PHI 380 (001 002) - Death, Dying & the Quality of Life - Spring 2014

Death is a phenomenon that has transfixed and inspired humanity for as long as humans have walked the Earth.  Art, religion, and philosophy are some of humanity’s most profound responses to the inevitability of death.  We are all too aware that our breaths are numbered, so we strive to live well, to die well, to achieve something significant, profound, or lasting before our final exhalation.  Or, identifying with Sisyphus, we may surrender to the unbearable weight of absurdity and despair.  On the other hand, we may simply deny death altogether.

This semester we will examine a host of questions about life, death, living, and dying.  We will undertake a philosophical and interdisciplinary investigation of a cluster of prominent issues about the meaning of life and death—for individuals as well as for species.  Among the topics covered are death definitions and criteria, abortion, euthanasia, killing and letting die, suicide, the rights of the dying, the rights of future beings, life extension, transhumanism, posthumanity, and extinction.

Throughout the semester, students will critically reflect upon their attitudes and opinions about life and death in an ongoing dialogue with a number of fascinating readings and classic films (perennial as well as modern), and in response to points raised during classroom discussions.

Students will divulge their conclusions in presentations and paper assignments.
 

SYLLABUS

 

Midterm Paper Assignment - Handout

 

PRESENTATIONS

Death - Thomas Nagel

The Termination Thesis - Fred Feldman

 

STUDENT PRESENTATIONS (unedited)

Death: A Propitious Misfortune - William Ferraiolo (Christina Precious)  [002]

Death: A Propitious Misfortune - William Ferraiolo (Creighton Sullivan)  [001]

Death's Distinctive Harm - Stephan Blatti (Michala Handy)  [002]

Death's Distinctive Harm - Stephan Blatti (Selena The)  [001]

A Defense of Abortion - Judith Jarvis Thomson (Ashley Baxter) [002]

A Defense of Abortion - Judith Jarvis Thomson (Heather Mangione) [001]

On the Moral and Legal Status of Abortion - Mary Anne Warren (Abby Spalding) [002]

On the Moral and Legal Status of Abortion - Mary Anne Warren (Meredith Morey) [001]

Why Abortion Is Immoral - Don Marquis (Christina Precious) [002]

Why Abortion Is Immoral - Don Marquis (Elena Jones) [001]

What Is So Wrong with Killing - Robert Young (Hali Slone) [001]

 

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