Courses

PHIL 1000 | INTRODUCTION TO PHILOSOPHY

Professor(s): Prof. Cameron
Credits: 3

Tuesday & Thursday 9:00-9:50+ disc sec                  Wilson Hall 301

An introduction to some of the major problems of philosophy. Questions we will look at include: Do you have free will? Is consciousness supernatural? Are there races and genders? Do you know you're not in the Matrix? When is it permissible to end a life? Is morality objective, subjective, or relative? What are the limits of state authority? Is there a God? Readings are drawn from classics in the history of philosophy and from contemporary sources.

PHIL 1410 | FORMS OF REASONING

Professor(s): Prof. Cargile
Credits: 3

Monday, Wednesday, & Friday 9:00-9:50 (sec2)      Cocke Hall 115

Monday, Wednesday, & Friday 11:00-11:50 (sec1)  New Cabel Hall 338

A philosophy course with a practical aim: to develop the student's ability to recognize and evaluate arguments. The course will not cover symbolic logic in any detail (for this take PHIL 2420), but will concentrate on actual arguments given in ordinary language. Some time will be spent studying those fallacies, or errors in reasoning, which occur most frequently in discussion and argument. The goal of this course is to give the student a working knowledge of logic which has an application to daily life.

PHIL 1510 | GOD

Professor(s): Prof. Secada
Credits: 3

Monday  3:30-6:00     Pavilion V 109

This seminar examines the Western philosophical notion of God. The seminar looks both at the history of the notion of God and at some of the philosophical issues arising from it, including whether God can be defined, which are God’s attributes, justification of belief in the existence or non-existence of God. We will also look at the role the notion of God can play in the discussion of such philosophical issues as the foundation of natural necessity and the meaning of human life. Requirements for the seminar include one or two class presentations, a term paper, and active participation in class discussion.

PHIL 1710 | HUMAN NATURE

Professor(s): Prof. Langsam
Credits: 3

Monday & Wednesday 12:00-12:50+ disc sec           Wilson Hall 301

This course is concerned with the question of whether there are characteristics that all human beings have in common other than the obvious biological similarities.  In particular, we shall address issues such as the following: 1) is rationality a part of human nature, and, if so, what is the nature of human rationality, and how does the rational part of human beings relate to their other characteristics?  2) what is the relation of human nature to morality: is it in the nature of human beings to act morally and/or to recognize moral obligations, or, on the contrary, are moral requirements in some sense contrary to our nature?  3) are human beings social animals: is it natural for human beings to live with others in societies and be governed by political institutions, or are such living arrangements contrary to our nature?  Readings will include both contemporary and historical writers.

PHIL 1740 | ISSUES OF LIFE AND DEATH

Professor(s): Prof. Morgan
Credits: 3

This course satisfies the requirement for an introductory course in the Bioethics Minor Program.

Tuesday & Thursday 11:00-11:50+ disc sec              Minor Hall 125

This course is an exploration, from the point of view of philosophical theory, of a number of ethical problems at the beginning and end of life. Questions to be addressed will include: What is the significance of death and the value of life? Under what conditions, if any, are abortion and euthanasia morally permissible? At what point ought we to discontinue medical treatment of the terminally ill, and who should be empowered to make this decision? Are we under any moral obligation to prevent the death of those threatened by hunger and easily treatable disease?

PHIL 2120 | HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY: MODERN

Professor(s): Prof. Secada
Credits: 3

This course satisfies the requirement for History of Philosophy: Modern.

Monday & Wednesday 10:00-10:50+ disc sec           Monroe Hall 124

This course is a survey of the history of philosophy in the Renaissance and the early modern period. We will pay close attention to some of the metaphysical and epistemological issues arising in the central writings of Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, Hume and Kant, though some XIXth-Century philosophers, such as Hegel, will also be discussed in the lectures. There are no pre-requisites for this course and it may be used as an introduction to the subject. Students will be required to write a term paper, and to submit an earlier draft of it, and to take several quizzes during the term. 

