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Undergraduate Course Offerings

FALL 2018

For a complete listing of Undergraduate Philosophy courses, click here.

Course # Course Title Instructor Crosslisting/Meets
PHI 107        Theories/Knowledge & Reality - Lect. and 6 disc. Robert Van Gulick N / A
PHI 107 Theories/Knowledge & Reality - 6 ind. sects. 4 Senior TAs/PTIs N / A
PHI 109 Introduction to Philosophy (Honors) Mark Heller N / A
PHI 125 Political Theory - Lect. and 6 disc. David Morgan PSC 125
PHI 171 Critical Thinking Kevan Edwards N / A
PHI 175 Social & Political Philosophy - Lect. and 2 disc. David Sobel N / A
PHI 175 Social & Political Philosophy - 2 ind. sect. Pamela Ryan N / A
PHI 191 Ethics & Contemporary Issues Laurence Thomas N / A
PHI 192 Introduction to Moral Theory - Lect. and 4 disc. Hille Paakkunainen N / A
PHI 192 Introduction to Moral Theory - 4 ind. sect. Looney/Javier-Castellanos/Dauksz/Simmons  N / A
PHI 197 Human Nature - Lect. and 4 disc. Christopher Noble N / A
PHI 197 Human Nature - 3 ind. sect. Fortier/Ryan/Sethi N / A
PHI 251 Logic - Lect. and 6 disc. Mark Heller N / A
PHI 251 Logic - 1 ind. sect. Carolyn Garland N / A
PHI 293 Ethics and the Media Professions Paul Prescott N / A
PHI 297 Philosophy of Feminism Kara Richardson WGS 297
PHI 300 Philosophy of Race Luvell Anderson N / A
PHI 317 Social Contract Tradition Kara Richardson PSC 373
PHI 341 Philosophy of Religion Kristopher McDaniel N / A
PHI 342 Theories of the Self Ahmed Abdel Meguid REL 342
PHI 373 Philosophy of Science Kim Frost N / A
PHI 377 Philosophy of Psychology Kevan Edwards N / A
PHI 381 Metaphysics  Janice Dowell N / A
PHI 387 Epistemology Hille Paakkunainen N / A
PHI 391 History of Ethics Christopher Noble N / A
PHI 400 Selected Topics: Freedom and Self-Command Laurence Thomas PSC 400
PHI 417 Contemporary Political Philosophy Elizabeth Cohen PSC 382
PHI 451 Logic and Language Michael Rieppel N / A
PHI 593 Ethics & Health Professions Paul Prescott REL 551

Class Descriptions

PHI 107 - Theories of Knowledge & Reality

Students should enroll either in Lecture section (M100) (Instructor: Robert Van Gulick, TTH 11:00 - 11:55) + one of the discussion sections (M101-M106); OR in one of the 6 independent small class sections (M001-M006).  

An introduction to some of the main issues, theories and argumentsin the areas of philosophy concerned with knowledge (epistemology) and with fundamental and basic features of reality (metaphysics).  The course will have 4 equal units concerned with four core issues:

• the existence of God,                                                                                                                     

• the nature and limits of Knowledge,                                                                                         

• the relation of Mind & Matter (Mind-Body problem),                                                  

• the problem of Free Will.                                                                                                           

As well as providing an understanding of the philosophical theories and debates on those four topics, the course is intended to introduce students to the methods and skills of philosophical thinking and reasoning, both in evaluating the arguments of others and in constructing and defending arguments of one's own.


PHI 109 - Introduction to Philosophy (Honors)
Instructor:  Mark Heller
TTH  9:30 - 10:50
This course will familiarize students with the scope and methodology of contemporary analytic philosophy, as well as with a selection of major questions in the field. Such questions include: Does God exist? Is free will possible? What is the relationship between the mind and the brain? What, if anything, can we know with certainty? Course content will be drawn from an assortment of historical and contemporary works, with an aim towards illustrating both the historical development and the current state of the debates over these questions. This course is designated as writing intensive by the University, and students will be guided through the process of writing and revising an essay on a philosophical topic of their choosing.
PHI 125/PSC 125 - Political Theory
Instructor:  David Morgan
TTH  5:00 - 5:55

Justice is the central concept of Western political philosophy. This course examines five different perspectives on Justice:


(i)           the classical idea of Justice presented by “Socrates” in Plato’s Republic;

(ii)          the early modern social contract idea of justice presented by Thomas Hobbes in his Leviathan;

(iii)         the modern liberal idea of justice presented by John Stuart Mill in his books On Liberty and


(iv)         the contemporary (left-liberal) account of justice that informs John Rawls book, A Theory of

Justice; and finally

(v)          the contemporary (right-wing) libertarian idea of justice found in Robert Nozick’s

Anarchy, State, and Utopia.


