Register for the BHCC event with Sybrina Fulton!  This is optional, but looks very very interesting, and there will be an extra credit opportunity attached to it.image001.jpg

If you attend the event, you may do the following activity for extra credit.

Read Melissa Harris-Perry’s Letter to Sybrina Fulton.  Then, write a letter of 250-500 words to Sybrina Fulton, similar to Harris-Perry’s letter.  In your letter, please specifically address either something that she says on campus during her visit on Thursday, March 24, or one of the questions raised by the students in the Q&A portion of her talk.  Please also integrate an idea you have encountered in our course this semester so far (including the readings for the week of 3/28, if you so choose).  Email your letter to me by Thursday, March 31 at 11:59 PM, and also create a new section on your e-portfolio marked “Extra credit” and place your letter there.  If you do this well, at the end of the semester, your participation grade for the entire course will be raised by one third of one letter grade (in other words, a B would become a B+).



In the week of March 21, we will have conferences for the final project.  Class will not meet.  Instead, you need to sign up for a 15-minute timeslot to talk with me about your ideas for a final project.

Here is the spreadsheet you need to use to sign up.  Just type your name in the spot next to the timeslot you want.


There are a few rules for this spreadsheet: please follow them.

1. Sign up for one spot and one spot only. If you change your mind, sign up for a new blank timeslot and remove your name from your old one.

2. Don’t steal someone else’s spot by deleting their name and typing yours in instead. If you really need a specific timeslot, sign up early!

3. Don’t create new timeslots! If you’re late to the party and you don’t find a timeslot you like, the solution is NOT to randomly create a new timeslot!

4. Don’t delete the breaks! You want your professor to be alert and attentive during your conference, right?

(Rules 2, 3, and 4 all relate to the problem of finding a timeslot. If you are having a lot of trouble finding an existing open timeslot that works for you, email me and let’s strategize.)

5. When it comes time for your conference, please wait in the hallway a few steps away from my office, near classrooms B-336 and B-337. This is for everyone’s privacy during the conference. Please try to arrive 5 minutes early, but don’t come directly to my office, because someone else is probably doing their conference. Just wait in the hallway and I’ll let you know when we’re ready to go. When you’re waiting, please wait quietly, in order to be kind to my office neighbors. If five minutes after your scheduled conference time have passed, (in other words, if you were scheduled for 4:30 and it’s now 4:35) please come and knock on my door and let me know you’re waiting.

The purpose of this conference is to talk about your final project, so you should come to the conference with a few ideas of what you might like to do for a final project.  As a reminder, here are the guidelines for the final project.

We will talk about the final project in class on Monday, March 7.



For our week on God and Good and Evil (March 7 and March 9), please read:

Think, chapter 6 (your textbook).

J.L. Mackie, Evil and Omnipotence OR Richard Swinburne, Why God Allows Evil  (choose either Mackie or Swinburne)

AND for Wednesday (read both of these two no matter which of the two above readings you choose):

Cynthia Moe-Lobeda, Resisting Structural Evil, “Structural Injustice as Structural Sin”.

Pope Francis’ New Year Homily (January 1, 2016)

On this coming Monday (February 29) please bring two printed copies of your first response paper.  Remember, for this paper, you must choose one of the readings (not Think, instead choose one of the other readings, such as one of the handouts).  You must write a 300-500 paper where you briefly summarize the reading you chose and then respond to it.  You might agree, or disagree, or otherwise comment on the reading you chose and engage with it.  In an earlier post on this blog are the readings for Power and Privilege, which we will talk about on February 29 and March 2, so you should do the readings ahead of time to be prepared.

If you missed our class last Monday (February 22) you should follow the steps in this handout to create your e-portfolio.

Here are the guidelines for the final project.


Important dates:

The first conferences take place during the week of March 21.

The proposal is due by email on March 25.

The second conferences take place during the week of April 11.

The presentations take place April 25-May 4.

The project is due by email on May 9.

Today, we will discuss the mind and the self.  You’ll have read the excerpts by Ludwig Wittgenstein and Jorge Luis Borges for today, as well as two chapters from Think.

In class, we might watch some or all of these videos:

Nick Bostrom, What happens when our computers get smarter than we are?

Julian Baggini, Is there a real you?

John Searle’s Chinese Room Experiment (from 60-second adventures in thought)


I’ll also distribute this handout, from The Questions of King Milinda (from approximately 100 BCE) and we will discuss it briefly.


Remember, on Monday (2/29) we will have our writing workshop on your response papers.  You must bring in two printed copies of your first response paper.  We will work on them together in class, in pairs and small groups.  This will be intended to provide you some suggestions for ways to improve your work.

Here are the readings for our unit on power and privilege, which begins next week.  Please read these by Monday, just in case we have time to talk about them after our writing workshop.  No chapter of Think (our textbook) applies to this unit.

Audre Lorde, “Age, Race, Class, and Sex: Women Redefining Difference”

Johnson, Privilege, Power, and Difference excerpts

bell hooks, Feminism is for everybody excerpts

Excerpts on whiteness and invisibility

Today, we’re going to talk about epistemic injustice and epistemicide.  These are dynamics of knowledge and power.  This discussion will build on what we’ve already learned about knowledge.  You’ve read the short paper by Miranda Fricker and the excerpt from Another Knowledge is Possible in preparation for today.

In October 2015, Coby Burren and his mother, Roni Dean-Burren, exposed a geography textbook that described enslaved Africans as “workers” brought to the United States, with no mention of enslavement.  This is the video she posted.  We might watch it in class today.

We will probably talk at least a little about cultural capital, a concept articulated by Pierre Bourdieu.  Most likely we’ll talk about it as it relates to class. Here is a quote from a book called Limbo by Michael Lubrano.  In this book, Lubrano talks about the “straddlers,” people who transition from working class to middle class, often through a college education.  He discusses the adjustments and experiences the “straddlers” have in life:

“Regardless, if you come from the working class, you haven’t got a clue how to conduct yourself when you first land in an office. You’re lost if you can’t navigate the landscape – if you follow blue-collar mores and speak your mind, directly challenging authority. Without tact and subtlety, without the ability to practice politics amongst the cubicles, an executive with a blue-collar background will not rise. And it’s a drag watching others get promoted over you.

Language, too, is a sticking point – both what you say and how you say it. If the work environment is particularly sterile, cold, distant, and austere, then anything more than a mild giggle at a tasteful joke will raise eyebrows. And it’s no secret that on-the-rise types solicit help from speech experts to bury Southern accents, Brooklyn accents, and any other perceived verbal barbarisms that would offend the ears of a genteel corporate listener. Along with sound, the right picture is imperative. Clothes, then, become vital for the proper office portrait. Straddlers swathed in polyester from birth, or simply unacquainted with the standard-issue Brooks Brothers uniform, report being taken aside by higher-ups and literally told how to dress.”

Today, we’re going to do part 1 of our unit on knowledge.

We’ll watch this video on Descartes.

Then, we’ll split into groups and summarize and analyze Descartes’ and Berkeley’s works.  Here is the handout I will distribute in class to help us with that exercise.

We will not have class on Monday, due to the holiday.

On Wednesday, we will pick up the second part of our unit on knowledge.  Descartes said he wasn’t concerned with action, only with knowledge.  But are knowledge and action separable?  Miranda Fricker and the authors of Another Knowledge is Possible don’t seem to think so.  What do you think?