PHIL 2340 | THE COMPUTATIONAL AGE

Professor(s): Prof. Humphreys
Credits: 3

Monday & Wednesday 11:00-11:50+ disc sec           Monroe Hall 124

The course will focus on scientific method as a route to knowledge. Typical topics to be investigated are: how scientific claims can be demarcated from other types of knowledge; why science appears to progress while other fields do not; scientific explanations; the contrast between natural and social sciences; scientific realism and instrumentalism; the relationship between the philosophy and the history of science. Topics will be illustrated with historical and contemporary examples, ranging from Greek astronomy to current social sciences, but no background in any particular science will be presupposed. Requirements include regular short assignments, a term paper, and a final examination.

 

PHIL 2420 | INTRODUCTION TO SYMBOLIC LOGIC

Professor(s): Prof. Schwartz
Credits: 3

This course satisfies the requirement for Logic.

Tuesday & Thursday 5-5:50+ disc sec                       Maury Hall 104

A basic introduction to the concepts and techniques of modern formal logic. The aim of this course is to give the student a working knowledge of both sentential and quantifier logic. Students will learn how to translate claims and arguments from English into a formal system, and to test arguments for validity.

PHIL 2500 | ANIMAL MINDS

Professor(s): Prof. Ott
Credits: 3

Tuesday & Thursday 9:00-9:50                                  Ruffner Hall G0004

What does the world look like to an octopus? Other species seem to represent objects in their environments, think about the thoughts of their conspecifics, and perhaps even use language to communicate. Some seem to have long-term memory, emotion, and self-awareness. Do they in fact do all of these things, and if so, how, and in what sense? We will engage philosophically with the best scientific evidence to answer these and similar questions. Finally, we will consider the implications of our answers: What have we learned about the nature of our own minds, and the place of humanity in the world?

PHIL 2500 | MINDS, MACHINES, AND PERSONS

Professor(s): Prof. Irving
Credits: 3

Tuesday & Thursday 12:30-1:20                                Monroe Hall 124

This course surveys foundational issues in the philosophy of cognitive science and mind. Part 1 addresses foundational questions about cognition. Is the mind a brain? A computer? Does the mind extend into the body and environment? What is a mental representation? Part 2 turns to the so-called “Hard Problem” of consciousness: can a physicalist theory of mind explain conscious experience? Part 3 concludes with the problem of personal identity over time. Once you were a kid, now you are an adult, and one day you'll grow old. What (if anything) makes you the same person throughout these stages of your life? 

PHIL 2660 | PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION

Professor(s): Prof. Merricks
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: Instructor Permission - First and Second Years only.

Tuesday & Thursday 9:30-10:20                    McLeod 2007

This course will examine a number of different topics that have been of perennial interest to philosophers of religion and philosophical theologians. These topics include arguments for and against God's existence, the problem of evil, the relationship between human freedom and divine foreknowledge, and how to think about personal immortality and the nature of the human person.

PHIL 2850 | FINDING THE WAY: SOME PHILOSOPHICAL PROJECTS

Professor(s): Prof. McCready-Flora
Credits: 3

Monday & Wednesday 12:00-12:50+ disc sec           Monroe Hall 124

Examine pressing issues of the examined life, especially those ethical (How should I live?), epistemological (how and what can I know?) and overlapping both. Authors include Plato, Mencius, Marcus Aurelius, Gautama, & Laozi. Topics include testimony; the nature of wisdom and virtue; skepticism; the value of knowledge, society & systematic worldviews; moral progress; and epistemic injustice. Combines classics of philosophy (East and West) with contemporary authors. Written work includes argumentative essays & creative writing."

