PHIL 154 - Science Fiction and Philosophy
Section: 002
Term: WN 2017
Subject: Philosophy (PHIL)
Department: LSA Philosophy
Credits:
3
Requirements & Distribution:
HU
Repeatability:
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

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 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! Eight-time Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author Nancy Kress will join us in lecture to discuss her short story “Beggars in Spain."

Course Requirements:

Short response paper (2-3 p), two longer papers (5-6 p), 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. This will be a discussion-focused course; students must come to section prepared to participate in active learning.

PHIL 154 - Science Fiction and Philosophy
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
 
30290
Open
3
 
-
M 4:00PM - 5:00PM
002 (LEC)
 
30291
Closed
0
 
-
M 4:00PM - 5:00PM
003 (DIS)
P
30292
Open
0
 
-
W 4:00PM - 6:00PM
004 (DIS)
P
30293
Closed
0
2Y1 or Y2
-
W 4:00PM - 6:00PM
005 (DIS)
P
30294
Closed
0
 
-
TuTh 3:00PM - 4:00PM
006 (DIS)
P
30343
Open
2
3Y1 or Y2
-
TuTh 3:00PM - 4:00PM
007 (DIS)
P
30344
Open
2
 
-
TuTh 4:00PM - 5:00PM
008 (DIS)
P
30345
Open
2
4Y1 or Y2
-
TuTh 4:00PM - 5:00PM
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