Philosophy

 
COURSE OFFERINGS
 
[111]    Central Philosophical Issues: Self and Society     An introduction to philosophy by consideration of two of its central branches: social and political philosophy and ethics. Issues addressed are moral absolutes, the social contract, political power, individual rights, economic justice, the good society. Readings from Plato, Locke, Mill, Marx, Malcolm X, and Orwell. Four credit hours.  S.    

[112]    Central Philosophical Issues: Puzzles and Paradoxes    An introduction to some of the central concepts, problems, and methods of contemporary philosophy by engaging with an assortment of perplexing problems that inevitably arise when thought turns in on itself. Dilemmas of decision theory and paradoxes of rationality are among the topics covered. Formerly listed as Philosophy 135. Four credit hours.    

113s    Central Philosophical Issues: On Being Human    An introduction to philosophy that focuses on human nature and the human condition. What distinguishes humans from other animals? What rights and responsibilities does being human entail, and why? How might our understanding of being human change with new technologies and new understanding of genetics? Other topics include the relationship between reason and emotion; the possibility of free will; the limits of self-knowledge; the status of morality. Four credit hours.  S.    MCHUGH

114f    Central Philosophical Issues: Nature and God    An introduction to philosophy approached through issues in the philosophy of religion. Stress will be on epistemological questions (regarding how we can have knowledge) in connection with metaphysical questions (regarding the basic features of the universe). Readings include Plato, Aquinas, Bacon, Descartes, Hume, and James. Four credit hours.  L.    BEHUNIAK

126f    Philosophy and the Environment     An introduction to prominent questions and themes in environmental philosophy. The historical context and causes of environmental crisis, images of nature, anthropocentrism, animal rights, theories of intrinsic value, biocentrism, ecocentrism, and deep ecology. Recent approaches to theory suggested by ecofeminism, social and socialist ecology, and the environmental justice movement. All of these provide resources for our reflections on the philosophical aspects of creating sustainable ecologies and societies. Part of the three-course Integrated Studies 126, "The Green Cluster." Prerequisite: Concurrent enrollment in Biology 131 (lab section C) and Environmental Studies 126. Four credit hours.  L.    PETERSON

151f    Logic and Argumentation     A survey of the theory and practice of rational argumentation. Diagramming, fallacy identification, and propositional logic--the formal and critical tools needed for argument analysis--are developed in order to enhance the ability to understand, construct, and critically evaluate arguments. Not open to students with credit for Philosophy 158. Four credit hours.  Q.    COHEN

[158]    Formal Logic    A survey of the techniques of formal reasoning, and the nature of logic systems, with applications in ordinary language. Propositional logic, predicate logic, and Boolean systems. Not open to students with credit for Philosophy 151 or 152. Four credit hours.  Q.    

174s    Philosophical Anthropology    What does it mean to be human? Varied answers, from the ancient Greeks to the present, define humanity as related to but distinct from animals, as a conjunction of animal life and something else--language, reason, or soul. What is the relationship between humanity and the animal kingdom? How essential are the divisions internal to human society, such as those of race, class, gender, and culture? What is the place of human being in nature? What sense does it make to speak of a distinctly human nature? Readings from the classical, modern, and contemporary Western philosophical traditions. Four credit hours.  S.    PETERSON

175f    Ancient Greek Thought     An interdisciplinary introduction to ancient Greek philosophy that begins with its emergence out of mythological patterns of thought and then examines the work of the Greek Sophists, continuing on to Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, focusing on their account of the relationship among morality, religion, and argumentation. Part of the three-course Integrated Studies 175, "Ancient Worlds." Prerequisite: Concurrent enrollment in Anthropology 175 and Science, Technology, and Society 175. Four credit hours.  S.    MOORE

175Bf    Science in Ancient Greece    Listed as Science, Technology, and Society 175. Four credit hours.  H.    COHEN

[179]    Socrates and Athens     An investigation of the continuities and discontinuities between the philosophical life of Plato's Socrates and the lives of ordinary Athenians. Considers how Socratic philosophical practice drew on key elements of Athenian democratic life; what Socrates's religious ideas owe to traditional beliefs and how they seek to upend them; what familiar Greek notions of human nature have to do with Socrates's own human wisdom; how Socrates's ideas about Athenian law both depend upon and challenge normal practices of Athenian civic life; and how Socrates's ideas about Eros reproduce and revise earlier and more conventional notions. Concurrent enrollment in Anthropology 179 encouraged but not required. Four credit hours.  H.    

