I have designed and taught a variety of philosophy and logic courses at the undergraduate level including: Applied (Climate) Ethics, Business & Morality, Principles of Reasoning, and Philosophy, Literature & Climate Change
Movie Night - Nov. 2021
Philosophizing with students about the film Dune over Mother Bear's pizza
Philosophy, Literature and Climate Change
One of the very first scientific problems in history was the flooding of the Nile in the summer. In this class, we will explore different historical approaches to scientifically explaining natural phenomena like rainbows, droughts, and floods. You will learn to apply the “lenses” of different philosophies of science using in-class exercises.
We will consider questions like:
How did people historically understand and relate to the weather or climate as a manifestation of nature?
How did the historical emergence of new ways of measuring climate, new technologies like the thermometer or barometer, change the relationship of human beings to nature?
What did human beings' relationship to nature imply for the definition of scientific knowledge, prediction and control.
The goal of this class is to gain a deeper appreciation for the philosophical, historical, and scientific underpinnings of contemporary disagreements about climate change and how they reflect our
deeper beliefs about human beings and their relationship to nature
In this course, we will investigate the following questions:
Are we personally or collectively responsible for the Earth’s climate?
And what does this responsibility entail for ethical decision making and action?
You will write an initial response at the start of the semester. We will then examine a series of articles written by two philosophers who disagree in their responses to this question and who hold very different world views. You will learn to diagram and evaluate their arguments for soundness and validity, connect objections and responses, and construct counter examples to the assigned articles.
The goal is to ultimately form and communicate you own opinions on which author’s arguments are more persuasive in the form of a letter that you personally address to the author. At the end of the semester, you will revisit your response from the start of the semester and reflect on if and how your views have changed as a result of your continued engagement with the scholarly discourse and class room debate about our personal responsibility for climate change.
Business and Morality
In this course, we will explore the ethical dimension of decision making through film. Through documentary footage, opinion pieces, and news articles about the Enron scandal, we will explore the value and limits of classical ethical theories like deontology, virtue ethics, and utilitarianism. We will also use these theories to reconstruct and evaluate the moral reasoning of different major figures in the Enron scandal.
In doing so, we will develop and present strategies and solutions to some of the ethical dilemmas that arise in business as employers, employees, coworkers, and consumers. The aim of this course is two-fold: to serve as an introduction to the major theories in philosophical ethics and to equip students with the skills needed to make ethical decisions in their future careers. You should complete this course having gained an appreciation for the complexity of ethical issues in business and the skills to form reasoned and well-argued opinions about said issues. Class assignments will include case analyses, argumentative essays, and weekly reading responses.
Principles of Reasoning
Whether in politics, ethics, religion, economics, or even evolutionary biology, people have reasons for holding certain positions or coming to certain conclusions. Logic is the study and evaluation of the relationships between the types of reasons we have and the types of conclusions we draw from those reasons.
In this course, you will learn to use logical principles of reasoning as a way to distinguish strong reasons and valid arguments from weak reasons and fallacious arguments. More specifically, you will (1) analyze and evaluate arguments found in political comedy shows, news articles, and legal opinions on the landmark case of Roe v. Wade and (2) structure your own reasons into sound and valid arguments for a position you hold.
The goal is to equip you with the skills to engage in rational discourse and disagreement with individuals from diverse backgrounds.
Models in Science
Scientific modeling is guiding our response to critical issues from COVID-19 to climate change. But what are scientific models? How do scientists use computer models to investigate real-world systems? How do we know that model predictions are reliable for decision-making?
This is a philosophy seminar introducing scientific models. We will cover how models transform the scientific method, how ethics impact model development, and when to trust models in decision making. Examples include epidemiological and climate simulations.