Courses

PHIL 1000 | INTRODUCTION TO PHILOSOPHY

Professor(s): Prof. Gertler
Credits: 3

Monday & Wednesday 9:00-9:50+ disc sec                           Minor 125

This course will introduce you to methods and topics central to analytic philosophy. Emphasis will be placed on learning to assess arguments critically, including arguments that support your own views. We will examine arguments for a range of philosophical positions on questions such as the following:  (1) Does it matter what you believe? If so, why?  (2) What can we know, and how do we acquire knowledge? (3) What does free will consist in? And do we have free will, of the sort that would make us genuinely responsible for our actions? (4) What standard determines the right thing to do – that is, whether an action is ethically good?  (5) What sort of political arrangements does justice require?

PHIL 1410 | FORMS OF REASONING

Professor(s): TBD
Credits: 3

Tuesday & Thursday 9:30-10:45                                         New Cabell 332

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

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 | THE ETHICS OF COMPUTING TECHNOLOGIES

Professor(s): TBD
Credits: 3

Tuesday & Thursday 12:30-1:45                                            New Cabell 383

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

Developments in computing technology have had a tremendous impact on our lives.  Changes have been swift and the human capacity to deal with them is limited.  In this course we will examine some of these changes and carefully consider their social and ethical implications, from the political and global to the personal and emotional.  We’ll end by thinking about computing changes that lie ahead – including the distant future.

PHIL 1710 | HUMAN NATURE

Professor(s): Prof. Langsam
Credits: 3

Tuesday & Thursday 3:30-4:20+ disc sec                  Wilson 402

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 1730 | INTRODUCTION TO MORAL AND POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY

Professor(s): Prof. Lomasky
Credits: 3

Monday & Wednesday 5:00-5:50+ disc sec               Monroe 130   

What is it to live a really excellent life, & how is this task complicated (or assisted) by the need to live among others who may have very different views from your own? Is the answer to this question simply a matter of taste, or can we learn about better & worse ways to live? We will look to various philosophers to help us think through these matters, including Plato, Immanuel Kant, Adam Smith, David Hume, & John Stuart Mill. Additionally we will read the play Antigone by Sophocles, novel Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky, & excerpts from the Bible. Students will be required to write two or three short essays, take unannounced short quizzes, & sit a final exam.

PHIL 2110 | HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY: ANCIENT AND MEDIEVAL

Professor(s): Prof. Secada
Credits: 3

This course satisfies History area requirements.

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

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 2500-004 | CONTEMPORARY PERUVIAN CULTURE

Professor(s): Prof. Secada
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: Fluency in Spanish required. Instructor Consent Required

Monday & Wednesday 2:00 -3:15                              New Cabell 383

This course is a survey of contemporary Peruvian culture, focusing on literary, philosophical and political themes through the discussion of a selection of short essays published in Peruvian newspapers, magazines, blogs, and literary and academic journals after 2010. Some contemporary Peruvian authors, whose work is related to the readings, will visit the course throughout term. The course will start with introductory lectures on recent Peruvian history but after that will be structured as a seminar, around class presentations and discussions of the readings. Apart from such work, a term paper will be required. Lectures, discussions and all readings are in Spanish. (Combined course with SPAN 4520)

PHIL 2500-100 | MINDS AND MACHINES

Professor(s): Prof. Irving
Credits: 3

Tuesdays & Thursdays 11:00-11:50+ disc sec           Maury 209

This course surveys foundational issues in the philosophy of cognitive science and mind. Part 1 asks the fundamental question, what is a mind? Are minds brains? Computers? Organisms? Do minds extend into the body and environment? We'll approach these questions by considering what it would take to make a machine with a mind (that is, to make genuine artificial intelligence). Part 2 turns to 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 2500-200 | ENVIRONMENTAL ETHICS

Professor(s): TBD
Credits: 3

Monday & Wednesday 1:00-1:50+ disc sec               Monroe 124

An exploration of some fundamental philosophical questions in environmental ethics, including: Who or what should be regarded as “morally considerable”?  Human beings only?  All animals?  All living things?  What about species, eco-systems, or landscapes?  What environmental threats are posed by current practices of getting and spending, and what should we do to mitigate these threats?

PHIL 2660 | PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION

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

 

Tuesday & Thursday 10:00-10:50+ disc sec             Maury 104     

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, including the problem of evil; whether belief in God is or can be justified or reasonable; the relationship between human freedom and divine foreknowledge, and how to think about personal immortality and the nature of the human person. 

