Undergraduate Courses &
Movies and Philosophical Conversation , Summer 2020/Winter 2021
There are many ways of characterizing logic. Broadly speaking, logicians are interested in studying formal features of language and the relation between those formal features and the meaning of linguistic expressions. More specifically, logic studies systematic methods of distinguishing good reasoning from bad reasoning. This course will focus on two types of formal systems: propositional logic and predicate logic. We are going to learn how to translate sentences of English into the formal language of each system and establish a formal definition of good inference using logical operators and truth functions in each system.
Logic lies at the intersection of philosophy, linguistics, mathematics and computer science—especially programming languages and artificial intelligence. This course, thus, will help students acquire foundational skills and knowledge for studying these disciplines and enhance the analytic skills necessary for reading, writing and thinking at the college level.
This course will introduce students to several traditional topics, problems and methods of philosophy by reading, discussing and writing about historical and contemporary philosophical texts on them. The course will invite students think about life’s big questions. Does God exist? What is the argument for or against God’s existence? Can we rationally justify belief in God? What is knowledge? How can we know about what we have not observed yet? Is mind material? If so, how can an immaterial mind interact with a physical body? Where is the place for consciousness in a physical world? What makes me myself? What does it take for me to exist over time as the same person? What makes actions and people morally good or bad? Is a moral life a good life? (Specific topics may change during the term.) After mastering basic concepts and tools in philosophy and with a clear understanding of texts, students will not only learn about different philosophical views on these issues but will also learn how to navigate and discuss big, difficult questions.
Metaethics, Spring 2020
First Year Writing Seminar : Reasoning about Moral Issues, Spring 2018, Fall 2017 @ Cornell University
Does a fetus in a woman’s body have a right not to be killed? Would a worldwide ban on eating and using animals increase the net happiness of the world? Do animals have moral rights? Do we have the right to die on our own terms? Do we owe it to other people to tell the truth about ourselves? Do we have a right to sell or use our own body for money? In this course, we are going to explore contemporary moral issues regarding abortion, assisted suicide, lying about oneself, vegetarianism, animal rights and the morality of prostitution (or selling body parts). (Subtopics may change.) Based on a clear understanding of ethical terms, concepts and distinctions, we are going to tackle philosophical arguments for and against these topics. Through reading and discussing contemporary works in philosophy on these questions, and through writing assignments, students will develop the ability to critically read, understand and write about academic texts.
First Year Writing Seminar : Philosophy and Choices, Spring 2017 at Cornell University
Life is full of choices. They shape our lives. In front of difficulty decisions, we stop and contemplate what to do and what are good choices. If there are bad choices and good choices, then what constitute good choices? What makes a decision-making process good and rational? Is it possible to make right decisions for our future selves? Are rational choices moral? Can I rationally (or morally) choose to be (or pretend to be) a different person? In this seminar, we will survey a number of different philosophical approaches to these questions through discussing several practical choices we might face in our lives. Do we have pragmatic reasons to believe in God? Do we have to be vegetarians? If so, on what ground? Is lying always morally wrong? What about lying for others’ sake or lying to make myself look better? Is a life changing decision such as a choice to have my own child a rational choice? Through reading, discussing and writing philosophical texts dealing with these questions, this class will help you develop the critical thinking abilities as well as analytical writing skills required in any discipline.
First Year Writing Seminar : Philosophy and Death, Spring/Fall 2016 at Cornell University
In this course, we will explore metaphysical and ethical issues around death in philosophy. What is death? The simple answer is “the end of life.” If there is no afterlife, is death really bad for the person who dies? Is it rational to fear death? If immortal life is possible, is living forever without death desirable? Are all deaths misfortunes? If you want to say no, then is every type of causing death morally impermissible? What about euthanasia? Or, abortion? Can suicide ever be a rational choice? Through reading and discussing philosophical texts dealing with these questions and writing philosophical essays, this class will help students develop their critical thinking abilities as well as analytical writing skills.
Developing Assignment Sequences for Argumentative Philosophical Essays, Presented in Central APA 202