PHI 171 - Critical Thinking

Instructor:   Kevan Edwards

TTH  12:30 - 1:50

This course is about basic analytical skills, including, but not limited to, the following:

(i) understanding some key ideas behind “formal” logical systems and the relationship between these and actual human reasoning;

(ii) reading and critically analyzing various kinds of texts;

(iii) recognizing and reproducing standard argument forms;

(iv)recognizing, criticizing, and avoiding various fallacies and missteps in reasoning;

(v)understanding and being able to think critically about different (putative) sources of information.


PHI 175 - Social & Political Philosophy

Students should enroll either in Lecture section (M100) (Instructor: David Sobel, MW 12:45-1:40) + one of the discussion sections (M101-M102); OR in the independent small class sections (M002).   

This is an introduction to Social and Political Philosophy. We will primarily be considering abstract questions about what, if anything, gives the government the right to rule, what the most just distribution of property would look like, the appropriate limits of government intervention into our lives, and similar issues. We will also spend a few weeks reading about mass incarceration and economic inequality in the US.

PHI 191 - Ethics & Contemporary Issue

Instructor:  Laurence Thomas

TTH - 12:30 - 1:50

This class will provide a background in general ethical theory, both about the content of morality and the status of morality.  Different ethical frameworks will be considered and critically assessed.  Additionally, that background will be used to help us address ethical issues of special contemporary concern.


PHI 192 - Introduction to Moral Theory

Students should enroll either in Lecture section (M100) (Instructor: Hille Paakkunainen, MW 11:40 - 12:35) + one of the discussion sections (M101-M106); OR in one of the 2 independent small class sections (M001-M004).  

This course is an introduction to major theories about moral rightness and wrongness, about virtue and vice, and about value and disvalue. We examine historically influential theories that continue to be of contemporary interest, such as utilitarian, Kantian, Aristotelian, and social contract theories. Along the way, we discuss the relationship between morality and self-interest, as well as a range of disputed moral issues, such as our duties to non-human animals, the obligations of the affluent towards the poor, and the ethics of radical human enhancement. We use both historical and contemporary readings.

Course goals: To enable students to (a) gain a basic understanding of major moral theories, and of their merits; (b) gain a firm understanding of core ethical concepts and distinctions; (c) gain a facility for independently grappling with ethical issues in an articulate and informed manner; and (d) gain improved critical reading and analytical writing skills.

Credit cannot be received for both PHI 192 and PHI 209.


PHI 197 - Human Nature

Students should enroll either in Lecture section (M100) (Instructor:  Christopher Noble, TTH 2:00 - 2:55) + one of the discussion sections (M101-M104), OR in one of the 2 independent small class section (M001-M003).

What are we? What does it mean to be human? Are we rational animals? What does that even mean? Are we free? What is freedom anyway? Do facts about human nature have consequences for how we ought to live? How could facts about human nature have such consequences? (How could they not?)

This course is a wide-ranging introduction to key texts about human nature drawn mostly from the Western philosophical tradition. We will read historical texts by Plato, Aristotle, Mill, Freud, Marx, Sartre, and Russell. We will also read some more contemporary texts by Nozick , the Dalai Lama, Kahneman, Fine, Nussbaum and Le Guin. You will learn how to read philosophical texts drawn from different periods of history, how to identify philosophical arguments, and how to critically evaluate and construct philosophical arguments.


PHI 251 - Logic

Students should enroll either in Lecture section (M100) (Instructor: Mark Heller, TTH  2:00 - 2:55) + one of the discussion sections (M101-M106), OR in the independent small section (M001).

In a good deductive argument the conclusion follows from the premises.  But what exactly does this involve?  Logic aims to answer that question by giving a mathematically precise account of the relation of logical consequence.  In this course we will study three increasingly complex systems of logic: sentential logic, monadic predicate logic, and first-order logic.  We will learn how to represent the logical forms of English arguments, and then develop a semantics as well as a system of natural deduction in each system to determine the validity of arguments given such formal representations.  Upon completing the course students will be familiar with basic model- and proof-theoretic concepts and techniques, and be able to apply them to analyze and evaluate natural language arguments.


PHI 293 - Ethics & The Media Professions

Instructor:  Paul Prescott

TTH  5:00 - 5:55

Ethics and the Media Professions is an introduction to the ethical issues raised by the entertainment media, including television, radio, film, music, graphics, and photography. The goal of the course is to provide students with the resources and background required to recognize, navigate, and constructively respond to the ethical challenges confronted by entertainment media professionals.


