Course Offerings (Fall 2019)

All Phil Courses

Philosophy Courses
Fall 2019
 
Courses marked with * contribute to satisfying General Education Requirements
 
*PHIL 1000: Introduction to Philosophy
Credit will not be given for both this course and PHIL 1001.
 
Section 1: TTh 9:00-10:20       Blakley
 
This course is an introduction to the academic discipline and activity of philosophy through pop culture. Popular movies and television shows like Inception, Westworld, South Park, Rick and Morty, Being John Malkovich, and The Walking Dead illustrate a variety of philosophical ideas and questions. How, if at all, can we know whether we are in the real world or a virtual world? How does consciousness or the mind relate to the body? Do human beings have free will? How does the mind relate to the body? What is right conduct and good living? What is justice? This course will explore philosophical themes in pop culture and examine various arguments related to them by developed influential philosophers with the aim of developing our own abilities to think critically and logically.
 
Section 2: MWF 10:30-11:20   Wells
 
This course provides an introduction to philosophy through the lens of the concept of “enlightenment.” What we call “the Enlightenment” was a period of intellectual and philosophical development in 17th and 18th century Europe. However, more broadly speaking but in the spirit of that movement, we can describe enlightenment as a series of commitments: Commitment to the idea that humans are by nature rational things, to the idea of truth and that such truth is discoverable through objective and rational inquiry, to the idea that individual liberty and individuality are paramount, and to the idea that the use of our reason is the engine for human progress. Our course traces these commitments through a survey of a number of figures in the history of philosophy. It does so in (roughly) three sections. First, we sketch an argument in defense of the concept and the project of enlightenment. Next, we consider some challenges to the foundations of this enlightenment project: Is what we call progress really progress? Are we really transparently rational selves? Are we really free? What if all of this is simply a story we tell to justify control and conformity? Finally, we take up the critical tools of enlightenment to examine our own context, specifically with an eye toward gender, race, disability, and oppression. Throughout this course, we will keep three connected questions in mind: What is a self? What is the relationship between this self and rationality? How do the answers to these first two questions inform how we ought to act, as individuals and as communities?
 
Section 3: MWF 11:30-12:20  Wells
 
This course provides an introduction to philosophy through the lens of the concept of “enlightenment.” What we call “the Enlightenment” was a period of intellectual and philosophical development in 17th and 18th century Europe. However, more broadly speaking but in the spirit of that movement, we can describe enlightenment as a series of commitments: Commitment to the idea that humans are by nature rational things, to the idea of truth and that such truth is discoverable through objective and rational inquiry, to the idea that individual liberty and individuality are paramount, and to the idea that the use of our reason is the engine for human progress. Our course traces these commitments through a survey of a number of figures in the history of philosophy. It does so in (roughly) three sections. First, we sketch an argument in defense of the concept and the project of enlightenment. Next, we consider some challenges to the foundations of this enlightenment project: Is what we call progress really progress? Are we really transparently rational selves? Are we really free? What if all of this is simply a story we tell to justify control and conformity? Finally, we take up the critical tools of enlightenment to examine our own context, specifically with an eye toward gender, race, disability, and oppression. Throughout this course, we will keep three connected questions in mind: What is a self? What is the relationship between this self and rationality? How do the answers to these first two questions inform how we ought to act, as individuals and as communities? 
 
Section 4: TTh 3:00-4:20     Blakley
 
This course is an introduction to the academic discipline and activity of philosophy through pop culture. Popular movies and television shows like Inception, Westworld, South Park, Rick and Morty, Being John Malkovich, and The Walking Dead illustrate a variety of philosophical ideas and questions. How, if at all, can we know whether we are in the real world or a virtual world? How does consciousness or the mind relate to the body? Do human beings have free will? How does the mind relate to the body? What is right conduct and good living? What is justice? This course will explore philosophical themes in pop culture and examine various arguments related to them by developed influential philosophers with the aim of developing our own abilities to think critically and logically.
 
*PHIL 1001: HONORS: Introduction to Philosophy   MW 3:00-4:20    Goldgaber
Same as PHIL 1000, with a special honors emphasis for qualified students. Credit will not be given for both this course and PHIL 1000.
 
This course will introduce the study of philosophy through the problem of self-deception.  Departing from the ancient Delphic injunction “Know Thyself”, we will ask about the moral and epistemic impediments to self-knowledge and consider how the study of philosophy may help us to overcome these impediments. We will examine concepts such as false and double consciousness, bad faith, ideology critique, agnosology and implicit bias to help understand the different ways that philosophers have thought of self-deception.  Readings will include Plato, Descartes, Hegel, Sartre, Marx, Nietzsche, Fanon, Shulamith Firestone, Sally Haslanger, Hilary Putnam, Angela Davis and Charles Mills.
 
