Course Syllabus

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link to lectures, Mondays and Wednesdays from 3:30-5:20,

link to Professor Smith's office hours, last one on Monday 6/7 (not Thursday 6/3) from 5:00-6:00,

link to Christianna Parr's office hours, Mondays from 1:30-3:30, (Note: 5/31 office hours moved to Wed 6/2, 1:30 - 3:30 for observance of Memorial Day)

full syllabus syllabus--302 spring 2021.pdf


March 29  Free will, nature, and nurture in political science and other disciplines (lecture recording part 1) (lecture recording part 2) (slides)


Closer to Truth, The Big Questions in Free Will (2016), watch 


March 31  Free will in Western philosophy (lecture recording) (slides)


Julian Baggini, Do We Have Free Will? (2015), watch or listen

Paul Bloom, The War on Reason (2014), read 

Robert Sapolsky, The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst (2018), watch 


April 5  Religious ideas, determinism, and free will (lecture recording) (slides)


Jayaram V, Perspectives on What Karma Means (2021), read

Jane Dempsey Douglass, Predestination (1985), read

Richard Phillips, Original Sin (2021), read

WhyIslam, Concept of God in Islam (2020), read


April 7  Free will and moral responsibility (lecture recording) (slides)


Adrian Raine, Neurobiology of Violence (2013), watch

Michael Shermer, Free Will and Moral Responsibility in a Secular Society (2014), watch

Stephen Cave, There’s No Such Thing as Free Will (2016), read


April 12  Free will in political science:  structure and agency (lecture recording) (slides)


Daron Acemoğlu, Why Nations Fail (2012), watch or listen

Raj Chatty, Improving Equality of Opportunity (2019), watch

Tage Rai, How Could They? (2015), read


April 14  Nature and evolutionary psychology (lecture recording) (slides)


Frans de Waal, Moral Behavior in Animals (2012), watch

Leda Cosmides, Evolutionary Psychology and Human Nature (2010), watch (Cosmides's talk begins at about 1:02 and ends at about 16:40)

Laith Al-Shawaf, Seven Key Misconceptions about Evolutionary Psychology (2019), read

Laith Al-Shawaf, Evolutionary Psychology:  Predictively Powerful or Just-So Stories? (2020), read

David Buss, Why Students Love Evolutionary Psychology . . . And How to Teach It (2012), watch


April 19  Nurture and cultural anthropology (lecture recording) (slides)


Kwame Anthony Appiah, Honor and Moral Revolutions (2014), watch

Richard Nisbett, Honor Cultures (2017), listen

Pew Research Center, What’s Morally Acceptable (2014), read

Marianna Pogosyn, A Big-Picture Look at Social Rules (2018), read

Michele Gelfand, States Are Not Divided by Red or Blue—A Deeper Difference Came before Politics (2018), read


April 21  Midterm exam


April 26  Nature and nurture: reconciling evolutionary psychology and cultural anthropology (lecture recording) (slides)


Susan Clancy, Abducted: How People Come to Believe They Were Abducted by Aliens, (2016), watch

Hidden Brain, Olympic Victory and Defeat (2016), listen

Alison Gopnik, The Gardener and the Carpenter, talk at Google (2016), watch

Rebecca Saxe, How We Read Each Other’s Minds (2009), watch


April 28  Nature and nurture in behavioral genetics, part I (video recording) (slides)


Robert Plomin, How DNA Makes Us Who We Are (2019), watch

Nancy Segal, Twin Misconceptions (2017), watch or listen

Gretchen Reynolds, One Twin Exercises, The Other Doesn’t (2015), read


May 3  Nature and nurture in behavioral genetics, part II; applying free will, nature, and nurture to success, achievement, and socio-economic status (lecture recording) (slides)


Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers, Introduction and chapters 1-4, 6, 8-9, and the Epilogue (2008)


May 5  Nature and nurture in behavioral genetics, part III 


Nothing for today


May 10  Free will, nature, and nurture case studies: group identity and politics (lecture recording) (slides)


Laurie Santos, The Roots of Racism in Rhesus Monkeys (2011), watch

Jonathan Haidt, The Righteous Mind, talk at Google (2012), watch

Seth Andrews, Let’s Not Wake Up Like This (2019), watch

Shadi Hamid, How Politics Replaced Religion in America (2021), read

Thomas Edsall, America, We Have a Problem (2020), read



May 12  Free will, nature, and nurture case studies: religion (lecture recording) (slides)


Justin Barrett, The Naturalness of Religion (2011), listen

Ara Norenzayan, The Idea that Launched a Thousand Civilizations (2012), read

Kristin Laurin, Belief in God:  A Cultural Adaptation with Important Side Effects (2017), read

Azim Shariff, Psychological and Social Consequences of Religious (Dis)belief (2015), watch



May 14  First paper due by 4:00 PM. You will upload your paper to the course’s Canvas site.


May 17  Free will, nature, and nurture case studies: political attitudes and behaviors, part I (lecture recording) (slides)


Robert Kurzban, Why Everybody (Else) Is a Hypocrite, talk at The Amazing Meeting (2014), watch

Hannah Holmes, Red Brain, Blue Brain (2014), watch

John Hibbing, Liberals and Conservatives:  The Biology of Political Differences (2019), watch

Christopher Federico, The Psychology of Political Behavior (2019), listen



May 19  Free will, nature, and nurture case studies: political attitudes and behaviors, part II (lecture recording) (slides)


Julia Galef, How to Think (2021), watch or listen

Danny Westneat, Outbreak in Town of Republic Is a Cautionary Tale about Covid Vaccination (2021), read

Aallyah Wright, Republican Men Vaccine-Hesitant, But There’s Little Focus on Them (2021), read

Emma Green, The Liberals Who Can’t Quit Lockdown (2021), read

Veronique de Rugy, Open the Schools Already (2021), read



May 24  Free will, nature, and nurture case studies: political leadership and authority (lecture recording) (slides)


Mancur Olson, Dictatorship, Democracy, and Development (1993), read just pp. 567-570 

Glenn Wilson, The Psychology of Politics (2012), watch

Francis Fukuyama, The Origins of Political Order, talk at the Carnegie Council (2014), watch



May 26  Free will, nature, and nurture case studies: sexual orientation and gender identity (lecture recording) (slides)


Judith Butler, Your Behavior Creates Your Gender (2011), watch

Andrew Sullivan, #MeToo and the Taboo Topic of Nature (2018), read

Scott Barry Kaufman, Taking Sex Differences in Personality Seriously (2019), read

Alice Eagly and Wendy Wood, Gender Identity:  Nature and Nurture Working Together (2017), read


May 31  No class (Memorial Day)


June 2  The political and policy implications of beliefs about free will, nature, and nurture (lecture recording) (slides)


Elizabeth Suhay, The Political Science of Genetic Explanations (2018), listen

Discovery Institute, The Wedge Document (1998), read

J. P. Moreland, Neuroscience and the Soul (2013), watch

Robert Frank, Before Tea, Thank Your Lucky Stars (2009),read 

Sociobiology Study Group, Against Sociobiology (1975), read


June 8  Second paper due by 4:00 PM. You will upload your paper to the course’s Canvas site.


Course Summary:

Date Details Due