Spring 2017   Fall 2016  

Spring 2017

PHIL 100-01

Introduction to Philosophy

  • Days: TR
  • Meeting Time: 09:40 am-11:10 am
  • Room:
  • Instructor: Samuel Asarnow

Notes: An introduction to philosophy through topics found in classical philosophical writings, such as the nature of truth and knowledge, mind and body, freedom and determinism, right and wrong, and the existence of God. Course content varies from instructor to instructor. Specific course descriptions will be available in the department prior to registration. Every semester. (4 Credits)

PHIL 110-01

Critical Thinking

  • Days: MWF
  • Meeting Time: 09:40 am-10:40 am
  • Room:
  • Instructor: Diane Michelfelder

Notes: This course introduces and explores the main principles and methods of Critical Thinking: distinguishing between good and bad arguments; identifying common fallacies; developing strong and persuasive arguments; the difference between deductive and inductive reasoning; constructing logical proofs; the nature of scientific, moral, and legal reasoning; evaluating polls and statistical hypotheses; understanding probability; deciding how to act under uncertainty. Students will apply these principles and methods to numerous academic and ‘everyday’ contexts, including journals, the print press, blogs, political rhetoric, advertising and documentaries. We will regularly reflect upon more broadly philosophical matters related to Critical Thinking - such as the nature of truth and objectivity and the distinction between science and pseudo-science - and examine a number of intriguing philosophical paradoxes. Students will improve their skills in writing clear and compelling argumentative papers and critically analyzing the writings of others. Course work includes reading, class discussion, regular homework assignments, quizzes, and short argumentative essays.

PHIL 110-02

Critical Thinking

  • Days: MWF
  • Meeting Time: 10:50 am-11:50 am
  • Room:
  • Instructor: Diane Michelfelder

Notes: This course introduces and explores the main principles and methods of Critical Thinking: distinguishing between good and bad arguments; identifying common fallacies; developing strong and persuasive arguments; the difference between deductive and inductive reasoning; constructing logical proofs; the nature of scientific, moral, and legal reasoning; evaluating polls and statistical hypotheses; understanding probability; deciding how to act under uncertainty. Students will apply these principles and methods to numerous academic and ‘everyday’ contexts, including journals, the print press, blogs, political rhetoric, advertising and documentaries. We will regularly reflect upon more broadly philosophical matters related to Critical Thinking - such as the nature of truth and objectivity and the distinction between science and pseudo-science - and examine a number of intriguing philosophical paradoxes. Students will improve their skills in writing clear and compelling argumentative papers and critically analyzing the writings of others. Course work includes reading, class discussion, regular homework assignments, quizzes, and short argumentative essays.

PHIL 121-01

Ethics

  • Days: TR
  • Meeting Time: 01:20 pm-02:50 pm
  • Room:
  • Instructor: William Wilcox

Notes: An introductory philosophy course that concentrates on concepts and issues, such as the nature of value, duty, right and wrong, the good life, human rights, social justice, and applications to selected problems of personal and social behavior. Topics may include liberty and its limitations, civil disobedience, abortion, affirmative action, capital punishment, terrorism and the morality of war, animal rights and environmental ethics. 4 credits

PHIL 201-01

Modern Philosophy

  • Days: MWF
  • Meeting Time: 01:10 pm-02:10 pm
  • Room:
  • Instructor: Geoffrey Gorham

Notes: A study of the 17th and 18th century philosophers, including the Empiricists, Rationalists, and Kant. The course considers issues regarding skepticism, justification, freedom of the will, personal identity, perception and the existence of God. Every year. (4 Credits)

PHIL 202-01

American Philosophy

  • Days: MWF
  • Meeting Time: 10:50 am-11:50 am
  • Room:
  • Instructor: Geoffrey Gorham

