PHIL-180 Philosophy and Star Trek
Star Trek is very philosophical. What better way, then, to learn philosophy, than to watch Star Trek, read philosophy, and hash it all out in class? That's the plan. This course is basically an introduction to certain topics in metaphysics and epistemology philosophy, centered around major philosophical questions that come up again and again in Star Trek. In conjunction with watching Star Trek, we will read excerpts from the writings of great philosophers, extract key concepts and arguments and then analyze those arguments. The questions that we will wrestle with include:
I. Is time travel possible? Could we go back and kill our grandmothers? What is the nature of time?
II. Could reality be radically different from what "we" (I?) think? Could we be brains in vats?
III. What is the relation between a person's mind and his functioning brain--are they separate substances or identical? Can persons survive death? Can computers think? Is Data a person?
IV. What is a person? When do we have one person, and when do we have two (think of the episodes where people "split" or are "fused")?
V. Do people have free will, or are they determined by the laws of nature to do exactly what they wind up doing, while believing they have free will? Or both? What is free will?
Course requirements: Four papers, 1000 words long, typed, double-spaced, on topics suggested a week in advance in class. Participation in discussions.
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