PHIL 2760 | CLASSICS OF POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY

Professor(s): Prof. Lomasky
Credits: 3

Monday & Wednesday 2:00-2:50+ disc sec               Monroe 124

The modern state more or less as we know it begins to emerge in the 17th century.  What form it will take was very much an open question then and remains so now.  Some very ingenious theorists take on this question, and we will be examining central works of five of them: John Locke, Jean Jacques Rousseau, Adam Smith, Karl Marx, Robert Nozick.  Students will be required to prepare at least two short papers and take occasional unannounced quizzes.  Classroom discussion will be strongly encouraged.

PHIL 3110 | PLATO

Professor(s): Prof. McCready-Flora
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: This course satisfies the History requirement for those who have or will take PHIL 2120 – Modern Prerequisites: The course presupposes introductory work in Philosophy but no acquaintance with Plato or other Greek thinkers

Tuesday & Thursday 9:30-10:45                                 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 3160 | 18th CENTURY PHILOSOPHY

Professor(s): Prof. Lolordo
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: This course satisfies History area requirements. This course satisfies the Second Writing Requirement

 

Monday & Wednesday 11:00-12:15                          Cocke 115      

The theme of this class is reason, the great preoccupation of the 18th century.  What is reason?  What are its raw materials, its abilities, and its limits?  Is reason unique to human beings or shared with other animals?  Are men and women equally rational?  Are children rational, or does education make us rational?  Are our basic beliefs and emotions grounded in reason – or is reason merely an after-the-fact justification for them?  Is reason the source of happiness, or an impediment?  We’ll read and discuss how these questions were answered by philosophers including John Locke, David Hume, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Thomas Reid, Mary Shepherd, Émilie du Châtelet and Mary Wollstonecraft.

PHIL 3330 | PHILOSOPHY OF MIND

Professor(s): Prof. Langsam
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: Instructor Consent Required. This Course satisfies the Second Writing Requirement

Tuesday & Thursday 12:30-1:45                                New Cabell 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.

PHIL 3500-001 | ANIMALS AND ETHICS

Professor(s): TBD
Credits: 3

Tuesday & Thursday 3:30-4:45 Cocke 115
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 3640 | POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY

Professor(s): Prof. Adams
Credits: 3

Tuesday & Thursday 2:00-3:15 Cocke 115
How should we live together? This question is at the core of political philosophy and is the main focus of the course. This question has various components, including: Who counts as one of us? How should we make decisions? Who should be in charge? How should we use our power? How should we treat others? How can we flourish? And who gets a say in how to answer these questions? The course looks at some historical answers but focuses on contemporary democratic answers and considers to what extent our ideals have been realized in our shared life.

PHIL 3710 | ETHICS

Professor(s): Prof. Brewer
Credits: 3

Tuesday & Thursday 12:30-1:45 Cocke 115
Contemporary philosophical discussions in ethics owe a deep debt to their historical predecessors. One finds ethicists who identify as Aristotelians, Kantians, or Humeans, as well as contemporary utilitarians inspired by the work of Mill. In this course, we will examine some of the most important ethical theories in the history of philosophy, with an eye both to understanding them in context

PHIL 4010 | SEMINAR FOR MAJORS – [TENTATIVE] METAPHYSICS OF MATERIAL OBJECTS

Professor(s): TBD
Credits: 3

Tuesday & Thursday 3:30-4:45                                  New Cabell 332

 [TENTATIVE] 

Spanning metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of science, and the history of philosophy, we’ll explore the notion of a law of nature from its beginnings to the contemporary debate. Questions include: Are laws something over and above mere regularities, and if so, what? Can we do away with talk of laws in favor of causal powers? Are there laws in disciplines like psychology and economics? Must all laws be deterministic? Figures and topics to be chosen by the class. No background in science is assumed.

PHIL 5559 | LOVE AND FRIENDSHIP

Professor(s): Prof. Brewer
Credits: 3

Tuesdayy 6:00 -8:30                              Cocke 108

Human beings are inexorably drawn into intimacy with each other, forming bonds of love and friendship.  But what exactly are love and friendship?  How and why do they arise?  What forms can they take?  What place do they have in our lives?  In this seminar we will explore these questions through close readings of relevant works in the history of Western philosophy, beginning with the writings of the Ancient Greeks and working our way forward to relevant works of contemporary philosophers.