In his article, “What is it like to be a bat?” Thomas Nagel argues that there are facts about conscious experience that are subjective and can only be known from that subjective perspective. Even if we know all the objective facts about bats, we may not actually know what it would really be like to … Nagel’s What is it like to be a bat?
For much of modern science, since the Enlightenment, animals were generally thought to be automatons: materialist robots programmed to behave in certain ways. Rene Descartes drew a sharp distinction between thinking beings, humans, and everything else, matter. 20th Century behaviorism continued to think of animals in this way but added humans to the mix. “Mind” … Animal Minds: puzzling over Puppies and Parrots
Personal Identity I ask students to bring their baby or early childhood pictures to class. After they try matching names with images of their classmates, I ask a question about their own picture: Are you the same person today that you were at the moment captured in your photo? Students readily admit that their physical … Personal Identity in Memento
Existentialism of Jean-Paul Sartre in Nausea Students will be introduced to Existentialism through discussion and excerpts from Jean-Paul Sartre’s novel, Nausea, which describes a certain vague feeling that the main character, Roquentin, calls “nausea”. This feeling is basically a result of suspecting that there is a reality behind what we perceive as reality, an objective … Exploring Existential Angst and The Self in Social Media
Medical Ethics and the State The role of the state (government) in Medical Ethics can be quite complex. In these two articles (see links below), two perspectives are explored. The famous Baby Theresa case involves a situation where the state prevents parents from acting to share their dying daughter’s organs. The second case concerns a … How Do We Decide Who Should Decide?
On November 6, 2015, NPR aired a story about the very controversial topic of stem cell research. This story can be used as the basis for a philosophical discussion of a variety of topics including what it is to be human and the ethics of medical research. Here is a link to the story: http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/11/06/454693391/should-human-stem-cells-be-used-to-make-partly-human-chimeras … The Ethics of the Creation of Dual-Species Chimeras