Syllabi

Current Courses

Introduction to Environmental Ethics (AS.150.114)

(Introductory-Level Undergraduate Lecture Course, Johns Hopkins University, Spring 2023)

Some of the most pressing moral issues of our time arise from our impact on the environment.  We will explore questions such as: What obligations, if any, do we have to future generations, other species, or ecosystems?  What does it mean for something to be natural, and is being natural desirable?  What is sustainability, and is it desirable?  What does justice look like in a world where alleviating poverty may require worsening climate change?  What kinds of actions (if any) are ethically required of us as individuals: should we leave action on environmental issues to the state, billionaires, and corporations, or ought we to make drastic changes in our own lifestyles?  Is violent or destructive action appropriate to avert disasters that could kill millions?  How can ordinary individuals determine which experts to listen to on complex issues, and can we deal with such issues within a liberal democratic society?

Prerequisites: None

Textbooks: None (all readings will be made available on Canvas)

Syllabus

Past Courses

The Nature and Significance of Animal Minds

(Upper-Level Undergraduate Seminar, JHU, Fall 2022; previously taught at Columbia University, Fall 2018, as GSAS Teaching Scholar)

Humans have a complicated relationship with other animals.  We love them, befriend them and save them. We hunt, farm and eat them. We experiment on and observe them to discover more about them and to discover more about ourselves.  For many of us, our pets are amongst the most familiar inhabitants of our world. Yet when we try to imagine what is going on in a dog or cat’s mind - let alone that of a crow, octopus or bee - many of us are either stumped about how to go about this, or (the science strongly suggests) get things radically wrong.  Is our thought about and behaviour towards animals ethically permissible, or even consistent? Can we reshape our habits of thought about animals to allow for a more rational, richer relationship with the other inhabitants of our planet? In this course, students will reflect on two closely intertwined questions: an ethical question, what sort of relationship ought we to have with animals?; and a metaphysical question, what is the nature of animal minds?  Readings will primarily be from philosophy and ethics and the cognitive sciences, with additional readings from literature and biology.  There are no prerequisites for this class. It will be helpful but certainly not necessary to have taken previous classes in philosophy (especially ethics and philosophy of mind) or in cognitive science.

Syllabus Fall 2018, Columbia      Syllabus Fall 2022, JHU

AS.150.451/AS.150.651 Animal Points of View

(Upper Level Undergraduate & Graduate Seminar, Johns Hopkins University, Fall 2021, In Person - Co-taught with Ian Phillips)

Are non-human animals conscious? Do they possess a stream of consciousness like our own? This course will explore these questions by asking what it is for an animal to possess a point of view and a temporal point of view in particular.

Syllabus

AS.150.432 (01) Philosophy of Memory

(Upper Level Undergraduate & Graduate Seminar, Johns Hopkins University, Spring 2021, Online)

Memory is amongst the most fundamental capacities of the mind. Without memory, we would be limited to our present experience, and many of our other cognitive capacities and social practices would be impossible. In this course we will investigate interconnected questions including: What is the nature of memory and of its different varieties? How should we study memory: what should be the roles of psychology, neuroscience, and introspection? If someone loses many of their memories due to injury or disease, are they still the same person—and should we still respect their past wishes and hold them responsible for their past deeds? What kinds of memory do other animals have and is this morally significant? Is forgetting always bad? Do we have a duty to remember? How do collective memory and public memorials relate to individual memory, and what lessons does the study of individual memory have for the politics of collective memory?

Syllabus

Advisor: AS.150.300 (01) Prometheus Editorial Workshop (1 Credit)

(Advisor to Undergraduate Committee Running a Philosophy Journal & Conference, JHU, Spring 2021, Online)

Prometheus is an international undergraduate philosophy journal published by students at Johns Hopkins University. The purpose of the journal is to promote philosophic discourse of the highest standard by offering students an opportunity to engage in open discussion, participate in the production and publication of an academic journal, and establish a community of aspiring philosophers. Students enrolled in this workshop will act as the staff readers for the journal. For more information, please visit www.prometheus-journal.com. Prerequisite: MUST have taken one philosophy course.

Epistemology

(Introductory/Intermediate-Level Undergraduate Class, Columbia, Summer 2018, In Person)

Epistemology is the study of knowledge.  We will begin by looking at classic reasons for worrying about whether we know anything at all, and some important responses to those worries.  This will lead us to examine particular sources of knowledge, such as perception, testimony and reasoning. In thinking about these sources of knowledge, we will consider such questions as: How does sensory perception give us knowledge (and does it)?  Do we have a special kind of access to our own minds? Whom we should listen to and rely on for information? Can we justify our practices of reasoning and justification? We will read a combination of classic texts and contemporary work.

Syllabus     Updated Syllabus for Future Iterations


Draft Syllabi Available on Request

Introduction to Philosophy

Introduction to Cognitive Science

Introduction to Logic

Philosophy of Science

Philosophy of Mind

Philosophy of Cognitive Science

Philosophy of Neuroscience

Philosophy of Biology

Metaphysics

The Later Wittgenstein

Aesthetics

Philosophy and Cognitive Science of Music