Philosophy | Introduction to Philosophy
P100 | 28742 | Gehring, Allen


A personís worldview is a theory of reality that she uses to answers
to some of lifeís deepest and most basic questions.  Examples of
questions answered by oneís worldview include:

1.  What, if any, is the purpose of human existence?
2.  Does only matter and energy exist, or are there things in the
world besides matter and energy, such as human souls?
3.  Do humans have free will?
4.  Is there a God?
5.  Can we know things about the world and, if so, how?
6.  What makes an action right or wrong, and what is it to be a good
person?
7.  What form of government is the best?
8.  Is there life after death?
9.  Do we need evidence for all of our beliefs?
10. Why does evil exist?
11. Is abortion or the death penalty morally acceptable?

Though everyone has a worldview, not everyone critically reflects on
and assesses their worldview.  One of the main goals of this class,
however, will be to survey a number of topics that will provide you
with a chance to critically reflect on, assess, and develop your
worldview.  In short, we will be trying to take up the task of what
Socrates called living an examined life.

We will begin by exploring several epistemological issues.  On the
one hand, we will consider various arguments from skeptics
contending that we cannot know anything about the world around us.
On the other hand, we will take up the issue of whether we need
evidence for all of our beliefs.  These epistemological issues will
push us to consider various metaphysical issues.  In particular, we
will be lead to think about whether there is evidence for Godís
existence.  We will explore several of the traditional arguments in
favor of Godís existence, such as the cosmological and teleological
arguments, and several arguments against Godís existence, such as
the problem of evil.  Exploring issues for and against Godís
existence will also lead us to explore another metaphysical issue,
namely, the issue of whether humans have free will.  After
considering several epistemological and metaphysical issues, we will
turn to exploring various ethical theories that investigate various
ways to think about what makes an action right and wrong and what it
is to be a good person.  In particular, we will cover theories such
as Virtue Ethics, Utilitarianism, and Kantianism.  After thinking
through various ethical theories, we will turn to considering two
important issues in applied ethics.  In particular, we will cover
various arguments for and against abortion and the use of the death
penalty.

Though we will not cover every topic central to developing oneís
worldview, the cluster of topics that we cover will serve to provide
a nice entry into critically assessing and developing oneís
worldview.  Moreover, the critical thinking skills that you acquire
throughout this course will provide you with the tools that you need
to address issues central to developing your worldview beyond this
class.

Our text will be Joel Feinberg and Russ Shafer-Landau, eds., Reason
and Responsibility, 14th edition (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 2010).