(1181) Spring 2018 Philosophy Course Descriptions

 Zachary Garrett
Class #5776, PHIL 101-101
Introduction to Philosophy
Tu  6:30-9:20 pm

Historical-cultural introduction to philosophy. Considers a broad range of philosophical problems in relation to the major historical and cultural conditions which have influenced their formulations and proposed solutions.

Topics: the principles of rational inquiry; the nature of knowledge; the metaphysics of mind, world, and God; and the sources and authority of morality.

This course may be used to satisfy either ACE 5 (Humanities) or ACE 8 (Ethics).

Shane George
Class #5777, PHIL 101-150
Introduction to Philosophy
MoWe  9:30-10:20 am

Historical-cultural introduction to philosophy. Considers a broad range of philosophical problems in relation to the major historical and cultural conditions which have influenced their formulations and proposed solutions.

Topics: the principles of rational inquiry; the nature of knowledge; the metaphysics of mind, world, and God; and the sources and authority of morality.

This course may be used to satisfy either ACE 5 (Humanities) or ACE 8 (Ethics).

Harry Ide
Class #6622, PHIL 101-250
Introduction to Philosophy
TuTh  11:00-11:50 am

GENERAL COURSE GOALS
After taking this course (including preparing for each class, participating in each class, reviewing after each class, doing the assignments, and reviewing the comments on assignments), students will ...
(1) be better able to give and use examples, in particular

  • (a) when applying a general theory to a specific situation,
  • (b) when arguing from examples to a general theory,
  • (c) when raising counter-examples to a theory,
  • (d) when using hypothetical (even wildly hypothetical counter-examples) to evaluate a theory,
  • (e) understanding the difference between using examples to prove specific claims (or disprove general claims), on the one hand, and using examples to support general claims (or refute specific claims), on the other hand

(2) be better able to write coherent argumentative essays

  • (a) with an explicit, clear, thesis (that is, conclusion, not simply a topic)
  • (b) with a clear structure that emphasizes the student’s key ideas supporting the thesis
  • (c) with paragraphs with paragraph thesis sentences that tie the claims in the paragraph into a single coherent whole, and make clear how that helps establish the thesis
  • (d) with evidence in favor of the thesis (including giving evidence for empirical claims)
  • (e) with references as required (including whenever the paper claims someone says or believes something, and for all quoted words and borrowed ideas)

(3) understand some philosophical theories in epistemology, ethics, and metaphysics

ASSIGNMENTS
Assignments will include three argumentative essays, three open-book exams (each consisting of four short-answer (roughly one paragraph) questions), and weekly writing assignments

This course may be used to satisfy either ACE 5 (Humanities) or ACE 8 (Ethics).

Christopher Stratman
Class #25424, PHIL 101-350
MoWe  11:30 am-12:20 pm

Historical-cultural introduction to philosophy. Considers a broad range of philosophical problems in relation to the major historical and cultural conditions which have influenced their formulations and proposed solutions.

Topics: the principles of rational inquiry; the nature of knowledge; the metaphysics of mind, world, and God; and the sources and authority of morality.

This course may be used to satisfy either ACE 5 (Humanities) or ACE 8 (Ethics).

Colin McLear
Class #7265, PHIL 105-350
Philosophy of Food
TuTh  11:00-11:50 am

Food is a central part of human life, both in its production and consumption. Food is closely tied to the values that we hold and the cultural identities that we endorse (e.g. the sorts of things that we eat vs. the sorts of things that they eat). Our choices about food, both as individuals and as a society, raise a variety of moral, political, social, and economic questions. In this course we’ll investigate these questions using a variety of methods and sources. 

This course may be used to satisfy either ACE 5 (Humanities) or ACE 8 (Ethics).

Edward Becker
Class #5782, PHIL 106-150
Philosophy and Current Issues
TuTh  9:30-10:20 am

This course deals in a philosophical manner with political and ethical issues that are of current interest. Among the topics to be discussed will be drug legalization, abortion, pornography, same-sex marriage, and distributive justice.

