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Fall 2018 Philosophy Courses

IMPORTANT NOTICE: 100 and 200-level courses are without prerequisites and open to first year students. 300-level courses presume some previous exposure to philosophy or a related field of study. If there is any question in your mind about whether you have the right background for any particular philosophy course, talk to the instructor before you enroll.

PHIL 101 – Introduction to Philosophical Problems and Arguments
Two sections: WF 12:00-1:15 pm; 1:30-2:45 pm – Reckner
This course is an introduction to some of the major texts, problems and methods in Western philosophy. Potential topics include: free will and determinism, the “mind-body” problem, the existence and nature of God, and skepticism. Readings will be drawn from both historical and contemporary sources. Emphasis will be placed on the careful interpretation, analysis, and comparison of these texts, as well as the ability to extract arguments and theories from these texts. Potential topics include: the nature of justice, the "mind/body problem", the existence and nature of God, Marxism, racial equality, feminism, and the meaning of life. Satisfies the General Education Requirement in Literary Studies.

PHIL 120 Contemporary Moral Issues
TR 10:30-11:45 am Boxer
This is an introductory level course concerned with contemporary, controversial, moral issues. We will examine and evaluate a variety of views about such issues as the justice of war, capital punishment, same-sex marriages, and euthanasia. No previous background in philosophy is required, but participants should have an interest in thinking critically about how we live.

PHIL 251 Elementary Symbolic Logic
Four sections: MWF 9:00-9:50 am; 12:00-12:50 am – Goddu; MW 10:30-11:45 am; 12:00-1:15 pm – McDaniel
A non-mathematical introduction to symbolic reasoning: translating arguments from English into a symbolic language, and demonstrating which ones are good (valid) and which ones are bad (invalid). Working with truth tables, formal rules of substitution and inference, and simple quantifiers, the course covers both sentence logic (If P then Q, etc.) and class logic (All S are P, etc.). There is frequent written homework, at least two midterm tests and a final examination. Grades will be based on performance. The techniques learned transfer readily to technical tasks such as programming, analyzing contracts, getting ready for the LSAT and debating, and also to everyday tasks such as understanding what one reads, arguing with authority figures, and evaluating editorials, sermons, advertisements and political speeches. Satisfies the General Education Requirement in Symbolic Reasoning.

PHIL 265 – Bioethics
Two sections: MW 10:30-11:45 am; 1:30-2:45 pm – Boxer
This course includes a survey of prevalent topics in recent bioethics, the study of ethical discussions surrounding the sciences of biology and medicine. Its primary aim is to help students improve their ability to think critically and to argue from the standpoint of a certain moral theory in the ethical evaluation of problems concerning the human body, health care, doctor-patient relationship, life and death, food, and animals.

PHIL 269 – Environmental Ethics
Two sections: WF 9:00-10:15 am; 12:00-1:15 pm – von Platz
This course is about how we human beings ought to relate to our environment – to animals, plants, species, the climate, ecosystems, the universe. Which of these are of direct moral concern? Why are they of moral concern? How should we regard and treat them? Why?  

PHIL 271 – Ancient Greek Philosophy
Two sections: TR 10:30-11:45 am; 12:00-1:15 pm – Schauber
An introduction to ancient Western philosophy, with special attention to Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. Our aim will be to understand some of the key views and arguments of these philosophers, and to engage critically with them and their historical context. This will require close reading of the ancient texts, and discussion of the issues they raise. Topics may include questions about the nature of knowledge and reality, and about the nature of human action, such as: What is the difference between knowledge and belief? What are definitions? Must someone who understands a notion be able to define it? What sorts of things is it possible for a person to know? What is the connection between virtue and knowledge? How is morality connected to being human? Satisfies the General Education Requirement in Historical Analysis. 

PHIL 314 Philosophy of Science
MW 3:00-4:15 pm- McDaniel
This course will examine basic issues in the philosophy of science.  No prior background in any of the sciences is required or assumed.  Among the questions discussed will be the following: What is the problem of induction, and is there any way of solving it? What are scientific revolutions? Is there such a thing as scientific progress, and, if there is, is it leading us closer to the truth? Is scientific inquiry inherently sexist, or otherwise parochial? Do theoretical entities (e.g. quarks, the Higgs Boson, etc.) really exist? Do scientific theories attempt to provide true descriptions of reality, or are they merely useful devices for predicting and explaining phenomena? Can there be mutually incompatible scientific theories that are equally confirmed by our best evidence?  Can the various "non-fundamental" sciences (e.g. chemistry, biology, neuroscience, psychology, sociology, etc.) be reduced to physics? Is there anything distinctive about scientific explanation? Prerequisite: One previous philosophy course or permission of instructor.

PHIL 351 – Kant’s
Critique of Pure Reason
TR 1:30-2:45 pm – Reckner
Widely regarded as the greatest single work in western philosophy, Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason is a seminal work in metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of science. Reason, Kant says, sets itself three unavoidable problems: Does God exist? Are we free? Is there an immortal soul? Yet metaphysics—which is supposed to be the science of such questions—has always been a “battlefield of endless controversies”. Other sciences, such as physics and mathematics, proceed apace, making sure and steady progress, but metaphysics has never advanced even a single step, Kant alleges. To see whether metaphysics can ever be put on “the secure path of science”, the Critique of Pure Reason sets out to examine the faculties of the human mind, in search of the limits of human knowledge. Prerequisite: One previous philosophy course or permission of instructor.
PHIL 381 – Topics Seminar: Disagreement
T 3:00-5:30 pm – McCormick
We disagree about all sorts of things, from factual matters to normative matters, that is, about what we shall or should do. But if disagreements are all too familiar, their nature and significance are far from well understood. This class aims to investigate its many aspects and deepen our understanding of disagreement. Among the questions that will be addressed are: What do we really disagree about when we disagree about normative issues? Are normative disagreements about how things are in the world, or are they disagreements in desires or preferences? Answering questions like these will illuminate the nature of our disagreements. Another set of questions will target the significance of disagreement. Should we give our opponents’ opinions the same weight as our own, in virtue of the fact that, even if they disagree with us, we take them to be as reasonable as we are? Does this mean that we should adopt an attitude of neutrality toward the contested topic? And if so, what are the consequences for public policies and other matters of collective concern?  Despite pervasive philosophical interest in disagreement, the various discussions of disagreement in different philosophical subfields have tended to take place in isolation, each largely unconnected to the others. In this class, besides looking at the debates that arise in specific areas, we will also consider how these separate discussions can learn from each other. Prerequisite: One previous philosophy course or permission of instructor.

PHIL 386 – Honors Seminar: Aristotle and Hume: Ethics
R 3:00-5:30 pm – Schauber
Topics may include: Hume's moral psychology, metaethics (moral motivation, role of reason in morality, nature of moral judgment), natural virtue, artificial virtue, Aristotle's views about eudaimonia, responsibility, function argument, practical reason, friendship, knowledge versus feeling in ethics, the nature and value of virtues of character, what makes right actions right, akrasia. Limited to philosophy majors and minors.  Departmental approval required.
PHIL 390 – Independent Study
M 8:00-8:50 am – Goddu
Limited to philosophy majors and minors.  Departmental approval required.

Visit the major/minor page for complete details on curriculum and major/minor requirements.