INTRODUCTION TO PHILOSOPHY
(THROUGH SCIENCE FICTION)
(PHIL 101, Sec. 1002)
    Reading and Viewing Assignments

    Readings are listed by author, selection title, and pages numbers (in parentheses). Readings from What Does It All Mean? by Nagel are listed by author and chapter number. Online readings are listed by author and title and labled "online". They are either available through WebCampus/Canvas, in the Readings and Viewings module, accessible via the side-menu Modules link, or they are linked here directly.

  • For Jan. 23: Read Nagel, Chapter 1 (also available online), Perry and Bratman, "On the Study of Philosophy" (online), and Russell, "The Value of Philosophy" (Chapter XV). Then watch the video with Kwame Anthony Appiah, "What Does a Philosopher Do?". (You might also watch "The Personal Philosophy of Kwame Anthony Appiah", and "Kwame Anthony Appiah on Cosmopolitanism".) Finally, read Perry, Bratman, and Fischer, "Logical Toolkit" (online).
  • For Jan. 25: Read Kukla, "Philosophy, Comedy, and the Need for Good Material" (online), then read Plato, Apology (pp. 1-22). These Reading Questions can help you focus on some of the main points of the Plato. (They are just for you, not to hand in--but for discussion everyone should be able to answer at least these questions.) Then read Dove, "Critical Thinking: A Very Short Introduction" (online) and Weston, A Rulebook for Arguments, Chs. I-III, V-VI, Appendix I. Check out my Logic Poem to help you keep track of some of the basic logical notions.
  • For Jan. 30: Read Plato, The Republic, Book VII ("Allegory of the Cave", pp. 360-365, also online on WebCampus). Then read Dick, "The Electric Ant" (online). Use the Assignment link in WebCampus/Canvas to write your first Electronic Journal entry (type it into the text box provided), describing parallels and similarities between Plato's allegory and Dick's short story. Submit your Journal entry before 1pm on 1/30. Then read Russell, "Appearance and Reality" (Chapter I).
  • For Feb. 1: Read Pollock, "A Brain in a Vat" (online) and Nagel, Ch. 2. Then watch The Matrix and read Nozick, "The Experience Machine" (online).
  • For Feb. 6: Watch Star Trek: The Original Series (TOS), "The Cage" [S1:Ep0/1] (linked on WebCampus and also available for viewing on Paramount+). Then read Descartes, "Meditation One" and "Meditation Two" from Meditations on First Philosophy, followed by Heinlein, "They" (online).
  • For Feb. 8: Read Descartes, "Meditation Three" from Meditations on First Philosophy and Russell, "The Existence of Matter" (Chapter II). Submit Electronic Journal Entry #2 via the link on WebCampus/Canvas before 1:00pm.
  • For Feb. 13: Re-read Russell, "The Existence of Matter". Next, re-read Descartes, "Meditation Two" with a focus on the mind-body distinction, and then read Nagel, Chapter 4, and Churchland, "The Ontological Problem (The Mind-Body Problem)" (pp. 7-21 on Dualism) from Matter and Consciousness (online).
  • For Feb. 15: read Descartes, "Meditation Six" (in particular, pp. 53-58 in the book or pp. 29-31 in the online PDF) and "Correspondence between Descartes and Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia" (online).
  • For Feb. 20: No class for Presidents Day! (But get started on the reading due for Wednesday.)
  • For Feb. 22: Read Nagel, Chapter 9 and Perry, A Dialogue on Personal Identity and Immortality (update: read all of it--all three "nights"--but focus on "The First Night" for now). Then watch Star Trek: The Original Series (TOS), "Turnabout Intruder" [S3:Ep24] (online). Submit Electronic Journal Entry #3 [Note the new date!] via the link on WebCampus/Canvas before 1pm.
  • For Feb. 25: It's a Saturday, but if you are doing the Extra Credit Journal Entry, it is due on this day before midnight.
  • For Feb. 27: Re-read "The Second Night" and "The Third Night" from the Perry book. Then watch Star Trek: TNG, "Second Chances" [S6:Ep24] (online) and read "The Meeting" by Pohl and Kornbluth (online). Then read Egan, "Learning to Be Me" (online) and Churchland, "The Ontological Problem (The Mind-Body Problem)" (pp. 36-42 on Functionalism). Next watch Star Trek: TNG, "The Measure of a Man" [S2:Ep9]. Finally, read the Wikipedia entry on the Turing test and Nagel, Ch. 3.
  • For Mar. 1: Read Anderson, "Searle and the Chinese Room Argument: Parts I and II" (online).Watch Ex Machina. Submit Journal Entry #4 before 1pm via the Assignment link on WebCampus/Canvas. Next, read Nagel, Ch. 6.
  • For Mar. 6: Re-read Nagel, Ch. 6. Then read Chiang, "What's Expected of Us" (online) and Davis, "Please Don't Tell Me How the Story Ends" (online). Finally, read Taylor, "Freedom and Determinism" (online). Write out answers the Reading Questions 1-4 at the beginning of the Taylor article. Submit Electronic Journal Entry #5 via the Assignment link on WebCampus/Canvas before 1pm.
  • Mar. 8: Study for the Midterm Exam, which will be LIVE REMOTE, given via WebCampus/Canvas during the regularly scheduled time for our class (1pm-2:15pm, plus 10 minutes extra). Everything from weeks 1-8 of the course is relevant.
  • Mar. 20: Read Chiang, "Story of Your Life" (online) and Federman, "What Kind of Free Will Did the Buddha Teach?" (online). Then read Nagel, Chapter 7.
  • Mar. 22: Read Plato, The Republic, Book II ("The Ring of Gyges", pp. 212-221). Then watch H.G. Wells's The Invisible Man (from 1933). Then read "Good Minus God" by Louise Antony (online). Work on Electronic Journal Entry #6, to submit via the Assignment link on WebCampus/Canvas before 5pm on Friday 3/24 [Note the new date!].
  • Mar. 27: Read Sheckley, "The Monsters" (online) and Rachels, "The Challenge of Cultural Relativism" (online). Then read the longish story by Yudkowsky, "Three Worlds Collide" (online). Also, per Mini Task 3 on the syllabus, email me about what form of Research Project you want to do for the course: an Individual Essay or a Group Presentation.
  • Mar. 29: Watch Star Trek: TOS, "Journey to Babel" [S2:Ep10] (online). Then read Kant, "Preface" and "First Section" from Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals (Sections 387-405 by the margin numbers, which turns out to be pp. 1-18 in the hardcopy or pp. 3-21 in the online PDF version).
  • For Apr. 3: Read Kant, "Second Section" from Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals (Sections 406-440 by the margin numbers, which turns out to be pp. 19-45 in the hardcopy or pp. 22-58 in the online PDF version). Then read Godwin, "The Cold Equations" (online). Next, read Mill, Utilitarianism, Chapters I and II. Submit Journal Entry #7 on WebCampus/Canvas by 1pm.
  • For Apr. 5: Watch Star Trek: SNW, "Lift Us Up Where Suffering Cannot Reach" [S1:Ep6] (online) and read LeGuin, "The Ones who Walk Away from Omelas" (online). Then read Nagel, Chapter 8, and Vonnegut, "Harrison Bergson" (online).
  • For Apr. 10: Read Nozick, selections from Anarchy, State, and Utopia (online). Then read Okin, "Libertarianism: Matriachry, Slavery, and Dystopia" (online) and Kress, "Beggars in Spain" (online--a longer story!). Email me a basic outline of what your Research Project will cover (Mini Task #4), as explained in the Announcement on WebCampus/Canvas.
  • For Apr. 12: Read "Rawls Rules: Three Post-War Liberals Strove to Establish the Meaning of Freedom" from The Economist (online) and Rawls, "A Theory of Justice" (online). Then read Le Guin, "The Day Before the Revolution" (online). Submit Journal Entry #8 on WebCampus/Canvas by 1pm.
  • For Apr. 17: Read Kress, "Out of All Them Bright Stars" (online). Then read Mills, The Racial Contract, Intro and Ch. 1 (online) and Bell, "The Space Traders" (online). [Recommended supplementary reading: Appiah, "The Uncompleted Argument: Du Bois and the Illusion of Race" (online).] Then watch Star Trek: TOS, "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield" [S3:Ep15]. Submit your complete (to-be-graded) Research Project Outline via the assignment posting in WebCampus/Canvas.
  • For Apr. 19: Re-read Mills, Mills, The Racial Contract, Intro and Ch. 1 (online). Then read Russ, "When it Changed" (online) and hooks, "Understanding Patriarchy" (online).
  • For Apr. 24: Re-read hooks, "Understanding Patriarchy" (online). Then read Sturgeon, "The World Well Lost" (online). Next, read Barnes, "The Metaphysics of Gender" (online) and watch Star Trek: TNG, "The Outcast" [S5:Ep17].
  • For Apr. 26: Read Bacigalupi, "The Tamarisk Hunter" (online) and Ch. 1 of The Water Knife (online). Then read Nelson, "Aldo Leopold, Environmental Ethics, and the Land Ethic" (online) and Callicott, "The Land Ethic" (online). Submit Journal Entry #9 on WebCampus/Canvas by 1pm.
  • For Apr. 30: Sunday! Submit your Individual Essay Research Project to Turnitin.com via the link in the Assignment posting on WebCampus/Canvas before midnight. [Note the new, later due date compared to the syllabus!]
  • For May 1: Read Forster, "The Machine Stops" (online) and Verbeek, "Cultivating Humanity: Towards a Non-Humanist Ethics of Technology" (online).
  • For May 3: Read Asimov, "The Last Question" (online) and Nagel, Chapter 10. Then read Bostrom, "The Future of Humanity" (online). Submit Journal Entry #10 on WebCampus/Canvas by 1pm.
  • For May 8: Study for the Final Exam, which will be online, given via WebCampus/Canvas during the scheduled exam time for our class (1pm-3pm). Everything from the semester is relevant, but weeks 9-15 will be emphasized.

Last updated May 4, 2023

This site is maintained by James A. Woodbridge.

This document was created on January 15, 2023.