Catalog Year: 2018-2019
Professors Ablondi, Campolo, Falls-Corbitt, and Schmidt (chair)
Associate Professor Dow
The courses for this program are organized into the following categories:
This course explores questions about the nature and purposes of human knowledge, such as: Are there different kinds of knowing? What are the sources of knowing? What counts as knowing? What are the relationships between knowledge and truth, knowledge and beliefs, knowledge and skill, knowledge and reality? How can we justify what we know? Students have the opportunity to read and discuss key philosophical texts on these and related topics. All seats normally reserved for first year students.
This course explores questions about the nature of beauty, such as: Is beauty in the eye of the beholder? Are there different kinds of beauty? What are the sources of beauty? What are the relationships between beauty and art, beauty and nature, beauty and pleasure, beauty and goodness? Students have the opportunity to read and discuss key philosophical texts on these and related topics. All seats normally reserved for first year students.
This course explores questions about the nature of morality such as: What is the right thing to do? What makes someone a good person? What are the sources of moral goodness? What are the relationships between morality and pleasure, morality and duty, morality and evil, morality and politics, morality and non-human creatures and natural features? Students have the opportunity to read and discuss key philosophical texts on these and related topics. All seats normally reserved for first year students.
This course explores the nature of reality, such as: What is real, what exists, and how do we determine that? What kinds of things are real and unreal? What role do different disciplines play in investigating reality? What are the relationships between reality and fiction, reality and morality, reality and knowledge, reality and existence, reality and perception? Students have the opportunity to read and discuss key philosophical texts on these and related topics. All seats normally reserved for first year students.
Selected studies of major philosophers or philosophical concerns. This course can be repeated for additional credits as long as the section topics are different. Recent offerings include Civil Discourse, Poverty Studies, Native American Philosophy, Mark Twain, Persons Over Time, and Scottish Philosophy. Please consult the online course schedule for current offerings of this course.
An investigation into the varieties of reasoning, with concentration on the comprehension, evaluation, and construction of arguments. By analyzing examples of reasoning drawn from everyday life, the media, and different academic disciplines, students develop the skills and vocabulary required to articulate how reasoning works and to make reasoning an effective tool for gaining knowledge and participating in public discourse.
The philosophical analysis and evaluation of selected controversies related to the use of law and political systems to create and sustain just social conditions. The typical sort of issues studied would be poverty and world hunger, racism, the death penalty, civil disobedience, and conflicts over the protection of fundamental rights such as freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and privacy.
The philosophical analysis and evaluation of selected controversies related to the practice of medicine. The typical sort of issues to be studied are abortion, termination of treatment, physician-assisted suicide, the use of reproductive and genetic technologies, and the just allocation of limited medical resources.
The philosophy of cognitive science is an interdisciplinary field in which arguments, theories and methods from the intersection of philosophy and the cognitive sciences are used to reflect about aspects of the mind, including rationality, perception, actions, thoughts, and language. Students study, analyze, and evaluate six theories of representation—logic, rules, concepts, analogies, images, and connections—and three mental architectures—computational, connectionist, and dynamical. Students explore contemporary philosophical research and philosophical perspectives on interdisciplinary debates about the emotions, consciousness, embodiment, agency, and the social.
An introductory study of existentialism through readings in literature and philosophy. Typically with selections from Kierkegaard and Nietzsche to Heidegger, Sartre, and Jaspers. The modern predicament of the human being is examined and possible solutions sought.
Emphasis upon the development of a symbolic system for sentential logic. Critical analysis and reasoning skills are practiced. Some aspects of traditional and informal logic receive brief treatment.
Presentation of the major philosophies of the Indian sub-continent in their historic and cultural contexts. In addition to readings from the Vedic and Epic periods, the systems of Buddhism, Nyaya, Vaisesika, Samkhya, Yoga, and Vedanta are discussed, sometimes with emphasis placed on one school or text.
Study and comparison of major works by selected women philosophers.
Presentation of the major philosophies of China in their historical and cultural contexts, including Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism, as well as an examination of neo-Confucianism and the tradition of Zen Buddhism in Japan.
An introduction to academic studies of gender, this course aims to help students develop skills at understanding, analyzing, and engaging gender-related issues. Cross-listed as GEND 268.
Environmental aesthetics investigates the aesthetics experience of natural environments. Is the aesthetic appreciation of natural environmentals similar to or different from our aesthetic appreciation of art? Is aesthetic appreciation of nature cognitive--to appreciate nature on its own terms we need to employ knowledge about nature from natural history, evolution, and ecology? Or is our appreciation of nature non-cognitive--to appreciate nature involves primarily emotional engagement, bodily experience, or imagination? Is all nature beautiful? Is the beauty of the natural world a proper grounding for an understanding of our obligation to care for the natural environment?
Is freedom compatible with a world of cause and effect? Does freedom exist or is the conscious will an illusion? Students study, analyze, and evaluate philosophical arguments concerning freedom of the will, its relationship to moral responsibility, the nature of agency and action, philosophical accounts of intentions, and the relationship between rationality, reasons, and causes of action. Students explore contemporary philosophical research on questions concerning moral psychology, debates about the effectiveness of the conscious will, and debates about the awareness of our own agency.
Study of ancient Western philosophers and philosophical systems. Subjects may include the Presocratics, Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics, and Neo-Platonism. Cross-listed as CLAS 285.
Study of philosophers and philosophical systems of the Enlightenment: Rationalism, Empiricism, and Kant.
