Note that all Fall courses are being taught remotely. Please consult each course description to find out instructors’ plans for how the course will be delivered.
Instructor: Sergio Sismondo
FALL & WINTER - ONLINE (6.0)
Are you looking for a broad introduction to philosophy? Here’s a course structured both around some important themes and the broad sweep of philosophy’s history. We’ll explore arguments about reality, knowledge, ethics and politics, from antiquity to the current day. We’ll be dealing with abstract issues about such things as the basis of morality, but will also apply what we learn to some contemporary issues. We’ll also be focusing on writing. Students in this course will be evaluated on the basis of a number of small writing assignments each term, due weekly. There will be no midterms or exams. All required course materials will be posted online, available to students in any time zone.
- Texts/Readings: multiple readings, mostly available online
- Assessment: multiple small assignments and essays
- Learning Hours: 240 (72L; 168P)
- Exclusion: No more than 1 course from PHIL 115/6.0; PHIL 127/6.0; PHIL 151/3.0.
- Note: Students considering a Major or Medial Plan in PHIL are strongly urged to take PHIL 111/6.0 or PHIL 115/6.0 in their first year.
Instructor: Mark Smith
FALL- ONLINE (3.0) & WINTER - ONLINE (3.0)
This course will offer students a critical examination of a selection of the principal works of the Western philosophical tradition. We will examine each of our selections both in its historical context, and also as a living approach to questions of enduring concern today. Through an exploration of Aristotle, Descartes, Hume, Kant, and Mill, we will tackle such questions as the nature and possibility of knowledge, freedom of the will, moral obligation, ethical objectivity, and the nature of the human beings whom we are.
This offering is entirely asynchronously delivered online, with a variety of ways to engage with your professor and TAs, as well as each other. Through podcasts (with text available for you to read if you wish), I will introduce you to each of the themes we will broach. Then the details of the various arguments will be explored through lecture-style audio slideshows I have prepared. There will be a weekly online discussion forum, and the opportunity for live video chat with me or with the TAs.
- Texts/Readings: A selection of works will be available through the course site. All of the readings are available through the course website—there is no additional textbook, and all course materials are site-embedded.
- Assessment: 3 in-class reading tests; 2 short papers; 1 final exam
- Learning Hours: 120 (24L;12T;84P)
- Exclusion: PHIL 111/6.0
Instructor: Jacqueline Davies
FALL - ONLINE (3.0) & WINTER - ONLINE (3.0)
How have diverse philosophers and wisdom traditions identified and responded to moral issues? What are our individual intuitions and established opinions about them? The course encourages each of us to examine reasoning for and against various responses, especially our own. Particular issues examined may include lying and cheating, harmful speech, punishment, paying for or being paid for sex, our responsibilities to understand and address climate crisis, public health and wellbeing and our responsibilities to strangers, as well as to the natural environment. Finally, do we have a moral responsibility to know and respond to injustice? Students will become familiar with various philosophical frameworks, and their distinctive approaches to moral questions, as well as the significance of the language we choose to describe a moral issue. Skills emphasized include the careful reading of philosophical texts, reflective writing to explore and test your intuitions and opinions, and writing an argumentative essay. The course is suitable for first time philosophy students as well as philosophy concentrators keen to reflect on their own views and reasonable alternatives. No background in philosophy is assumed.
- Assessment: Regular participation in (asynchronous) written online class discussions (20%); Regular active reading assignments (20%); Best five out of six multiple-choice reading-comprehension quizzes (10%); A scaffolded argumentative essay assignment (writing an essay in four stages: worth 5%+10%+15%+20%)
- Learning Hours: 120 (24L;12G;84P)
- Note: Student availability for the timetabled slots for this course is not required. These slots will be dedicated to virtual "office hours" held by the instructor, and the optional enrichment of occasional group discussions.