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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.

Spring Semester information

Jennifer Everett

209A: Tps:Animal Ethics

Are humans the only animals with moral rights? Does the suffering of a pig or a chicken matter more than, less than, or the same, morally speaking, as the suffering of a dog, a chimpanzee, or a human? Is it permissible to eat animals and/or animal products? Should animals be used for research? What should we think about hunting, zoos, or rodeos? This course examines theories concerning the moral and legal status of nonhuman animals, controversies involving the ethics of certain practices of using animals for human purposes, and questions of ethical activism and legal reform.

Jeffrey Dunn

209B: Tps:The Ethics Project: What To Do With $1,000

The highlight of this class is a semester-long, experiential project called the Ethics Project. The idea is simple: Think of something good to do that adds value to the world. Then do it. To help you implement your project, The Janet Prindle Institute for Ethics will make available to each group up to $1,000 in funding. This project gives you great freedom to be entrepreneurial, but also great responsibility. At the end you will need to justify the way you spent your time and money. How do you know you added value to the world? Why does it matter? The course content will complement the Ethics Project. In class we will think about different kinds of value, about how values might be measured, and the promise and dangers therein. We will address questions about cooperation and self-interest, as well as foundational questions about the role of business, the role of government regulation, and the role of markets. Thinking about these foundational questions and then implementing the Ethics Project is excellent career preparation. In some jobs, people tell you what to do. But as you advance in your career, you will have jobs where you have to identify what the most important problems are, and then solve them. That is what we will do in this class.