Philosophy Courses (PH) (Credits)
110. Basic Philosophical Problems (3)
An introductory course to acquaint the student with fundamental philosophical problems, techniques and types of philosophical inquiry, including discussion of the views of classical and modern thinkers. Cross listed with HI 105.
211. Ethical Theory and Moral Issues (3)
In this course we will examine issues in ethical theory, including such foundational issues as the relationship between ethical behavior and rational behavior, the relationship between ethics and theology, and the issue of whether ethics is objective or subjective, absolute or relative. We will examine both action-centered as well as character-centered approaches to the resolution of ethical dilemmas. Finally, we will turn our attention to the practical application of theory. Readings may include selections from the Western philosophical tradition (e.g., Plato, Aristotle, Hobbes, Hume, Kant, Mill) as well as Western literature (Dostoyevski, Conrad, O’Connor). We will also watch selected films.
213. Critical Thinking: Logic (3)
We will translate standard English into symbolic notation, then use both Aristotelian and truth functional techniques to test for validity of arguments. The aim is to understand the rules and relationships that define rational thinking. From logical puzzles to Venn diagrams to symbolic proofs, this course is an excellent preparation for the GRE or LSAT or MCAT. It requires both quantitative thinking and facility with language.
214. Philosophy of Religion (3)
In this course we will examine some of the central issues in the philosophy of religion. We will begin by examining some of the most influential arguments for the existence of God, including the ontological argument, the cosmological argument, and the argument for design. We will examine the problem of evil as well as various replies by theists to the problem of evil. Finally, we will examine the claim that the religious life is a matter of faith, not reason. Readings may include Anslem, Augustine, Aquinas, Leibniz, Paley, Hume, Kant, Kierkegard, Adams, Swinburne, Hicks, Mackie, Plantiga, and others.
215. Business Ethics (3)
This course will critically examine the role of ethics within a business environment. We will examine both ethical relationships within a business such as employers and employee relations as well as ethical relationships between business and the broader society such as business and consumer relations. Possible issues or topics of examination include: corporate social responsibility; rights and the obligations of employees and employers; justice and fair practice; distributive justice, and advertising marketing; and the consumer, among others. Issues and topics will be examined by considering both historical and contemporary texts and case studies.
217. Bioethics (3)
This course will focus on issues that come about as a result of the interaction between medicine and modern technological advances. Biotechnologies span issues of health from birth to death, including ethical debates concerning: cloning, genetic screening, invitro fertilization, and physician assisted suicide, to name a few. Bioethics quite clearly encompasses the entire life cycle. Issues or topics that may be investigated include: justice and autonomy in health care; life and death; biomedical research and technology; and public health, among others.
219. Environmental Ethics (3)
This course will focus on ethical issues related to our natural environment. It is a truism that all persons live, work, and plan within the confines and richness of the natural environment. For this reason there is simply no separating the natural environment and its ethical status from the well-being of people. Further, our present ethical relationship with our natural environment is uniquely important as it has the strong potential to impact the well-being of later generations. Not only does our treatment of the environment impact those living now but it impacts human beings that will live in fifty or even five hundred years. Issues and topics that may be investigated include: Who counts in environmental ethics: animals, plants, ecosystems; Is nature intrinsically valuable; frameworks of environmental ethics; sustaining, restoring, and preserving nature; and the environment and social justice including intergenerational justice, among others.
300. Ancient World Wisdom (3)
In the 6th century B.C.E., six major sources of wisdom arose: Buddha, Confucius, Lao Tzu, Isaiah, Zoroaster and the pre-Socratic Greek Philosophers. Understanding the classic questions and the answers given by these sages to the timeless issues of who we are, how we should live, what is real, and how we come to know will help us understand the roots of many other thinkers throughout the history of the world as well as offering sound advice on how to live our own lives. Each thinker will be considered in their historical context. Cross listed with HI305.
301. The Golden Age of Greece (3)
A contemporary philosopher said, “All of philosophy is a footnote to Plato.” Certainly Plato, Aristotle, and the Stoics are the keys to understanding much of the intellectual roots of the Western tradition. We will read the major texts of these philosophers in their historical context as they attempt to answer the questions, Who am I? What is my role in society? What is a well-run state? What is real? And how should I live? Cross-listed with HI305.
303. The Modern World (17th-18th Century) (3)
In this course, we will examine the attempts by modern philosophy to answer two central questions. The first is the epistemological question of what human beings can know. In particular, we will examine the issue of whether human beings can justifiably claim to know that there is a mind-independent external world. The second central question with which modern philosophy struggles is the metaphysical question concerning the place of consciousness (mind) in a material universe. What is the relation between mind and matter, between mind and body? Is the mind distinct from the body? Or is the mind identical to the body? What is the self? Readings may include Descartes, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, and Kant with attention to their historical context. Cross-listed with HI 305.