Readings will be from both contemporary and classical sources.

Requirements include an hour exam, a term paper, and a final exam.

Textbooks:
Required: Daniel Bonevac, Today’s Moral Issues, 7th edition (McGraw-Hill Education; 2012)
Optional: Jay F. Rosenberg, The Practice of Philosophy, 3rd edition (Pearson, 1995).

This course may be used to satisfy either ACE 8 (Ethics) or ACE 9 (Global/Diversity).

John Brunero
Class #5787, PHIL 106-250
Philosophy and Current Issues
MoWe  11:30 am-12:20 pm

The course will introduce some of the important questions of moral philosophy:  What is it for a life to go well? (Is the good life one of happiness, one in which you get what you want, or one in which you accomplish something of value?) What is it to act in a morally right way? (Is it to produce the best consequences possible? Is it to act in accordance with certain moral principles? If so, which principles?) Why should we act in a morally right way, especially when doing so often appears contrary to our self-interest? What is the relationship between morality and religion? Are there objective moral truths, or is ethical truth relative to cultures or individuals? We’ll then consider the application of moral philosophy to some current ethical issues: Is it morally acceptable to kill and eat animals or use animals in experiments? Is abortion immoral? Is capital punishment unjust? Is torture ever permissible? What are our obligations to relieve world poverty? Is euthanasia ever morally permissible? Is there an obligation to obey the law? When is civil disobedience justified? Should the recreational use of drugs be illegal?

The course will consist of two lectures and one discussion section per week. Students are required to attend both the lectures and their assigned discussion section. There are no prerequisites for this course.

This course may be used to satisfy either ACE 8 (Ethics) or ACE 9 (Global/Diversity).


Adam Thompson
Class #26301, PHIL 106-350
Philosophy and Current Issues
MoWe  9:30-10:20 am

Being able and disposed to critically interrogate your world in a reasonable manner is important.  In this course, we will work to develop that ability and its associated dispositions with a focus on accountability and the shape of our obligations to contemporaries and future generations.  Throughout, the course will draw upon examples from current affairs like the prevalence of sexual assault, for-profit prisons and prison labor, wealth inequality, universal health care, reparations, global climate change, immigration, diversity and inclusion, and refugee crises.

This course may be used to satisfy either ACE 8 (Ethics) or ACE 9 (Global/Diversity).

Albert Casullo
Class #5796, PHIL 110-150
Introduction to Logic and Critical Thinking
TuTh  9:30-10:20 am

This course provides an introduction to the principles of formal reasoning and their application, with an emphasis on improving skills of critical thinking, analyzing and evaluating arguments objectively, and constructing sound arguments based on relevant evidence.

Requirements: Four examinations. Exam 1 (30 points) covers the basic concepts of logic. Exam 2 (80 points) covers the principles of syllogistic logic. Exam 3 (60 points) and Exam 4 (80 points) cover the principles of propositional logic. Nine quizzes, based on the weekly homework assignments, will be given in the Friday quiz sections. Each quiz is worth 10 points. Your lowest quiz score will be dropped, resulting in a combined quiz total of 80 points.

Textbooks: P. Hurley & L. Watson, A Concise Introduction to Logic, 13th edition. Assignments on Canvas.

This class is certified for ACE 3 (Math/Stat/Reasoning), and satisfies the logic requirement for the philosophy major.

Reina Hayaki
Class #6965, PHIL 211-001
Introduction to Modern Logic
TuTh  11:00 am-12:15 pm

PHIL 211 is an introduction to symbolic logic, covering sentential (propositional) logic, monadic predicate logic (with one-place predicates and simple quantifiers), and polyadic predicate logic (with relational predicates and nested quantifiers). At each stage, you will learn how to translate English sentences into the relevant logical language and vice versa; how to construct proofs of valid arguments using natural deduction; and how to test arguments for validity, as well as sets of sentences for consistency, using the tree method. This course is highly recommended for those planning to take the LSAT, GRE, or other standardized tests with an analytical component; and for philosophy majors planning to go to grad school.

