© Alex Richardson, 2014

Teaching

A little learning is a dangerous thing...

Since 2015, I've taught philosophy at the University of Tennessee. I've taught courses on the history of philosophy, the fundamentals of moral and political theory, and contemporary applied issues in ethics and politics. I'm also prepared to teach introductory-level critical thinking courses and rudimentary formal logic. Additionally, I'm currently developing several prototype undergraduate courses, including a survey of contemporary political philosophy, a specialized course on the concept of oppression, and a course on environmental justice.

Before teaching my own courses at UT, I worked as a teaching assistant for several philosophy faculty members, where I gave the occasional guest lecture, graded assignments, and led weekly breakout discussion sections. I have assisted with courses on the history of philosophy, introductory metaphysics and epistemology, moral and political theory, and formal logic.  

Below you'll find a sampling of my recent syllabi and course materials. For more information on my teaching at UT, see a summary of my recent teaching evaluations, some testimonials from students, and my (less official) student ratings from RateMyProfessors.

 

Recent and Upcoming Courses

Contemporary Moral Problems

Fall 2017

[syllabus]

Complex and contested moral problems are ubiquitous in our society and daily lives. These often confront us with decisions to make and actions to take which may not only affect our lives and interests, but those of others around us. This course will serve as an introduction to various problems that confront us as members of a contemporary democracy. When, if ever, is it acceptable to end a human life? Does the environment have moral value? How should we respond to oppression and social turmoil brought on by differences in gender, sexuality, and race? These questions and more will be our focus for the semester.

What is Love? An Introduction to Philosophy

Summer 2017

[syllabus] [handout]

 

What is love? Aside from comprising the eponymous refrain to a catchy song from the early 1990s, this is a central question which has captivated human interest from time immemorial. It’s safe to assume that, in at least some capacity, it has similarly fascinated, implicated, or perhaps entirely eluded us all at some time or another. What is the nature of love itself? How does romantic love differ from friendship? How do related physical and mental states like attraction and sexual desire fit in? Can we love things that aren’t individuals? How, in fact, does it all work? We will confront these questions and more in this class as we examine the work and methodology of great thinkers from throughout history. 

Introduction to Philosophy

Spring 2017

[syllabus] [handout]

What is real and what is imaginary? What can we truly come to know about our universe and how? What does it mean to be a good person? How should we structure our society? We’ve all probably asked ourselves some of these things at one time or another. They are among the most fundamental questions one can ask, and countless thinkers have proposed answers to them for centuries. These questions, which are crucial to our everyday lives, are the purview of philosophy, one of the oldest and most fundamental forms of inquiry in our intellectual history. This course serves as a topical introduction to the discipline of philosophy, its methodology, some of its central questions, and its development throughout history. Students will gain familiarity with historical and contemporary views and distinctions in metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, political philosophy, and more. 

Professional Responsibility

Fall 2016

[syllabus] [handout]

case studies: [1] [2]

At some time or another, each of us has probably thought about what our obligations are as students or teachers, as children and parents, as citizens of a democracy, etc, In addition to these practical identities, professional occupations are important factors in how we structure our livelihoods, and often have equally important implications for our moral lives. This course will provide students with an introduction to the various types and instances of moral problems and obligations that are relevant to various professions through the work of thinkers both classical and contemporary.

 

Assisted Courses

  1. Introduction to Philosophy with Jon Garthoff (Spring 2015)
  2. Formal Logic with John Nolt (Fall 2014)
  3. Philosophical Foundations of Democracy with Ryan Windeknecht (Spring 2014)
  4. Introduction to Philosophy with Clerk Shaw (Fall 2013)