Teaching

I care deeply about teaching and was honored to be awarded the University of Arizona Julia Annas Graduate Teaching Assistant Award in 2018. In addition to teaching traditional philosophy classes at the introductory, intermediate, and advanced undergraduate levels, I have also designed and taught online courses (pre-pandemic, that is!) Please see below for more information.

Cal Poly, SLO

422: Philosophy of Mind

This upper division course focuses on issues and methodology in contemporary philosophy of mind. The course begins with an overview of methods in philosophy of mind, turns to arguments for and against different views about the mind (dualism, identity theory, elimination materialism, behaviorism, and functionalism), and then shifts to questions at the intersection of philosophy of mind and contemporary cognitive science. By working through these theories, students come to appreciate and grapple with the relationship between armchair and empirical considerations in philosophy.

230: Philosophical Classics: Knowledge and Reality

In this introductory level philosophy course, students are tasked with reading three classic texts in the history of philosophy with a focus on metaphysics and epistemology. Currently, the course covers Plato's Phaedo, Descartes' Meditations on First Philosophy, and A.J. Ayer's Language, Truth, and Logic. Students are taught to engage with the texts through a charitable interpretive lens and with fierce critical engagement. We also cover  contemporaneous criticisms of each text: Aristotle, Elisabeth of Bohemia and Margaret Cavendesh, and Susan Strebbing, respectively. Rather than experiencing the history of philosophy as passive uptake of the canon, students are asked to bring their contemporary concerns into the picture, and to think alongside the texts in an active manner.

University of Arizona

150A1:Philosophical Perspectives on the Individual

This introductory course focuses on problems and puzzles of the self.  Typically, we cover five units: (1) What Can You Know? (2) Who (and What) Are We? (3) Do We Have Free Will? (4) What is A Good Life, and (5) Is there Meaning in Life (and Does it Matter)?  Through an exploration of  both historical and contemporary philosophical work, students gain an understanding of the complexity of these problem and the tools to critically engage with them.  

160D3: Mind, Matter, and God

This is an introductory metaphysics and epistemology course that focuses on the history of philosophy from Plato to Descartes. Students are introduced to several philosophical controversies. Topics include the problem of universals, arguments for and against the existence of God, the nature of causation, puzzles about reference, and theories of time. Students are challenged to think about how the history of thought has influenced contemporary life, and to consider both the timeless and historically motivated aspects of philosophy.

411: Metaphysics

This upper division major requirement focuses on problems and methodology in contemporary analytic metaphysics. Topics may include issues in ontology, time and persistence, personal identity, causation, free will, modality, and metametaphysics. The course is geared towards the completion of a term paper on a well-defined problem in metaphysics exhibiting the style and explanatory standards of contemporary analytic philosophy. For philosophy majors, this is preparation for the senior project paper.

215: Contemporary Moral Problems

This course aims to acquaint students with theories in normative ethics, while helping them to engage with one another respectfully and thoughtfully in discussing difficult ethical problems.  Topics typically include the ethics of abortion, immigration ethics, environmental ethics, and world poverty.

348: The Moral Mind

This is an interdisciplinary course, cross-listed with psychology, covers contemporary work in moral psychology. Typically, the course involves alternating content each week: the first week of a unit is on a philosophical question and the second brings contemporary research in psychology, cognitive science, or economics to bear on the philosophical question. Topics may include moral rationalism vs. moral sentimentalism, altruism and egoism, moral luck, free will,  the morality and function of anger, and personal identity.

©2021 by Robert H. Wallace.