Courses

PHIL 1000 | INTRODUCTION TO PHILOSOPHY

Professor(s): Prof. Cameron – RPC4D
Credits: [3]

Tuesday & Thursday 11:00-11:50+ disc sec              Wilson 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 living in a computer simulation? 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 – JC7Y
Credits: [3]
Prerequisites: Instructor Consent Required

Monday, Wednesday, & Friday 11:00-11:50 (sec1)  Cocke 115

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

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 | PHILOSOPHY AND MEDITATION

Professor(s): Prof. Secada – JES2F
Credits: [3]

Monday 3:30-6:00                                           New Cabell 364         

This course will examine the nature of philosophy by focusing on the relation between philosophy and meditation through the study of some classical texts: Plato´s Phaedrus, Descartes´ Meditations on First Philosophy, and others. Some of the topics to be covered include faith and reason; the nature of understanding; the relevance of practice to perception; the relation between love, truth and the good; and philosophy as a way of life. Though there will be lectures introducing each of the four texts to be read during term, the course is structured as a weekly seminar where students will be expected to participate regularly with expository and critical presentations. Apart from such work, the course will require a term paper.

PHIL 1750 | THE MEANING OF LIFE

Professor(s): Prof. Ott – WO5N
Credits: [3]

Monday & Wednesday 11:00-11:50+ disc sec                       Minor 125

What is the meaning of life? Does a meaningful life presuppose the existence of a divine being, or can human beings somehow create meaning? Does the certainty of death rob life of meaning, or provide it? These and related questions will be pursued through contemporary and classic texts by such authors as Sartre, Nagel, Nietzsche, Bernard Williams, and Epicurus. 

PHIL 2070 | KNOWLEDGE AND REALITY

Professor(s): Prof. McCready-Flora –ICM5H
Credits: [3]

Monday & Wednesday 3:00-3:50+ disc sec               Maury 104

This course examines our basic understanding of reality, and what this understanding tells us about the nature of the reality thus known. What can we know about the world?  How can we know it?  And what is the nature of the reality thus known?  We will examine influential answers to these questions, including: (I) skepticism, which denies that we can have genuine knowledge of external reality; (ii) idealism, which claims that the known world is dependent on, or even limited to, our own minds; and (iii) realism, which maintains that we can achieve knowledge of a mind-independent reality. The course will introduce philosophical methodology, and will familiarize students with some key issues in epistemology and metaphysics.  Readings will be taken from both historical and contemporary philosophers; these include Descartes, Hume, Russell, and Putnam, among others.

PHIL 2110 | HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY: ANCIENT AND MEDIEVAL

Professor(s): Prof. Secada – JES2F
Credits: [3]

Monday & Wednesday 9:00-9:50+ disc sec               Maury 104

This course is an introduction to the history of philosophy from its beginnings in the Greek colonies of Asia Minor to the Renaissance and the end of the Middle Ages. The lectures do not aim to offer a comprehensive summary; you will find that in any of several histories of philosophy, one of which is required reading for the course. In the lectures we will instead discuss a few selected major philosophers and we will concentrate on some of their doctrines and arguments. We will, however, look at cultural developments which took place during this period and we will study philosophical works in their more general social and historical setting. The course seeks to provide historical as much as philosophical knowledge and understanding. Requirements include several short quizzes and a term paper. 

 

PHIL 2420 | INTRODUCTION TO SYMBOLIC LOGIC

Professor(s): Prof. Cameron – RPC4D
Credits: [3]

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

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 | PRAGMATISM AND AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY

Professor(s): Prof. Schwartz
Credits: 3

Monday & Wednesday 2:00-3:15          New Cabel Hall 368

Pragmatism is a philosophical tradition that originated in the United States in the 1870s in response to scientific upheaval and perceived shortcomings of European philosophy. This course introduces students to the epistemological and metaphysical ideas of the three originators of Pragmatism: C. S. Peirce, William James, and John Dewey. We will also examine the tangled relationship between Pragmatism and twentieth century Analytic Philosophy as figured in the writings of American philosophers like Quine, Putnam, Davidson, and Rorty.

