Philosophy 102: Introduction to Philosophy through Science Fiction (Hight)

Introduction to Philosophy is exactly what the title promises. In this course we will learn together how to be more reflective, rational human persons by internalizing the virtues that make human beings philosophers. These virtues I call the virtues of intellectual honesty. Any person genuinely interested in pragmatic usefulness and truth will practice these virtues. Thus every person who practices them (whether they want to be or not) is in effect a philosopher. If you want to be better at what you do (regardless of what that is), philosophy can help.

This section, however, is a special section of the course that uses science fiction literature (including visual media) to develop the core themes and explore various content areas. We will focus on short stories and popular television and sci-fi movies. Students must have an antecedent interest in reading and thinking about science fiction to do well in the course.

Some of the topics we will explore might include (but is not limited to):

  • Personal identity (over time)
  • Skepticism and knowledge of the world
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Time and time travel
  • Nature of space and space travel
  • Ethical dilemmas, especially concerning aliens
  • Theories of justice and political philosophy
  • God and the problem of evil

Some outside viewing of movies and shows will be required. Course requirements will include several micro-papers, a large final paper, and several examinations. No previous experience is necessary, but you do need to have an open mind and be willing to challenge your own beliefs! Serious students interested in working to improve their skills are all welcome!