Course Offerings (Fall 2018)

All Phil Courses


*PHIL 1000: Introduction to Philosophy

Credit will not be given for both this course and PHIL 1001. Major works on such themes as appearance and reality, human nature, nature of knowledge, relation of mind and body, right and good, existence of God, and freedom and determinism.

Section 1: TTh 9:99-10:20 Blakley
Section 2: TTh 10:30-11:50 Blakley
Section 3: TTh 1:30-2:50 Blakley
Section 4: MWF 9:30-10:20 Staff
Section 5: MWF 1:30-2:20 Staff

*PHIL 1021 Introduction to Logic

TTh 9:00-10:20 Roland

Formal and informal reasoning; introduction to propositional logic; formal and informal fallacies; scientific reasoning. No special background is presupposed.

PHIL 2000: Contemporary Moral Problems

TTh 12:00-1:20 Goldgaber

Is it morally permissible to get an abortion?  Is solitary confinement ever justified?  Should you be able to end your life when you chose and is someone required to help you do so? Do we have duties to people living on the other side of the world, or to future generations?  Is it morally acceptable to keep more resources than one needs?  Should we limit the development of artificial intelligence?  These are examples of questions that contemporary applied ethics attempts to answer. In this introduction to contemporary moral problems, we will discuss potential answers to these controversial questions provided by contemporary philosophers and the ethical frameworks they use to approach them.

*PHIL 2020: Ethics

Section 1: TTh 3:00-4:20 Blakley
Section 2: MWF 11:30-12:20 Staff
Section 3: MWF 3:30-4:20 Staff

Classical and recent theories of obligation and value, including works of philosophers such as Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Hume, and Nietzsche; topics including freedom, rights, justification of moral judgments.

PHIL/ENVS 2021 Environmental Thought

TTh 12:00-1:20 Snyder

Ethical relations to other humans through the environment and to non-humans within the environment. Topics may include: animal rights, the intrinsic value of nature, deep ecology, climate change, and pollution.

*PHIL/REL 2028: Philosophy of Religion

MWF 2:30-3:20 Smith

Is there an intelligent, loving being (i.e., God) who created the visible universe and all within it? If so, can this be proven rationally? And if so,  is there a rational explanation for the presence of evil in the world that this being created and governs? Does human consciousness survive the death of the physical body? Is it reasonable to believe in miracles, e.g., the claim that Jesus walked on water, or that some Hindu saints have brought human beings back from the dead even after they had been cremated? In approaching these, and other, religious questions philosophically, we will focus upon the reasons, evidence, arguments and counter-arguments that could be advanced with respect to these questions. Hence, the goal of this class is not only to make students familiar with those theories falling under the general rubric of the philosophy of religion, but to further refine each student’s ability to reason critically through any sort of philosophical or logical argument that might be advanced, religious or otherwise.

*PHIL 2033 Introduction to Ancient and Medieval Philosophy

TTh 10:30-11:50 Parsons

This course offers a window into the fascinating world of Ancient and Medieval Philosophy. This year we focus on Ancient Greek Philosophy, a period of philosophy that ranges from roughly 600 BC to 200 AD.  We study a range of thinkers, including the Pre-Socratic philosophers Heraclitus and Parmenides, the Classical philosophers Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, and the three main schools of Later Hellenistic Philosophy, namely the Epicurean, Stoic, and Skeptical schools.  Some themes include (i) knowledge, truth, and reality; (ii) human character and emotion; (iii) the good human life; and (iv) the nature of the soul.   

PHIL 2034: HONORS: Tutorial in Ancient and Medieval Philosophy (1 hr)

TBA Parsons

To be taken concurrently with PHIL 2033.

PHIL 3001: Existentialism

MWF 12:30-1:20 Schufreider

Basic themes of existentialist philosophy; the works of Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Jaspers, Heidegger,

PHIL 3072: The Philosophy of Rawls

TTh 9:00-10:20 Donelson

John Rawls is frequently called the greatest political philosopher of the 20th Century.  Almost as frequently, Rawls is said to have saved political philosophy and to have restored its stature as an important and legitimate field of inquiry.  How did Rawls ‘save’ political philosophy and what was going on before?  Answering these questions is the project of this class.  We will primarily read selections from Rawls’s three major books, but other material will be assigned for context.  Some background in ethics/moral philosophy will prove valuable for this class, but it is not required.

