Courses

PHIL 1000 | INTRODUCTION TO PHILOSOPHY

Professor(s): Prof. Lomasky
Credits: 3

Monday & Wednesday 5:00-5:50+ disc sec               Minor Hall 125

Introduces a broad spectrum of philosophical problems and approaches. Topics include basic questions concerning morality, skepticism and the foundations of knowledge, the mind and its relation to the body, and the existence of God. Readings are drawn from classics in the history of philosophy and/or contemporary sources. 

PHIL 1510 | PHILOSOPHY AND MEDITATION

Professor(s): Prof. Secada
Credits: 3

Monday & Wednesday 2:00-3:15                               Wilson 214

This course will examine the relation between philosophy and meditation through the study of some classical texts: Plato´s Phaedrus, Ghazali’s Deliverance from Error, 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 texts to be read during term, the course is structured as a 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. The course is intended for students with no previous acquaintance with the subject and can serve as an introduction to philosophy.

PHIL 1730 | INTRODUCTION TO MORAL AND POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY

Professor(s): Prof. Adams
Credits: 3

Monday & Wednesday 9:00-9:50+ disc sec                           Dell 1 105

Humans are fundamentally social: we live in community and in relationships. This course is an introduction to the philosophical issues which arise from asking why and how it matters that we live with others. We will consider questions such as: Why do we matter? Is it our humanity, or our rationality, or our sentience? How do we matter? Should we respect each others' choices, or maximize their well-being, or ignore them unless they interfere? And what difference does it make when we try to live together? How do we make shared communities and what principles should our community try to live by? We will draw on a variety of sources to appreciate some of the most influential answers to these questions.

PHIL 1750 | THE MEANING OF LIFE

Professor(s): Prof. Ott
Credits: 3

 Tuesday & Thursday 2:00-2:50+ disc sec                 Minor Hall 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 2110 | HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY: ANCIENT AND MEDIEVAL

Professor(s): Prof. Secada
Credits: 3

Monday & Wednesday 9:00-9:50+ disc sec               Monroe Hall 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 2420 | INTRODUCTION TO SYMBOLIC LOGIC

Professor(s): Prof. Cameron
Credits: 3

Tuesday & Thursday 8:00-8:50+ disc sec                  Minor 125

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 2450 | PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE

Professor(s): Prof. Humphreys
Credits: 3

Monday & Wednesday 2:00-3:15                              Cocke 115

Science is often seen as being uniquely successful in producing knowledge. This course investigates what is characteristically different about science and why science appears to progress while other fields do not. We shall examine differences between the natural and social sciences, scientific realism and empiricism, different modes of scientific explanation, the reduction of one science to another, differences between deduction and induction, whether scientific progress is in fact illusory, and some special topics in time and indeterminism. Topics will be illustrated with historical and contemporary examples, ranging from Greek astronomy to current social sciences, but no background in any particular science or previous exposure to philosophy will be presupposed. Requirements include regular short assignments, a term paper, and a final examination

PHIL 2500 -100 | MINDS AND MACHINES

Professor(s): Prof. Irving
Credits: 3

Monday & Wednesday 2:00-2:50+ disc sec               Ruffner G008

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? Computer? 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 specific debates within the philosophy of cognitive science. Topics may include the following: are cognitive capacities innate or learned? What is rationality? What is memory?

PHIL 2500-200 | ENVIRONMENTAL ETHICS

Professor(s): Prof. Brewer
Credits: 3

Monday & Wednesday 12:00-12:50+ 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 2500-300 | PHILOSOPHY OF HEALTH AND HEALTHCARE

Professor(s): Prof. Barnes
Credits: 3

Tuesday & Thursday 8:00-8:50+ disc sec                  Maury Hall 104

In this class, we’ll first discuss the question ‘what is health?’ How do we define what it means to be healthy? Is there a difference between physical and mental health? Is there a difference between health and overall well-being? Is health a biological concept or is it something normative? Then we’ll look at specific puzzles that arise in health care related to how we understand health and disease. For example, how do we measure health outcomes? How do we deal with the inherent subjectivity of some aspects of health, such as pain? What is the relationship between what we consider ‘healthy’ and what our culture values or stigmatizes?

PHIL 2500-400 | CONTEMPORARY PERUVIAN CULTURE (cross listed with SPAN 4500)

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

Monday & Wednesday 3:30 -4:45                              New Cabell 032

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.

PHIL 2660 | PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION

Professor(s): Prof. Merricks
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, 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 3130 | ARISTOTLE

Professor(s): Prof. Bagley
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: Prerequisites: The course presupposes introductory work in Philosophy but no acquaintance with Aristotle or other Greek thinkers.

