In this course, we will examine philosophical issues concerning knowledge, the self, mind, ethics, and time by looking at the ways probable and possible future technologies might transform these domains or challenge fundamental ideas about them. Drawing upon science fiction literature and film, "transhumanist" literature, and more traditional philosophical works, we will consider such questions as:
- Could you survive the gradual replacement of your parts by cybernetic prosthetics?
- Could your mind be uploaded to a computer?
- Is it possible (or probable!) that we are already living in a computer simulation?
- If Star Trek-style transporters are ever developed, should you use one? What about a time machine? Is such a thing even possible?
- Is it likely that human beings will one day achieve immortality (or greatly extended lives), and what would this imply about the nature and value of human life?
- What are the moral implications of technologies that would produce or give us super-strength or super-intelligence, particularly if (as seems likely) these technologies would not be available equally to all people?
Through reflection on these and other topics, students will sharpen their creative and logical thinking abilities and advance their understanding of central philosophical topics, including theories of knowledge, the self, mind, free will, ethics, and time.