PHIL 4003: Contemporary French Thought

TTh 12:00-1:20 Raffoul

An intensive study of major contemporary French philosophers, including Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, Marion, Janicaud, Derrida, Nancy, and Levinas. We will focus on three major axes of contemporary French thought: phenomenology, deconstruction, and ethics. Themes addressed will include: the definition of the phenomenon and phenomenology, essence and existence, the question of the body, ethics and responsibility, the other and community, differance and deconstruction, the question of the event, phenomenology and givenness.

PHIL/LING 4011: Topics in Advanced Logic: Non-Classical Logics

TTh 3:00-4:20 Roland

Prerequisite: PHIL 4010 or permission of instructor. This course is a survey of non-classical logics. In particular, we will familiarize ourselves with propositional modal, tense, conditional, intuitionistic, and many-valued logics. Each of these logics has applications in philosophy, linguistics, or computer science. Our goals will be to understand the syntax and semantics of the aforementioned logics, with special attention given to possible worlds semantics (variations of which are common to them all). We will also have a look at some basic metatheory for these logics as we go along.

Our text will be Graham Priest’s An Introduction to Non-Classical Logic, second edition (Cambridge University Press 2008).

PHIL 4922: Plato

TTh 4:30-5:50 Parsons

Prerequisite: PHIL 2033 or at least one course in philosophy. This course is devoted to the study of Plato’s works and thought.  We consider a range of classic Socratic and Platonic doctrines on ethics, moral psychology, and epistemology, such as Socratic Intellectualism, Socratic Definition, Meno’s Paradox, Learning as Recollection, Immortality of the Soul, Theory of Forms, and Plato’s views on Art and Poetry.

PHIL 4947: The Philosophy of Criminal Law

TTh 1:30-2:50 Donelson

The criminal law fascinates us.  The great number of books, movies, and TV shows about police, criminals, prosecutors, and defense attorneys attests to this.  In this course, we will turn a philosophical eye to many of the issues raised by this important and absorbing area of life.  We will discuss crime, punishment, policing, criminal insanity, capital punishment, prison abolitionism, the drug war, and much more.  By the end, we will enjoy a fuller understanding of the criminal law and will have further developed our normative outlooks on criminal justice.

PHIL 7910: Seminar in Analytic Philosophy

TTh 1:30-2:50 Cogburn

Large and interesting swaths of contemporary analytic philosophy can be read as footnotes to Immanuel Kant’s claim that intuitions without concepts are blind. For if Kant is right, and our perceptions are always already conceptualizable, a set of problems arises. Does this mean that non-human animals are either Cartesian robots, with no perceptions at all, or (on the other hand) possessing of concepts? And how, if Kant is right, could we possibly evaluate the correctness or incorrectness of the system of concepts we use. For if Kant is right we are forced to perceive the world through the filter of those concepts. And does Kant’s purported insight entail that genuine knowledge of the world as it is in itself is impossible, since what is known is inextricable from what our conceptual apparatus allows us to know?

We will work through some of these issues in the philosophy of mind, epistemology, and metaphysics. Our principle texts will be:

McDowell, J., 1994. Mind and World, Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, and
Gunther, York (ed.), 2003. Essays on Nonconceptual Content, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2003,

as well as some more recent papers tracing the evolution both of McDowell’s neo-Kantian view and criticisms of it.

I should note that the issue of non-conceptual content has recently arisen in very interesting ways in continental philosophy as well (e.g. Marion’s “saturated phenomenon” and the “problem of the event” in Badiou and others). While students will do in-class presentations on the analytic readings, students with continental backgrounds will be encouraged to bring their expertise to the discussions and encouraged to write papers bridging the analytic and continental tradition.