Courses

PHIL 1000 | INTRODUCTION TO PHILOSOPHY

Professor(s): Prof. Cameron
Credits: 3

Tuesday & Thursday 8:00-8:50+ disc sec                  Wilson 301

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

PHIL 1410 | FORMS OF REASONING

Professor(s): Prof. Darcy
Credits: 3

Tuesday & Thursday 9:30-10:45                                Wilson 124     

Tuesday & Thursday 11:00-12:15                              Wilson 124

Tuesday & Thursday 12:30-1:45                                Wilson 124

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 1710 | HUMAN NATURE

Professor(s): Prof. Langsam
Credits: 3

Monday & Wednesday 12:00-12:50+ disc sec           Minor 125

This course is concerned with the question of whether there are characteristics that all human beings have in common other than 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 contemporary and historical writers.

PHIL 1740 | ISSUES OF LIFE AND DEATH

Professor(s): Prof. Stangl
Credits: 3

Monday & Wednesday 11:00-11:50+ disc sec           Minor 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 9:00-9:50+ disc sec              Dell 1 105

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 Suárez, Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, Hume and Kant, though some other figures including some XIXth-Century philosophers, such as Hegel, will also be discussed in the lectures. Throughout the term, we will read closely the first five of Descartes' Meditations on First Philosophy and Leibniz's "First Truths". Students will be required to write a term paper, to submit an earlier draft of it, and to take several quizzes during the term. 

PHIL 2500-001 | SLURS, BAD WORDS, AND UNRULY LANGUAGE

Professor(s): Prof. Fox
Credits: 3

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

Some words have incredible power in what their uses can convey and cause. Others are more inert. There are “bad words”, which can be met with sanctions from the mild to the severe. Words can also be used to subjugate individuals, groups, and collectives of various human identities. In this course we will study some pressing questions in the philosophy of language that connect to the study of slurs, bad words, and unruly language. In doing so, we will focus on what is often done with such language, while forging connections to some hallmark topics in the philosophy of language. Topics to be studied include: meaning, speech acts, presupposition, implicature, conversational norms, context-sensitivity, expression, derogation, silencing, subordination, and “fictional” discourses.

PHIL 2500-200 | FREEDOM OF SPEECH

Professor(s): Prof. Lomasky
Credits: 3

Tuesday & Thursday 2:00-2:50+Disc sec                              Dell 1 105                  

Free speech is about the First Amendment: that’s not exactly false but neither is it entirely true.

Constitutional speech guarantees concern restriction by law, but there are many other ways in which people can be pressured not to speak. Sometimes they are fired/not hired, sometimes they are shunned, shamed or canceled.  This course will look at some of the legal issues surrounding speech but mostly examine whether and how speech, broadly understood, should be constrained or protected outside courtroom contexts.  Readings commence with John Stuart Mill’s classic ON LIBERTY.  Then we turn to contemporary disputes, asking how well Mill’s arguments apply to speech in the internet era.

PHIL 2640 | RATIONAL CHOICE AND HAPPINESS

Professor(s): Prof. Barnes
Credits: 3

Tuesday & Thursday 8:00-8:50+ disc sec                  Clark 107                   

In this class, we will examine philosophical puzzles about our ability to make rational choices that affect or determine our own happiness. How can we rationally decide to undergo a significant experience - such as having a child or moving to a new country - when have no way of knowing what that experience will be like? How can we rationally choose to make decisions about our future (such as what career path to follow or where to live), since who we will become in the future is in part determined by those choices? These kinds of questions will be the focus of the class

PHIL 2652 | ANIMAL MINDS AND ANIMAL ETHICS

Professor(s): Prof. Ott
Credits: 3

Monday & Wednesday 5:00-5:50                               Monroe 124

Other species seem to represent objects in their environments, think about the thoughts of their conspecifics, and perhaps even use language. 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 available to answer these and similar questions before considering their ethical implications: is it morally permissible to eat animals? What about keeping them in zoos, or keeping them as pets? What responsibilities, in short, do we have to the sentient creatures with whom we share our world?

PHIL 3120 | ARISTOTLE

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

This course satisfies the History requirement for those who have or will take PHIL 2120 – Modern.

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

An introduction to the philosophy of Aristotle through close reading of keys texts in translations with the aim of achieving a philosophical understanding of his views and their lasting influence. Readings will focus on his metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of mind and theory of natural science, though expect material from his ethics and social philosophy as well.

PHIL 3180 | NIETZSCHE

Professor(s): Prof. Langsam
Credits: 3

Monday & Wednesday 2:00-3:15                               New Cabell 032

Nietzsche, Nietzsche, and even more Nietzsche on life, truth, philosophy, art, morality, nihilism, values and their creation, will to power, eternal recurrence, and a lot of other good stuff.  Readings will include The Birth of Tragedy, The Gay Science, Beyond Good and Evil, On the Genealogy of Morals, Twilight of the Idols, The Antichrist, and others.

