Fall, 2012


What does it mean to say that we live in an “information society” and how did we get here? What is the nature of information or computation? Is information a kind of “stuff” and where does it come from? What historical forces and developments combined to give us TFLOP computers and are leading us to quantum computers? How can humanity avoid drowning in an ocean of information? What does it mean to be human, anyway? What have humans discovered about “living the good life” in a world saturated with technology? How can we do better at living the good life by personal and policy decisions? What are the consequences of our current policies regarding intellectual property? Does a person have a right to privacy? How does technology impact privacy? These questions address issues at the intersection of Philosophy and Computer and Information Science. For there to be any hope in answering them, one must think philosophically about information, computation and technology. In this seminar-style course, we will address a variety of questions such as these.

As our primary focus, we will address the question: What role should virtual reality play in the life of the individual Christian and in the life of the Church? Attempting to answer this question will lead us to a number of preliminary questions. What is the nature of virtual reality? What is the nature of reality? What is the identity of the individual and the Church and the relationship between them? What do we mean by ‘should’ in our focal question? How should we answer such ‘should’ questions? How will we know when we have a good answer to any of these questions? Each of these questions will lead us to still others, and so on. As a result of working through this course, students will have started acquiring the intellectual tools that will allow them to reason philosophically about other questions they will encounter in their lives.

Course Materials