PHIL-180 Philosophy and Star Trek
Fall for 2011-2012
Star Trek is very philosophical. What better way, then, to do philosophy, but to watch Star Trek, read philosophy and hash it all out in class (and on Blackboard)? That’s the plan. This course will center on topics in metaphysics 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. Questions we will wrestle with include:
I. Is time travel possible? Could you go back and kill your grandmother? What is time?
II. What is the relation between your mind and your brain--are they separate items or identical? Can persons survive death? Could a machine someday think? Is Data a person?
III. What is a person? Must you have the same body to be you? Same memories? When do we have one person, and when do we have two (think of the episodes where people "split" or "fuse")?
IV. Do you have free will, or are you determined by the laws of nature to do exactly what you wind up doing (while believing you have free will)? Or both? What is freewill?
Text: Metaphysics: Classic and Contemporary Readings, 2nd ed., Ed. by Hoy & Oaklander (Wadsworth, 2005). Four short papers.
The following syllabi may help you learn more about this course (login required):
Fall '11: Wetzel, L (file download)
Additional syllabi may be available in prior academic years.
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