Phil 2200: Major Social Theories

Fall 2014

Course Syllabus

Schedule (subject to change!)

Below is a tentative schedule of what topics we will cover, and what reading(s) you should complete BEFORE each class meeting.

M, Aug 25

Topic: About this course—An Intro to Major Social Theories
No reading assignment

W, Aug 27

A Brief Intro to Philosophy and its Methods
Reread course syllabus

F, Aug 29

 A Brief Intro to Philosophy and its Methods continued
Video- “History of the World”-

M, Sep 1

Labor Day- No Classes!

W, Sep 3

Cultural Relativism
No Reading

F, Sep 5

 Logic and Arguments
Reading: Rachels, “On Arguments” 

M, Sep 8

Logic and Arguments Continued
Optional Reading: :Layman, “Logic, Ch.1
Suggested  humorous reading: Dave Barry “How to Win an Argument

W, Sep 10

Politics and Irrationality
Reading: Huemer, “Why People are Irrational about Politics.” P. 1-7
Short Video:

F, Sep 12

Politics and Irrationality continued
Reading: Huemer, “Why People are Irrational about Politics.” P. 7-15

M, Sep 15

Politics and Irrationality Continued
Video: Huemer and Examples of Irrationality-

W, Sep 17

Plato on Justice and the Ideal Republic
(quick skim) A Loose Intro to Plato:
Start reading Plato, The Republic Book 1

F, Sep 19

Plato on Justice and the Ideal Republic
Finish Plato, The Republic Book 1

M, Sep 22

Justice, The Ring of Gyges, and the Ideal State
Plato, The Republic Book 2
Suggested films: The Lord of the Rings trilogy

W, Sep 24

The State of Nature
Hobbes, The Leviathan Chapter 13
Recommended Movie: “The Purge”
Recommended TV show: “The Walking Dead”

F, Sep 26

The Social Contract
Hobbes, The Leviathan- Excerpts (Read from middle of p.3 to end)
Steven Pinker, The Surprising Decline of Violence (20min)- warning- graphic content

M, Sep 29

Game Theory and Prisoner’s Dilemma
Dupre, “The Prisoner’s Dilemma
Video (45min): Dawkins, Nice Guys Finish First
Suggested moive: A Beautiful Mind

W, Oct 1

Liberalism- The Social Contract Revisited
Locke, Second Treatise of Government

F, Oct 3

Locke and the Social Contract (continued)
Re-read Locke, Second Treatise of Government

M, Oct  6

Locke and the Social Contract (continued)

W, Oct 8

Locke and the Social Contract (continued)

F, Oct 10

Locke and the Social Contract (continued)
Re-read last half of Locke reading

M, Oct 13

Review Day

W, Oct 15

Midterm EXAM

F, Oct 17

****Class Cancelled (Instructor presenting at a conference.)*****

M, Oct 20

Reading: Bentham on Utilitarianism (excerpt)

W, Oct 22

Reading: Mill - Utilitarianism excerpt
Video: “The Trolley Problem”
                          Suggested film: “Cabin in the Woods” or “Watchmen”    

F, Oct 24

Utilitarianism Continued
Reading: none
Suggested film: Ender's Game

M, Oct 27

 Objections to Utilitarianism
Reading: Rachels, “The Debate over Utilitarianism
                          Suggested film: “Sophie’s Choice”, “The Village”, “Saw” series  

W, Oct 29

Objections to Utilitarianism (continued)
Reading: Rachels, “The Debate over Utilitarianism Part 2
Ursula K. Le Guin, “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas

F, Oct 31

Applied Utilitarianism: World Hunger
Reading: First half of Singer, “Famine, Affluence, and Morality

M, Nov 3

World hunger- Responses to Singer
Reading: Second half of Singer
Foreign Aid Infographic

W, Nov 5

Singer- World Hunger - continued
Poverty Facts and Stats

F, Nov 7

Objections to Singer- World Hunger - continued
Singer on the Colbert Report
Key and Peele skit- Save the Children

M, Nov 10

Distributive Justice, The Original Position and the Veil of Ignorance
Rawls- A Theory of Justice(excerpt)
Suggested: Quick Overview of Rawls and Nozick on Distributive Justice

W, Nov 12

Rawls Continued
Ben Hale- The Veil of Opulence
Articles on the Current Distribution of Wealth: Here and Here

F, Nov 14

Libertarianism- Distributive Justice revisited
Nozick-Anarchy, State, and Utopia (excerpt)

M, Nov 17

Nozick Continued- No new reading

W, Nov 19

Rawls Vs. Nozick
Start Marxism
Required Video (Watch first 22 minutes):
Suggested short article: Tax Havens for Big Companies

F, Nov 21

First half of: Marx, The Communist Manifesto
Video (14min): Capitalism and Socialism: Crash Course

M, Nov 24

Fall Break

W, Nov 26

Fall Break

F, Nov 28

Fall Break

M,  Dec 1

Marxism continued
Finish: Marx, The Communist Manifesto
Humor: Onion Article (Alienation)

W, Dec 3

Marxism discussion continued
No new reading

F, Dec 5

Finish/Discuss Marx

M, Dec 8

Civil Disobedience- When government fails…
Reread: Plato, “Crito
Article: The US is an Oligarchy

W, Dec 10

Civil Disobedience continued
MLK ,“Letter from the Birmingham Jail

F, Dec 12

Summary day/Review day
UN Declaration of Rights
Suggested: Huemer- Psychology of Power (Video)
Suggested/Optional Readings: Summaries of Plato's Republic & Ch. 7

Final Exam            Wed., 12/17, at time scheduled by Registrar’s office (Posted in your mycuinfo)


Midterm Study Guide

Final Study Guide





Additional Resources for Students

Guidelines on writing a philosophy paper (J. Pryor)
Writing Philosophy Essays (M. Tooley)
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy


Oh the power of learning philosophy...

7/3/19: I am thrilled to have accepted a position as an Instructor at the University of Colorado at Denver! I was extremely impressed by the students and community when last I was there, and am excited to be returning to now teach all the core classes for the UCD Philosophy of Science Minor!

5/6/16: I'm honored to be the first person to receive both the CU Boulder Philosophy Department Morriston Teaching Award (2016) and the University of Colorado-Boulder Graduate Teaching Excellence Award (2014-2015)! My thanks go out to the many great teachers and students with whom I've been lucky enough to learn!

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