This course offers an introduction to philosophy by exploring a range of questions from epistemology, metaphysics and ethics including:
- What is knowledge and can we really know anything?
- Are we responsible for what we do if everything we do is caused by prior events?
- What is the mind, where is it, and what is its relation to the brain or body?
- People often disagree about what is right and wrong. So is morality just relative?
- Is liberty sacrificed, or promoted, when governments use taxes to promote equality?
These questions are interesting and important. That’s why philosophers explore them. You may have views about them already. I hope this course offers you an opportunity to develop those views through reflection and discussion.
I also hope that through classroom discussion, lectures and readings you will:
- learn what some philosophers have said about these topics;
- learn why they have said those things;
- learn the skills of philosophical analysis and argumentation;
- develop a broader and deeper interest in philosophy; and
- become prepared for more advanced courses in philosophy.
There is no textbook. The week-by-week reading list is on page 2 of the Course Syllabus, and the readings will be made available to enrolled students via BrightSpace. Some weeks I set one article per lecture, other weeks one article for two lectures. Read all assigned material before class. Lectures and discussions are designed only to clarify and supplement the texts. As you read the set material, stop and think, jot down notes, and if you don’t understand or disagree with something, raise this as a question in class.