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Undergraduate Course Offerings

SPRING 2019

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

Course # Course Title Instructor Crosslisting/Meets
PHI 107        Theories/Knowledge & Reality - Lect. and 8 disc. Janice Dowell N / A
PHI 107 Theories/Knowledge & Reality - 6 ind. sects. 6 Senior TAs/PTIs N / A
PHI 109 Introduction to Philosophy (Honors) Kevan Edwards N / A
PHI 125 Political Theory - Lect. and 4 disc. David Morgan PSC 125
PHI 175

Social & Political Philosophy - Lect. and 2 disc.

Neelam Sethi/Pamela Ryan N / A
PHI 191 Ethics & Contemporary Issues James Lee N / A
PHI 192 Introduction to Moral Theory - Lect. and 4 disc. David Sobel N / A
PHI 192 Introduction to Moral Theory - 2 ind. sect. Yaojun Lu/Pamela Ryan N / A
PHI 197 Human Nature - Lect. and 6 disc. Kim Frost N / A
PHI 197 Human Nature - 2 ind. sect. Simmons/Dauksz N / A
PHI 200.1 Philosophy of Film Christopher Noble N / A
PHI 200.103 Chinese Philosophy Paul Prescott N / A
PHI 251 Logic - Lect. and 6 disc. Mark Heller N / A
PHI 251 Logic - 3 ind. sect. Shirmohammadi/Javier-Castellanos/Looney N / A
PHI 293 Ethics and the Media Professions Paul Prescott N / A
PHI 300.2 Sel. Topics-Islamic Philosophy of Science Ahmed Abdel Meguid REL 300
PHI 307 Ancient Philosophy Christopher Noble N / A
PHI 308 Classic Islamic Philosophy Kara Richardson N / A
PHI 321 20th Century Theories Kristopher McDaniel N / A
PHI 325 Existentialism Gregg Lambert N / A
PHI 363 Ethics & International Relations David Morgan PSC 363
PHI 378 Minds and Machines Joseph Hedger N / A
PHI 393 Contemporary Ethics Nicole Fortier N / A
PHI 395 Philosophy of Arts William Osborne N / A
PHI 396 Stem Cells and Society Paakkunainen/Erdman BIO 396/REL 359
PHI 398 Medical Ethics Samuel Gorovitz N / A
PHI 400.1 Sel. Topics-Philosophy and Psychiatry Kim Frost N / A
PHI 400.2 Sel. Topics-Language and Society Luvell Anderson N / A
PHI 401 Seminar for Philosophy Majors - Death William Bradley N / A
PHI 417 Contemporary Political Philosophy Kenneth Baynes PSC 382
PHI 418 Hegel, Marx & Nietzsche Kenneth Baynes N / A
PHI 422 20th Century French/German Philosophy Gregg Lambert N / A
PHI 427 Enlightenment: Between European West and Islam Ahmed Abdel Meguid REL 461

Class Descriptions

PHI 107 - Theories of Knowledge & Reality

Students should enroll either in Lecture section (M002) (Instructor: Janice Dowell, MW 11:40 - 12:35) + one of the discussion sections (M003-M012); OR in one of the 6 independent small class sections (M101-M107).

This course is an introduction to important areas of inquiry in the history of analytic philosophy.  These areas include addressing the questions:

  • What can we know and how can we know it?
  • What is the nature of the mind? How is the mind related to the body?
  • Is the mind identical to the body or distinct from it?
  • What makes me, me and you, you?
  • Can we survive the destruction of our bodies?
  • Do we have free will? 
  • What is the relationship between free will and moral responsibility?

PHI 109 - Introduction to Philosophy (Honors)
Instructor:  Kevan Edwards
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:

  1. the classical idea of Justice presented by “Socrates” in Plato’s Republic;
  2. the early modern social contract idea of justice presented by Thomas Hobbes in his Leviathan;
  3. the modern liberal idea of justice presented by John Stuart Mill in his books On Liberty and Utilitarianism;
  4. the contemporary (left-liberal) account of justice that informs John Rawls book, A Theory of Justice; and finally
  5. the contemporary (right-wing) libertarian idea of justice found in Robert Nozick’s Anarchy, State, and Utopia.

PHI 175 - Social & Political Philosophy

Students should enroll in one of the independent small class sections (M001, M003).   

