Associate Professor of Philosophy
She specializes in the philosophy of mind and philosophy of psychology/cognitive science. Her research currently focuses on affect (emotions and moods), but she is also interested in questions about consciousness, representation, music, and personal identity. She has published in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, Philosophical Psychology, and Mind and Language. In addition to her primary research and teaching interests, Professor Sizer teaches topics in applied ethics; the philosophy of language; philosophy of biology; and the relationship between science and religion.
Professor Sizer is on the steering committee for the Culture, Brain, and Development Program at Hampshire College.
Philosophers through the ages have asked about the nature of happiness and its contribution to 'the good life.' It's something we all want, but what is it? And why do we all want it so much? Are some people naturally happier than others? What makes us happy and why? This course will examine happiness from a number of different perspectives. We will look at what philosophers have said about the nature and importance of happiness in our lives, as well as recent positive psychology literature. Students will learn to read and critically analyze primary research articles in a number of different fields, and are expected to write a series of short papers and complete a final project.
Most ethical debates concern moral obligations towards human beings. But what moral obligations - if any - do we have towards non-human entities? Do non-human animals have rights? Do trees and rivers? What about entire ecosystems? What might be the basis for such rights and obligations? We will discuss how traditional ethical theories have approached questions about moral obligations towards non-humans, and see whether these views can be extended to include some or all of the non-human natural entities mentioned above. We will also discuss other approaches that explicitly include natural entities such as ecosystems within the sphere of moral concern. We will also discuss the moral dimensions of climate change and sustainability practices. Students will read and critically analyze philosophical positions and will learn to articulate arguments on several different sides of the issues. Short and longer argument papers are required. Prerequisite: A prior college course in either philosophy or environmental studies
This course focuses on the relationship between minds and bodies, and the nature of mental phenomena such as thoughts, desires, and qualia (qualitative states such as the experience of seeing red or tasting a peach). If we assume that minds are physical or material entities - an assumption prevalent today - then we must ask how typically mental features such as thoughts, sensations, emotions and consciousness can emerge out of the seemingly unthinking, unfeeling grey matter of the brain. We will consider some historical responses to these issues, but will focus on insights provided by contemporary philosophy and sciences of the mind. We will discuss the approaches of behaviorism, functionalism, mind-brain identity theory, and embodied cognition to these issues. Students will be required to write a series of short and one longer paper. At least one prior college level course in philosophy is recommended; one prior college level course in philosophy or psychology is required.
This course is an introduction to philosophy through science fiction. We will explore philosophical issues such as the nature of reality, free will, personal identity, the nature of mind and the possibility of artificial intelligence, and the ethical implications of AI, mind reading, and other issues. Readings in philosophy will be paired with science fiction films and short stories. Students will be expected to write a series of short papers.
Philosophy is a method of inquiry that helps us reflect on our own condition, our relationships with each other, and the nature of the world around us through the careful investigation of concepts such as mind, freedom, morality, and justice. It is also a mode of analysis and criticism that allows us to examine the structure and soundness of our ideas and arguments. This class will introduce you to some of the classic questions in philosophy, as well as the methods of inquiry philosophers use to examine them. Topics may include arguments for the existence of god, the nature of persons, the problem of free will, and the nature of mind. A series of shorter and longer papers will be required.
This seminar will focus on philosophical issues raised by tattoos, in particular their status as works of art. We will consider questions such as, Are (at least some) tattoos art? How is tattoo art different from and similar to other modes of visual art? What distinguishes a good tattoo from a mediocre or bad tattoo? Who owns a tattoo or a tattoo design? We will also explore the history, cultures, and practices of tattooing. Students will be required to write a series of short papers, give several presentations, and complete an independent project. This is a seminar for advanced Div II and Div III students with at least one prior college level course in philosophy.
Findings from the neurosciences are being brought to bear on questions about human nature, ethics, politics, and the law. Neuroethics is a field of inquiry that investigates the role of neuroscience in our personal, social, and ethical lives. In this class we will look at the ethics of neuroscientific interventions such as cognitive enhancement, mind reading, and lie detection. We will also examine how the neurosciences inform discussions about human nature, personality, and ethics. In addition we will look at the evidential role of neuroscientific evidence and how neuroscience technologies such as fMRI have influenced our thinking about the mind/brain and person. Students will read work in philosophy, neuroscience, and other cognitive sciences, and will write a series of short papers and a longer paper. Students must have taken at least one prior course in philosophy or cognitive science. Preferably students will have some background in both philosophy and another cognitive science. Prerequisite detail: Students must have taken at least one prior course in philosophy or cognitive science. Preferably students will have some background in both philosophy and another cognitive science.