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

Untitled Document
Date Topic Reading Assignments
Tuesday, August 27 Introduction to the course none
Does God exist?
Thursday, August 29 The cosmological argument, pt 1 Aquinas, The Five Ways First draft of mini-paper due
Tuesday, September 3 The cosmological argument, pt 2 van Inwagen, Metaphysics ch. 7  
Thursday, September 5 The ontological argument

Anselm, Proslogion (selection)

Gaunilo, "Reply on behalf of the fool"

Second draft of mini-paper due
Tuesday, September 10 The design argument van Inwagen, Metaphysics chs. 8 & 9
optional readings
Thursday, September 12 The argument from miracles Hume, "Of miracles"
Tuesday, September 17 Pascal's wager Pascal, Pensees (selection)  
Thursday, September 19 The problem of evil Mackie, "Evil and omnipotence"  
Tuesday, September 24 The free will defense van Inwagen, "The problem of evil" (selection) Final draft of minipaper due
Do we have free will? What does this mean? If everything were determined, would that make free will impossible?
Thursday, September 26 The mystery of free will van Inwagen, Metaphysics ch. 12  
Tuesday, October 1 Free will, determinism, and value Sider, "Free will and determinism"
Pereboom, "Hard incompatibilism and meaning in life"
Would a perfectly good God ever send anyone to hell?
Thursday, October 3 The problem of hell Sider, "Hell and vagueness"
Can I have free will even if God knows what I am going to do?
Tuesday, October 8 Fate and freedom Taylor, "Fate"
Chiang, "What's expected of us" 
Thursday, October 10 Some opposing views on freedom & God's knowledge

Edwards, Freedom of the Will
Aquinas, "Whether the knowledge of God is of future contingent things"

Is time real? Does time travel make sense? Do the past and future exist in the same way the present does?
Tuesday, October 15 Time travel & the movement of time Sider, "Time"
Thursday, October 17 Relativity and time bias Einstein, Relativity (excerpt)
Prior, "Some free thinking about time"
First paper due
Fall break
Are actions right or wrong? What makes an action right or wrong? Should we judge acts by their consequences, or some other way?
Tuesday, October 29 Moral relativism Rachels, "Cultural Relativism" and "Subjectivism"
Thursday, October 31 Consequentialism and its critics

Mill, Utilitarianism (excerpt)

Nozick, "The experience machine"
Thomson, "Killing, letting die, and the trolley problem"

Tuesday, November 5 Kantian ethics Kant, Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals (selection)
Thursday, November 7 class canceled
Selected questions in applied ethics
Tuesday, November 12 Abortion Thomson, "A defense of abortion"
Paul VI, Humanae vitae
Thursday, November 14 Capital punishment Pojman, "A defense of the death penalty"
Nathanson, "Why we should put the death penalty to rest"
Catechism of the Catholic Church, §2267
Tuesday, November 19 Assisted suicide & euthanasia

Singer, Rethinking Life and Death (excerpt)
Wolf, "My father's death"
Catechism of the Catholic Church
, §§2276-2279

Is altruism possible, or are all actions ultimately self-interested?
Thursday, November 21 Evolution, action, and altruism Feinberg, "Psychological egoism"
Kitcher, "Biology and ethics"
Second paper due
Some questions about knowledge and skepticism
Tuesday, November 26 Our knowledge of the external world

Descartes, Meditations (selection)

Moore, "Proof of an external world"

Thanksgiving break
Tuesday, December 3 The problem of induction

Hume, Enquiry concerning human understanding (excerpt)

Goodman, "The new riddle of induction" (excerpt)

What am I?
Thursday, December 5 An immaterial thing Descartes, Meditations (selection)
Jackson, "What Mary didn't know" (excerpt)
Tuesday, December 10 A material thing van Inwagen, Metaphysics, chs. 10 & 11
Thursday, December 12 Not really a thing Parfit, "Divided minds and the nature of persons" Third paper due