The third paper is a comprehensive project on the whole course with the following format: You are invited to speak at a local community center on “Major Issues of the 21st Century: A Philosophical Perspective.” Your task is to choose the most pressing issue or theme that we have encountered in this course and show how a philosophically inclined person would understand and react to this issue. Your presentation will require 4-5 pages of carefully written text. You should write the presentation in your own voice in a warm and spirited fashion, making strong contact with your audience. After your introduction, it is important to carefully define the issue or theme that your talk considers, so that your audience understands from the start exactly what questions you are trying to answer. Your presentation should focus on the use of philosophical materials and ideas that we’ve considered in this course. Don’t assume that your audience is acquainted with any philosophers’ work, so make sure you always explain philosophers’ ideas carefully before you apply them to your issue. Explanatory quotes are very important to this process. At the end of your presentation be sure to remind your audience of your main points. Please avoid dictionary definitions. Use course materials, or your own ideas, instead. OVERVIEWS COVERED: .In this course we consider central philosophical writings as they apply to the core issues and ideas of 21st century western culture. We begin with Socrates, the first person to call himself a philosopher, looking into his sense of how, and why, philosophy leads us to truth. Then we consider a video by a living philosopher named Michael Lynch, who suggests that philosophy has an important role to play in addressing confusions about objective truth in the “post-truth” era. .we consider the cave analogy by Plato, Socrates’ student, which relays the tale of prisoners trapped in a cave, trusting that the shadows they see are actually reality. Then we dig a little deeper into the way truth is challenged in the post-truth era, applying the cave analogy as a tool for understanding those challenges. .This week we shift from Socrates and Plato to Aristotle. At this time we are preparing our understanding of Aristotle’s four causes – primarily “efficient cause” and “final cause” – so that next week we can apply those ideas to technology-related issues. .We consider changes to culture as they’ve arisen from technological development in our time. Now that we’ve examined the difference between efficient cause and final cause in Aristotle, we can use that distinction to ask some eye opening questions about tech development. Does technology develop for a carefully considered purpose? Do the everyday factors that create tech development actually aim for a final cause or purpose that is good for society? .we leap from ancient Greek philosophers to Descartes, an immensely important thinker from the 17th century. This week we focus on understanding Descartes’ very powerful form of skepticism. Next week we will apply the tools Descartes provides to better understand skepticism about climate change. .Now that we’ve examined the goals and methods of Cartesian skepticism, we specifically examine skepticism about climate change in our time. Would Descartes conclude that his own goals and methods are being employed with climate change skepticism? .Week Seven brings us to “enlightenment values” as they were explored by 18th century philosopher Emmanuel Kant, and as we see them exemplified in France’s “Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen” in the same era. Then we see contemporary writers consider the usefulness of enlightenment values in the context of globalization. .The Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) was established in London during Kant’s time to find ways of developing enlightenment values for the improvement of society. The RSA remains committed at this time to “21st century enlightenment”. For the final week of the course we consider the RSA’s suggestions about adapting enlightenment values to meet the challenges of our time in a way that truly enriches society.
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