Phil 206-01 (CRN 449)
Philosophy of Life and Death
Oneonta College Seal

4:00 - 6:30 Th -- Fitzelle 206

Spring 2010

Douglas Shrader, Ph.D.
Distinguished Teaching Professor of Philosophy
507 Fitzelle, 607-436-2690 or 2456
Email: email Professor Shrader
Office Hours:
Tu:    1:00 - 2:00 & 3:15 - 4:00
Th:    1:00 - 2:00 & 3:15 - 4:00
and by appointment

Course Description:
Philosophical examination of life and death. Topics include the meaning of life, the nature of death, the morality of euthanasia, the rights of the terminally ill, and the possibility of life after death. Special consideration will be given to the contrast between Western and non-Western perspectives of life and death (e.g. Polynesian culture and Tibetan Buddhism).
The class will be conducted as an extended seminar, once each week. I anticipate an abundance of open, but nonetheless intelligent and philosophically fruitful discussion.  Students are expected to have different values and perspectives; we will explore as many as possible.  Readings will be complemented by videos, internet sources, etc..
Note: Interim reports will be based on the first service-learning assignment, class attendance and participation. Students are encouraged to meet with the professor throughout the semester to discuss assignments, expectations, and grades.

Mitch Albom - Tuesdays With Morrie (Doubleday 1997)
Paul Pearsall -  The Pleasure Prescription (Hunter House 1996) 
Beauchamp and Veatch - Ethical Issues in Death and Dying  (Prentice Hall, 2nd edition, 1996)
The Dalai Lama - Sleeping, Dreaming, And Dying (Wisdom 1997)
Course Attributes
LA (Liberal Arts) and WS2 (Writing Skills)

books Assignments

Part I: Life and Death on the New York Times Bestseller List

Jan 21:
First class meeting -- establishing a foundation on which to build
Jan 28:
Tuesdays with Morrie (all)
Feb 4:

          The Pleasure Prescription -- Part I: The Pleasure Paradigm (pp. 1-96)

Feb 11:

The Pleasure Prescription -- Part II: Learning Aloha (pp. 97-180)
Feb 18:
The Pleasure Prescription -- Part III: Living Aloha (pp. 181-232)

Part II: Ethical Issues in Death and Dying

March 4:
Pages 1-63 -- The Definition of Death
March 11:
Pages 119-148 -- Suicide
Service-Learning Timesheets and Initial Reflection Papers Due
March 18:
Pages 151-173, 186-198 -- Physician-Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia
First Exam Due
March 25:
Pages 211-229, 253-262, 269-272, 286-301 -- Forgoing Treatment and Causing Death
April 1:
Pages 305-317, 325-337, 342-345, 362-375 -- Making Decisions for Others

Part III: Sleeping, Dreaming, and Dying

 April 15:
Cover-Chapter 2 -- What's In a Self?, Brain's Sleep
April 22:
Chapters 3-4 --  Dreaming and the Unconscious, Lucid Dreaming
April 29:
Chapters 5-7 --  Consciousness, Death & Christianity, Bodily Death
May 6:
Chapter 8-Coda -- Near-Death Experiences, Reflections on the Journey

May 13:    (11:00 - 1:30)

Final Exam Due
Service-Learning Timesheets and Final Reflection Papers Due

  • Although this syllabus represents honest intention, the professor reserves the right to adjust assignments, requirements, and dates as the class proceeds. Students should consult the on-line syllabus on a weekly basis to make sure they have up-to-date materials. Use the Angel Course Management tool ( or the course website:
  • Students who wish to earn extra credit may do so in three distinct ways (maximum of 10 points). First, for each hour of community service completed beyond the course requirement, students will receive 1/4 extra credit point. Second, students who serve as a presenter or discussant at Oneonta's 15th Annual Undergraduate Philosophy Conference (April 15-17) will receive 3 extra credit points. Third, students may earn extra credit by: (a) attending student sessions of the Undergraduate Conference and (b) preparing a 5-10 page personal-reflection paper relating those presentations to this course (due April 29). To take advantage of the second option, simply consult our website ( to see which papers still need discussants, review the guidelines posted there, and contact our 2010 “Discussant Boss” to finalize your choice (available circa 3/4). Remember, the sooner you act, the more choices you have!

  • Emergency Evacuation/Shelter-in-Place Procedures

    In the event of an emergency evacuation (i.e. fire or other emergency), classes meeting in the building are directed to reassemble at the pillars of Old Main so that all persons can be accounted for. Complete details of the College's emergency evacuation, shelter-in-place and other emergency procedures can be found at

    Supplemental Materials

    Resources and Links on the World Wide Web
    www icon

    Website constructed and maintained by
    Douglas Shrader / Distinguished Teaching Professor of Philosophy

    email Professor Shrader
    Originally Posted: January 18, 2010
    Last Updated: January 18, 2010

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    Philosophy at Oneonta