Paul L. Franco
Major philosophical questions relating to such matters as the existence of God, the foundations of knowledge, the nature of reality, and the nature of morality. Approach may be either historical or topical. Offered: AWSpS.
Philosophy tries to understand and answer fundamental questions that aren’t often asked in other academic disciplines. But don’t be alarmed; even if you’ve never taken a philosophy course, you’ve likely discussed philosophical questions like the following:
• Is there a God? How can we know if there is a God? • Are there good reasons for acting morally even if we could get away with acting immorally? • What makes you the same person that you were 5, 10, or 15 years ago? • Is sense experience the only evidence we have for our beliefs about the world? • Are our minds different from our brains? Can neuroscience tell us all that there is to know about human consciousness?
The purpose of this class is to think about these questions in the precise and systematic way characteristic of philosophical practice by reading dialogues. The dialogue format shows us the value of engaged and fair conversation in answering tough questions; it also helps us understand and identify the commitments we undertake when we give one answer or another to these questions. In this way, this course will introduce you to both the method of philosophy and a few of its important main doctrines through works by Plato (429–347 B.C.E.), George Berkeley (1685–1753 C.E.), David Hume (1711–1776 C.E.), and works by contemporary philosophers, John Perry, Torin Alter, and Robert J. Howell. TEXTS: Five Dialogues, Plato and G.M.A. Grube; Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous, George Berkeley; Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, David Hume and Richard H. Popkin; A Dialogue on Personal Identity and Immortality, John Perry; A Dialogue on Consciousness, Torin Alter and Robert J. Howell.
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