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Courses Taught

Philosophy of Human Nature: This is a required intro to philosophy course at Fordham University. Class sessions are typically a mix of lecture, in class exercises, and discussions in order to foster a sense of philosophy as an activity pursued with others. I also aim through these class activities to make the history of philosophy applicable for life today. I divide the course into two major parts, one on conceptions of human beings and the other on human purpose.

 

(1) The first part goes over conceptions of human beings as minds/substance dualism (Descartes), physical entities (contemporary physicalist views), and rational animals (Aristotle), as well as social dimensions of our identities through units on sex & gender and race.

 

(2) Then the second part of the course transitions into questions about the meaning and purpose of life building off different conceptions of human nature as we investigate existentialism (Sartre) and responses to existentialism (Josef Pieper), Aristotle's account of human flourishing, and finally questions about the existence of God and beatitude in Thomas Aquinas's thought.

Philosophical Ethics: This is the second required course at Fordham University. I have students approach ethics by asking what it means to be a good person, to do the right thing, and to live a good life at the start of the course. I then use these questions to frame discussions throughout the course as we reflect on the different ethical theories we have learned. We start of by considering the truths and falsities of certain strands of ethical relativism (Mary Midgely's "On Trying Out One's New Sword and James Rachels' "The Challenge of Cultural Relativism") before we investigate utilitarian ethical theory through John Stuart Mill's Utilitarianism, deontological ethics through Kant's Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals, and virtue ethics through Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics. 

 

I emphasize with students the everyday nature of ethical dilemmas we face in contrast to the hot button issues in contemporary media. We read advice columns in newspapers in which people ask for advice about everyday conflicts with family, friends, and colleagues, and we then analyze and discuss these dilemmas as a class, bringing the theories we are learning to bear on concrete scenarios. We also watch two movies (A Hidden Life and Gone Baby Gone) for further reflection on what makes for a good or just life. I ask students to do a character analysis of Gone Baby Gone through the lens of two ethical theories, evaluating different characters' motives and actions, and ultimately they must give their own judgement about what is the right thing to do by drawing on what we've learned throughout the course.

Future Courses

Coming soon!

Pedagogy

More to come soon....

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