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:  James Lee
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 (M101) (Instructor: David Sobel, MW 10:35 - 11:30) + one of the discussion sections (M102-M105); OR in one of the 2 independent small class sections (M001-M003).  

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:  Kim Frost, TTH 12:30 - 1:25) + one of the discussion sections (M101-M106), OR in one of the 2 independent small class section (M001-M002).

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 200.M001 - Selected Topics - Philosophy of Film
Instructor:  Christopher Noble
TTH  3:30 - 4:50

Can we know that the world we experience is real, and that there is a mind-independent reality? What makes someone the same person over time? Do we have good reasons to believe in the existence of God? What does it take for an action to be free, and are human beings ever truly free agents? Is dying something that is bad for us, and would we be better off if we could live forever? In this course we will explore these and related questions with the help of films and classic and contemporary philosophical texts that engage with the topics of Skepticism, Personal Identity, Philosophy of Religion, Free Will, and Death and Immortality. 

PHI 200.M103 - Selected Topics - Chinese Philosophy
Instructor:  Paul Prescott
TTH  2:00 - 3:20

Chinese Philosophy is an introduction to the major schools of philosophical thought in Ancient China (ca. 600—221 BCE). Topics include Ruism (or “Confucianism”), Moism, Legalism, the precursors of Daoism, and the Yijing (or Book of Changes). The course also attends to East-West comparative thought, and to the relevance of Chinese philosophy for the contemporary world.

 

PHI 251 - Logic

Students should enroll either in Lecture section (M001) (Instructor: Mark Heller, MW  2:15 - 3:10) + one of the discussion sections (M002-M009), OR in one of the independent small sections (M102-M104).

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 300/REL 300 M002 - Selected Topics - Islamic Philosophy of Science
Instructor:  Ahmed Abdel Meguid
TH  11:00 - 12:20

Is religion always in conflict with science and scientific reason? Does religion always have to be based on an irrational/affective leap of faith? What if religion is rational? Can such a rational religion inspire paradigmatic shifts in our conception of science or does religion, even if it is rational, have to be confined to morality as most modern Western thinkers like Spinoza, Leibniz and Kant argued? In this course we will explore the Islamic responses to these critical questions. We will examine how Islam advanced radically different positions on the relationship between religion and scientific inquiry from Christianity, whether in its classical Catholic/Scholastic formulation or in its modern Protestant/Enlightenment formulation? Our approach will be mainly thematic rather than historical. We will focus on four main problems that are central to any system of scientific thinking: 1) scientific methodology and problems of induction; 2) key scientific concepts: substances, particles and principles of individuation, properties and powers; 3) problems concerning laws of nature (nomological claims) and the foundation of their claims; 4) Problems concerning scientific justification and explanation. We will start tackling each theme by initially considering general introductions from classical Greek and contemporary analytical philosophy of science alike. We will then turn to the leading Muslim philosophers who tackled these themes considering figures from the classical period (from 9th through the early 13th century) and post-classical period (from the 13th through the late 18th century) alike. This approach will enable us to appreciate the uniqueness and innovativeness of the Muslim philosophers’ positions and how certain rational religious commitments led them to maintain these perspectives.

 

PHI 307 - Ancient Philosophy
Instructor:  Christopher Noble
MW  3:45 - 5:05

In this course we will discuss the ideas and arguments of some of the major ancient Greek philosophers. Topics will include the pre-Socratic origins of cosmological speculation, the beginning of philosophical ethics with Socrates, Plato’s moral theory and epistemology, and Aristotle’s ethics, philosophy of nature, and metaphysics. The course will end with a brief survey of philosophical developments in the Hellenistic and post-Hellenistic periods. 

PHI 308 - Classic Islamic Philosophy
Instructor:  Kara Richardson
TTH  12:30 - 1:50

An introduction to some major philosophical debates in the classical period of Islamic thought (9th-12th centuries) organized around five themes: psychology, physics, metaphysics, action and freedom, and the relationship between philosophy and religion. Authors to be studied will include Al-Farabi, Ibn Sina (Avicenna), Al-Ghazali, Ibn Tufayl and Ibn Rushd (Averroes).

 

PHI 321 - 20th Century Theories
Instructor:  Kristopher McDaniel
MW  12:45 - 2:05

We will examine some of the major developments and intellectual movements of 20th century analytic philosophy, with a special focus on topics in metaphysics, epistemology, and philosophy of language.