 

PHIL 2500 | Democracy

Professor(s): Matthias Brinkmann
Credits: 3

Thursday 3:30-6:00           Ruffner Hall 173

Offered as a seminar

For those who have grown up in democracy, it is often taken for granted—practically, but also intellectually. While it is normal to be engaged with the po-litical developments of the every-day, we rarely think about the design of the democratic system in an abstract way. This course is concerned with questions precisely of this kind—e.g., what is the value of democratic institutions? What type of democracy should we aim to realise? Can we justify certain democratic practices, such as excluding foreign residents from the vote? At the end of this course, you should be able to think about these questions in a principled, and philosophically sophisticated way.

PHIL 2500/2645 | WELL BEING/THE GOOD LIFE

Professor(s): Prof. Barnes – EJB5R
Credits: [3]

Tuesday & Thursday 9:00-9:50+ disc sec                  Maury 104

What does it mean for your life to go well? What does it mean to thrive? Is it a matter of being happy? Of getting what you want? Of doing meaningful things and accomplishing worthy goals? In this class, we’ll explore philosophical theories of human wellbeing. We’ll then discuss how - if at all - we can make informed choices about our own future wellbeing. 

PHIL 2510 | Environmental Ethics

Professor(s): Morgan
Credits: 3

Monday, Wednesday, & Friday 9:00-9:50           New Cabel Hall 389

Monday, Wednesday, & Friday 10:00-10:50       New Cabel Hall 058

Why should we care about the way we treat the environment? In this class we will study two approaches to answering this question. The first looks for intrinsic value in nature, while the second examines how our treatment of the environment impacts the lives of other humans. Topics include environmental aesthetics, animal rights, environmental justice, and ecofeminism. Course texts are lifted from literary, philosophical, and journalistic sources.

PHIL 2650 | FREE WILL AND RESPONSIBILITY

Professor(s): Prof. Gertler– BG8Y
Credits: [3]
Prerequisites: No prerequisites. The course is designed to be accessible to students who have not previously taken philosophy courses.

In deciding whether someone is responsible for something they’ve done, we routinely consider whether the person freely chose to perform that action: that is, whether the decision to act was an exercise of free will. The existence and even coherence of free will has been challenged by both scientists and philosophers. According to these skeptics, genuine responsibility requires that we possess free will; but since our decisions ultimately stem from factors external to us, we do not possess free will. Other philosophers maintain that, so long as your decision to do something is suitably your own—e.g., a decision that you endorse, and that reflects your values—then you are responsible for the corresponding action. In this course, we examine the problem of free will, scientific challenges to free will, and philosophical accounts of moral responsibility. Readings will be drawn from contemporary sources.

PHIL 2660 | PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION

Professor(s): Prof. Merricks – TDB8N
Credits: [3]
Prerequisites: Instructor Consent Required - First and Second Years only

Tuesday & Thursday 1:00-1:50+ disc sec                  Maury 115     

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 2770 | POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY

Professor(s): Prof. Simmons – AJA7M
Credits: [3]

Tuesday & Thursday 9:30-10:20+ disc sec                Clark 108       

This course will examine several of the most important problems in political philosophy, including the justification of the state, the problem of political obligation, the requirements of social justice, the justification of democracy, and the duties of states to those outside their borders.  In the process, we will discuss such topics as anarchism, the state's right to punish, property rights, disobedience and revolution, libertarianism, and secession. Readings will be from both classical and contemporary sources.  Course requirements: two short papers, a midterm, and a final exam.  (This course satisfies the major concentration requirement in Ethics and Social Philosophy.)

PHIL 3110 | PLATO

Professor(s): Prof. McCready-Flora –ICM5H
Credits: [3]
Prerequisites: Prerequisites: The course presupposes introductory work in Philosophy but no acquaintance with Plato or other Greek thinkers.

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

This course introduces the student to Plato through a variety of his richest, most fascinating works.  We will emphasize close reading aimed at philosophical understanding. This means we will treat texts not primarily as literary or cultural artifacts, but rich veins of argument, analysis, concepts and questions.  We will engage Plato and his characters as fellow philosophers. This means understanding their arguments and assumptions, critically examining their reasoning, and proposing alternatives to their conclusions. We will cast this same critical eye on our own reasoning and come to terms with what these texts have to offer people (like us) who encounter them here and now.