 

PHIL 3010 | DARWIN AND PHILOSOPHY

Professor(s): Prof. Eaker
Credits: 3

Monday & Wednesday 3:30-4:45                                           Cocke Hall 115

This course investigates some of the philosophical implications of Darwin’s revolutionary idea—that the wholly unguided process of natural selection could explain the magnificent variety and adaptedness of living things and their descent from a common ancestor.  In particular, we will focus on how our understanding of ourselves has changed as a result of our understanding of our evolutionary origins. Through historical and contemporary readings we will consider: What does evolutionary theory tell us about “human nature”, about morality, about how we should treat one another and how we should live on the earth?

PHIL 3120 | ARISTOTLE

Professor(s): Prof. McCready-Flora
Credits: 3

Monday & Wednesday 2:00-3:15                               New Cabel Hall 383

An introduction to the philosophy of Aristotle, focusing on the theories and ideas of lasting importance in the history of Western philosophy. Readings will be drawn from his works on metaphysics, theory of science, natural philosophy, ethics, and political philosophy.

PHIL 3170 | KANT

Professor(s): Prof. Ott
Credits: 3

Tuesday & Thursday 12:30-1:45                                Cocke Hall 115

This course focuses on Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, one of the most influential and challenging philosophical works ever written.  We will focus on topics such as the self, space and time, causation, and the nature and limits of human knowledge.

PHIL 3330 | PHILOSOPHY OF MIND

Professor(s): Prof. Langsam
Credits: 3

This course satisfies the requirement for M&E

Monday & Wednesday 2:00-3:15                               New Cabell Hall 485

What is the nature of the mind and why do we find its nature so puzzling? We shall critically examine various theories about the nature of the mind; we shall also discuss the nature of particular kinds of mental states and events, such as beliefs, desires, feelings, sensory experiences, and others.  We shall be especially concerned with the relations between the mind and the body, and, more generally, between the mental and the physical.  Most of the readings will be by contemporary philosophers. (This course satisfies the major concentration requirement in Metaphysics and Epistemology.)

PHIL 3400 | INTRODUCTION TO NON-CLASSICAL LOGIC

Professor(s): Prof. Cameron
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: Prerequisites: PHIL 2420

Tuesday & Thursday 2:00-3:15                                  New Cabell Hall 389

An introduction to systems of non-classical logic, including both extensions and revisions to classical logic.  We will look at logical systems that extend classical logic to deal with the phenomena of possibility and time.  We will look at logics that revise classical logic to allow for sentences which are neither true nor false, or sentences which can be both.  We will show how these departures from classical logic can shed light on various philosophical questions.

PHIL 3500 | INTERNATIONAL POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY

Professor(s): Prof. Akhtar
Credits: 3

Tuesday & Thursday 11:00-12:15                              Monroe Hall 111

In this course, we will examine morally pressing issues in political philosophy that involve the international level.  For instance, what are human rights, and do people living in one state have obligations to help people in other states with the protection of their rights?  Should we interfere with other governments?  What is terrorism and is it ever justified? Who counts as a refugee and do we have duties to accept (all) refugees?  Who is entitled to citizenship in a particular country—anyone who wants it?  

 

PHIL 3520 | ORGANIZATIONAL ETHICS IN HEALTHCARE

Professor(s): Jennifer Phillips
Credits: 3

Tuesday & Thursday 9:30-10:45                  New Cabell Hall 364

This course explores organizational ethics in healthcare, addressing both for-profit and nonprofit entities. The first part of the course will cover relevant philosophical models, as well as hospital missions and the issues that shape them. The second part will consider the ethics of specific departments, e.g. marketing and human resources. Finally, we will discuss leadership, managing ethical conduct, and trends in healthcare business models.

PHIL 3710 | ETHICS

Professor(s): Prof. Morgan
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: This course satisfies the requirement for Ethics.

Tuesday & Thursday 2:00-3:15                                  Cocke Hall 115

In this course, we will engage in an in-depth study of ethical theories from the Ancient and Modern periods. We will focus on the writings of Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Wollstonecraft, and Mill--figures who continue to have an extremely powerful influence on contemporary philosophical discussions of ethics. The main themes of the course will include: the nature of practical reason, the nature and value of the virtues of character, the importance of the general welfare, and the relationship between the individual and society.

