Philosophy and the Science of Human Nature

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Philosophy and the Science of Human Nature pairs central texts from Western philosophical tradition (including works by Plato, Aristotle, Epictetus, Hobbes, Kant, Mill, Rawls, and Nozick) with recent findings in cognitive science and related fields. The course is structured around three intertwined sets of topics: Happiness and Flourishing; Morality and Justice; and Political Legitimacy and Social Structures.

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The Ring of Gyges: Morality and Hypocrisy
Flourishing and Attachment
The Trolley Problem
Philosophical Puzzles


Lecture 1 Introduction

Lecture 2 The Ring of Gyges: Morality and Hypocrisy

Lecture 3 Parts of the Soul I

Lecture 4 Parts of the Soul II

Lecture 5 The Well-Ordered Soul: Happiness and Harmony

Lecture 6 The Disordered Soul: Thémis and PTSD

Lecture 7 Flourishing and Attachment

Lecture 8 Flourishing and Detachment

Lecture 9 Virtue and Habit I

Lecture 10 Virtue and Habit II

Lecture 11 Weakness of the Will and Procrastination

Lecture 12 Utilitarianism and its Critiques

Lecture 13 Deontology

Lecture 14 The Trolley Problem

Lecture 15 Empirically-informed Responses

Lecture 16 Philosophical Puzzles

Lecture 17 Punishment I

Lecture 18 Punishment II

Lecture 19 Contract & Commonwealth: Thomas Hobbes

Lecture 20 The Prisoner's Dilemma

Lecture 21 Equality

Lecture 22 Equality II

Lecture 23 Social Structures

Lecture 24 Censorship

Lecture 25 Tying up Loose Ends

Lecture 26 Concluding Lecture