Current Syllabus

Paper #1

Paper #2

Paper #3

Day

Topic

Reading

9/8

 Introduction

 

Ezekiel Emanuel, “Why I Hope to Die at 75”

Naomi Rosenberg, “How to Tell a Mother Her Child is Dead”

Poem: Philip Larkin, “Aubade”

 

I. What is good or meaningful about life?

9/12

 Meaninglessness

 

Richard Taylor, “The Meaning of Life” 

 

9/15

 Transcending Limits and Leaving Traces

 

Robert Nozick, “Philosophy and the Meaning of Life” 

Poem: Kay Ryan, “Things Shouldn’t Be So Hard”

 

9/19

 Meaning and Absurdity

 

Thomas Nagel, “The Absurd”

Poem: William Bronk, “Fides et Ratio”

 

9/22

 Meaning and Living

 

John (Fire) Lame Deer, Seeker of Visions (Chapter 7)

Poem: Brian Turner, “How Bright It Is”

Poem: Jimmy Santiago Baca, "Who Understands Me But Me"

 

II. What is death for creatures like us?

9/26

 Human Death

 

David DeGrazia, “The Nature of Human Death”

 

9/29

 Personal Identity and Survival (I)

 

Derek Parfit, “Personal Identity” (excerpt from Reasons and Persons)

 

10/3

 Personal Identity and Survival (II)

 

Marya Schechtman, “The Malleability of Identity”

 

10/6 

 CLASS RESECHEDULED

 

10/10

 Personal Identity and Survival (III)

 

Kwame Gyekye, “The Relation of ╚░kra (Soul) and Honam (Body): An Akan Conception”

Poems: William Bronk, “The Length of Life” and “All Part of Things”

Poem: Reginald Dwayne Betts, "At the End of Life, A Secret"

 

10/13

 Personal Identity and Survival (IV)

 

Identity and the Self in Chinese Buddhism (several different readings) 


10/17

Personal Identity and Survival (V)

 

Sophie-Grace Chappell, “Seeds: On Personal Identity and Resurrection”

Poem, William Bronk, “Staying On”

 

III. What is bad about death?

10/20 

 No Class

 

 

 

10/24

Death and Depravation

 

Thomas Nagel, “Death”

 

10/27

 Death and Harm

 

John Martin Fischer, “Mortal Harm” 

 

10/31

 Death and The Story of Our Lives

 

Kathy Behrendt, “Learning to be Dead: The Narrative Problem of Mortality”

 

IV. How should we approach our own death?

11/3

 Thinking of Death

 

David Velleman, “Dying” from Beyond Price

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, excerpts from On Death and Dying

 

11/7

 Death and Ideology

 

Beverley Clack, “Constructing Death as a Form of Failure: Addressing Mortality in a Neoliberal Age”

 

V. Would it be good to be immortal?

11/14

 Immortality

 

Bernard Williams, “The Makropulos Case: Reflections on the Tedium of Immortality"

Poem: A.E. Stallings, “Thyme”

Poem: Carl Dennis, “Eternal Life”

 

11/17

 Immortality (II)

 

Connie Rosati, “The Makropulos Case Revisited”

 

VI. Can we be harmed after we die?

11/21

 When does harm occur?

 

Katherine Hawley, “Persistence and Time”

 

 


 

 

VII. How should we treat the dying?  How should we think and talk about the dead?

11/22 (Tue)

 How We Treat the Dying

 

Atul Gawande, Being Mortal, pp. 111-147 (“A Better Life”)

Poem: Tony Hoagland, “Safeway”

 

11/28

 Our Reactions to Deaths of Others

 

Dan Moller, “Love and Death”

Ernest Morgan, “Death Ceremonies,” and “Simple Burial and Cremation” from Dealing Creatively with Death, pp. 77-88, 47-69, 125-145, 109-112

Poem: Tory Dent, “Variations”

Poem: Sharon Olds, "Birthday Poem for My Grandmother"

 

VIII. Should we ever hasten death?

12/1

 Suicide

 

Anne Case and Angus Deaton, “Suicide, age, and wellbeing: an empirical investigation”

David Velleman, “A Right of Self-Termination?”

Poem: Bucky Sinister, “The Other Universe of Bruce Wayne”

Poems: Brian Turner, “Two Stories Down” and “Eulogy”

 

12/5

 Assisted Suicide

 

Ronald Dworkin, Thomas Nagel, Robert Nozick, John Rawls, Thomas Scanlon, and Judith Jarvis Thomson, “The Philosopher’s Brief”

 

IX. Which deaths should we prevent? 

12/8 

 Preventing Death

 

Peter Unger, Living High and Letting Die (Chapter 2)

 

12/12

 Which Deaths to Prevent?

 

Govind Persad et al., “Principles for Allocation of Scarce Medical Interventions”