*PHIL/LING 2010: Symbolic Logic I      TTh 10:30-11:50   Roland
 
Classical propositional and first-order predicate logic; syntax and semantics of formal languages; translation between formal languages and English; formal methods of proof.
 
*PHIL 2020: Ethics An honors course, PHIL 2050, is also available.
 
Section 1: TTh 10:30-11:50     Blakley
 
This course is an introduction to ethics or moral philosophy through popular culture. Popular movies and television shows like The Dark Knight, The Walking Dead, Rick and Morty, South Park, and others illustrate philosophical ideas and questions about morality. Are there any objective/universal moral truths or is morality all a matter of personal attitudes or cultural mores? Is it wrong for Batman to kill Joker? Does the pursuit of self-interest give rise to morality? Is it morally wrong for Rick to sell weapons to an “unethical” assassin? Is Morty a good person? Is it morally wrong for Cartman to sell stem cells? This course will examine these questions and others like them along with various moral theories developed by influential philosophers with the aim of developing our own abilities to think critically and logically. 
 
 
Section 2: TTh 1:30-2:50         Blakley
 
This course is an introduction to ethics or moral philosophy through popular culture. Popular movies and television shows like The Dark Knight, The Walking Dead, Rick and Morty, South Park, and others illustrate philosophical ideas and questions about morality. Are there any objective/universal moral truths or is morality all a matter of personal attitudes or cultural mores? Is it wrong for Batman to kill Joker? Does the pursuit of self-interest give rise to morality? Is it morally wrong for Rick to sell weapons to an “unethical” assassin? Is Morty a good person? Is it morally wrong for Cartman to sell stem cells? This course will examine these questions and others like them along with various moral theories developed by influential philosophers with the aim of developing our own abilities to think critically and logically. 
 
Section 3: MWF 2:30-3:20   Wells
 
In this course we examine major positions in the history of ethical theory, as well as their applications and challenges to them. In the most basic sense, this course asks: What is right? How ought we act? How ought we live? In considering these primary questions, we will ask further: How ought we treat, and what do we owe, each other? Where do these obligations and responsibilities come from, i.e., what are their foundations? Our aim will be not only to understand these questions in theory, but to grapple with how they challenge us to live our lives, give us meaning, and determine what we value. Our task is to consider who we are and who we want to (or, perhaps, who we ought to) become. In pursuing this task, we will consider virtue ethics, stoic ethics, Kantian ethics, utilitarianism, and care ethics. We will also consider critiques of morality. In the latter portion of the course we will examine the concept of oppression and its relation to ethics.
 
Section 4: TTh 3:00-4:20     Sarkar
 
This course will be divided into three parts; each part will focus on a cluster of questions surrounding a central issue. Part One: Peter Singer’s, The Most Good You Can Do will serve as a good introduction to ethics. This book raises questions about how we should live and while living give altruistically (far more than what we normally do); what constitutes effective altruism; who should be the benefactors when we give; and, finally, how far should we be concerned about the prospects of human extinction? Part Two: Rosen’s Dignity will take us through a brief history of the concept of dignity which plays a cardinal role in Immanuel Kant’s moral philosophy. Now, what is significant, says Rosen, is the right to be treated with dignity, or proper respect. When a satirical German magazine depicted a politician, Franz-Joseph Strauss, as a copulating pig, Germany’s supreme court held that the magazine violated Strauss’s dignity. By contrast, when Hustler magazine portrayed Jerry Falwell having sex with his mother, the United States Supreme Court (1988) held unanimously in favor of the magazine under the First Amendment. Surely, both courts cannot be right. So, then, what is it to treat someone with respect? Part Three: We shall ask how our general view of human nature and justice leads to particular views about the limits of individual freedom, the legitimate authority of the State, and the right form of the market or economic system; and, ask how these views determine what we uphold as utopia. We shall try and answer these questions whilst reading, G. A. Cohen’s Why Not Socialism? and its counterpoint, Jason Brennan, Why Not Capitalism?
 
Required Textbooks:
1.  G. A. Cohen, Why Not Socialism? Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press,
2.  Michael Rosen, Dignity: Its History and Meaning. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012.
3.  Peter Singer, The Most Good You Can Do: How Effective Altruism Is Changing Ideas About Living Ethically. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 2015.
4.  Jason Brennan, Why Not Capitalism? New York: Routledge, 2014.
 
