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Undergraduate Course Offerings

FALL 2017

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

Course # Course Title Instructor Crosslisting/Meets
PHI 107        Theories/Knowledge & Reality - Lec. and 6 disc. Robert Van Gulick N / A
PHI 107 Theories/Knowledge & Reality - 6 ind. sects. 6 Senior TAs/PTIs N / A
PHI 109 Introduction to Philosophy (Honors) André Gallois N / A
PHI 125 Political Theory - Lect. and 6 disc. David Morgan PSC 125
PHI 175 Social & Political Philosophy - Lect. and 2 disc. Kim Frost N / A
PHI 175 Social & Political Philosophy - 2 ind. sect. Pamela Ryan/Nicole Fortier N / A
PHI 191 Ethics & Contemporary Issues David Sobel N / A
PHI 192 Intro. to Moral Theory - Lect. and 4 disc. Hille Paakkunainen N / A
PHI 192 Intro. to Moral Theory - 4 ind. sect. 4 Senior TAs/PTIs N / A
PHI 197 Human Nature - Lect. and 4 disc. Christopher Noble N / A
PHI 197 Human Nature - 3 ind. sect. Neelam Sethi + 2 TA/PTIs  N / A
PHI 251 Logic - Lect. and 6 disc. Michael Rieppel N / A
PHI 251 Logic - 1 ind. section Hamed Shirmohammadi N / A
PHI 293 Ethics & the Media Professions Paul Prescott N / A
PHI 297 Philosophy of Feminism Kara Richardson WGS 297
PHI 341 Philosophy of Religion Kristopher McDaniel N / A
PHI 373 Philosophy of Science Kim Frost N / A
PHI 376 Philosophy of Mind André Gallois N / A
PHI 381 Metaphysics Robert Muckle N / A
PHI 393 Contemporary Ethics Lorenza D'Angelo N / A
PHI 397 Philosophy of Law Nathaniel Sharadin N / A
PHI 398 Medical Ethics Samuel Gorovitz N / A
PHI 400 Selected Topics: Freedom Identity & Social Worth  Laurence Thomas N / A
PHI 417 Contemporary Political Philosophy Elizabeth Cohen PSC 382
PHI 451 Logic and Language Michael Rieppel N / A
PHI 575 Philosophy of Social Science Kenneth Baynes N / A
PHI 593 Ethics and 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 (M0101-M106); OR in one of the 6 independent small class sections (M001-M006).  

COURSE TOPIC:   An introduction to some of the main issues, theories and arguments in 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.

Two lecture meetings & one discussion section weekly. Midterm & Final examtwo essays.  Satisfies Liberal Art Core, writing intensive course requirement.


PHI 109 - Introduction to Philosophy (Honors)
Instructor:  André Gallois
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
This class provides an introduction to two basic political questions: (i) What is justice? (ii) what is the role of the government in enforcing justice?.  To answer these two questions, we examine two great texts of the western political tradition—two texts that all educated people must know—Plato’s Republic and John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty. We will also read Michael Sandel’s What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets.  In reading Sandel’s text, we will discuss such questions as: Should US Citizenship be for sale? Should women be allowed to sell their eggs?  Should we be allowed to sell our kidneys?  

PHI 175 - Social & Political Philosophy

Students should enroll either in Lecture section (M100) (Instructor: Kim Frost, MW 12:45 - 1:40) + one of the discussion sections (M0101-M102); OR in one of the 2 independent small class sections (M001-M002). 

Social and Political Philosophy will focus on issues concerning what, if anything, gives governments the right to rule, what a just government would look like, and how benefits and burdens ought to be distributed in society.  We will read classic and contemporary sources.

PHI 191 - Ethics & Contemporary Issue

Instructor:  David Sobel

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 10:40 - 12:35) + one of the discussion sections (M101-M106); OR in one of the 4 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 3 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: Michael Rieppel, 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 media, including television, radio, film, 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 faced by entertainment media professionals. Toward that end, the course focuses on three interrelated topics:

1.       Ethical concepts and methods, including traditional views about ethical standards and how they should be determined.

2.       Specific areas where ethical issues arise for the entertainment media: including the portrayal of sex and violence; the representation of race, class, and gender; and the ethical implications of digital technology.

3.       Questions concerning personal, professional, and institutional responsibility, and the ethical challenges of professional life.

The course is open to Newhouse students only.


PHI 297.M001/WGS 297 - Philosophy of Feminism

Instructor:  Kara Richardson

TTh  2:00 - 2:55

This course introduces students to feminist philosophy in three parts:

  • § Major arguments from first, second and third wave feminism.
  • § What is sex? What is gender? How is gender similar to and different from race?
  • § What is oppression? What is distinctive about women's oppression? How can we end it?

Authors will include Mary Wollstonecraft, John Stuart Mill, Sojourner Truth, Simone de Beauvoir, Marilyn Frye, Audre Lorde, bell hooks, Kathleen Hanna, Anne Fausto Sterling, Emily Martin, Judith Butler, Ian Hacking, K. Anthony Appiah, Sally Haslanger, Julia Serrano, Virginia Valian, Barbara Ehrenreich, Iris Marion Young and Martha Nussbaum.

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? What is the nature of human beings? What are the prospects for post-mortem existence? To what extent can these and related questions be answered by philosophical reasoning? These will be the main questions we will explore in this class.  ​


PHI 373 - Philosophy of Science

Instructor:  Kim Frost

MW  8:00 - 9:20

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? Assessment by two exams, one short paper, regular reading questions, attendance and participation.