PHIL 3150 17th CENTURY PHILOSOPHY | 17th CENTURY PHILOSOPHY

Professor(s): Prof. Lolordo– AL4H
Credits: [3]

This course examines the various philosophical systems of the 17th century.  This year, we’ll read Hobbes, Descartes, Cavendish, and Spinoza.  PHIL 3150 satisfies the Second Writing Requirement.

PHIL 3310 | METAPHYSICS

Professor(s): Prof. Merricks – TDB8N
Credits: [3]
Prerequisites: Instructor Consent Required

Tuesday & Thursday 9:30-10:45                                Cocke 115

This Course satisfies the Second Writing Requirement 
This survey course will examine a variety of issues central to contemporary analytic metaphysics. We shall consider, among other things, possibility and necessity, identity over time, and personal identity. This course is meant for third and fourth year philosophy majors only. 

PHIL 3320 | EPISTEMOLOGY

Professor(s): Prof. Langsam – HLL6Y
Credits: [3]

Monday & Wednesday 2:00-3:15                               Dell 2

The course focuses on questions in the theory of knowledge. Topics include: skepticism about knowledge of the external world, the nature of justification, foundationalism, and coherentism, the Gettier problem, internalism and externalism, a priori knowledge, the analytic/synthetic distinction, induction, and the ethics of belief.

PHIL 3500/3810 | SEMINAR IN PHILOSOPHY: SEX, SEXUALITY, AND GENDER

Professor(s): Prof. Barnes – EJB5R
Credits: [3]

Tuesday & Thursday 11:00-12:15                              Cocke 115

In this class, we'll be talking about philosophical issues at the intersection of sexuality, sexual experience, and gender experience. What is sexual consent? What is the relationship between sexual consent and sexual morality? What is sexual orientation, and what is its relationship to sex and gender? Is there such a thing as biological sex? Is there a difference between sex and gender?

 

PHIL 3520 | Fiction and Illness: Bioethics Through Film and Literature

Professor(s): Kendall Cox
Credits: 3

Tuesday & Thursday 5:00-6:15      Maury Hall 110

With our increasingly technological and medicalized view of the human body, is something about the experience of illness missed? Might fiction help us more fully understand and communicate about realities like pain, disability, and dying? Can creative construals of sickness teach us to identify with the patient and relate to others and ourselves more sympathetically? In this course, we will examine these dimensions of human life from the perspective of literature, film, and moral philosophy. The goal is to help students reflect critically upon and recognize the ethical content embedded in the way we engage sickness and health in specific professions as well as in our culture more broadly. 

PHIL 3652 S | ANIMALS AND ETHIC

Professor(s): Prof. Akhtar – SZA5M
Credits: [3]
Prerequisites: Instructor Consent Required

Tuesday & Thursday 9:30-10:45                                Wilson 238

This course will examine the moral status of non-human animals and what the major ethical theories imply for our treatment of animals, including for the purposes of scientific research and food.  In an effort to understand how we should think about their moral status, we will also examine the questions of whether, and to what extent, animals experience pain and emotions.

PHIL 3720 | CONTEMPORARY ETHICS

Professor(s): Prof. Stangl – RLS5EF
Credits: [3]

Tuesday & Thursday 11:00-12:15                              New Cabell 485

In this course, we will consider some of the liveliest topics of debate in contemporary ethical theory.  Among the questions that may be considered are: Are there moral facts, and if so what sorts of facts are they, how do we come to know them, and how do we explain their authority?  What would it mean to say that a life “has meaning” and what might entitle us to say such a thing?  Can we make sense of prohibitions to perform certain kinds of actions even when doing so would reduce the overall incidence of that very kind of action?  Do contemporary conceptions of our moral obligations leave us sufficient space to be true to our own ideals and loves?  Are we responsible for bad outcomes that we knowingly choose not to prevent others from bringing about?  Can we be held responsible for unchosen elements of our own character?  Are there “morally tragic” cases in which we will do wrong no matter what we choose to do?

