Philosophical Ideas in Film
Philosophy 264 – Summer Session, 2009
Cook/Douglass Lecture Hall, Room 110
5/26/09 – 7/02/09
M/T/W/TH, 10:30 a.m. – 12:20 p.m.
Course Instructor: Angela Harper
Office: # 140, Davison Hall (between the Douglass Student Center and the Co-op on
Office Phone: (732) 932-9861 ext. 140
Office Hours: By Appointment
Rachels, James. Problems from Philosophy. Second Edition, McGraw-Hill.
Problems from Philosophy will be available at Rutgers University Bookstore in the Ferren Mall (on French/ Albany St.) It may also be purchased online. All other readings will be provided in electronic or hard copies.
I. Course Description
“Philosophy examines the fundamental assumptions we make about ourselves and the world we inhabit and tries to determine whether those assumptions are rationally defensible.” -Elliott Sober The purpose of philosophy is “to substitute articulate hesitation for inarticulate certainty.” -Bertrand Russell
In this course we will be discussing the following traditional topics in philosophy:
1) God and Religious Belief
2) The External World: How can we know what it’s like?
3) Who Are You and What Are You Like?
a) Personal Identity: What is required for you to continue to exist through time?
b) What is your mind? How is it related to your brain? How do you know that other people have minds? Could animals or computers have minds too?
c) Free Will: Do you really have free will? Or is it just an illusion?
4) Morality: What is really valuable? How should we behave?
We hold many commonsense views on the above topics. Are our views rationally defensible or are they comfortable illusions?
Our goal is to reach answers to these important philosophical questions by reasoning correctly from assumptions that are plausible.
II. Assignments and Grading
10 Short Answers: 60%
Final Exam: 40%
III. Policy on Late Assignments
Absolutely no late assignments! Each short answer is due at the beginning of the class. If you are more than 15 minutes late to class, you response will not be accepted.
VI. Class Participation
You are encouraged to ask any and all questions about the material. Your participation will make the class more enjoyable for you, so please participate! You may even ask questions outside of class. Just direct your questions to me via e-mail, and I will do my best to ensure that they are answered.
VII. Classroom Behavior
This class meets at a difficult time, namely breakfast time. I will allow eating in class, but please be courteous to those around you. Additionally, be on time, turn off your cell phones, don’t interrupt your fellow students (or me), stay awake, and generally be respectful. Our class session ends at 12:20 p.m. and I will always end the class on time or a few minutes early. I will not tolerate students loudly putting their books away five minutes before class ends, so don’t do it! I will stop the lecture and wait for you, and I will be less inclined to let everyone go a few minutes early.
VIII. Academic Integrity
You are all obligated to abide by the Rutgers Policy on Academic Integrity, which can be found at http://ctaar.rutgers.edu/integrity/policy.html. This includes, but is not limited to, your obligation not to copy material off the Internet or from other students, and not to collaborate illicitly. I will not tolerate cheating! Any student caught cheating will receive an automatic F for the course and be reported to the dean. No exceptions!
As this class covers a lot of material, it is essential to do the readings. Most readings are required, however some will be more important than others. I will let you know which readings to focus on as the class progresses. Important: The readings are listed on the date they will be discussed, so be sure to read them prior to the class meeting. Any readings that are not in Problems from Philosophy will be listed online or distributed in class.
As time is an issue, this syllabus is subject to change.
(R) = Problems from Philosophy
Week One: Tuesday, May 26th, How To Evaluate ArgumentsDistribute 1st Short Answer
What is Philosophy?
Subjectivity vs. Objectivity
Deductive vs. Non-Deductive Arguments
Read: (R) How to Evaluate Arguments, 191-199 Wednesday, May 27th, Philosophy of Religion
God (omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, omni-benevolent)
Cosmological Arguments (Aquinas’ First, Second, and Third Way)
Teleological Arguments (Aquinas’ Fifth Way, Paley)
The Role of Conceivability & Darwin
Movie: Selections from The God’s Must Be Crazy
Read: Handout: Aquinas, Paley, Hume
(R) Ch.2 through section 2.4
Thursday, May 28th, Philosophy of Religion cont.1st Short Answer Due; Distribute 2nd Short Answer
Ontological Argument (St. Anselm)
The Problem of Evil & Possible Responses
Read: Handout: Anselm, Gaunilo
(R) Ch. 2 section 2.5; Ch.3
Week Two: Monday, June 1st, Philosophy of Religion cont.2nd Short Answer Due; Distribute 3rd Short Answer
Rationality and Theistic Belief
Read: Handout: Pascal & Russell, Why I am not a Christian Tuesday, June 2nd, Philosophy of Religion cont.