PHIL 211 has no prerequisites. It does not presuppose PHIL 110 (Introduction to Logic and Critical Thinking), although it is more advanced than PHIL 110. There is a small amount of overlap between the last part of PHIL 110 and the first part of PHIL 211. Both PHIL 110 and PHIL 211 satisfy the logic requirement for the philosophy major.

Textbook: Virginia Klenk, Understanding Symbolic Logic, 5th edition (Prentice-Hall, 2008).

Major assignments:  two in-class exams and seven take-home problem sets.

This course is certified for ACE 3 (Math/Stat/Reasoning), and satisfies the logic requirement for the philosophy major.

Aaron Bronfman
Class #6461, PHIL 213-001
Medical Ethics
TuTh  11:00 am-12:15 pm

This course covers a wide variety of moral issues in the ethics of medicine and the allocation of healthcare. These issues include the moral status of the embryo and fetus (abortion, stem cell research), the current or future ways in which parents seek to change their children's physical attributes or genetic makeup (cochlear implants, genetic enhancement, cloning), the limits in a medical context of what can be bought and sold (commercial surrogacy, organ sales), the role of rights and fairness in a healthcare system (rights to healthcare, allocation of scarce resources), and the proper extent of control over one's own body (amputation by choice, assisted suicide, euthanasia, advance directives).

The focus of the course is on assessing arguments for and against different positions on these moral issues, with background information provided as needed. The course requires a reading response for most weeks, two 4-page papers, and class participation.

This course may be used to satisfy either ACE 5 (Humanities) or ACE 8 (Ethics).

David Henderson
Class #5801, PHIL 225-001
Environmental Ethics
TuTh  11:00 am-12:15 pm

This course begins with a reflective overview of general approaches in philosophical ethics. This is background. The bulk of the class then is a survey of approaches specific to environmental ethics. We will consider the central matter of what persons, groups, things, and systems are properly taken to have fundamental “moral considerability.”  What things are properly the focus of one’s the fundamental—or nonderivative—moral valuing or obligations, and what things are derivatively valuable or matters of obligation? Various positions treat persons, perhaps just humans or sentient beings, as the objects of fundamental concern. Some suggest that the environment can have such status. After this tour of some philosophical positions we focus on applications of these positions in connection with two matters: food and global climate change.

This course may be used to satisfy either ACE 8 (Ethics) or ACE 9 (Global/Diversity).

John Brunero
Class #25440, PHIL 230-001
Philosophy of Law
MoWe  2:30-3:45 pm

This course is divided into three parts. In the first part, we’ll discuss various issues concerning the relationship between law and morality. In the second part, we’ll consider several important legal and moral concepts, including liberty, privacy, justice, and equality. In the third part, we’ll consider issues related to punishment and responsibility. We'll read essays by philosophers and lawyers, as well as the judicial opinions in several important US Supreme Court cases. The course does not presuppose any background in philosophy or in law.

Here are some of the questions we'll consider in this course: Are unjust laws legally valid? Is there a moral obligation to obey the law? Which standards should we employ when we attempt to interpret the law and the Constitution? Why is liberty important and to what extent should people be left free to do as they choose? What are the proper limits to free speech and expression? What are the Constitutional and moral grounds for personal privacy and autonomy? What does it mean to treat people justly and equally? Why, and to what extent, should we punish criminals? Is capital punishment morally permissible? Should we punish unsuccessful attempts at murder less severely than successful attempts, and, if so, why? Should people be held legally responsible for their omissions as well as their actions? When are people excused from responsibility for their acts?

This course may be used to satisfy either ACE 5 (Humanities) or ACE 8 (Ethics).