PHI 297.M001/WGS 297 - Philosophy of Feminism

Instructor:  Kara Richardson

TTh  2:00 - 3:20 

Philosophical analysis of feminist accounts of oppression, the causes of and remedies for women’s subordinate status, gender, sexual consent and sexual assault. Authors will include Simone de Beauvoir, Marilyn Frye, Sandra Bartky, bell hooks, Catharine MacKinnon, Combahee River Collective, Barbara Smith, Alicia Garza, Virginia Valian, Sally Haslanger, Kate Manne, Judith Butler, Susan Stryker, Talia Bettcher, Jack Halberstam, Sarah Conly and Scott Anderson.


PHI 300 - Selected Topics: Philosophy of Race

Instructor:  Luvell Anderson

TTH  2:00 - 3:20

What does it mean to say that race is a social construct? Isn’t there some biological basis for the physical differences that result in the various people groups? What is white supremacy supposed to be about? And why should anyone think that has anything to do with racial inequality? These are some of the questions this course will examine. In this course, I will take us through some of the main philosophical discussions about race and its role in our lives. The goal of the course is two-fold: (1) to gain understanding of some of the basic concepts and arguments about the history, nature, epistemology, cognition, politics, and aesthetics of race, and (2) to develop analytic tools to help discern the often-unrevealed assumptions about race people rely on in everyday activities.


PHI 317/PSC 373 - Social Contract Tradition

Instructor:  Kara Richardson

TTH  9:30 - 10:50

Philosophical analysis of social contract theories and their critics. Authors will include Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Thomas Paine, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, John Rawls, Susan Moller Okin, Carole Pateman, Charles Mills, Elizabeth Anderson, Tommie Shelby, Philippe Van Parijs and Yannick Vanderborght.


PHI 341 - Philosophy of Religion

Instructor:  Kristopher McDaniel

MW  12:45 - 2:05

What must a being be like in order to be a God? Is there a God? To what extent can these and other questions be determined by philosophical reasoning? These will be the main questions we will explore in this class. 


PHI 342/REL 342 - Theories of the Self

Instructor:  Ahmed Abdel Meguid

MW  3:45 - 5:05

The inquiry into human nature and the meaning of the self is one of the key questions in the history of philosophy and religious thinking alike. On the one hand, it constitutes the subject matter of one of the primary fields of research in philosophy, namely, philosophical anthropology. On the other hand, the notion of the meaning of the self lies at the core of some of the most fundamental questions and concepts of religious thinking, including: the relation between the human and the divine, the problem of identity, and the relation between religion, ethics, and social norms.

This course is a comparative study of how the questions of self and selfhood have been approached by key philosophical and religious traditions. Through this survey, we will investigate how philosophy has influenced religious and spiritual insights into human nature and how it has been influenced by religion in turn. In this vein, we will touch on the longstanding question of the relation between faith and reason, particularly with regard to questions of human nature. Our comparative approach will be both thematic and historical. It will be thematic inasmuch as we will trace the main themes pertaining to the way the meaning of the self has been addressed in philosophical and religious thought. It will also be historical inasmuch as it will trace how these themes have been depicted in various religions and by key religious and philosophical thinkers.

We will start with Greek antiquity and late antiquity; in this section of the course we will focus on three key schools: the Platonic, the Aristotelian and the harmonization of both in Neo-Platonism. We will then turn to medieval Islamic thought at the height of Islamic civilization exploring how philosophers and mystical philosophers approached human naturee. Next we will turn to the birth of modern Cartesian subjectivity in reaction to medieval Christian scholasticism. Subsequently, we turn to the 18thcentury enlightenment and the Kantian transcendental project that not only attempted to harmonize rationalism with empiricism but also furnished the ground for key ethical and political theories associated with modern protestant liberalism. We will finally turn to early 20thcentury phenomenology and existentialism tracing its critique of early modern and enlightenment theories of human nature in the work of Martin Heidegger and Michel Foucault.  


PHI 373 - Philosophy of Science

Instructor:  Kim Frost

TTH  3:30 - 4:50

The success of scientific inquiry is remarkable and shapes contemporary life in remarkably pervasive ways. In this course we will investigate the foundational concepts that define scientific inquiry and reflect on what the success of science consists in. Questions we shall discuss include the following: What is a law of nature? Does scientific inquiry provide us with fundamental knowledge of the structure of reality or something less grand than that? What counts as “science” as opposed to “pseudo-science” and why? What is a scientific theory, and how should we think of the relationship between theory and evidential confirmation (or disconfirmation)? What presuppositions (if any) about the nature of evidence do all scientific inquiries share? What counts as a better or worse scientific explanation and why? Are some scientific explanations more fundamental than others, and if so, does that mean they are better?