Section 5: MWF 3:30-4:20       Wells
 
In this course we examine major positions in the history of ethical theory, as well as their applications and challenges to them. In the most basic sense, this course asks: What is right? How ought we act? How ought we live? In considering these primary questions, we will ask further: How ought we treat, and what do we owe, each other? Where do these obligations and responsibilities come from, i.e., what are their foundations? Our aim will be not only to understand these questions in theory, but to grapple with how they challenge us to live our lives, give us meaning, and determine what we value. Our task is to consider who we are and who we want to (or, perhaps, who we ought to) become. In pursuing this task, we will consider virtue ethics, stoic ethics, Kantian ethics, utilitarianism, and care ethics. We will also consider critiques of morality. In the latter portion of the course we will examine the concept of oppression and its relation to ethics.
 
*PHIL 2053 HONORS History of Ancient and Medieval Philosophy       TTh 12:00-1:20    Parsons
Prereq.: one course in philosophy, or permission of instructor. Same as PHIL 2033 with a special honors emphasis for qualified students. Credit will not be given for this course and PHIL 2033.
 
This course introduces students to the origins of Western intellectual history in Ancient Greece.  We consider the earliest philosophers on record, the pre-Socratics, as well as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle.  These philosophers together launched the pursuit of knowledge in Western society--they established the standards of knowledge and inquiry that would ultimately result in the scientific method.  We will also consider later Hellenistic philosophers, who responded to the works of Plato and Aristotle and developed their own unique outlook on the good life. The Epicureans, for example, espoused a life of pleasure, whereas the Stoics described the good life as a life lived in agreement with nature (by which they meant a life lived in agreement with the thoughts of Zeus).  The Skeptics, in contrast to those schools, aimed to suspend judgment on questions of the good life (and on all other questions, for that matter!) so as to obtain a state of tranquility (ataraxia).  At the end of the course we consider how Ancient Greek thought influenced central philosophers of the Medieval period.
 
PHIL 3062: Introduction to Political Philosophy      TTh 3:00-4:20   Donelson
 
Many of the most important debates in political philosophy and in everyday political discourse center around what the government ought to do. Should it raise taxes or lower them? Should it subsidize healthcare or allow people to buy it themselves? Should it intervene in the domestic affairs of other nations or remain isolationist? Answering these questions is made (slightly) easier once we have an answer to a broader question: what is government for. In this class, we try to answer this question by examining and critiquing answers offered by various political thinkers over the past two millennia.
 
PHIL 3950: Introduction to Epistemology     TTh 9:00-10:20 Donelson
 
Epistemology is the study of knowledge. In this class, we examine age-old issues in epistemology like determining what knowledge is and considering the skeptic's worry that we may not know anything at all. We also tackle new issues in the burgeoning field of social epistemology, with a particular focus on how social justice issues relate to knowledge, justification, and trust. This will be a semester of The Matrix and conspiracy theories, fake news and fake barns, pragmatism, ideology, and much else.
 
PHIL 4003: Contemporary French Philosophy     TTh 1:30-2:50   Raffoul
 
An intensive study of contemporary French thought, following the three major axes of phenomenology, deconstruction(s), and ethics. We will explore these foci by reading major contemporary French philosophers, including Jacques Derrida, Jean-Luc Nancy, Emmanuel Levinas, Jean-Luc Marion, Dominique Janicaud, and Michel Henry.Themes addressed will include: the definition of the phenomenon and phenomenology; excess, the inapparent and the invisible; differance and deconstruction; sexual difference; the rethinking of community; the question of ethics; the other and responsibility. Intellectual movements considered include structuralism and post-structuralism, phenomenology, deconstruction, and hermeneutics
 
PHIL/LING 4010: Symbolic Logic II       TTh 3:00-4:20   Roland
Prereq.: PHIL 2010 or consent of instructor.
 
Having some facility with intermediate level symbolic logic is extremely useful in understanding contemporary debates in nearly every area of analytic philosophy (e.g., metaphysics, epistemology, philosophies of mind, language, and science, and metaethics). Areas such as philosophy and foundations of mathematics, philosophical logic, philosophy of logic, and of course logic proper require a familiarity with symbolic logic beyond the intermediate level. This is an intermediate level symbolic logic course. It will benefit not only graduate and advanced undergraduate students in philosophy, but also students in computer science, linguistics, and mathematics. Our goals will be to develop (i) a deeper understanding of the syntax and semantics of first-order logic than is normally attained in a first course in quantificational logic (such as PHIL 2010) and (ii) a serious appreciation for some of the main results in the metatheory of classical first-order logic, in particular, soundness, completeness, and compactness. Time permitting, we will have a look at some additional metatheoretic properties of classical first-order logic (e.g., the downward Löwenheim–Skolem theorem) as well as some consequences of compactness (specifically, the existence of non-standard models of arithmetic and the non-categoricity of first-order arithmetic).

