Franklin Pezzuti Dyer


Philosophy Club

10/13/19: Utopia

Questions:
- What is a "good life?" What does it take to be happy?
- What is a utopia?
- Is it possible to create a perfect utopia, or does human nature make it impossible?
- If so, what would such a society be like?
Some Reading:
- Two excerpts from Sir Thomas More's Utopia (book)
- Sapiens (book) by Yuval Noah Harari; see chapter 5
- "The Lotos-Eaters" (poem) by Alfred Lord Tennyson, and a related Wikipedia page
- Some American "Utopias"
Meeting Notes

10/6/19: God

Questions:
- What is a "God," in the traditional monotheistic sense?
- Is such a being logically possible?
- Is is possible to prove or disprove the existence of such a being using reason or science?
- Why should/shouldn't one believe in or worship a God?
Some Reading:
- Ontological Argument
- Cosmological Argument
- Teleological Argument
- Pascal's Wager
Meeting Notes

9/29/19 Topic: The Ethics of Inequality

Questions:
- What kinds of inequality affect us (e.g. economic inequality, biological inequality, inequality under the law, etc.)?
- Is inequality "bad"? Why might we have an aversion to inequality?
- Are there any benefits to inequality? Conversely, can excessive equality have drawbacks?
- Is it wrong to have something good that someone else doesn't have?
Some Reading:
- "The Ones who Walk Away from Omelas"(short story) by Ursula Le Guin
- "Harrison Bergeron"(short story) by Kurt Vonnegut
Meeting Notes

9/22/19 Topic: Immortality

Questions:
- Is immortality/living forever desirable?
- Why do we want to avoid death? Is there anything good about death?
Some Reading:
- "Zima Blue" (short story) by Alistair Reynolds
- "Nosotros, No"(english translation of short story) by José Bernardo Adolph
- "The Badness of Death" (essay) by Shelly Kagan
Meeting Notes

9/4/19 Topic: Consciousness

Questions:
- What is consciousness? How can we define consciousness?
- What are necessary conditions for consciousness? Must something be alive in order to be conscious?
- Is there any empirical way to determine whether an object is conscious in practice?
Some Reading:
- Consciousness and the Brain (book) by Stanislas Dehaene
Meeting Notes

8/28/19 Topic: Free Will

Questions:
- What is free will? How can we define it?
- Do humans have free will?
- Would the laws of physics or the fact that everything is based on physical and chemical processes rule out the possibility of free will? Would the existence of an omnipotent God rule out free will?
- Are free will and predestination incompatible?
Some Reading:
- "What's Expected" (short story) by Ted Chiang
Meeting Notes

back to home page