PHIL 3720 | CONTEMPORARY ETHICS

Professor(s): Morgan
Credits: 3

Monday, Wednesday, & Friday 1:00-1:50                              Dell 2 101

In this course, we will consider some of the liveliest topics of debate in contemporary ethical theory.  Among the questions that may be considered are: Are there moral facts, and if so what sorts of facts are they, how do we come to know them, and how do we explain their authority?  What would it mean to say that a life “has meaning” and what might entitle us to say such a thing?  Can we make sense of prohibitions to perform certain kinds of actions even when doing so would reduce the overall incidence of that very kind of action?  Do contemporary conceptions of our moral obligations leave us sufficient space to be true to our own ideals and loves?  Are we responsible for bad outcomes that we knowingly choose not to prevent others from bringing about?  Can we be held responsible for unchosen elements of our own character?  Are there “morally tragic” cases in which we will do wrong no matter what we choose to do?

PHIL 5420 | ADANCED LOGIC

Professor(s): Prof. Cargile - JC7Y
Credits: [3]
Prerequisites: This Course satisfies the Logic A area requirements

Monday & Wednesday 2:00-3:15                               Cocke Hall 108

Topics covered include the completeness and undecidability of first order logic and the incompleteness and undecidability of First Order Arithmetic. There will be some coverage of second order logic and of modal logic. The prerequisite for the course is consent of the instructor.  The course requirements will include weekly homework assignments and a final examination.

PHIL 7500 | FIRST YEAR SEMINAR: DESCARTES

Professor(s): Prof. LoLordo – AL4H & Prof. Ott – WO5N
Credits: [3]
Prerequisites: This course counts towards the History area requirements

A writing-intensive class that examines the work of Descartes and his critics. Required of all first years.

PHIL 7540 | SEMINAR ON AN ETHICS TOPIC: SUPEREROGATION

Professor(s): Prof. Stangl – RLS5EF
Credits: [3]
Prerequisites: This course counts towards the Ethics area requirements

Thursday 1:00-3:30                                                     Cocke Hall 108          

Are there any actions that are morally admirable, but not morally required?  Common sense suggests there are.  We admire the solider who sacrifices his life for his comrades, but we would not think him blameworthy had he refrained.  Moral philosophers call such actions actions supererogatory.  But supererogatory actions, in turns out, are theoretically puzzling.  If something is the morally best action available, isn't there a sense in which we ought to do it?  In this class, we will aim to answer the question of whether there are such actions and, if there are, how best to make sense of them within a broader ethical theory. 

PHIL 7540 | SEMINAR ON AN ETHICS TOPIC: ANIMALS AND ETHICS

Professor(s): Prof. Akhtar – SZA5M
Credits: [3]
Prerequisites: This course counts toward the Ethics area requirements

Tuesday 3:30-6:00                                                      Cocke Hall 108          

This course will examine the moral status of non-human animals, as well as our obligations toward them. To that end, we will also explore questions concerning their mental lives. 

PHIL 7770 | POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY

Professor(s): Prof. Simmons – AJA7M
Credits: [3]
Prerequisites: This course counts toward the Ethics area requirements

Tuesday 1:00-3:30                                                      Cocke Hall 108          

This seminar will examine John Rawls’ political philosophy and recent Rawlsian (and related Kantian) attempts to modify and extend Rawlsian thought.  The first portion of the class will focus on Rawls’ own writings, from A Theory of Justice, through his “political turn” (culminating in Political Liberalism) and his “internationalization” of his view (in The Law of Peoples).  The second part of the class will look at recent developments (and criticisms) of Rawlsian/Kantian political philosophy, covering questions about  ideal and nonideal theory, civil disobedience, the natural duty of justice, democratic authority, states’ territorial rights, and the “supersession” of historical injustices.  We will read work by Waldron, Estlund, Stilz, and others (including – full disclosure notice – a fair bit of my own most recent work on these topics).

PHIL 8360 | EXPERIENCE

Professor(s): Prof. Langsam – HLL6Y
Credits: [3]
Prerequisites: This course counts towards the Metaphysics area requirement

Thursday 1:00-3:30                                                     Cocke Hall 108          

This course will address recent literature on the following questions: (1) What is the ontological structure of experience? (2) What determines the phenomenal character of experience? (3) What are the introspectible features of experience? (4) Is the representational content of experience conceptual or non-conceptual? The views we shall discuss include intentionalism/representationalism (both reductive and non-reductive), disjunctivism, sense-data theory, qualia realism. Readings will include articles by Harman, Tye, Shoemaker, Kind, Pautz, Mike Martin, Loar, Peacocke, McDowell, Kriegel, and others.