Tuesday & Thursday 8:00-9:15                                  New Cabell 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 3150 | 17th CENTURY PHILOSOPHY

Professor(s): Prof. LoLordo
Credits: 3

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

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
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: Instructor Consent Required

Tuesday & Thursday 9:30-10:45                                New Cabell 383

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 3330 | PHILOSOPHY OF MIND

Professor(s): Prof. Langsam
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: Instructor Consent Required

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

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 350-004 | CAUSATION, INDUCTION, LAWS [

Professor(s): Prof. Humphreys
Credits: 3

Monday & Wednesday 5:00-6:15                               New Cabell 207

Causation is, as David Hume suggested, the cement of the universe. Yet he dissolved that cement leaving the world of events unconnected. We shall examine whether there are ways to reconnect the world, whether inductive inference is justified (another casualty of Hume’s arguments), and in what sense the universe is governed by laws. Associated topics to be covered are determinism and indeterminism, causal and law based explanations, and chance. Readings for the class will be largely contemporary, with attention paid to Hume’s and Mill’s historical work. The seminar will combine lecture presentations with discussion and there will be regular writing assignments. Students must have taken at least one PHIL designated class. The class is limited to fifteen students.

PHIL 3500-001 | SCIENCE FICTION AND PHILOSOPHY

Professor(s): Prof. Cameron
Credits: 3

Tuesday & Thursday 11:00-12:15                              Ruffner 175

Science fiction is a distinctively philosophical genre. Science fiction stories can cause us to question the bounds of what is possible, explore ethical questions that arise in alien circumstances, explore the nature of the self and the very nature of reality, and so on.  This course has two main goals: (1) We will use science fiction literature to explore philosophical issues, thereby pursuing philosophical inquiry from an unusual perspective; (2) We will use philosophy to explore the nature of science fiction as a genre, and thereby to gain insight into the nature of art.

PHIL 3500-002 | POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY

Professor(s): Prof. Adams
Credits: 3

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

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 3500-003 | CAPITALISM

Professor(s): Prof. Brinkmann
Credits: 3

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

In this course, we will look at capitalism through the lens of political philosophy. Can a system of wide-ranging private prop-erty ownership, open markets, and a limited state be philosophically justified? If so, how? If not, which alternatives should we pursue?

We will analyse various attempts to justify capitalism (e.g., on the basis of natural rights, freedom, efficiency, and desert) as well as various objections to it (e.g., stemming from distributive justice, poverty, domination, and alienation). We will also discuss varieties of, and alternatives to, capitalism, such as anarcho-capitalism, property-owning democracy, and the social welfare state. Time permitting, we might also delve into some applied issues (e.g., financial crisis, austerity, and the proliferation of public and private debt). 

Note that this is not a course in the history of political thought; we will only deal with contemporary justifications of capitalism over the last fifty years.

PHIL 3710 | ETHICS

Professor(s): Prof. Bagley
Credits: 3

3710-001                                             Tuesday & Thursday 3:30-4:45                                  New Cabell 132

3710-002                                             Tuesday & Thursday 5:00-6:15                                  New Cabell 232

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 3810 | SEX, SEXUALITY, AND GENDER

Professor(s): Prof. Barnes
Credits: 3

Tuesday & Thursday 11:00-12:15                              New Cabell 383

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 4010 | SEMINAR FOR MAJORS – LAWS OF NATURE

Professor(s): Prof. Ott
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: Philosophy Major

Tuesday & Thursday 11:00-12:15                              Brooks 103

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 5510 | SEMINAR ON A PHILOSOPHICAL TOPIC: WHY BE MORAL?

Professor(s): Prof. Lomasky
Credits: 3
   

Wednesday 6:00-8:30 Cocke Hall 108

Although the rationality of acting to advance one's own interests, well-being, or purposes appears to be unproblematic, the same cannot be said for acting on the basis of ethical considerations that mandate acting to secure the good of others (or to satisfy some deontic principle). Indeed, the two seemingly are in tension with each other. To do what morality demands will, at least on occasion, require one to forgo some good for oneself that might otherwise have been enjoyed. If that is so, then ethically-motivated action isn't merely different from the pursuit of rational self-interest but contrary to it. How, we might well ask, can one have reason to do what is contra-rational? In this seminar we will look at central works by Aristotle, Hobbes, Kant, Mill, and Henry Sidgwick to explore and evaluate their ideas concerning the connection between conventional morality and the enlightened pursuit of rational selfinterest. Requirements include regular participation, writing several (4?) short discussion papers and a term paper.