Welcome to APHI 361, Philosophy in Science Fiction

This is the home page for Philosophy 361, “Philosophy in Science Fiction”, to be taught in the Spring 2021 semester by Professor Ron McClamrock of the University at Albany Department of Philosophy.

There is a very preliminary syllabus for this course here, which is still being revised and edited.

This course is a synchronous all-online course for the Spring 2021 semester. We’ll meet for scheduled class (Monday and Wednesday 11:40am-1:00pm) via Zoom, and those meetings will sometimes be supplemented by pre-recorded lectures that will be posted. In addition to readings, there will be science-fiction TV and movies to be watched as a part of the course materials. All exams and quizzes are given via Blackboard. Students will be expected to attend and participate in the class Zoom sessions, and to keep up with an instructor-established schedule of classes, readings, videos, online quizzes, and online exams.

The course description:

An examination of some central issues in philosophy, using the occurrence of those issues in science fiction as a starting point. Topics to be covered will likely include the following: Can machines think? Through what changes can our self-identity persist? What kinds of beings count as persons? Is time-travel possible? Could the world be a huge illusion? This course will focus primarily on the traditional philosophical issues raised in science fiction rather than on the science fiction itself as literary or cinematic. But the settings for framing these problems will come from science fiction readings, movies, and television.

Please contact me at rmcclamrock at albany dot edu if you have questions.