Colin McLear
Class #6251, PHIL 232-001
History of Philosophy (Modern)
TuTh  12:30-1:45 pm

This course offers an introductory survey of some of the key figures in early modern (17th—18th century) European philosophy. These include: Descartes, Locke, Leibniz, Newton, and Hume. Our main focus will be on the enormously influential theories of René Descartes, specifically his theories of mind and nature, as well as subsequent reactions, criticisms, and (partial) defenses of his views in the writings of other prominent philosophers. Major themes include the nature of mind and matter, the structure of scientific explanation, causation and necessity, free will, and the existence of God.

This course satisfies the history of philosophy requirement for the philosophy major.

Edward Becker
Class #6826, PHIL 265-001
Philosophy of Religion
TuTh  2:00-3:15 pm

This course treats some of the main traditional issues in the philosophy of religion, such as the existence of God, the immortality of the soul, and the relation between faith and reason. We also discuss the nature of religion itself, in the context of a comparative philosophical study of the world’s great religions. Readings are from both classical and contemporary sources.

Requirements include an hour exam, a term paper, and a final exam.

This course may be used to satisfy either ACE 5 (Humanities) or ACE 9 (Global/Diversity)

Albert Casullo
Class #25441, PHIL 301-001
Theory of Knowledge
TuTh  2:00-3:15 pm

This course provides an Introduction to some major problems of epistemology, with emphasis on the understanding and evaluation of the problems, rather than what various philosophers have said about them.

Course topics (tentative) include scepticism, the concept of knowledge, the concept of justification, the sources of human knowledge, knowledge of the external world, and a priori knowledge.

Course goals: To provide an understanding of some central issues in contemporary epistemology and their historical backgrounds. To develop the following skills: read analytically primary philosophical texts, evaluate critically philosophical positions and arguments, write sustained, coherent philosophical essays and papers, and conduct philosophical research.

Course Requirements (tentative): Two essay exams, each worth 30% of your grade; Library Research Project and Research Paper, worth 40% of your grade.

This course is certified for ACE 5 (Humanities), and satisfies the metaphysics and epistemology requirement for the philosophy major.

Joseph Mendola
Class #6967, PHIL 314-001
Problems in the Philosophy of Mind
MoWe  2:30-3:45 pm

In this course, we will focus on several central problems in the philosophy of mind. We will consider various views about the relationship between the mind and the body, including dualism, idealism, and various forms of materialism. We will discuss the nature of mental causation, mental content, and consciousness. The texts for the course are Jaegwon Kim, Philosophy of Mind (third edition) and George Berkeley, Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous.

The course evaluation will consist largely of two exams and one paper.

This course satisfies the metaphysics and epistemology requirement for the philosophy major.

Jean Cahan
Class #25442, PHIL 333-001
History of Philosophy (19th Century)
TuTh  12:30-1:45 pm

This course will survey principal movements in 19th Century European philosophy, including Hegelianism; early existentialism (Kierkegaard and Nietzsche); and utilitarianism. Some material relating to neo-Kantianism, as well as the crisis of European thought at the end of the century, may also be included.

In addition to reading and discussing assigned texts, students will be required to write a few short papers (2-3pp) and a final research paper (8pp).

Harry Ide
Class #25443, PHIL 336-001
Ethics: Ancient and Medieval
TuTh  2:00-3:15 pm

CONTENT: Sometimes we seem to be forced to choose between being moral and doing what’s in our interest. But most ancient Greek and medieval philosophers think we aren’t. We’ll start by summarizing Aristotle’s ethical theory, which set the agenda for the next several thousand years. Then we’ll look at Hellenistic philosophers (Stoics and Epicureans), later Aristotelians, neoplatonists, and early and later medieval developments of and reactions against Aristotelian ethics. We’ll end by looking at Duns Scotus, who is said to have been the first person to reject clearly the most basic assumptions of Aristotelian ethics.

