Instructor: John Phillips. This course meets MWF 11:15 a.m. – 12:05 p.m. in GL 302.
This course covers several topics in metaphysics (what the world is like, at its most fundamental level, and what kinds of things there are in it) and in epistemology (what knowledge is, and what kinds of things we can know). Some specific questions discussed will include: Does anything exist other than physical objects, made out of matter? Is it possible for human beings to make free choices, and if not, what implications does this have for moral responsibility? Can we rule out the possibility that the world around us is radically different from how we ordinarily believe it to be — for instance, that our experiences are the result of a hallucination or a computer simulation? Do race and gender exist, and if so, what kinds of things are they?
Possible additional topics, depending on time and class interest, may include the nature of time, the possibility of inductive evidence about the world, and the relationship between conscious experience and the physical brain.We will draw primarily on contemporary readings (those from the last century or so), though in a few cases we may read earlier works for context.