PHI 325 - Existentialism
Instructor:  Gregg Lambert
TTH  2:00 - 3:20

Foregoing it’s 19th Century literary and philosophical predecessors (Kierkegaard, Nietzsche,
Dostoyevsky, Kafka) in this course we will define Existentialism primarily as a response to the
early phenomenological writings of Martin Heidegger by post-war French philosopher Jean-Paul
Sartre who, in turn, influenced the “black existentialist” responses by African and Caribbean
writers such as Frantz Fanon, George Lamming, Wilson Harris, etc.

In the first half of the semester, we will explore this lineage through a close reading of key texts: Heidegger’s Being and Time and Sartre’s Being and Nothingness. In the second part of the course, we will turn to Sartre’s and Simone de Beauvoir’s defense of Existentialism as a Humanism; Albert Camus’ novels The Stranger and the Fall; and The Wretched of the Earth by Algerian activist and psychiatrist, Frantz Fanon.

 

PHI 363/PSC 363 - Ethics & International Relations
Instructor:  David Morgan
TTH  6:30 - 7:50

We will pursue the topic of ethics and international relations in the context of a variety of practical political issues, including: (i) war; (ii) terrorism; (iii) immigration; and (iv) global inequality.  An enduring theme will be the challenge posed by so-called “realists”—or advocates of “realpolitik”—who hold that morality has no place in the regulation of a state’s foreign policy. We will begin the class, however, with a detailed study of two of the great texts of classical realism” Thucydides, The Peloponnesian Warand Machiavelli’s The Prince.  

 

PHI 378 - Minds and Machines
Instructor:  Joseph Hedger
TTH  12:30 - 1:50

This course will examine philosophical issues in the foundations of Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Science. We will read primary sources, mostly by philosophers in the Analytic tradition, but also some philosophical writings by scientists and mathematicians who played key roles in creating the fields of Artificial Intelligence and Robotics.


Some questions and themes we will explore include the following: What does it mean to think? Can animals think? Can machines think? What is the best way to model human thinking in a computer program? Can thinking be a process of symbol manipulation? Do our minds extend beyond our brains and into our iPhones? Is the human mind a general all-purpose mechanism, or a modular hodge-podge of specialized mechanisms slapped together through the process of natural selection? Can a machine be conscious? Is consciousness necessary for human-like intelligence? If a robot or other machine (e.g. computer-controlled car or weapon) does something immoral, who is responsible? If you downloaded your mind into a robot, would it still be you? What will happen to human beings once AI becomes “super intelligent”? The Turing Test; connectionism; Artificial Life and robotics; “Folk Psychology” and mental causation; Artificial intelligence and ethics; The Singularity; and the Extended Mind thesis. We will also incorporate current events where relevant.

 

PHI 393 - Contemporary Ethics
Instructor:  Nicole Fortier
TTH  11:00 - 12:20

This course is intended as an introductory examination of ethics and its application to contemporary issues. We will be discussing, amongst other topics, mass incarceration, abortion, affirmative action, redistribution, non-human animal welfare, and environmental ethics.

 

PHI 395 - Philosophy of Art
Instructor:  William Osborne
MW  3:45 - 5:05

The history of the philosophy of art is a varied tale. The very idea of “art” doesn’t appear to be entirely stable, or at least the understanding of it has shifted depending on historical context. It might well be that there is an essential, defining aspect of what makes something art, and we’ve lost sight of that at different times. But it also might be the case that there is something more fluid going on with the use of the term “art”. It’s not entirely clear which view is correct. But according to anthropologists, there appears to be something at least roughly universal about human culture and creativity, something that human groups tend to do, something that for our purposes we can call “art”. Once we’ve got a sense of the subject matter, though, then a whole host of questions arise, such as how an artwork relates to the artist, other artworks, forgeries, its audience, society, the government—let alone how it relates to the stuff it’s made of. Parsing through these questions and getting clear on the subject matter while considering classic and contemporary viewpoints as it relates to our aesthetic lives is what it is to do philosophy of art. 

PHI 396/BIO 396/REL 359 - Stem Cells and Society
Instructors:  Paakkunainen/Erdman
MWF  10:35 - 11:30

This is a 3-credit course that will meet three times a week for lectures and discussion. Each class session may include a combination of lecture segments, group and individual work, and discussions with the entire class, with some sessions dedicated more to lecture, others for discussion. The course covers some of the central scientific, ethical, religious, and social issues surrounding the research and use of stem cell technologies, including discussion of the media coverage surrounding stem cell science.