PHI 376 - Philosophy of Mind

Instructor:  André Gallois

TTH  8:0 - 9:20

We will be examining different views about the nature of the mind. A central topic will the relationship between the mind and the physical world. Following Descartes some hold that the mind is a non-physical entity. Others hold that the mind is part of the physical world. In much of the course we will be looking at different ways in which the view, known as physicalism, that the mind is a purely physical phenomenon, has been defended. We will also be looking contemporary arguments against physicalism. In addition, we will be investigating the following: how we can know what is going on in our own minds, how what takes place in the mind causes things to happen in the physical world, the nature of consciousness.


PHI 381 - Metaphysics

Instructor:  Robert Muckle

MW  3:45 - 5:05

In this course, we will cover a variety of topics metaphysical through the lens of the Puzzles of Material Constitution. One puzzle goes roughly like this:  It seems as though The David and the lump of marble which make him up (call it Lump) are but one thing. However, were someone to topple over The David it seems as though he would cease to exist – the statue being destroyed. Lump, on the other hand, still seems to be there, albeit scattered. Since their properties are different (Lump survives being knocked over, The David does not) they seem to be numerically distinct but share exactly the same location. Weird.

Answers to this puzzle will take us all over metaphysics: we will discuss the nature of properties, how objects persist over time, whether spacetime is three- or four-dimensional, and what the nature of necessity and possibility are.

PHI 393 - Contemporary Ethics

Instructor:  Lorenza D'Angelo

MW  2:15 - 3:35

In this course we will work through a number of important articles published in the second half of the 20th century that are representative of contemporary work in the traditions of utilitarianism, Kantian ethics, and virtue theory. Each of these articles has been important in shaping and contributing to central open questions in moral philosophy, such as: Are the good consequences of an action sufficient to make it morally right? What sort of motives are involved in acting well? Can we rightly be held responsible for actions not under our control? What is the relation between being morally virtuous and living well? The material is challenging, and the course presupposes at least some familiarity with the tools and methods of philosophy.

PHI 397 - Philosophy of Law

Instructor:  Nathaniel Sharadin

TTH  9:30 - 10:50

This course will address a range of philosophical questions surrounding the law, including: Who should we punish and why? How much punishment does crime deserve? What sorts of excuses count as excuses for failing to obey the law? Is there a moral duty to obey the law? When, if ever, is civil disobedience morally permissible? Is it undemocratic for politically unaccountable actors (e.g., certain sorts of judges) to make judgments that have the force of law? What's the role of prisons in the criminal law? Are all laws coercive? Are laws that have racist or sexist outcomes but not racist or sexist intent morally problematic? What's the proper role of the courts in protecting minority rights? In coming to grips with these (and other) questions, we'll read a range of both philosophical and popular texts, and we'll sometimes supplement these with other forms of media, including podcasts and film.


PHI 398 - Medical Ethics

Instructor:  Samuel Gorovitz

MWF  9:30 - 10:25

We will examine various ethical problems that arise in medicine, health care, and health policy -- such issues as arise in regard to technically assisted reproduction, physician-assisted suicide, genetic testing, making health care decisions for those who lack competence, obligations to the frail elderly, neonatal intensive care, equity in access to health care, and the like. Some of the issues will be addressed by studying relevant legal cases or clinical case studies. There will be quizzes, examinations, and short essays. Active participation in discussions in class is required.

PHI 400 - Selected Topics:  Freedom Identity & Social Worth

Instructor:  Laurence Thomas

TTH  5:00 - 6:20

What are the signs that a human being has a clear sense of social worth?  What are the signs that a human being lacks a clear sense of social worth?  What factors play a major role in a human being come to have a clear sense of social worth?  What factors play a substantial role in a human being lacking or coming to lack a clear sense of social worth? 

Course Requirements: There are two options.  Essays can be submitted or quizzes can be taken.


PHI 417/PSC 382 - Contemporary Political Philosophy

Instructor:  Elizabeth Cohen

TTH  11:00 - 12:20

Contemporary contractualist, rights-based, and communitarian theories of social justice.  (From SU Course Catalog)


PHI 451- Logic and Language

Instructor:  Michael Rieppel

TTH  9:30 - 10:50

The aim of this course is to provide students with a broad background in various concepts, methods, and results from mathematical logic that are of philosophical importance.  Topics that we will cover include basic set theory, model and proof theory of propositional and first-order logic, modal logic, and applications of formal techniques to the study of meaning in natural language.  This course is double-numbered with PHI 651, and has PHI 251 as a pre-requisite.  If you are unsure whether you have the preparation necessary for this course, please contact Prof. Rieppel.


PHI 575 - Philosophy of Social Science

Instructor:  Kenneth Baynes

TTH  2:00 - 3:20

This course offers an advanced survey of current debates about the methodology and aims of the social sciences. It will include discussion of such topics as the relationship between the natural and social sciences; the relationship between explanation and understanding; the relationship between the individual and larger social structures and institutions; the problems of rationality and relativism; and alternative approaches to the study of society, social norms and conduct (e.g. rational choice theory, interpretivism, functionalism, evolutionary psychology, feminist theory and social constructivism).

PHI 593/REL 551 - Ethics & Health Professions

Instructor:  Paul Prescott

W  4:30 - 7:30

Ethical theories in professional, organizational, and political-economic fields in health care. Specific issues: assisted suicide, professional codes, ethics of "cost- cutting" and justice with respect to care.