PHIL 4300-01W: Senior Seminar

University of West Georgia

Fall 2013


Instructions for Synopsis and Leading Class Discussion


Each student will be required to lead discussion of a reading assignment once during the course of the semester. (All assignments are from David DeGrazia, Human Identity and Bioethics, 2005.) The student who is leading a given day’s class will begin by presenting a synopsis of that text to the class:

·         The synopsis is a detailed summary of the theories and arguments that DeGrazia makes or describes in the relevant reading assignment.

·         Before you begin writing your synopsis, you should read through the material carefully at least once and pick out the ideas that you think are the most important. Once you’ve done this initial reading, reflect on the reading as a whole. Ask yourself: What is DeGrazia doing in this reading, and how does he go about doing it? Get clear on how you answer these questions before you begin writing the synopsis itself.

·         Your synopsis should summarize the reading, emphasizing what you take to be its most important claims and arguments, using your own words as much as possible and quoting sparingly. It should be clearly written and organized, so that even someone who is very unfamiliar with DeGrazia’s work can understand it.

·         Your class presentation should take between 15 and 20 minutes. You may use the white board and/or a PowerPoint presentation, if you wish.

·         Together, the presentation and the synopsis will count for 15% of your total course grade. I will grade the synopsis using the same standards I normally apply to formal writing (organization, clarity, grammar, punctuation and spelling will all count).

·         You must turn in one printed copy of the synopsis to me at the beginning of class.

·         Synopsis length: 1500-2000 words.

·         I encourage you to meet with me to discuss your synopsis before you present it to the class.


On the first day of class, I will assign specific dates for leading class discussion based on a random draw. Once your date as been assigned, you may negotiate an exchange of dates with another student; but you must let me know as soon as possible after you have negotiated that exchange.



topic and reading


materials due

9/5 R

The Biological Approach (46-65)



9/10 T

Alternative Approaches: Johnston and McMahan (65-76)


resume due

9/12 R

Narrative Identity (77-89)



9/17 T

Self-Creation (89-114)



9/19 R

Death: Appeals to Essence (115-130)



9/24 T

Death: Appeals to Identity (131-141)



9/26 R

Death: the Organismic Conception; Policy Options (142-158)



10/1 T

Advance Directives: the Nonidentity Thesis & the Someone Else Problem (159-173)


prospectus & annotated bibliography due

10/3 R

Advance Directives: Narrative Identity; Precedent Autonomy (173-189)



10/8 T

Advance Directives: Time-Relative Interests (189-202)



10/10 R

Enhancement Technologies (203-228)



10/15 T

Enhancement Technologies: Identity, Core Characteristics (229-243)



10/17 R

Prenatal Identity: Our Origins (244-54)



10/24 R

Prenatal Identity: Genetic Interventions (254-268)



10/29 T

Prenatal Identity: The Non-Identity Problem (268-279)



10/31 R

Prenatal Identity: Abortion (279-294)