to those questions. For example, we investigate the relationship between the law and morality, how to interpret the law, what sorts of speech should be protected, what counts as equal protection, who we should punish, and why we should punish them.