Wednesday, June 3rd, Epistemology and the External World
Wrap-up Discussion: Philosophy of Religion
What is knowledge? When are we justified?
Knowledge as True, Justified, Belief
Rationalism & Empiricism
Global vs. External World Skepticism
Descartes’ project, skepticism, the Veil of Perception
Read: Handout: Rationalism & Empiricism
Descartes, Selections from Meditations on First Philosophy
(R) Chapter 10
Thursday, June 4th, Epistemology and the External World cont.3rd Short Answer Due; Distribute 4th Short Answer
Lockean standard of justification vs. Cartesian standard
The Case of the Red Barns
The Natural Theory of Perception (McGurk Effect)
Read: Locke, Selections from An Essay Concerning Human Understanding
Berkeley, Selections from Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous
Week Three: Monday, June 8th, Epistemology and the External World cont.4th Short Answer Due; Distribute 5th Short Answer
Tuesday, June 9th, Epistemology and the External World cont.
Hume and the Problem of Induction
Goodman and the New Riddle of Induction
Read: Ayer’s explication of Hume’s Problem
Hume, Selections from An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding Handout: Goodman, The New Riddle of Induction Wednesday, June 10th, Epistemology and the External World cont.
Externalism (Reliabilism) vs. Internalism
Read: Gettier, Is Justified True Belief Knowledge?
Goldman; What Is Justified Belief?
Thursday, June 11th, Philosophy of Mind5th Short Answer Due; Distribute 6th Short Answer
What is it to be conscious? What is it to recognize consciousness?
The Problem of Other Minds (Heider-Simmel)
Mirror Neurons & Autism
Knowing Other Minds by Analogy (Russell)
The Mind-Body Problem (How are they related?)
Behaviorism (Logical vs. Methodological)
Read: (R) Chapter 6
Handout: Russell, excerpt from Human Knowledge: Its Scope and Limits
Lycan, The Mind-Body Problem
Week Four: Monday, June 15th, Philosophy of Mind cont.
6th Short Answer Due; Distribute 7th Short Answer
Dualism vs. Anti-Reductionism (Nagel)
Can Machines Think? (The Turing Test & Searle’s Chinese Room)
Read: Searle, Minds, Brains, and Programs Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, The Turing Test Nagel, What’s it Like to Be a Bat? Tuesday, June 16th, Philosophy of Mind cont.
Movie: Short Circuit
Discussion Wednesday, June 17th, Personal Identity
Wrap-up Discussion: Philosophy of Mind
(What more do we want?)
Our intuitions about our experiences
(Hemifield Neglect; Change Blindness; Inattention Blindness)
Synchronic Vs. Diachronic Identity
Read: Dennett, Where Am I?
(R) Chapter 5
Thursday, June 18th, Personal Identity cont.7th Short Answer Due; Distribute 8th Short Answer
Psychological (Memory) Continuity
Jill Bolte Taylor
Read: Locke on Identity and Diversity
Week Five: Monday, June 22nd, Personal Identity cont.8th Short Answer Due; Distribute 9th Short Answer
Movie: Total Recall
Tuesday, June 23rd, Free Will
Wrap-up Discussion: Personal Identity
Read: Handout: Hume, Selections from An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding
(R) Chapter 8 & Chapter 9
Wednesday, June 24th, Free Will cont.
Movie: Minority Report (145) or Gattaca
Thursday, June 25th, Ethics9th Short Answer Due; Distribute 10th Short Answer
Wrap-up Discussion: Free Will
Utilitarianism (Act vs. Rule)
Subjectivism (Teddy Bear)
Read: Mill, Utilitarianism Kant, Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals Week Six: Monday, June 29th, Ethics cont.10th Short Answer Due
Movie: The Truman Show or Groundhog Day
Tuesday, June 30th, Philosophical Methodology
Wednesday, July 1st, Review Session Thursday, July 2nd