COURSE GOALS

  • students will improve their skill at writing argumentative essays
  • students will improve their skill at reading difficult texts
  • students will understand the major post-Aristotelian ancient and medieval ethical theories

GRADING: I haven’t decided exactly what the assignments will be, but they will include one or more papers (in multiple drafts) and shorter assignments.

This course is certified for ACE 5 (Humanities), and satisfies the history of philosophy requirement for the philosophy major.

Reina Hayaki
Class #25445, PHIL 411-001
Class #25446, PHIL 811-001
Formal Logic
TuTh  1:30-2:45 pm

Prerequisite: PHIL 211 (Intro to Modern Logic), or permission of the instructor.

PHIL 411/811 is a second course in symbolic logic. It presupposes familiarity with propositional (sentential) and first-order predicate logic. You will learn how to construct metatheoretic proofs about various formal systems (rather than derivations using the rules of a formal system, as in PHIL 211 and other first courses in symbolic logic). The main topics covered will be:  the soundness and completeness of classical propositional logic, non-classical propositional logics, and propositional modal logics; and extensions of and alternatives to classical first-order predicate logic.

Textbooks: Theodore Sider, Logic for Philosophy (Oxford University Press, 2010); Daniel J. Velleman, How to Prove It: A Structured Approach, 2nd edition (Cambridge University Press, 2006).

Major assignments:  two in-class exams, and several problem sets (number to be determined). Homework exercises will be assigned for each class.

David Henderson
Class #25447, PHIL 913-001
Advanced Epistemology
Th  3:30-5:35 pm

We will look at a range of writings that should help us address two questions:

  • What sort of thing are our epistemic norms? We regulate ourselves in our epistemic communities by way of normative sensibilities or principles, and it seems fitting to think of these to the extent that they are shared and “insisted on” as our epistemic norms. It does seem that these change over time. Our sensibilities are marginally different from those that would have informed the epistemic practice of Aristotle and his contemporaries, and from those that informed the practice of folk in the 17th or 18th centuries (which also are different from those of the early Greeks). What makes these things fitting? How do they work for folk in their epistemic communities?

I want to think about these things from the perspective of a social epistemology (as well as from the perspective of an individualist epistemology.

As the literature on norms generally may have something to teach us, we will draw on this.

  • What are our epistemic norms? Consider some examples? In this, it would seem fitting to look as examples from the history or philosophy of science. Of course, we will also want to think about whether everyday epistemic sensibilities work the same way as scientific epistemic sensibilities.

Joseph Mendola
Class #25448, PHIL 914-001
Philosophy of Mind
We  4:00-6:05 pm

I’m writing a three-part book which is tentatively called Experience and Possibility. It develops a mechanism called modal structure, and applies it to issues in ontology, issues regarding the nature of phenomenal consciousness, and issues in the interpretation of our best-established physical theories. We will look at the manuscript, but also consider three recent but well-received books that provide a less idiosyncratic contrast for each of its parts. They are Kris McDaniel, The Fragmentation of Being, Philip Goff, Consciousness and Fundamental Reality, and Steven French, The Structure of the World. So we will cover material across many areas of metaphysics, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of science. I assume that individual students may wish to concentrate their efforts in one of those areas. The course requirements besides attendance and discussion will be a presentation on your chosen topic, the draft of a seminar paper on which I’ll provide written comments, and then a final version of the paper. Papers throughout most of the range of metaphysics, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of science would be germane to the course.

Aaron Bronfman
Class #6829, PHIL 920-001
Ethical Theory
Tu  3:30-5:35 pm

A seminar in ethics, with topic(s) to be determined. 

One seminar paper will be required.

Jennifer McKitrick
Class #26290, PHIL 925-001
Social and Political Philosophy
Mo  3:30-5:35 pm

This political philosophy seminar will focus on race. We will look at the development of race concepts, their use in science and philosophy, and their effects on society.