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Ethics - A Shared Values Approach, Fall 2008

This course outlines and discusses some threats to Ethics, some ethical ideas, and some justifications for Ethics. The text book is “Being Good,” by Simon Blackburn. I use Blackburn’s book as a frame for the course. But I add to and I modify Blackburn’s approach, especially where I take him to be unnecessarily divisive or partisan. Blackburn is a good popularizer of difficult concepts, but he doesn’t always use the shared-values approach to ethics that I am trying to promote.

Philosophy and Jane Austen's "Persuasion" Spring 2009

InPersuasion, a 166 page love story, the proud Anne Elliot is persuaded by her friend Lady Russell not to marry Capt. Wentworth. Using examples from the novel, and briefly from Aristotle and David Hume, I lead discussions on the virtues of (1) proper pride, (2) friendship and (3) proper persuadability. Text: Persuasion by Jane Austen. I distribute the texts. I show a complete video version during the first session.

Political Philosophy: A Discussion Class, Fall 2009

Political Philosophy tries to understand the make-up, the causes, and the effects of good and bad government. This is important because whether our government is good or bad affects the quality of our lives in a far-reaching way. I lead class discussions on: (1) Introduction, Political Authority; (2) Democracy, Freedom, Justice, Feminism, Multiculturalism; (3) Nations and Global Justice and (4) Conclusion. Text: Political Philosophy—A Very Short Introduction, by David Miller, 132 pages. I distribute the texts and handouts. Please read the text before the first class.

Philosophy: Critical Thinking- A Discussion Class, Spring 2010

In Critical Thinking (CT) an argument consists of a premise or premises and a conclusion. The premises offer evidence for the conclusion. CT is the process of evaluating arguments. This course deals not only with the conditions under which arguments are logically correct, but also with truth determination from various perspectives. I present four class sessions concerning (1) Introduction to CT, Settled Knowledge; (2) Principles of Reasoning, Standard Arguments; (3) Fallacies, and Factual, Verbal, Evaluative & Interpretative Issues; and (4) Skills and Attitudes in CT plus Summary and Conclusion. No text, but please read the handouts provided before and during the course.

Philosophy: Opera as Helpful Make-Believe, Spring 2011

Continuing my shared-values, pluralistic, pragmatic, principle-of-goodwill approach, I lead the class in viewing and discussing Bizet’s Carmen, an opera in four acts. The DVD version I use was recorded live in 1991 at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. We study and discuss themes such as Fatalism, Freedom, Love, and the approach taken to life by Carmen, Don Jose, Micaela, and Escamillo, etc. Text: The Libretto. There are optional handouts and optional assignments. The four sessions include short lectures and lots of discussion.