PHIL 154 - Science Fiction and Philosophy
Winter 2016, Section 001
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is (see other Sections below)
Subject: Philosophy (PHIL)
Department: LSA Philosophy
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Details

Credits:
3
Requirements & Distribution:
HU
Repeatability:
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

Description

Science fiction has been called the literature of ideas, and the ideas explored in recent science fiction have become increasingly philosophical. To fully appreciate a work like The Matrix or Inception requires that we grapple with fundamental puzzles of human knowledge, for example. Among other things, these stories are thought experiments: hypothetical explorations that shed light on philosophical questions.

Our main goal will be to motivate and explore philosophical questions by appeal to thought experiments from important works of science fiction. We will read the novels Hyperion (Dan Simmons), The Ophiuchi Hotline (John Varley), and Manifold Time (Stephen Baxter), as well as a number of shorter works. We will also study the films The Matrix, Minority Report and The Day After. Philosophical topics to be covered include skepticism about knowledge, the nature of time (including the paradoxes of time travel), the anthropic principle, and personal identity, as well as ethical topics surrounding religious belief, cloning and human genetic engineering.

This semester we will have a special guest! Seven-time Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author Ted Chiang will join us in lecture to discuss his short story “Liking What You See: A Documentary.”

Course Requirements:

Short response paper (2-3 p), two longer papers (5-6 p), midterm essay exam and final exam. Active participation in discussion section is also required.

Intended Audience:

This course is appropriate for all undergraduates, including first-time philosophy students.

Class Format:

One hour-long lecture and two hour-long discussion sections per week.

Schedule

PHIL 154 - Science Fiction and Philosophy
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
 In Person
30274
Open
5
 
-
F 11:00AM - 12:00PM
002 (LEC)
 In Person
30275
Open
5
 
-
F 11:00AM - 12:00PM
003 (DIS)
 In Person
30637
Open
0
 
-
TuTh 3:00PM - 4:00PM
004 (DIS)
 In Person
30638
Closed
0
 
-
TuTh 3:00PM - 4:00PM
005 (DIS)
 In Person
30639
Open
5
 
-
TuTh 12:00PM - 1:00PM
006 (DIS)
 In Person
30640
Open
5
2Y1 or Y2
-
TuTh 12:00PM - 1:00PM
007 (DIS)
 In Person
30276
Closed
0
 
-
TuTh 2:00PM - 3:00PM
008 (DIS)
 In Person
30277
Closed
0
 
-
TuTh 2:00PM - 3:00PM

Textbooks/Other Materials

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Syllabi

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CourseProfile (Atlas)

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CourseProfile (Atlas)