This course name and description ONLY applies to academic year 2021-2022

PHIL 13195-5: Honors Philosophy Seminar

Instructor: Christopher Shields

This seminar is restricted to students in the Glynn Family Honors Program. Prospectus: This course provides an introduction to philosophy and philosophical method. We will examine inter alia the following main areas and questions: Rational Theology Do we have any compelling, or even plausible, argument for God’s non-existence? Do we have, that is, any good reason to be (or become) theists? Should we be concerned if we do not? What is the relation between faith and reason? If God does exist, how should we conceive God’s nature? Do we have, by contrast, a compelling, or even plausible, argument for God’s non-existence? Do we have, that is, any good reason to be (or become) atheists? Is atheism the only rationally acceptable stance in a scientifically informed world? Should we, perhaps, prefer a humble sort of agnosticism? The Mind and its Place in Nature What is the mind-body problem? (Or, rather: what are the mind-body problems?) Are there good theism-independent reasons for accepting mind-body dualism? What are the prospects, if any, for personal post-mortem survival? What does personal identity consist in? Do we have good reasons for thinking that you are the same person as the two-year old organism with whom you are biologically continuous? (What, precisely, does biological continuity consist in?) Is personal identity necessary for survival? Free Will and Human Responsibility Are human freedom and responsibility compatible with universal causal determinism? Des universal causal determinism in fact obtain? Are human freedom and responsibility compatible with the denial of universal causal determinism? What form of human freedom does moral responsibility require? Morality and its Critics Is there any good reason to accept psychological egoism? Is there any good reason to accept ethical egoism? (What, precisely, is the distinction between psychological and ethical egoism?) What is ‘enlightened’ egoism? What, by contrast, is the unenlightened sort? To what extent, if any, is egoism compatible with cosmopolitanism, understood as the view that all human beings belong to the same moral community? Should we be moral relativists? If so, of what sort? If not, should we be moral nihilists or moral realists? Or? Are there mind- and language-independent moral facts? If so, how might we know them? If not, what are the consequences for moral decision making?