DOES NOT SATISFY HISTORY AREA REQUIREMENTS FOR PHILOSOPHY MAJORS

PHIL 3330 | PHILOSOPHY OF MIND

Professor(s): Prof. Ott
Credits: 3

Monday & Wednesday 2:00-3:15                              New Cabell 058

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 3400 | INTRODUCTION TO NON-CLASSICAL LOGIC

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

Tuesday & Thursday 12:30-1:45                                New Cabell 364

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 & 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 3640 | POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY

Professor(s): Prof. Adams
Credits: 3

Tuesday & Thursday 8:00-9:15                                  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 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 9:30-10:45                                Cocke 115                  

In this course, we will engage in an in-depth study of the ethical thought of Plato, Aristotle, Hume and Kant—four 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 thinking, the place of particular and general judgments in practical deliberation, the nature and value of the virtues of character, and the source and content of the idea of right action.

PHIL 3800 | FEMINIST PHILOSOPHY

Professor(s): Prof. Barnes
Credits: 3

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

In this class, we’ll look at ways in which issues of gender can interact with traditional philosophical topics. We’ll discuss gendered dimensions to our understanding of some central issues in metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of language, and social and political philosophy. 

PHIL 4020 | SEMINAR FOR MAJORS – LOVE AND FRIENDSHIP

Professor(s): Prof. Brewer
Credits: 3

Tuesday & Thursday 2:00-3:15                                  New Cabell 058

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.

 

PHIL 5540 | LOVE AND FRIENDSHIP

Professor(s): Prof. Brewer
Credits: 3

This course is a combined section class with PHIL 4020

Tuesday & Thursday 2:00-3:15                                  New Cabell 058

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.

PHIL 5560 | LIBERALISM & ITS FIRST CRITICS

Professor(s): Prof. Lomasky
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: This course is open to undergraduates

“Liberalism & its First Critics” will travel on something of a political philosophy time machine. It begins with the first great theorist of what became known as Liberalism, John Locke, and then it follows liberal developments over the next two centuries in the persons of Immanuel Kant and J. S. Mill. The second half of the course turns to critics of liberalism, but the twist is that these are critics from the era of classical philosophy: Plato and Aristotle. They will be read not as figures from a distant past but as significant challengers to the modern consensus. Their debate concerning how human beings can effectively live together in political association will comprise the substance of the course. Items to be discussed include the nature and value of liberty; liberal theories of basic rights; individualism vs. community; the need for social order and conditions of its maintenance; the good life and its pursuit. Requirements include periodic short discussion papers and eventual preparation of a course paper.

PHIL 7510 | ARISTOTLE

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

This course satisfies History-Ancient area requirements.

Thursday 3:30-6:00                                                Cocke Hall 108

Graduate-level treatment, in translation, of Aristotle’s On the Soul and other relevant texts, e.g. Movement of Animals and parts of the Nicomachean Ethics. We will survey all parts of the work but give particular attention to book 3, which covers human reason (nous), imagination (phantasia) and the cognitive basis of animal movement. We will also consider the nature of the soul; function (ergon) and its place in Aristotle's natural philosophy; the varieties of human and animal perception; memory and recollection; practical reason and its various failure modes; and what makes humans cognitively distinct. Knowledge of Greek helpful but not required. Readings to include substantial amounts of secondary literature, with the aim of introducing students to the practices of scholarship and professional history of philosophy.

PHIL 7530 | SEMINAR ON MODERN HISTORY TOPIC: EXPANDING THE CANON

Professor(s): Prof. LoLordo
Credits: 3

Monday  3:30-6:00                                                     Cocke 108

Historians of early modern philosophy have recently been trying to push the monochromatic, male canon of early modern philosophers in a new direction.  This has involved two complementary strategies:  looking at hitherto under-appreciated figures working on topics that have traditionally been counted as philosophical, and expanding the boundaries of which topics count as philosophical in the first place.  In this course, we’ll look at a number of new-to-the-canon figures.  Who we read will depend on the interests and background of the people in the class, but possibilities like Amo, Cavendish, du Chatelet, Cugoano, Shepherd, and Wollstonecraft.

PHIL 8540 | ETHICS: RESPONDING VIRTOUSLY TO WRONGDOING

Professor(s): Prof. Stangl
Credits: 3

Wednesday1:00-3:30                                                      Cocke 108

Wrongdoing, both on a personal and societal scale, elicits strong and varied responses: indignation, anger, hopelessness, forgiveness, and sadness, among others.  Which of these responses are justified?  Which are likely to be useful?  Which are virtuous?  These questions have not only long interested philosophers, they are also of deep existential significance.  This course will look at recent philosophical work that attempts to grapple with this issue. 

PHIL 9700 | DISSERTATION SEMINAR

Professor(s): Prof. Adams
Credits: 3

Thursday 1:00-3:30                                                                 Cocke 108

This non-credit course is taught every spring. It combines discussions of the central aspects of professional life with multiple opportunities for students to present and receive peer feedback on their work-in-progress.  It is mandatory for all third-year students in residence, and optional for others.