Notes: Is there a distinct American worldview, or merely a confluence of intellectual traditions originating beyond and before the USA? This course explores the diverse intellectual strains that have contributed to the development of American philosophy in the last three centuries, including influences that have been somewhat neglected: the American Indian thought of Arthur Parker and Zit Kala Za (Gertie Bonnin); the puritan theology of Jonathan Edwards; the political theory of Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson; the African American philosophy of

W.E.B. DuBois and Alain Locke; the transcendentalism of R. W. Emerson and H.D. Thoreau; the 'classical' pragmatism of C.S. Peirce and William James; the 'radical' pragmatism of John Dewey and Jane Adams. Special attention will be given to American conceptions of justice, freedom, democracy, religiosity, nature, pragmatism, progress and self-reliance. Every other year. (4 credits)

PHIL 213-01

Philosophy of Mind

  • Days: TR
  • Meeting Time: 09:40 am-11:10 am
  • Room:
  • Instructor: Joy Laine

Notes: *Cross-listed with NEUR 313-01*

Materialism, rather than solving the problem of mind, consciousness and intentionality, has spawned numerous philosophical perplexities. This course will examine a variety of philosophical problems associated with contemporary models of the mind (mind/body dualism; mind/brain identity theories; behaviorism; functionalism and artificial intelligence; eliminative naturalism and folk psychology; biological naturalism). The course will also look at contemporary philosophical accounts of personhood and personal identity, particularly narrative accounts of the self. Readings will typically include David Chalmers, Daniel Dennett, Owen Flanagan, Derek Parfit, Marya Schechtman, John Searle, Galen Strawson, and Kathleen Wilkes. Cross-listed with Neuroscience Studies 313. (4 Credits)

PHIL 223-01

Health and Human Rights

  • Days: MWF
  • Meeting Time: 03:30 pm-04:30 pm
  • Room:
  • Instructor: Martin Gunderson

Notes: Human rights and healthcare are intimately connected. Human rights are used both to protect human subjects in biomedical research and to support claims for adequate healthcare. The use of human rights to protect human research subjects raises issues of informed consent, privacy, and individual autonomy. The use of human rights to secure healthcare resources raises issues about what level of healthcare ought to be supported and what constitutes a just distribution of healthcare resources. The course also explores recent work on the way in which human rights and public health combine in the quest to secure overall wellbeing. In general the course views public health through the framework of human rights. Alternate years. (4 Credits)


PHIL 294-01

Race and Gender

  • Days: TR
  • Meeting Time: 01:20 pm-02:50 pm
  • Room:
  • Instructor: Samuel Asarnow

Notes: Is there a genuine biological definition of race? If not, is it a social construction? What does it mean to call something a "social construction"? Is gender a social construction, too? Does it make sense to value and identify with your race and gender? Or would a just society do away with racial and gendered distinctions altogether? What is sexual orientation, and is it a social construction too? Is racial injustice a special kind of injustice? Does it make sense to respond to racial injustice with affirmative action? Is it morally wrong to choose to live in a racially segregated neighborhood, if you have other options? Is sex-selective abortion immoral? If you think it is, can you still be pro-choice? Is prostitution immoral? What (if anything) does the morality of prostitution have to do with issues of race and gender? In this course we will consider these questions and others, drawing on recent work by analytic philosophers such as Elizabeth Anderson, Sally Haslanger, Debra Satz, Julian Savulescu, Quayshawn Spencer, and Laurence Thomas.