The course is team-taught by Instructors with expertise in the relevant science, ethical, religious, and media issues. Students will gain requisite knowledge of these topics as well as acquiring skills for identifying and critically addressing the complex issues raised by stem cell research and uses.

 

PHI 398 - Medical Ethics
Instructor:  Samuel Gorovitz
MW  3:45 - 5:05

We will examine various ethical problems 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 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. There is no textbook.

 

PHI 400 M001 - Selected Topics: Philosophy and Psychiatry
Instructor:  Kim Frost
MW  2:15 - 3:35

In this class we will examine how philosophy of mind, philosophy of science, and ethics apply to a host of complex, interrelated questions about psychiatry. Questions we shall address include: what is the nature of mental health, and mental illness? Is mental illness a biochemical, psychological or social kind (or some mix of these)? What roles do values play in the definition and classification of kinds of mental illness? In what sense is the patient’s point of view important for the definition, nature, and treatment of mental illness? In what sense (if any) is psychiatry a field of scientific research? In what sense (if any) is psychiatry a form of social control? What do various psychiatric treatment and research programs assume about the nature of the mind? Are the assumptions clearly correct? How do categories like mental health and mental illness relate to categories like autonomy and (moral; legal) responsibility? (How do we answer complex, interrelated questions like these?)

 

PHI 400 M002 - Selected Topics:  Language and Society
Instructor:  Luvell Anderson
TTH  11:00 - 12:20

In this course, we will think about the various factors that shape and influence our particular ways of speaking, and the relationship between ways of speaking and the structuring of our societies. Traditional philosophies of language tend to focus on how classes of terms come to have the meanings we attribute to them, e.g. proper names, indexical terms, natural kind terms, determiner phrases, etc. But seldom do those philosophies speak about the broader conditions in which natural language discourse takes place. Instead of taking a narrow scope with respect to language, we will broaden our horizons, investigating the import of things like social identity, power relations, and language ideologies for how we come to think of the world.

 

PHI 401 - Seminar for Philosophy Majors: Death
Instructor:  William Bradley
TTH  2:00 - 3:20

Death raises many interesting questions in ethics and metaphysics.  Among those we will discuss are:  What is death? Do people continue to exist after death? What do we care about in surviving? Is death bad for the one who dies?  What determines how bad someone’s death is for her? What is the relationship between the badness of death and the wrongness of killing? What are our obligations to the dead? What attitudes or emotions should we have towards death? Does life have meaning, and is meaningfulness threatened by death

Since this is a majors seminar, the course will largely be focused on the development of important philosophical skills, including the ability to extract an argument from a philosophical text and explain it in clear, jargon-free language, and the ability to sustain a line of argument over several pages.  You will do a substantial amount of independent research, and will write a lengthy term paper that incorporates this research. Class participation will be emphasized, in the form of attendance, contributing to discussion, asking questions, and giving a class presentation.

PHI 417/PSC 382 - Contemporary Political Philosophy
Instructor:  Kenneth Baynes
TTH  11:00 - 12:20

TBA

PHI 418 - Hegel, Marx & Nietzsche
Instructor:  Kenneth Baynes
TTH  12:30 - 1:50

This course will examine the ideas of the three most influential European philosophers of the 19thcentury whose ideas continue to shape much contemporary thought. We will begin with Hegel’s charge (in the Phenomenology of Spirit) that Kant’s conception of transcendental philosophy is insufficiently historical and thus “dogmatic”.  Marx in turn criticized Hegel’s idealism as an inversion of the relation between thought and reality.  Finally, Nietzsche dismissed previous “Germanic philosophy” as a form of asceticism that was ultimately “life-denying”.  Each philosopher thus claims to offer an improvement upon his predecessor(s) by reassessing the relationship between philosophy and life (or history, or praxis, or reality).  Our more modest aim will be to get a clearer view of the possible connections between philosophy and the world through a reading of these very different thinkers.  Attention will be devoted to epistemological, moral, political and religious dimensions of their works.

PHI 422 - 20th Century French/German Philosophy
Instructor:  Gregg Lambert
T  5:00 - 7:50

Twentieth-century French and German philosophical criticism of the legacy of the Enlightenment and its conceptions of subjectivity and epistemology. First in a series planned over the next five years, this seminar will take up and address the central concerns of Post-Enlightenment thinkers in the French and German traditions on both continents. The first seminar will address the critique of European Humanism and Subjectivity. Future seminars will focus on in selected topics in Critical theory, hermeneutics, poststructuralism, and psychoanalytically inspired theories of subjectivity.