201fs    Philosophy Colloquium I    The first semester of a year-long series of presentations from faculty and invited speakers on topics of current philosophical interest. Students are expected to attend all the colloquia, read the papers beforehand, and, with mentors, prepare questions to be asked of the presenters. One credit hour for completion of two semesters of the series. Prerequisite: Philosophy major or minor. Noncredit.     COHEN

202fs    Philosophy Colloquium II    The second semester of a year-long series of presentations from faculty and invited speakers on topics of current philosophical interest. Students are expected to attend all the colloquia, read the papers beforehand, and, with mentors, prepare questions to be asked of the presenters. One credit hour for completion of two semesters of the series. Prerequisite: Philosophy 201 and philosophy major or minor. One credit hour.    COHEN

211f    Moral Philosophy     What makes an action good? How ought we to live our lives? What is the relationship between morality and luck? To what extent do normative claims depend on empirical data? What conditions must be met in order for one to be a moral agent? Explores these and other questions by way of a mixture of classical and contemporary readings. Focuses especially on three prominent ethical theories--consequentialism, deontology, and virtue ethics--along with challenges to each of these models. Four credit hours.  S.    MOLAND

213s    Philosophical Inquiries into Race     Focus on the philosophical construction and use of race, particularly in its association with enlightenment ideals of rationality. Beginning with Aristotle's philosophical invention of the 'natural slave,' we will also look to the Enlightenment 'discovery' of racial difference and its connection to the burgeoning science of race and intelligence. These foundational philosophical perspectives will be put into relief by modern and contemporary contributors to the dialogue about race. Four credit hours.  S, U.    MOORE

[215]    Feminist Philosophies    Whether one views feminism as a philosophical school of thought, an interpretive strategy, a political movement, or a way of understanding culture and ideas, it has many faces; feminism is neither unified nor monolithic. Students examine several feminist frameworks (structures of political thought that shape feminism), their relationship to and difference from one another, and feminist issues that lie outside of those frameworks. Formerly offered as Philosophy 155. Four credit hours.  S, U.    

[217]    Feminism and Science    An examination of the new and challenging questions feminist theory has raised about the content, practice, values, and traditional goals of science. The objectives include deepening the student's knowledge of feminist philosophy and familiarizing students with some of the diverse literature in the field of feminist science studies. Topics include "standpoint" and social epistemologies; objectivity, value-neutrality, and universality claims of modern science; the social character of science; how implicit assumptions about gender, class, ethnicity, epistemic, and social values affect research and reasoning; and how the metaphors scientists use to explain phenomena condition the production of knowledge. Four credit hours.  S, U.    

231f    History of Ancient Greek Philosophy    A survey of ancient thought that also examines the social and cultural contexts in which that thought arises. Study of the Greek world through the ideas of the pre-Socratics, the Sophists, Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, the Skeptics, and the Stoics. Four credit hours.  H.    MOORE

232s    History of Modern Philosophy     Modern philosophy arose out of conflict and concluded in the Enlightenment, but the path was not direct, and the development was not unequivocally progressive. Traces twists and turns of 17th- and 18th-century philosophy by way of close readings of some of the period's most important texts. Focuses on works of six philosophers: Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, and Hume. What are the sources and limits of human knowledge? How are beliefs about the world justified? What is the relationship between our minds and bodies? What is the basis of moral agency and personal identity? Is freedom compatible with determinism? Four credit hours.  H.    MCHUGH

234f    Philosophy and Art    Uses philosophical theory to evaluate our experience of art forms such as film, painting, literature, and music. Considers questions such as: is art simply a matter of taste, or can it be held to objective standards? What is beauty? Are artworks that are not beautiful still art? Is art valuable because it gives us pleasure or because it educates us? Does art have social or political value, or is its value purely in the delight it gives the individual? Our study of philosophical theory will be supplemented by consideration of specific works of art. Four credit hours.  A.    MOLAND

[236]    Social and Political Philosophy     Considers some of the central questions in social and political philosophy: What is the source of political legitimacy? Is there a law of nature? Are there inalienable human rights? Is justice grounded in rational choice? Considers a number of classical and contemporary liberal approaches to these questions, along with challenges to liberalism, paying special attention to the ambiguous concepts of liberty, equality, and desert. Investigates the conditions that make for a healthy democracy, focusing on the role that difference (religious, cultural, political, etc.) plays in enriching or weakening a liberal democracy. Four credit hours.  S.    