PHIL 300-01

20th Century Contintental Philosophy

  • Days: MWF
  • Meeting Time: 02:20 pm-03:20 pm
  • Room:
  • Instructor: Diane Michelfelder

Notes: Close reading, reflection, and analysis of a work or works associated with a major figure or movement within the tradition of twentieth-century Continental philosophy. (4 credits)

PHIL 321-01

Contemporary Social and Political Philosophy

  • Days: TR
  • Meeting Time: 09:40 am-11:10 am
  • Room:
  • Instructor: William Wilcox

Notes: This course will focus on some central topics in contemporary Anglo-American (or "analytic") social and political philosophy. Likely topics would include an examination of John Rawls's theory of justice and the work of critics of that theory, the value of equality, and issues about global justice. Every other year. (4 credits)

Fall 2016

PHIL 100-01

Introduction to Philosophy: Bodies, Minds and Selves

  • Days: M
  • Meeting Time: 07:00 pm-10:00 pm
  • Room: MAIN 011
  • Instructor: Joy Laine

Notes: *First Year Course only* This introductory philosophy course focuses on the nature and scope of our personal boundaries, specifically the intersections between mind, body, and self. Questions about the nature of these three and the relationship between them have a long pedigree in the history of philosophy. We will therefore ground our explorations in the work of classical thinkers such as Descartes, Locke and Hume. These philosophers were especially interested in how minds and bodies are related, and how this mind-body relationship gives us a sense of being a self that endures through time. Yet we live in a time where our personal boundaries are being transformed and challenged in interesting ways, specifically by the technologies that are becoming an integral part of our daily lives. These technologies have opened up new possibilities and new ways of thinking about the nature of mind, body, and self. Artificial minds in artificial bodies now seem a real possibility, as do artificial enhancements of biological minds and minds that extend beyond the skull to incorporate aspects of the environment (smartphones and facebook pages, for example). Such developments begin to blur the boundaries between biology and technology, and hence the boundaries between mind and world, between self and not-self. We will explore these topics through a variety of print and film media and, in doing so, work to develop the critical and analytical skills of each participant in the course.

PHIL 111-01

Introduction to Symbolic Logic

  • Days: MWF
  • Meeting Time: 09:40 am-10:40 am
  • Room: CARN 206
  • Instructor: Janet Folina

Notes:

PHIL 111-02

Introduction to Symbolic Logic

  • Days: MWF
  • Meeting Time: 10:50 am-11:50 am
  • Room: CARN 206
  • Instructor: Janet Folina

Notes:

PHIL 121-01

Ethics

  • Days: TR
  • Meeting Time: 01:20 pm-02:50 pm
  • Room: NEILL 409
  • Instructor: Samuel Asarnow

Notes: *First Year Course only* What matters in life? Is pleasure the only thing that matters? If so, whose pleasure should I seek—just my own, my family’s, or everyone’s? Does suffering matter, too? What about the suffering of non-human animals? Is it okay for me to make animals suffer in order for me to enjoy the pleasure of eating their flesh? Or how about the suffering of people who are really far away from me—say, on another continent? Is it okay for me to spend money on cool stuff for myself when instead I could donate it to help people who are suffering very badly far away? If things in life other than pleasure matter too, what are they? People who oppose torture think that it’s wrong to hurt one person really badly even in order to prevent a large number of people from being hurt. Are they right? Is it always wrong to treat someone as merely a means to an end? Is it in general wrong to do things to people without their consent? Why? When do people deserve to be praised or blamed for their actions? What kind of person should I be? Should I try to be happy? Or should I try to be virtuous? Is virtue its own reward? Or are we all inevitably faced with a choice between being virtuous and being happy? If we are faced with that choice, which one should we pick? In Ethics, we will talk about these questions, and more.

PHIL 121-02

Ethics

  • Days: TR
  • Meeting Time: 09:40 am-11:10 am
  • Room: MAIN 010
  • Instructor: Samuel Asarnow

Notes: An introductory philosophy course that concentrates on concepts and issues, such as the nature of value, duty, right and wrong, the good life, human rights, social justice, and applications to selected problems of personal and social behavior. Topics may include liberty and its limitations, civil disobedience, abortion, affirmative action, capital punishment, terrorism and the morality of war, animal rights and environmental ethics. 4 credits

PHIL 194-01

Thinking Like an Engineer

  • Days: TR
  • Meeting Time: 09:40 am-11:10 am
  • Room: OLRI 205
  • Instructor: Flath, Michelfelder

