Course Description

In this course, we will be thinking together about the role technology plays in judgments we make about ethics (roughly: our thinking about what’s right) and metaphysics (roughly: our thinking about what’s real). I hope you will learn not any particular conclusion about technology but rather a way of thinking and talking about technology.


I do not expect any prior experience with philosophy but I do expect an openness to the philosophical approach, a willingness to learn what may be a new way of thinking, and a commitment to devote adequate time and attention to the class.

Course Objectives:

During this course, you will learn to

    • apply critical reading and thinking skills to works (texts, films, lectures) that raise important questions about technology;
    • investigate some of the many ways technology may be changing our views about reality and ethics.
    • develop a thoughtful, critical, evaluative view of the technologies we discuss;
    • engage in productive, meaningful conversations about technology; and
    • write and think more philosophically.

My feedback to you will focus on your progress toward meeting these goals. Your grade for the course will be based on how well you have done so (more on grades later…)

Schedule and Topics (subject to change)

Session# Topic
Technology and the Human Body: Repair and Enhancement 
1-1 Introductions; Philosophy and Technology?
1-2 Technology and the Human Body: Repair v Enhancement
1-3 Technology and the Human Body: Beyond Therapy?
Technology and Ethics: Changing our Concepts?
2-1 Technology and Ethics: Neuroethics
2-2 Technology and Ethics: Science and Free Will
2-3 Technology and Ethics: Ethics, Free Will and Responsibility
Technology and The Real: Rethinking the Absolute
3-1 Metaphysics and Neuroreligion
3-2 Metaphysics and Neuroreligion
3-3 Technology, Religion, and the Real
 Technology, Selfhood and Intersubjectivity
4-1 Technology and The Self
4-2 Technology and Virtualized Selves
4-3 Technology and Nostalgia for a Connected Self
Technology, Privacy, and Networked Knowledge
5-1 Technology, Privacy and Personhood
5-2 Technology and Networked Knowledge
5-3 Digital Humans and the Internet of Us
Philosophy, Education, and Technology
6-1 Philosophy, Education, and Technology
6-2 Reflecting Back
6-3 Philosophy and Technology

Explanation of Online Scheduling

Each of you has a unique schedule this summer. Some of you will be doing your classwork only during the day, some at night, and some with complete unpredictability. However, it is crucial that we are all thinking, talking, and writing about the same topic or about the same text at roughly the same time. For these reasons, I have designed the class to give you the flexibility to do the work when you have the time, but still keep us moving forward together. For you to succeed in this class, and for the class as a whole to function, each of you will need to follow the course path. This means paying attention to the instructions and completing the assignments within the time period allotted. To provide flexibility but still keep us working together, we will follow this schedule (all times are EST):

First session: Complete between Saturday and Tuesday at noon
Second session: Complete between 8pm Tuesday and noon Thursday
Third session: Complete between 8pm Thursday and the end of your day Sunday.

Note that the sessions can carry over into the weekends, but only if you elect for them to do so. If that is when you have the most time for classwork, use the weekend. If not, you should be able to complete the work before the weekend arrives (i.e. by completing session x-3 on Thursday night or on Friday). Your call. In sum, the more we keep to the path and the timeframes, the more you will learn. Get the work done during the time allotted and all will be well.


My goal is to give you frequent feedback and guidance on the work you do for this class. Most of this feedback will be in the form of written comments but ultimately this will come in the form of grades. What does a grade mean in a philosophy class? Grades indicate the quality of the work you do. While the quality of work you do will certainly be affected by how much time you put into it, in truth, I have no direct way of knowing how you spend your time. Also, while it may be true that many great ideas exist in your head, I have no direct access to these ideas.

In fact, all I see are your words: the words you choose in your discussion board postings, the words you write in your journal, and the words you write for your paper. So it is on your words that your grade will be based.

I have a reputation as a demanding but fair professor. I strive to be clear with my expectations, I give frank feedback on your successes and failures, and I offer specific advice on what you need to do to succeed in my class. Students who rise to the challenge, do the work, and are open to my suggestions do well in my classes.

A heads-up: Because participation is so crucial both to your learning and to the success of this class, participation is required and will be worth 50% of your grade for the class. To be clear, ‘participation’ does not mean ‘showing up.’ Rather, it means actively participating in the Seminar Room and other course activities. ’Actively participating’ means adding to discussions, responding to your classmates, drawing on the readings, videos, Remarks, etc., critically engaging with the course ideas, etc.

Should you have to be absent from the online discussion for any reason, be certain to contact me in advance to request an excused absence. Each unexcused absence after the first will lower your participation grade one third of a grade (e.g. a B+ will become a B after one unexcused absence). See the “Grading Guidelines” below for more information.

At the end of the semester, your final grade will be calculated as follows:





Final Project


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