304. The Contemporary World of Philosophy (19th-21th Century) (3)
In this course, we will examine some of the most influential philosophical movements in the contemporary period. The contemporary world of philosophy continues to focus on the epistemological and metaphysical questions placed at the center of philosophical thought during the modern period. In addition, contemporary philosophy pays special attention to the role that language plays in our understanding of the world around us. Movements to be examined include phenomenology/existentialism, logical positivism, and philosophy of language. Readings may include Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sartre, Ayer, Quine, and Kripke with attention to their historical context. Cross-listed with HI 305.
305. Philosophy of Law (3)
In the first part of the course, we will examine various theories concerning the nature of law. In particular, we will examine how these theories view the connection between law and morality. Is there a connection between law and morality? If there is, is it a necessary connection? Theories of law to be examined include legal positivism, natural law, and legal realism (critical legal studies). In the second part of the course, we will focus on issues surrounding judicial interpretation. Questions to be considered include the following: How ought judges to interpret the constitution? What role (if any) should moral principles play in their adjudication? What is the role of judges in relation to democratically elected legislatures? In “hard cases,” do judges create law (legislate from the bench) or do they work to discover the correct answer (apply the law to the case before them)? Theories of judicial interpretation to be examined include originalism and non-originalism. Interspersed with these theoretical readings will be excerpts from actual U.S. Supreme Court cases. We will be interested in seeing how the theoretical issues identified above get played out in actual U.S. Supreme Court decisions. We will focus primarily (though not exclusively) on the so-called “privacy cases.” Readings may include Austin, Hart, Fuller, Dworkin, Frank, Altman, Bork, Lyons, and Ely as well as various court opinions. Pre-requisites: Philosophy 110, or 211, or 310, or consent of instructor.
309. Philosophy of the Arts (3)
During the past two hundred years in the West, “fine” art has slowly been separated from the rest of life and restricted to museums, galleries, concert halls, poetry readings, etc. In the rest of the world, “art” isn’t marked off from religion, politics, ethics, or everyday living. We will explore experiences such as political street theater, tea ceremony, and music that erupts into dancing and religious ecstasy require a kind of engagement that can make all of life more vibrant—even beautiful rather than the disinterested observation suggested by traditional aesthetic theory.
310. Political Philosophy (3)
In this course, we will examine attempts by philosophers within the Western philosophical tradition to answer the following three questions. First, what justification (if any) can be given for the existence of the state? Second, what reason is there (if any) for preferring one kind of state to another? Third, what justification is there (if any) for placing limits on the power of the state to intervene in the lives of its citizens? Readings may include Plato, Aristotle, Hobbes, Locke, Mill, Berlin, Taylor, Nozick, Rawls, and others. Pre-requisites: Political Science 100, or Philosophy 110, or Philosophy 211, or consent of the instructor.
311. Metaethics (3)
In this course, we will examine fundamental issues in ethical theory. Our investigation will be guided by two central questions. First, are ethical judgments capable of being true or false? Second, if ethical judgments are capable of being true or false, what is it that makes them true if true or false if false? Theories to be discussed include divine command theory, ethical intuitionism, ethical naturalism, contractualism, cultural ethical relativism, individual ethical relativism, ethical constructivism, the error theory, emotivism, and prescriptivism. Readings may include Plato, Aristotle, Hobbes, Hume, Kant, Mill, Moore, Ross, Ayer, Hare, Rawls, Mackie, McDowell, and others. Pre-requisite: Philosophy 110 or Philosophy 211 or consent of the instructor.
381-384. Seminar in Philosophy (3)
Examination of the relationship between philosophy and various disciplines, topics and periods. Included are philosophies of aesthetics, mind, religion and education. Also, in-depth study of the ancient-medieval, modern and contemporary periods of philosophy, or in-depth study of a particular philosopher. Pre-requisite: Philosophy 110 or consent of instructor.
391, 392, 393, 394. Independent Study in Philosophy (1-3)
Pre-requisite: approval of subject by Department and consent of Department Chair.
400. Senior Thesis (3)
Senior philosophy majors will compose a thesis. The topic of the thesis will be chosen by the student in consultation with the advising philosophy department faculty member. The student will provide an oral defense of the thesis. The oral defense will be open to all philosophy department faculty members as well as all philosophy department majors and minors. Pre-requisite: senior standing and consent of Department Chair.