Loyola University Chicago

Department of Philosophy

PHIL 288: Culture and Civilization

PHIL 288: Culture and Civilization

The Generic Catalog Description

This course examines the nature, causes, and possible future development of human culture and civilization.

PHIL 288: Culture and Civilization: Friendship, Romance, and Technology

Peter Bergeron

We are deeply social creatures. The link between vibrant interpersonal relationships and a rich, flourishing human life was explored by the Greek philosopher Aristotle centuries ago. He claimed that even if we had all the goods that the world could offer, none of us would choose to have those at the expense of having friends. The importance of relationships continues to dominate the research of scholars in many fields. Our culture is profoundly technological. This has been true for decades and is not merely the result of the development of new forms of social media such as the smartphone. This culture shapes us in many ways, including the way we engage relationships with others. The Jesuit scholar John Culkin writes, “We become what we behold. We shape our tools and then our tools shape us.” The effects of these tools on our relationships with others are being widely researched and hotly contested. It is clear that these new tools are shaping us. This course will explore two kinds of relationships, friendship and romantic partnerships, and the ways in which our technological culture both enhances and diminishes our capacity to connect well with others.

This course has both an Ethics and Values (E&V) designation and a Law, Society, and Social Justice (LSSJ) designation for the purposes of major specialization.


PHIL 288: Culture and Civilization: Philosophy and Biology for the Future

Joseph Vukov

The future is a minefield of technological challenges and the moral quagmires that accompany them. The looming specters of antimicrobial-resistant pathogens, human-driven climate change, corporatecontrolled artificial intelligence and virtual reality, genetic engineering, artificial cognitive and moral enhancement, and new methods and technologies in health care. We have major hurdles to overcome in the near future.

We can’t address these challenges piecemeal. The solutions to these future challenges are interwoven. Simple science education alone is insufficient to correct this. And ethical reflection on them devoid of a scientific basis falls flat. Rather, the students best prepared to deal with and lead in the face of future challenges are those who have acquired two sets of knowledge: (a) detailed scientific understanding of the problems and (b) the creative, ethical, and logical skills to generate and apply solutions.

In this course—taught in conjunction with BIOL395E—we will therefore tackle problems of the future from both philosophical and biological perspectives, integrating knowledge from both fields, and along the way, reflect on ways to make progress on future problems. In PHIL288E, we’ll be paying special attention to health care ethics, and to the way the Catholic Intellectual Tradition may provide us with distinctive resources. In both classes, we’ll be pairing with community partners to bring our work beyond the university community. What’s more: we’ll be framing our units using some of our favorite science fiction texts. Note that PHIL288E is an engaged learning course and must be taken concurrently with BIOL395E. BIOL282 (Genetics) is a recommended (but not required) prerequisite. Contact the instructor to register.

This course has both an Ethics and Values (E&V) designation and a Law, Society, and Social Justice (LSSJ) designation for the purposes of major specialization. The course also counts towards the Bioethics Minor and Catholic Studies Minor.