PHIL 110.001 – Philosophical Texts that Changed the World: An Introduction to Philosophy through Great Works

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Instructor: Martina Orlandi. This course meets MWF 8:00 – 8:50 a.m. in DE 307.

“Look at the world hard enough, and even the most mundane things are revealed as mysterious and wonderful” (T. Sider, “Time”, 44). This, in a nutshell, is what philosophy is about. In this course you will be introduced to some of the main philosophical issues and their most pressing questions. We will start by looking at the three main ethical theories (consequentialism, deontology, and virtue ethics) and examine what constitutes a morally right action. We will then examine questions about the mind and whether there are good reasons to think consciousness is physical. From there we will transition to metaphysics and ask how it is that we maintain our identity through time. Does changing our haircut also change who we are? Are we the same person when we revise some of our dearest beliefs? These questions will lead us to epistemology and the ethics of belief. We will investigate whether we can control our beliefs similarly as to how we control our actions and, assuming it is possible, whether it is permissible to do so. The last two sections of the course will be devoted to politics and gender studies. We will look at the debate about freedom of speech and ask whether hate speech justifies regulations. We will end by examining questions about the difference between gender and sex and the kind of consequences that arise when gender is artificially restricted.