 

PHI 427/REL 461 - Enlightenment: Between European West and Islam
Instructor:  Ahmed Abdel Meguid
TTH  3:30 - 4:50

From its advent in the 18th century, Enlightenment has arguably been considered the most important intellectual movement in modern history by both its advocates and its critics. Many scholars consider it the consummation of the efforts of early modern thinkers in the 16th and 17th centuries to break away from the classical and scholastic heritages and their ethical, epistemological and political paradigms. Further most of the intellectual traditions in the 19th and 20th centuries shaped their projects either by way of furthering or critiquing the themes and claims of the Enlightenment, particularly its concern with humanism and the relentless attempt of its figures to establish the absolute foundations of ‘science’ and present it as the key to a better understanding of and way of living in the world. 

Among the key points of departure of Enlightenment thought was the critique of ancient and medieval metaphysics in general and theological metaphysics in particular. On the level of the theory of knowledge and science, this critique crystalized in the question of the relation between physics and metaphysics. In this vein, many questions were posed including whether or not it is pragmatic or even possible to maintain a teleological understanding of nature that assumes a Creator who is both the efficient and the final cause of the world after the emergence of Galilean physics and Newtonian mechanics. On the political and social level, the critique of theological metaphysics was reflected in the question concerning the problematic relation between the public sphere of the society and private sphere of the individual and where, if it all possible, metaphysics would be located in the political domain. In turn this question led to the emergence of key concepts like that of the social contract, secularism and the separation between church and state and the relation between the religious and the moral dimensions. On the philosophical-anthropological level, the critique of scholastic metaphysics manifested itself in the call for humanism, that is the study of human nature to determine, through the identification of its structure, the basis of religious belief, ethics, knowledge and even taste and aesthetics. This ‘humanistic’ turn led to the emergence of many concepts and theoretical conundrums like that of natural religion, the problem of subjectivity and the paradoxical relation between the claims for a universal conceptions of human nature and the historicity of human life, culture, values and aesthetics. 

But were these questions really posed for the first time by Enlightenment thinkers? Is this tradition which still shapes many aspects of our views of science, politics and the conception of who we are as humans an exclusive result of the intellectual exertion of European thinkers? This course is going to challenge this classical bias. Islam was among the key civilizations that had a radical influence on the formation and development of Western modernity and Enlightenment. We will thoroughly examine the stances of the Muslim thinkers at the height of Islamic civilization on the questions of: 1) the relation between physics and metaphysics, specifically in terms of the problem of causality, 2) the relation between the private and public spheres, 3) the question of humanism and the structure of human subjectivity. Via this examination we will investigate first how medieval Muslim thinkers and 18th century European defined enlightenment as a human condition and a way of life. The aim of such investigation is not merely comparative; rather the exploration of the stance of both traditions on these three key questions is primarily intended to acquire a more profound perspective on their complexity and ramifications. Second and more importantly, this investigation aims at showing how both perspectives could possibly be combined to respond to key challenges posed by both the advocate and the critics of Enlightenment in contemporary thought. 

 

 

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:

  1. the classical idea of Justice presented by “Socrates” in Plato’s Republic;
  2. the early modern social contract idea of justice presented by Thomas Hobbes in his Leviathan
  3. the modern liberal idea of justice presented by John Stuart Mill in his books On Liberty and Utilitarianism;
  4. the contemporary (left-liberal) account of justice that informs John Rawls book, A Theory of Justice; and finally
  5. 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:

  1. understanding some key ideas behind “formal” logical systems and the relationship between these and actual human reasoning;
  2. reading and critically analyzing various kinds of texts;
  3. recognizing and reproducing standard argument forms;
  4. recognizing, criticizing, and avoiding various fallacies and missteps in reasoning;
  5. 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

  1. This course is an advanced introduction to metaphysics.  We will focus on several related questions:
  2. What is essential to a living being?
  3. Which properties must a living being retain in order to continue to exist?
  4. Could there be more than one living being in the exact same place at the exact same time?
  5. What makes a person the person that they are?
  6. Which properties, if any, does a person have essentially?
  7. What is the relationship between our concepts and what there is?
  8. 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?
  9. 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.