As a text we will use Herbert Enderton’s A Mathematical Introduction to Logic (2nd edition). We will cover most of the first three chapters and supplement with notes of my own.
 
PHIL 4922: Plato   TTh 4:30-5:50   Parsons
Prerequisite:  PHIL 2033 or equivalent.
 
This course is devoted to the study of Plato’s works and thought. The prerequisite is PHIL 2033. The content of the course varies from year to year—in the Fall of 2019 we will focus on the following two themes: (1) the accounts of pleasure in the Protagoras, Gorgias, Republic, and Philebus; and (2) the accounts of friendship, love, and rhetoric in the Symposium, Phaedrus, and Lysis. In investigating these topics students will also become acquainted with central Platonic doctrines such as the theory of tripartition and the theory of the Forms. 
 
PHIL 4943: Problems in Ethical Theory           MW 3:00-4:20    Sarkar
Prereq.: two courses in philosophy or consent of instructor. May be taken for a max. of 6 sem. hrs. of credit when topics vary.
 
This course is about Nietzsche’s ethics. Toward that end, we shall meticulously study Bernard Reginster’s brilliant book, The Affirmation of Life: Nietzsche on Overcoming Nihilism. We shall read copious selections from The Gay Science (1882, 1887), Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1883-1885), Beyond Good and Evil (1886), and The Antichrist (1888), among others (these will be placed on reserve in the library). Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) had proposed the Categorical Imperative as the bed-rock principle of his moral theory. Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) vehemently disagreed with Kant and proposed his own moral theory. Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), in turn, disagreed with both Kant and Schopenhauer: “the categorical imperative smells of cruelty,” he wrote, and mercilessly mocked, just about everywhere, the key moral notion of compassion (not to be confused with pity) in Schopenhauer. Since, happily, Reginster discusses in considerable detail both Kant and Schopenhauer, we shall also study the moral philosophies of those two philosophers – solely with the view to understand the bearing they have on Nietzsche’s ethics. Their profound differences notwithstanding, each of them – Kant, Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche – has a grand view about the nature and meaning of human existence. (I examined these, in my own small way, through a thought-experiment I have found particularly useful through which to view a moral theory.)
 
Required Textbooks:
1.  Bernard Reginster, The Affirmation of Life: Nietzsche on Overcoming Nihilism. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2006. (Electronic resource, available on line, LSU library.)
2.  Husain Sarkar, Kant and Parfit: The Groundwork of Morals. New York:  Routledge, 2018, Chapter 12. (Electronic resource, available on line, LSU library.)
 
Recommended books:
1.  Immanuel Kant, Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals. Revised Edition. Translated and edited by Mary Gregor and Jens Timmermann. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013.
2.  Schopenhauer, Arthur, The Two Fundamental Problems of Ethics. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.
 
PHIL 4952: Topics in Metaphysics: The Self   TTh 12:00-1:20 Cogburn
May be taken for a max. of 6 sem. hrs. of credit when topics vary.
 
What is the self and does it even exist? If it does not exist, what are we to make of that? Or perhaps more importantly, who then (if not ourselves) are we to make of that?

We will pursue these questions by closely reading recent appeals to neuroscience by Thomas Metzinger, Evan Thompson, and others to argue that there is no self. Ideally, we will get two things out of the course: (1) an understanding of what critics of the self are even claiming, (2) an understanding of whether these empirical and metaphysical debates actually do have any deep connections to appeals to and criticisms of the self (and related concepts such as egoism, personal autonomy, and political liberty) in ethics and political theory.
 
PHIL 7903: Seminar in Continental Philosophy    MWF 12:30-1:20   Schufreider
Major figures and/or movements in continental philosophy.
 
Courses outside the Philosophy department (that count towards philosophy degree requirements)
 
WGS 7150: Graduate Survey of Feminist Theory   W 4:30-7:20       Goldgaber
 
This course will examine central problems in the major areas of feminist philosophy including feminist epistemology, ethics, and metaphysics (with a focus on the ontology of sex/gender).