Study of Hegel and the reactions to his system in Marx, Mill, the American Pragmatists, and Nietzsche. Prerequisite: PHIL 285 or PHIL 302, or consent.
Study of women’s experience under patriarchy and of the philosophical, theological, and social criticisms arising therefrom.
The philosophical analysis and evaluation of ethical issues pertinent to establishing and maintaining the goods of friendship, family, and community. This course examines such questions as these: What virtues make flourishing relationships possible? What vices make them impossible? When, if ever, is respecting one anothers’ rights not enough? Is “love” always enough? What are the ethical boundaries of different kinds of love? What moral obligations are entailed by our powers as sexual, procreative beings?
Students examine philosophical arguments about the human condition. Students study, analyze, and evaluate philosophical debates about nature vs. nurture, the possible uniqueness of thought and language in humans, and the significance of self-consciousness and social cooperation. We discuss whether there is an essential human nature in light of contemporary philosophical discussions of variation and difference within individuals at a time and over time, across societies and between cultures. Students explore contemporary philosophical research on questions concerning nativism, genetic determinism, human universals, social construction, race, sex and the politics of human nature. Prerequisite: a previous course in philosophy or consent of instructor.
The course focuses upon understanding and comparing theories about what principles should guide human action, what kind of living constitutes the truly good life, and in what sense judgments regarding moral value have "objective" answers.
What is God like? Should God be understood as a person or a force? How is God related to the world? This course surveys primarily Western thinkers from the times of the biblical writers, through Plato, Aristotle and early Jewish and Christian sources to the development of modern atheism and beyond it to contemporary understandings of God. Issues such as evil, human responsibility and prayer are discussed in relation to divine power and knowledge. Cross-listed as RELI 332.
Philosophical issues related to science and the scientific method with readings from Hempel, Popper, Kuhn, and others. Recommended: major in philosophy or a science.
From epistemology to metaphysics to applied ethics and human rights theory, nothing is the same after Immanuel Kant. This course is a close study and evaluation of Kant's seminal works.
Study and evaluation of the major philosophical theories and controversies shaping our contemporary political debates over such issues as the nature of social and economic justice, the meaning of equality, the limits of individual freedom, the sources of political obligation, and the characteristics of a well-ordered society.
The study of philosophical issues and questions related to religious belief, language, and worldview, with particular attention to classical and/or contemporary arguments regarding the relationship of faith and reason. Topics may include arguments of existence of God, the problem of evil, the nature and epistemic value of religious experience, and the implications of pluralism for rational religious commitment. Cross-listed as RELI 370.
Metaphysics is concerned with the most general questions about the foundations of existence. What is the nature of being? What are the basic objects of reality? Is the nature of properties and relations different from the way we talk and think about them? Are there necessary truths? What are space and time? What makes persons, minds, bodies identical with themselves over time? What is the nature of causation? Are human beings free? Is the task of metaphysics descriptive or is metaphysics a revisionary science, explaining and predicting the grounds of existence?
Epistemology is the philosophical inquiry into the nature, conditions and extent of knowledge. Are dreams, hallucinations, and illusions threats to our knowledge? Is all knowledge based in our senses or can we have knowledge independent of experience, like propositions in math or logic? Is justified true belief sufficient for knowledge? Does knowledge shift with context? Is knowledge internal or external to a subject’s perspective? Does epistemology involve inquiry into the justification of our beliefs or into the natural origins of our beliefs? Students study knowledge in at least one particular case—perception, action, memory, inference, or testimony.
What is the nature of the mental and how does it relate to the physical body and physical bodies in general? Is the mark of the mental intentionality, or “aboutness”? What is the nature of representational content of our mental states? Are the contents of our mental states determined by facts internal to the individual or facts external to the individual in the physical world? What is the nature of consciousness and self-consciousness? Students discuss a special topic from the following: perception, action, emotion, memory, thought, language, consciousness, or self-consciousness. Prerequisite: a previous course in philosophy or consent of instructor.
A topics course in philosophy. This course can be repeated for additional credits as long as the section topics are different. Check the online course schedule for information about the topics currently scheduled to be taught.
Neurophilosophy is the study of foundational assumptions of neuroscientific theory and practice through the lens of arguments about mechanism, causation, and intervention with particular emphasis on the philosophy of science. Students study, analyze, and evaluate philosophical arguments concerning reductive accounts of perception, action and consciousness, accounts of representation and processes in neuroscience, foundational assumptions of brain-imaging technologies, and debates about functions and structures in the brain. Students also reflect upon how findings in neuroscience appertain to traditional philosophical questions concerning mental causation, morality, language, consciousness, selfhood, freedom, moral responsibility, and the existence of souls and God.
An advanced seminar in philosophy for senior majors in philosophy and in philosophy and religious studies. Topics are chosen by the faculty members teaching the seminar. This course may be taken by senior philosophy majors or philosophy and religious studies majors in lieu of the senior thesis.
A topics course in philosophy studying selected major philosophers or philosophical concerns. This course can be repeated for additional credits as long as the section topics are different. Recent topics include Poverty Studies, New Philosophy of Science, Spinoza, Ethics and Commerce, Philosophy of Psychology and Early Medieval Philosophy. Please consult the online course schedule for current offerings of this course.
Students in consultation with a professor research, write, and defend a substantial paper on a topic of their choosing. Open only to philosophy and to philosophy and religious studies majors in the senior year.
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