Philosophy 10106: Introduction to metaphysics & epistemology
Tuesday & Thursday, 12:45-2:00 in the Stepan Center
Metaphysics is the study of the ultimate nature of reality. Epistemology is the study of what we can know about reality. This introduction to metaphysics and epistemology will focus on a few clusters of big questions:
- Does God exist? Can we prove that God exists? How could God exist in a world with the kind of evil we find in our world?
- Do we have free will? Is there such a thing as fate? Is free will compatible with the findings of science?
- What kind of thing am I? Could I survive death? Could I survive being uploaded into a computer?
- What should I believe? Should I only believe what I can prove? Should I trust science? What should I believe when people disagree with me?
- What is real? Is there a real difference between right and wrong? What is justice? What is race? What is gender?
The course is divided into five sections, with each section devoted to one of the big questions listed above. At the end of each section of the course, we'll meet for a discussion day, in which the class will break into small groups. Part of each discussion day will be devoted to discussion of a film or TV episode which addresses the topic of that section of the course.
Readings for the course are very short; often they are only 1 or 2 paragraphs. They are all available via links from the syllabus. You should do the readings before the lecture. Rather than spending a lot of time on readings before class, you should spend a lot of time thinking about the material after lecture.
After each lecture, one or more questions will be added to a web page on which you'll record your developing philosophical views over the course of the semester. You should update this "My Philosophy" page after every class meeting.
AssignmentsStudents will write three papers. There will also be a midterm and final exam.
GradingYour grade will be determined as follows:
- 15% for each of your three papers
- 15% each for the midterm and
final examUpdate: the final exam is canceled. Your final exam grade will be the best grade from your four other main written assignments (the three papers, and the midterm).
- 15% for work on your "My Philosophy" page
- 10% for participation in lecture, discussion days, and online
Participation in the class will be evaluated in three main ways: (1) participation in discussion days, (2) participation in lecture, including in-class polls, and (3) participation in the Slack channel for your discussion group.
Notre Dame has no official way of indexing numerical grades to letter grades. This is the system that will be used in this course: