PHIL 295 - Seminar on Philosophical Topics
Credits: 3 credits in Fall or Winter; 4 credits in Spring
Planned Offering: Fall, Winter
A consideration of selected issues in philosophy. May be repeated for degree credit if the topics are different.
Winter 2013 topic:
PHIL 295: Seminar: Personal Identity (3). In this course, we explore the historical treatment of the concept "person" and the long-standing debate over personal identity. We begin with Plato and Aristotle, then move on to the Scholastics, spend quite a bit of time on the early modernists, and finally turn to the present debate over the persistence conditions of persons. Much emphasis is placed on the background motivations and constraints at work in the different time periods, the different conceptions of "substance," "mode," and "soul" utilized, and the use of thought experiments. The hope is not that we can paint a clear picture of the trajectory of this debate, but that, in the end, we gain an understanding of just how nuanced and intriguing the debate over personal identity is. (HU) Gordon-Roth.
Fall 2012 topic:
PHIL 295: Seminar: Honor Beyond the Classroom: Philosophy of Honor (3). What is honor? It lies at the heart of Washington and Lee's values, yet its hold on the wider American society is tenuous, and its meaning is unclear to many, not least to students struggling to comprehend a revered honor system. This discussion-based seminar seeks to explore the concepts of W&L's core values, including honor, civility, integrity and respect, and to provide a foundation for students to develop their own philosophical interpretations of these values. Our readings include selections from Honor for Us, a book by W&L Emeritus Professor Lad Sessions, who taught a course on the concept of honor at W&L for more than a decade; John Stuart Mill's famous essay On Liberty; Immanuel Kant's celebrated account of ethics based on respect for persons; and W&L's own White Book, which sets forth the principles of The Honor System at W&L. The central philosophical question of this course is: how can honor, civility, integrity and respect thrive, at W&L and beyond, in the 21st century? (HU) Bell.
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