Notes: *First Year Course only; cross-listed with MATH 194-01* From driverless cars to wearable computers, from microwave ovens to mobile phones and tabletop robots, we all live and think in an environment saturated by the products of engineering thinking. But, what does it mean to think? And what does it mean to think like an engineer? In this course, team-taught between a mathematician with a background in engineering and a philosopher of technology, you will have an opportunity to explore questions such as these. The course will be grounded in an emerging understanding of engineering as an interdisciplinary field, where design problems are not solely technical, but are inseparable from ethical, social, political, economic, and historical dimensions. We will begin the course with a reading about engineering by the Spanish philosopher Ortega y Gasset, and end by looking at debates over engineering for human enhancement. In between, you’ll have the opportunity to read and discuss works by both philosophers and engineers. You’ll learn how values can be unintentionally embedded into engineered objects that reinforce gender and other stereotypes, but can also be consciously embedded for the aims of social justice and sustainability. You will be making arguments and also be making things, including a team-developed engineering project. Your path in this course will be illuminated by discussions about electrical power, solar energy, and lightbulb design. All students are welcome, both those who are interested in pursuing their academic interests in design, engineering, ethics, and/or philosophy, or those who want to better understand the engineered world as a consumer, citizen, or simply as a reflective human being.


PHIL 200-01

Ancient and Medieval Philosophies

  • Days: TR
  • Meeting Time: 01:20 pm-02:50 pm
  • Room: MAIN 009
  • Instructor: Geoffrey Gorham

Notes: *Cross-listed with CLAS 200-01*

A study of major philosophers of ancient Greece, Rome and the medieval period, including the Pre-Socratics, Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, the Stoics, Augustine, Anselm, and Aquinas. Every year. Cross-listed with Classics 200. (4 Credits)

PHIL 212-01

Philosophy of Religion

  • Days: TR
  • Meeting Time: 03:00 pm-04:30 pm
  • Room: MAIN 010
  • Instructor: Joy Laine

Notes: *Cross-listed with RELI 212-01*

Philosophical analysis of problems in religion and theology such as arguments for the existence of God and the nature of religious knowledge. The Philosophy of Religion seeks an understanding of religion by raising philosophical questions about its underlying assumptions and implications. When we believe something it is because we think it is true and because we think we have good evidence to support our belief. In the case of religious beliefs, however, we are immediately faced with questions concerning the nature of such beliefs. What claims do they make? What would count as good evidence for a religious belief? What is the nature of religious truth? In this course we will examine the nature of religious beliefs and the ways in which philosophers in different traditions have justified or argued against such beliefs. Perhaps in response to the increasing challenge to religion from the natural sciences, twentieth century philosophers have questioned the traditional philosophical approach to religion. Some philosophers, Wittgenstein for example, question traditional interpretations of religious language and re-examine the relationship between faith and reason. Can religious life be practiced without a theology or with skepticism or agnosticism regarding theological questions? Other topics covered in the course include the attempt to introduce intelligent design into public schools as part of the science curriculum; religious pluralism; the belief in life after death; and feminist critiques of religious language. Cross-listed with Religious Studies 212. Alternate years. (4 Credits)

PHIL 221-01

Environmental Ethics

  • Days: TR
  • Meeting Time: 01:20 pm-02:50 pm
  • Room: OLRI 101
  • Instructor: Diane Michelfelder

Notes: *Cross-listed with ENVI 221-01*

Emerging in the 1970s, the field of environmental ethics began by sparking a rich line of philosophical inquiry largely focused on the moral status of the natural world and the non-human entities within it. What reasons do we have to give moral consideration to the environment? And what do we mean when we say we have a moral duty toward the environment? Do we have moral duties to individuals within a species, or to species themselves, or to ecosystems, or to...? This course will invite you to reflect on key philosophical works that engage these and related questions. You will also have the opportunity to think about significant emerging topics in environmental ethics. Depending on the semester, these may include the debate over the ethics of wilderness preservation; the challenges of expanding environmental ethics to address issues of global climate change and resource sustainability; environmental rights; and environmental justice. Course cross-listed as Environmental Studies 221. (4 credits).

