PHIL 180 – Philosophy of Comedy

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Instructors: Matthew Kotzen & Jeff Sebo. This course meets TR 3:30 – 4:45 p.m. in FB 009.

This is a course on various philosophical issues related to laughter and humor. The course is roughly divided into four sections, though part of the aim of the course is to explore connections among the topics in these sections: 1) Historical and contemporary philosophical theories of humor; 2) The science of laughter and humor, including evolutionary accounts of each; 3) Connections between more traditional issues in philosophical aesthetics and the philosophy of humor; and 4) Moral questions about humor, including the question of what makes some jokes racist/sexist/homophobic, the question of how the moral properties of a joke depend on the speaker and audience, and the question of how humor and morality interact.