Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

Leopold and Loeb in the Philosophy Classroom: An Interdisciplinary Introduction to Philosophy

Dr. Andrew P. Mills.

The primary "service" course that I am asked to teach is part of an interdisciplinary sequence of courses all of which are focused on the theme of human nature. My course, "Philosophy of Human Nature" is supposed to not only introduce students to the discipline of philosophy, but address the topic of human nature, be interdisciplinary in approach, and be suitable for students who will in all likelihood take no further philosophy courses. I have designed a course based on the infamous Leopold and Loeb murder case of 1924 which, I believe, meets all these desiderata.

This syllabus is pedagogically valuable for the following two reasons: (a) the wealth of philosophically non-standard texts used in the course challenges students to use their critical faculties not just in the reading of philosophical essays and dialogues, but in the examination of novels, movies, plays, newspaper reports, and courtroom transcripts, and (b) by spending an entire course thinking about the issues at the heart of an intriguing and fascinating case which was very much in the public eye, students are shown that philosophy (and the humanities more generally) can help us in our quest to make sense of those 'real world' events that, at least on their face, seem far removed from an academic context.

The frustratingly tiresome question, "When am I ever going to use this in the real world?" can be answered by showing how the resources of the humanities are valuable as one lives in a world of horrific crime, terrorism, contentious political debate, changing social customs, and the many other unavoidable topics and news events that confront our students when they are outside of the classroom. 'Philosophizing' about Leopold and Loeb serves as a model for how to look at other cultural events through a philosophical lens.


Dr. Andrew P. Mills  (United States)
Assistant Professor of Philosophy
Department of Religion and Philosophy
Otterbein College

Andrew P. Mills teaches a wide range of philosophy courses at Otterbein College, but specializes in the philosophy of language, the philosophy of mind, and selected topics in metaphysics. He is presently at work on a textbook in the Philosophy of Religion.

  • Pedagogy
  • Philosophy
  • Interdisciplinarity
  • Leopold and Loeb
  • Human Nature
Person as Subject
  • Leopold, Nathan Loeb, Richard Darrow, Clarence

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)