Handouts & assignments
Tuesday, August 25 Philosophy & arguments none Introduction to the course
Valid or invalid?
Does God exist?
Thursday, August 27 The cosmological argument, pt 1 Aquinas, The Five Ways

First mini-paper due
Comments on first drafts of mini-paper

Tuesday, September 1 The cosmological argument, pt. 2

van Inwagen, ch. 7: "Necessary being: the cosmological argument"

Thursday, September 3 The design argument

van Inwagen, ch. 8 & 9: "What rational beings are there?" & "The place of rational beings in the world: design and purpose"
Rees, "Just six numbers"

Second draft of mini-paper due
Tuesday, September 8 A reply to the design argument Dawkins, "Why there almost certainly is no God"  
Thursday, September 10 Pascal's wager Pascal, Pensees (selection)  
Tuesday, September 15 The problem of evil Mackie, "Evil and omnipotence"  
Thursday, September 17 The free will defense van Inwagen, "The problem of evil" (excerpt)  
What does it mean to say that we have free will? Could we have free will even if God knows in advance what we're going to do?
Tuesday, September 22 Free will and determinism van Inwagen, ch. 12: "The powers of rational beings: freedom of the will" Final draft of mini-paper due
Thursday, September 24 The problem of free will and foreknowledge & Aquinas' solution

Edwards, Freedom of the Will (excerpt)
Aquinas, ST Iaq14a13, "Whether the knowledge of God is of future contingent things"
Plantinga, "On Ockham's Way Out"

Tuesday, September 29 Fate & freedom Taylor, "Fate"
Chiang, "What's Expected of Us"
Are persons material things, immaterial souls, or something else?
Does it make sense to believe in life after death, and is there reason to do so?
Thursday, October 1 Dualism & the immortality of the soul Descartes, Meditations (excerpt)
Mendelssohn, On the Immortality of the Soul (excerpt)
Tuesday, October 6 Problems for the dualist van Inwagen, ch. 10: "The nature of rational beings: dualism and physicalism"  
Thursday, October 8 The psychological theory of persons Perry, A Dialogue on Personal Identity and Immortality (excerpt)  
Tuesday, October 13 Psychology and the dissolving self Parfit, "Divided minds and the nature of persons"
Nagel, "Brain bisection and the unity of consciousness"
First 5-page paper due
Thursday, October 15 Materialist views of persons van Inwagen, ch. 11: "The nature of rational beings: dualism and personal identity"
October 20 & 22: fall break
Tuesday, October 27 Materialism and life after death

Hume, "Of the immortality of the soul"
van Inwagen, "I look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come"
Zuboff, "The story of a brain"

Is time real? Does time travel make sense? Is only the present moment real?
Thursday, October 29 McTaggart's paradox

McTaggart, "Time" from The Nature of Existence
Augustine, Confessions (excerpt)

Tuesday, November 3 Time and space-time Sider, "Time"  
Thursday, November 5 Defending the present

van Inwagen, ch.4: "Temporality"
Prior, "Some free thinking about time"
Loux, "The nature of time"

Is it ever possible to act altruistically, or are all actions really self-interested? Is there any reason why we ought not to act in a self-interested way?
Tuesday, November 10 Psychological egoism Feinberg, "Psychological egoism"  
Thursday, November 12 Rational egoism

Plato, Republic II (excerpt)
Sainsbury, "The prisoners' dilemma"
Carroll, "What the tortoise said to Achilles"

What makes an action right or wrong? Should we judge actions by their consequences, or some other way?
Tuesday, November 17 Consequentialism and the theory of value Mill, Utilitarianism II & IV
Nozick, "The experience machine"
Thursday, November 19 Consequentialism applied Singer, "Famine, affluence, and morality" Second 5-page paper due
Tuesday, November 24 Objections to consequentialism

Thomson, "Killing, letting die, and the trolley problem"
Williams, "A critique of utilitarianism" (excerpt)

November 26
Tuesday, December 1 Kant's ethics

Kant, Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals (selection)

Thursday, December 3 class canceled
Tuesday, December 8 Virtue ethics Anscombe, "Modern moral philosophy"  
Thursday, December 10 Concluding discussion none  
  Third 5-7 page paper due on 12/14