Philosophy 13195: Honors philosophy seminar
Course description Syllabus
Grading Honor code
How to access readings Writing philosophy papers
Philosophy on the internet Philosophy at Notre Dame

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Date Topic Reading Assignments
Tuesday, August 23
Introduction to the course
Does God exist?
Thursday, August 25 The cosmological argument, pt 1 Aquinas, The Five Ways First draft of mini-paper due
Tuesday, August 30 The cosmological argument, pt 2 van Inwagen, Metaphysics ch. 7 Comments on first drafts of mini-paper
Thursday, September 1 class canceled
Tuesday, September 6 The design argument van Inwagen, Metaphysics ch. 8-9
optional readings
Second draft of mini-paper due
Thursday, September 8 The argument from miracles Hume, "Of miracles" Comments on second drafts of mini-paper
Tuesday, September 13 Pascal's wager Pascal, Pensees (selection)
Thursday, September 15 The problem of evil Mackie, "Evil and omnipotence" Final draft of minipaper due
Tuesday, September 20 The free will defense van Inwagen, The Problem of Evil (selection)
Is free will compatible with determinism?
Thursday, September 22 Free will and three mysteries van Inwagen, Metaphysics ch. 12 Comments on final draft of minipaper
Tuesday, September 27 Free will as compatible with determinisim Sider, "Free will and determinism"
Can I have free will even if God knows what I am going to do?
Thursday, September 29 Fate and freedom Taylor, "Fate"
Chiang, "What's expected of us"
Tuesday, October 4 Two opposing views on freedom & God's knowledge Edwards, Freedom of the Will
Aquinas, "Whether the knowledge of God is of future contingent things"
Is free will valuable?
Thursday, October 6 Not as much as you might think Pereboom, "Hard incompatibilism and meaning in life"
Is knowledge of the external world possible?
Tuesday, October 11 The evil demon Descartes, Meditations I-II
Thursday, October 13 [discussion of the value of a liberal arts education, as part of "Liberal Arts Week"; no reading] First paper due
Fall break
Knowledge of the external world, cont.
Tuesday, October 25 The demon defeated? Descartes, Meditations III, V, & VI (excerpts)
Thursday, October 27 A quick argument against the skeptic Moore, "Proof of an external world"
Should the fact that other people (who are just as smart as you, and have just the same evidence as you) disagree with you cause you to lose confidence in your beliefs?
Tuesday, November 1 Yes Feldman, "Epistemological puzzles about disagreement"
Thursday, November 3 No Kelly, "The epistemic significance of disagreement"
What makes actions right or wrong? Should we judge them by their consequences, or some other way?
Tuesday, November 8 Consequentialism & utilitarianism Mill, Utilitarianism (excerpt)
Thursday, November 10 Problems for consequentialism Nozick, "The experience machine"
Thomson, "Killing, letting die, and the trolley problem"
Tuesday, November 15 Kant's ethics Kant, Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals (selection)
Thursday, November 17 Ethics and virtue Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics (selection) Second paper due
Tuesday, November 22 Divine command theory

Plato, Euthyphro (selection)
Cudworth, A Treatise Concerning Eternal and Immutable Morality (excerpt)
Quinn, "God and morality" (excerpt)

Thanksgiving break
Selected questions about the ethics of life and death
Tuesday, November 29 Is abortion ever morally permissible?

Thomson, "A defense of abortion"
Paul VI, Humanae vitae

Thursday, December 1 Euthanasia

Singer, Rethinking Life and Death (excerpt)
Wolf, "Confronting physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia: my father's death"

Tuesday, December 6 Famine and the scope of moral obligation Singer, "Famine, affluence, and morality"
Thursday, December 8 Concluding discussion None Third paper due