PHI 377 - Philosophy of Psychology

Instructor:  Kevan Edwards

TTH  3:30 - 4:50

This course is about issues in the philosophical foundations of cognitive psychology.  Part of the course will cover some philosophical background, including some (mostly relatively recent) history of relevant philosophical ideas. We will then move on to discussing some specific topics. Potential topics include but are not limited to the following: “classical” versus connectionist models of cognition, theories about mental content (or meaning), the modularity of mind, the language of thought hypothesis, nativism, the extended mind hypothesis, the relationship between perception and cognition. We will also spend time at various points in the semester talking about philosophical methods and motivations.


PHI 381 - Metaphysics

Instructor:  Janice Dowell

TTH  11:00 - 12:20

This course is an advanced introduction to metaphysics.  We will focus on several related questions:

  1. What is essential to a living being?
  2. Which properties must a living being retain in order to continue to exist?
  3. Could there be more than one living being in the exact same place at the exact same time?
  4. What makes a person the person that they are?
  5. Which properties, if any, does a person have essentially?
  6. What is the relationship between our concepts and what there is?
  7. What is the nature of our racial concepts and categories? Are racial categories real? If they are real, do members have their membership essentially? If they are real, are they natural or social categories?
  8. What should our racial concepts be?


PHI 387 - Epistemology

Instructor:  Hille Paakkunainen

MW  3:45 - 5:05

In everyday life, we constantly rely on beliefs about how the world works, on beliefs about ourselves and other people, and even on beliefs about abstract topics such as mathematics. We do so in order to get around, to get along with people, to build things—and sometimes just in order to figure out what further things to believe. In doing so, we assume that we know, or can know, many things; and that we can and do acquire justified and true beliefs about many topics. 

Epistemology is the systematic study of knowledge and its sources, of the standards for justified belief, and of related topics. What is knowledge and how may we come to have it? What is it for our beliefs to be justified or warranted? How, if at all, do our practical concerns and social interactions affect what we are justified in believing? What is it to form and hold beliefs responsibly? What’s the distinctive value of knowledge, beyond merely true or justified belief? Should we give up or modify our beliefs when other, equally competent inquirers disagree with us? What is epistemic injustice and how to avoid it?

Course prerequisites: PHI 107 or two philosophy courses.


PHI 391 - History of Ethics

Instructor:  Christopher Noble

MW  8:00 - 9:20

In this course, we will study the foundational texts of several major ethical theories (Consequentialism, Deontology, Virtue Ethics, Contractualism, Moral Sense Theory) together with some more recent adaptions and criticisms of these theories. Among the questions we will discuss are: What sorts of actions are morally good or bad, and what principles determine the moral value of actions? What justifications can be offered for an ethical theory, and how do we decide between competing theories? How demanding should an ethical theory be, and should it allow for partiality to ourselves or loved ones? Are ethical truths universal or do they depend on our historical or political circumstances? 


PHI 400 - Selected Topics: Freedom and Self-Command

Instructor:  Laurence Thomas

TTH  5:00 - 6:20

It is held by many that freedom is at its very best when individuals have the self‐command to do the right thing. The idea of self‐command was introduced by Adam Smith. And we will begin with a discussion ofSmith’s very, engaging idea.


PHI 417/PSC 382 - Contemporary Political Philosophy

Instructor:  Elizabeth Cohen

TTH  11:00 - 12:20

This course will focus on a set of social and political problems that political theorists, policy makers and citizens have grappled with since the dawn of modernity.  We will explore questions such as: what is the nature of power?  How does it manifest itself in our lives?  How do we experience it both as individual citizens and members of groups? Though abstract in style, the readings will address and be applied to problems familiar to average citizens. Each week’s readings will be accompanied by a discussion of contemporary political quandaries that are relevant to the subjects at hand.  In this way, we can explore the ways in which political theory is salient all of our lives. 


PHI 451 - Logic and Language

Instructor:  Michael Rieppel

TTH  9:30 - 10:50

The aim of this course is to provide students with a background in various concepts, methods, and results from mathematical logic that are of philosophical importance. Topics that we will cover include basic set theory, topics in the model- and proof-theory of propositional logic, first-order logic, and modal logic, and applications of formal techniques to the study of meaning in natural language.

This course is open to both undergraduate and graduate students, and will move at a fairly rapid pace. Undergraduates must have taken PHI 251 or an equivalent introductory logic course; additional background in logic, mathematics, or relevant areas of philosophy is beneficial.


PHI 593/REL 551 - Ethics & Health Professions

Instructor:  Paul Prescott

W  4:30 - 7:30

Ethics and the Health Professions is a graduate-level seminar on the ethical dimensions of healthcare. The goal of the course is to provide students with opportunities to discern philosophical fundamentals in various healthcare contexts. Topics range from the professional patient relationship to the political economy of healthcare on a global scale.