PHIL 101.001 – Introduction to Philosophy: Central Problems, Great Minds, Big Ideas

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Instructor: John Phillips. This course meets MWF 12:20 – 1:10 p.m. in PH 383.

In philosophy we aim to use careful thinking and discussion to answer (or at least better understand) questions so fundamental to the nature of the world and of the human experience that they are difficult to come to grips with in other fields. This course will introduce students to the experience of thinking like philosophers. Instead of attempting to get a historical overview of the field of philosophy, we’ll engage directly with a few key philosophical problems, carefully considering what we can learn from philosophers who have taken up those problems in the past and how we can contribute to their conversations.  Along the way, we’ll practice skills — reading and understanding complex texts, reasoning critically alone or in collaboration with others, and writing persuasively — that will prepare students for future academic success in philosophy classes or elsewhere.

Among the questions that we will likely consider are: What makes someone a good person? How much freedom do human beings have to make their own choices? How certain should we be that our beliefs about the world around us are true? What do we owe to other people living in our society? Is there such a thing as an objective morality that everyone should follow? When is civil disobedience justified?