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Oscar Ricardo Barragan Ph.D.

 
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I am an Assistant Teaching Professor of Philosophy at Penn State Berks. I have taught over 30 undergraduate courses in Introduction to Philosophy, Ethics, Aesthetics, Introduction to Logic, and Modern Philosophy, among others. I specialize in metaphysics, focusing on questions about material constitution and the persistence conditions of ordinary objects. I am also interested in a number of issues surrounding the thesis of supervenience and the notion of reduction as they are used in the philosophy of mind and in the philosophy of art. I received a doctorate in Philosophy from Temple University and a Master of Liberal Arts in Philosophy and Cognitive Science at the University of Pennsylvania. Please view my cv for details. On a personal note, I am a dual US-Venezuelan citizen. I grew up in Venezuela and I moved to the US to pursue studies in Philosophy. 

 
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Teaching

 

COURSE DESCRIPTIONS

Introduction to Philosophy

The general goal of this course is to introduce students to the nature, methods, and goals of philosophical inquiry. Philosophers tend to question ‘common sense’ beliefs that most people take for granted. As a result of this, it is not uncommon to feel genuinely surprised or even unsettled by the extent to which philosophy can undermine what we assume to be normal. Try to keep an open mind as we upend many of the ideas that underpin everyday life. The material includes selections by both, current (e.g., Appiah, Nagel, Nussbaum, Perry, Thomson) and historically important philosophers (e.g., Descartes, Du Bois, Hume, Plato, Russell). We will cover various philosophical topics throughout the semester such as the nature of right and wrong, the existence of God, and the possibility of knowledge. We will attempt to reach a clearer understanding of ourselves (personal identity), our relationship to other people (moral responsibility), and our relationship to the world around us (freedom of the will). 

Introduction to Ethics


The goal of this course is to explore the branch of philosophy known as ethics. We will focus on important questions concerning human moral behavior and attitudes. For instance, how should we, as members of communities, live? What are the differences between good and bad choices? Why should we act in the interest of others and not in our self-interest? These questions have puzzled and inspired thinkers for hundreds of years; trying to answer them will allow us to have a better grasp of the nature of morality and of ourselves as moral agents. We will discuss major Western ethical theories, important moral philosophers, and controversial moral dilemmas such as abortion, immigration, gun regulation, and the morality of war. Furthermore, thinking about these questions will allow us to refine our views on important issues confronting our society today: racial and gender equality, cultural diversity and national identity.  

Latin American Philosophy


This course introduces students to the nature, history, and content of the different philosophical trends of Mexico, Central and South America. As we will see, these trends are closely linked to European and North American intellectual heritages, but they present distinctive and insightful treatments of traditional philosophical questions. For this reason, one of the aims of this course is to show that Latin American philosophy represents not only an important intellectual contribution to human cultural history, but also an active source of promising proposals for addressing questions that concern us all in our daily lives. Our exploratory journey into this philosophical continent, will also help you develop reasoning skills that are useful in any professional area and which will make you a more rounded critical participant of our democratic society. Topics will include justice, political legitimacy, the human condition, identity, values and the role of religion. We will read essays from Augusto Salazar Bondy, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Jose Carlos Mariategui, Octavio Paz, Leopoldo Zea, and Marta Harnecker among others. 

PREVIOUSLY TAUGHT COURSES

University of California, Los Angeles

Evolutionary Psychology (online) - Fall 2020

Loyola Marymount University

Philosophical Inquiry I (online) - Fall 2020

Rowan University

Philosophy of Science (online) Fall 2019, Spring 2019                 

Philosophy and Society (online) Spring 2019                                   

Philosophy and Society - Fall 2018

Honors Aesthetics - Fall 2017   

World Philosophy II: Modern Philosophy - Fall 2017, Spring 2018         

Introduction to Symbolic Logic - Fall 2016

Introduction to Philosophy - Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Fall 2018

Business Ethics - Fall 2015

Logic of Everyday Reasoning I - Fall 2012, Spring 2017                                  

Logic of Everyday Reasoning II - Fall 2012, Fall 2015           

Introduction to Ethics - Summer 2012, Summer 2013, Spring 2018                         

Introduction to Philosophy - Spring 2012, Spring 2015

Aesthetics - Spring 2012, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017                      

University of Southern California

Foundations of Cognitive Science - Spring 2019

Community College of Philadelphia

Introduction to Philosophy - Spring 2016

Ethical Problems - Spring 2014  

Widener University

Business Ethics - Spring 2015          

Introduction to Philosophical Ideas: Ancient Philosophy - Spring 2015          

Business Ethics - Fall 2014                

Ethics - Fall 2014                

Introduction to Philosophical Ideas: Ancient Philosophy - Fall 2014                

Temple University

Art and Society: The Social Character of Artistic Practices - Spring 2014                

Philosophy of the Human: Nature and Nurture - Summer 2013                 

The Meaning of the Arts: Creativity and Responsibility - Spring 2009

Philosophical Problems to the Individual: What is Human Nature? - Fall 2009     

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Research

 

WORK UNDER REVIEW

Global Supervenience Cannot Ground Material Constitution

I argue that no version of global supervenience can help establish the view that material constitution is a relationship of unity different from numerical identity and separate existence. I show that the main problem with the view is the tension between a requirement of modal independence between constituted and constituting objects, and an appeal to contextual determination of modal profiles. I then proceed to argue that my objection applies to all versions of constitutionalism that are sympathetic to extrinsic existence generating conditions. 

WORKS IN PROGRESS 


Inference to the Best Explanation, Spatiotemporal Coincidence and the Grounding Problem

In this paper I explore a series of disagreements concerning proposals for solving the grounding problem (the problem of explaining how spatiotemporally coincident entities can differ modally). I argue that such disagreements depend, at least partly, on presuppositions concerning the notion of ‘best explanation.’

From Spatiotemporal Coincidence to Anti-physicalism

My aim in this essay is to explain why certain advocates of spatiotemporal coincidence insist that their positions are consistent with a general physicalist ontology. Against these views, I argue that a plausible commitment to spatiotemporally coincident entities must reject physicalism: to endorse spatiotemporal coincidence is to be an anti-physicalist.  

EDUCATION

Doctor of Philosophy, Philosophy, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA

                      

Master of Liberal Arts, Philosophy and Cognitive Science, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA

Bachelor of Arts, Business Administration, Universidad Yacambú, Venezuela    

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