PHIL 294-01

From Kant to Hegel

  • Days: TR
  • Meeting Time: 09:40 am-11:10 am
  • Room: NEILL 212
  • Instructor: David Martyn

Notes: *Cross-listed with GERM 394-02; not open to incoming FY students; core course for Critical Theory* "Spirit is a bone," wrote Hegel, confounding the basic distinctions we depend on to make sense of the world -- mind/body, subject/object, culture/nature -- and by extension the way we think about ethics, politics, and society. Hegel's insistence that consciousness is not a timeless, natural attribute of humans but an historical artifact, the product of specific social and political conditions, cleared the way not just for Marx, but also for neo-Marxist social theory (Adorno), feminism (Beauvoir, Irigaray), and constructivist gender theory (Butler), to mention just a few who moved in the "wake of Hegel." In this course, after familiarizing ourselves with relevant issues in Kant (Hegel's main foil), we will work through Hegel's "Phenomenology of Spirit" with an eye to its significance for issues of critical and social theory. Discussion topics include: "human nature" as a product of history; narrative as a way of “doing" philosophy; the master-slave dialectic; how an historical event like the French Revolution is part of “philosophy"; gender theory and Hegel's reading of Sophocles’ "Antigone." Readings by Kant, Hegel, Gadamer, Judith Butler, Irigaray, Jean-Luc Nancy, Derrida, Werner Hamacher. No prerequisites except a willingness to work through densely argued texts.

PHIL 394-01

Epistemology

  • Days: M
  • Meeting Time: 07:00 pm-10:00 pm
  • Room: MAIN 010
  • Instructor: Samuel Asarnow

Notes: Is knowledge compatible with the possibility of error? If you realize you might be wrong about something, can you really know it? Once you consider that your car might have been stolen last night, do you still know it's parked on the corner? After you first watch The Matrix (or read Descartes), can you really know that you're not living in a pod, hooked up to a complex computer simulation developed by malevolent robots or Cartesian demons? What if we decide that we can't really know anything, after all? Would that be bad? What is knowledge, anyway? How is knowledge different from true belief? Is knowledge more valuable or important than true belief? If so, why? We will discuss these and other topics, which may include the relation between knowledge and action, newfangled Bayesian epistemology, and some epistemological questions about statistical significance.

PHIL 489-01

Senior Seminar: Metaphysics and Epistemology

  • Days: W
  • Meeting Time: 07:00 pm-10:00 pm
  • Room: MAIN 009
  • Instructor: Geoffrey Gorham

Notes: A capstone experience in philosophy for senior majors and others with sufficient background. Recent topics have included: realism vs. anti-realism, pragmatism, normativity, and Wittengenstein. The topics are usually addressed from various points of view and may involve several members of the department in some of the instruction. One aim of the course is for participants to get an overview of their major field by examining the fruitfulness of various ways of doing philosophy. It is also an opportunity for seniors to present for discussion their senior papers, written for this or for some other course. (4 credits)


PHIL 489-02

Senior Seminar - Normative

  • Days: W
  • Meeting Time: 07:00 pm-10:00 pm
  • Room: MAIN 011
  • Instructor: William Wilcox

Notes: A capstone experience in philosophy for senior majors and others with sufficient background. Recent topics have included: realism vs. anti-realism, pragmatism, normativity, and Wittengenstein. The topics are usually addressed from various points of view and may involve several members of the department in some of the instruction. One aim of the course is for participants to get an overview of their major field by examining the fruitfulness of various ways of doing philosophy. It is also an opportunity for seniors to present for discussion their senior papers, written for this or for some other course. (4 credits)