Loyola University Chicago

Department of Philosophy

PHIL 490:Current Philosophical Issues

PHIL 490: Current Philosophical Issues

The Generic Course Description

As the title indicates, this course covers current issues in Philosophy.

PHIL 490: Current Philosophical Issues: Philosophy of Action (Fall 2010)

Diana Meyers

We will focus on a topic in action theory variously called "personal autonomy" and "free agency."  The core questions this topic raises include:  (1) What is required for a person's conduct to be genuinely her/his own?  (2) What is involved in having control over your life?  In the first weeks of the semester, we will study Harry Frankfurt's now classic theory of second order identification and authenticity together with his recent (2002) clarifications (and/or revisions) of his earlier views.  Then we will take up assorted well-known alternatives to Frankfurt's approach.  Following on Frankfurt, we discuss J. David Velleman's synthesis of experimental psychology and action theory.  In the second half of the semester, the readings take into account the unjust social and political contexts in which selves are formed and agency is exercised.  Readings include Natalie Stoljar's arguments for a value-saturated account of autonomy, John Christman's arguments for a historical, value-neutral account, and Catriona MacKenzie's and Shaun Gallagher's work on narration, embodiment and autonomy.  Readings in the second half of the semester will be particularly pertinent to preparing papers for possible presentation at the Poverty, Coercion, and Human Rights Conference that I will direct.