PHIL 465

PHIL 465: Senior Seminar: Freedom and Science


Katherin A. Rogers,, 831-8480
Office: 204 in 24 Kent Way
Office Hours: 3-5 MW, (except first Monday of each month -- 3-3:45).

Text: Handouts (I will need to collect $20 from each of you to give to the department to cover copying costs-- cash please)

Requirements: 3 basic requirements, each to be counted as contributing roughly 1/3 to your final grade. (The "roughly" is there because in a small class such as this I am able to take account of special factors including participation and improvement. Participation is especially important, and I will seriously consider good participation -- i.e. helpful comments and criticism that demonstrate assimilation of the material and that further the discussion. )

I. For each day on which reading is assigned, including the papers written by your colleagues, you will hand in 1 (one, and no more than one, 12pt font, 1" margins!) page on which you answer the following questions about the reading: What did you find the strongest (or an especially strong) point? Why? What did you find the weakest (or an especially weak) point? Why?
 I will score these papers as 4,3,2,1, or 0, 4 being equivalent to an A, 0 being F or failure to hand in the paper. At the end of the semester I will take the average of your scores -- dropping the 4 worst scores. This means that if you cannot turn in a paper for some reason, no harm done. If, god forbid, you find you must fail to turn in 4 papers for reasons the University accepts for excused absences, come talk to me and we'll work something out. If you are running late and find that you have printer trouble (A. Do the thing ahead of time so this doesn't happen! Or B. ) you may send your paper to me electronically and I will count it as long as the e-mail shows that it was mailed before time for class to start -- 3:30 on the day in question.
 In scoring these papers I will note both style and content. Clarity will be considered highly desirable. I will be looking to make sure you understood the reading and that you are able to offer some plausible critical assessment.

II. Two tests during the semester. A midterm (actually probably shortly before mid-semester) and a last test during finals period to cover material we have done during the second half of the semester. These will be objective (in the philosophical sense of not-subjective), short essays -- probably 5 out of 6 -- just to make sure that you got and are retaining the material. The questions will ask about major issues, not nitpicky things. (I, of course, am the judge of what is which.)At the end of the semester I will take the average of the grades on these two tests.

III. 10-15 page paper on a topic of your choosing related to the freedom and science issues which are the focus of the class. This will be a philosophy paper where you advance and defend a thesis, taking account of possible criticisms. You will build on the literature already out there, but a good paper will go beyond what's already been said. I will schedule short meetings with each member of the class so that we can discuss your topic and preliminary ideas before you get deeply into research and writing.
 You will give out copies of your paper to me and your colleagues at the class before we discuss it. On the day we discuss it, you will make a short -- 10-15 minute -- presentation reviewing your paper, and then you will field questions, defend your arguments (or admit defeat if need be) and direct discussion (with some help from me).



9 Introduction

11 Rogers,  Chapter 1; Rogers, "The Divine Controller Argument for Incompatibilism"

16 Rogers, Chapter 2,  Rogers, "Just Enough Ultimate Responsibility"

18 Benjamin Libet, "Do We Have Free Will?"; Rogers, Chapter 3

23  Daniel Wegner, "The Illusion"; Rogers, Chapter 4

25 John M. Doris, "Character and Consistency" and "Moral Character, Moral Behavior"


2 Rogers, Chapter 5

4 Rogers, Chapters 6 and 7

9 Test

Remember that you must hand your paper to us during the class before you are to present. (Exceptions can be made at great need, with prior notice, so long as you get the paper to us early enough that we can reasonably be expected to read it and think enough about it to write a page of comments before class.)

If I list your topic as something which doesn't sound remotely like what you told me, get in touch.

Everyone should make an appointment to meet with me at least by a week before you hand us your papers, if not before that.

3/11 Joe Fitt -- A Free Will Wager

3/16 Eric Insler -- Autonomy and Ethical Theory

3/18 Ryan Twitchell -- Causes and Influences

3/23 Chardy Scott -- Determinism and the law (a criminal gene?)

3/25 Andrew J. Meyer -- Determinism and the law (how might courts deal with "determined"   defendents?)

(Spring Break)

4/6 Stephanie Criss -- Libet's readiness potential, cause or correlate?

4/8 Sadye MacGuire -- on Wegner and Conscious Will as an evolutionary "tactic".

4/13 John Stracquatanio -- Ethics of experiments regarding moral choice

4/15 Robert Kane

4/20 Greg Yayac -- Genes and Character

4/22 Tyler Core -- Mind/Body as it relates to the free will discussion

4/27 Dina Bianco -- Personal Identity as it relates to the free will discussion

4/29 Jenna Beaver -- Character Creation

5/4 Amanda DeMaria -- cognitive neuroscience -- efficacious will in the absence of dualism

5/6 Edward Bayley -- What constitutes character?

5/11 Thomas Flanagan -- Analysis of the Libet Experiments

5/13 Scott Yarmovsky -- Rogers' Chapter 7 -- experimenting on Anselmian freedom, the non-  ethical questions.

5/18 Micaela Cristanetti -- Psychologists' evidence on the development of moral judgement in   children as it relates to topics in class.