A seminar focused on a theme in the study of philosophy. Open only to first-year students.
Fall Semester informationErik Wielenberg
197A: FYS:Apes and Forms
197B: FYS:Intelligent Life
197C: FYS:Climate Change & Philosophy
Fall Semester informationRichard Cameron
197A: FYS: Climate Change and Philosophy
Climate change poses significant philosophical problems. For example, it poses problems in epistemology or the theory of knowledge: what do we know about climate and how do we know it? How do we explain the gulf between the scientific "consensus" on climate change and public skepticism? And so on. Moreover, it raises problems about who we are (e.g., what responsibilities do we have and why?) and what it means to be an educated person in the 21st century. Can we learn to imagine living well yet sustainably? What will we need to know, what virtues will we need to develop, wand what sacrifices will we need to make in order to live well in a climate changed world? The course will introduce students to research from a wide range of fields and in both the physical and social sciences and responses to the climate crisis that take many forms. But our primary focus throughout will be on climate as it poses existential questions each of us needs to grapple with: who am I and what kind of person should I be given the world as I find it to be?
197B: FYS: The Philosophy of Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings
The course will deal with philosophical issues that arise from the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings series of books and movies. Some issues that may be discussed: do Slytherins have virtue? ; how does Voldemort retain his personal identity? ; does Hogwarts promote equal opportunity and feminism?; would Orc genocide be morally acceptable?; are the Elves' pessimism a vice or virtue?; should pity have saved Gollum?; does the ring of power corrupt absolutely?; don't hungry Goblins have the natural right to eat Hobbits?; is Tolkien's environmentalism naive?
197C: FYS: Space and Time
What is space? What is time? Does time have a beginning? Does time have an end? How old is the universe? How do we know? Is there a "center" of the universe? If so, where is it in relation to us? Is there a fundamental difference between the Left and the Right? Is the present metaphysically privileged in some way or is the present just like the past and the future? Is time naught but a human projection or does it exist independently of us? Does time actually pass? Does time have an intrinsic direction? Is time travel possible? Are there other, extra-terrestrial civilizations? Is space substantive like Jell-O, permeating all or is space merely a relation between solid things? This course will explore these questions and others relating to space and time through metaphysics, science fiction, popular lectures, popular articles, and other media.