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PHIL 209


An introductory course to a systematic field of philosophy, history, philosophical movement, or set of philosophical problems. May be repeated for credit with different topics.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1 course

Fall Semester information

Erik Wielenberg

209A: Tps:Human Nature and Free Market Capitalism

Traditional economics seems to assume that human beings have generally stable preferences, that we are happy to the extent that those preferences are satisfied, and that we always act so as to maximize the satisfaction of our preferences. Behavioral economists argue that this is an inaccurate (or at least incomplete) view of human nature. In this course we will first briefly examine the origins and (some of the) central principles of traditional economics. We will then consider some of the ways that, according to behavioral economists, traditional economics rests on a mistaken view of human nature. Finally, we will draw on ideas from behavioral economics to explore four interesting and important ways in which the free market and human nature interact: (1) the on-going "obesity epidemic", (2) the impact of American-style free market capitalism on families and children, (3) the rise of "bullshit jobs", and (4) the paradox of self-interest, according to which caring most about something other than money can result in money coming your way.

Marcia McKelligan

209B: Tps:Ethics Bowl

Be a part of DePauw's winning tradition! In this class, we will engage in a variety of activities to prepare for the regional Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl competition at Marian University, which will take place in November, 2023. I hope to have two teams of 6 enter the competition. To prepare we will cover the basics of ethical theory and then explore the particular moral and social policy questions raised in the 9 cases that will be made available in early September. All cases will be discussed in detail by all members of the class. We will meet as a group for 6 hours a week (perhaps more once in a while, perhaps less sometimes). Students will write several drafts of papers that will form the basis of their case presentations. Those drafts will be energetically, charitably and constructively critiqued by me and by other members of the class. One goal will be for a DePauw team to win or place highly enough in the regional competition to earn a bid to the national competition in Cincinnati in early 2024. Other significant goals will be to learn in depth about timely and important moral issues, hone your argumentative skills, and gain experience and confidence in the oral presentation and defense of your ideas. It is possible to enroll in the class as an auditor rather than for credit and also for ¼, ½. or 1 credit. Whether you sign up for credit or as an auditor, the workload is the same, and the instructor's permission is required to enroll in the course. Please see me as soon as possible so that I can answer your questions and we can determine if this class is a good option for you. You can learn more about Ethics Bowl at APPE IEB® (appe-ethics.org)

Jeffrey Dunn,
Andrea Young

209C: Tps:Game Theory in Society

Game Theory is a mathematical theory that studies strategic interactions between people. This course will take an interdisciplinary approach to game theory that combines mathematical and philosophical perspectives. Topics may include prisoner's dilemma, strategic voting, the evolution of morality, Hobbes's state of nature, cheating, as well as many others. Throughout, emphasis will be placed on thinking about how mathematical models relate to reality and whether a model is helpful or unhelpful for aiding our understanding. This course assumes no mathematical or philosophical background.