PHIL 4020 | SEMINAR FOR MAJOR: MORAL PSYCHOLOGY

Professor(s): Prof. Morgan
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: Prerequisites: Instructor Permission

Wednesday 3:30-6:00                                                 New Cabell Hall 291

Why should I be moral? In Milton’s Paradise Lost the character of Satan famously proclaims “Evil be thou my Good.” In saying this, Satan seems to acknowledge that there is an objective difference between right and wrong while at the same time choosing wrongness as his guiding principle. What’s stopping me from doing the same thing? Many philosophers have argued that such a practical standpoint is impossible for humans to consistently occupy. In this class we will tackle this issue head on. We will begin with Michael Smith’s book The Moral Problem and then work through the contemporary fallout. Topics include moral motivation, the nature of reasons, moral emotions, and empirical approaches to moral psychology.

PHIL 7540 | FREE WILL AND MORAL RESPONSIBILITY

Professor(s): Prof. Gertler
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: This course satisfies ethics area requirements

Monday 3:30-6:00                              Cocke Hall 108

The seminar will examine the problem of free will and moral responsibility, and contemporary responses to that problem. We will discuss compatibilist accounts, libertarian accounts, reactive attitude accounts, and skepticism. We may also discuss whether evidence from neuroscience and social psychology provides reason to doubt that we are free and responsible.

PHIL 7570 | WELL BEING

Professor(s): Prof. Barnes
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: This course satisfies M&E area requirements

Thursday 1:00-3:30                                         Cocke Hall 108
In this class, we'll be talking about what it takes to live a good life. Does your life go well for you if you accomplish good things but you aren't happy? Does your life go well for you if your desires are satisfied (but maybe your desires are unambitious or odd)? How do we make rational choices about our future well-being when those very choices determine who we will become and what we will want? How do we evaluate the claims of people who value parts of their lives that many people think are bad? 

PHIL 8420 | ADVANCED LOGIC AND FOUNDATIONS OF LOGIC

Professor(s): Prof. Cargile
Credits: 3

PHIL                                          
This course will be about the bearing of questions in philosophical logic on the foundations of mathematics. It is the result of ambivalence between a seminar on philosophical logic and one on the philosophy of mathematics. It may also be viewed as PHIL 5420+3000.

PHIL 8570 | METAPHYSICS OF MATERIAL OBJECTS

Professor(s): Prof. Merricks
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: This course satisfies M&E area requirements

Tuesday 1:00-3:30                                          Cocke Hall 108
This is a course on the ontology of material objects.  Our primary texts will be Objects and Persons by Trenton Merricks, Ordinary Objects by Amie Thomasson, and Objects: Nothing out of the Ordinary by Daniel Z. Korman.

PHIL 8580 | MIND WANDERING AND THE NORMS OF ATTENTION

Professor(s): Prof. Irving
Credits: 3

Thursday 3:30-6:00                                         Cocke Hall 108
Mind-wandering and attention are richly normative concepts. For example, a teacher might critique one student for having her head in the clouds, while praising another for diligently paying attention. This course investigates mind-wandering, attention, and the norms that govern them. The course has three parts. Part one asks a pair of descriptive questions: What is mind-wandering? And is mind-wandering a form of attention or inattention? Here, we will survey extant philosophical work on mind-wandering and attention, which are increasingly active areas of research. Part two asks whether there are proprietary norms of attention. If so, are these norms moral, prudential, or epistemic? Or do attentional norms cross-cut these traditional categories? Part 3 turns to the norms of mind-wandering. Can we be legally responsible for inattention? Is distractibility a form of practical irrationality? Can the insights we gain through mind-wandering be praiseworthy? Is distractibility part of what makes children such prodigious learners? How can we reconcile the blameworthy and praiseworthy aspects of mind-wandering? Are normative concepts like blame and praise even applicable to our wandering thoughts?