238s    Society, Business, and Ethics     An examination of the relation between our economic and social lives. Drawing on the philosophy of thinkers as diverse as Plato, Smith, and Marx, provides a strong background in the ethical theories pertinent to case studies in business ethics while also offering students the opportunity to research and present their own case study representing a pressing ethical issue in business. Four credit hours.  S.    MOORE

[239]    Epistemology    An introduction to basic philosophical positions regarding Skepticism, knowledge versus belief, knowledge and the world, and epistemic justification as well as topics such as the nature of certainty, "naturalized epistemology," and the ethics of belief. Four credit hours.    

240s    Ethics on the Continent: From Kant to Levinas    An examination of some of the prominent ethical theorizing and meta-ethical discourse on the Continent (primarily France and Germany), from Kant to the present. Topics include Kantian deontological moral theory, Nietzsche's critique of "slave morality," the phenomenological Value Ethics of Max Scheler and Nicolai Hartmann, the Existentialist ethics of Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, and the dialogical ethics of Martin Buber and Emmanuel Levinas. Knowledge of these original sources is indispensable for a fair evaluation of their contemporary representatives. Four credit hours.    PETERSON

253j    Skepticism East and West     For almost as long as there have been claims to knowledge, there have been skeptical challenges to those claims. The variety of skeptical arguments seems endless, ranging from considerations of human fallibility, cultural relativity, and the elusiveness of truth to ethical objections about the arrogance of dogmatism and metaphysical speculation about brains-in-vats and other matrix-like scenarios. Skepticism is an irrepressible phenomenon for all times and all cultures. Engages a variety of skeptical texts from different historical eras and different cultures as well as responses to them. Prerequisite: A prior course in philosophy. Three credit hours.    COHEN

[264]    Indian Philosophy    An introduction to Indian philosophical traditions, including an overview of early Indian textual traditions, careful study of classic Buddhist, Jain, and Brahminical accounts of the nature of the self, ethics, metaphysics, epistemology, and the proper goal of human life. Prerequisite: Sophomore or higher standing. Four credit hours.  S.    

265f    Chinese Philosophy    An introduction to the major schools, texts, and thinkers in classical Chinese philosophy, covering such figures as Confucius, Laozi, Mozi, Mencius, Zhuangzi, Xunzi, and Han Feizi. Readings include both primary materials and secondary studies pertaining to philosophical issues in the classical period. Attention is also paid to the similarities and differences between Chinese and Western traditions of philosophy. Formerly offered as Philosophy 297B. Four credit hours.  L.    BEHUNIAK

[266]    East Asian Buddhist Philosophy    Explores the philosophical dimensions of Buddhism's entry into East Asia. Begins with an introduction to Buddhism in India, proceeds to cover the first schools of Buddhist philosophy in China, and concludes with an extensive treatment of Zen (Chan) Buddhism in China and Japan. Four credit hours.    

274s    Philosophy of Religion    An examination of some principal philosophical issues in the area of religion, including the existence of God, divine attributes in relation to time, space, and the natural world, the origin and content of religious experience, issues regarding faith and its object, and the function of religious symbolism. Readings include both critics and defenders of the religious standpoint. Prerequisite: One course in philosophy. Four credit hours.  S.    BEHUNIAK

277fs    Reuman Reading Group    Faculty-student reading groups arranged for the purpose of informal, but regular and structured, discussions of philosophical texts. May be repeated for additional credit. Nongraded. Prerequisite: Philosophy major or minor. One credit hour.    COHEN

[311]    Ethical and Political Theory: Multicultural and Global Citizenship     Recent political theorizing as it relates to cultural and social differences and global poverty. Topics include John Rawls's conception of just institutions, Martha Nussbaum's capabilities approach, utilitarian arguments regarding global poverty, and contemporary writing on recognition for minority and indigenous cultures. We will also ask whether the nation-state as we know it can be morally justified in an age of globalization, and we will consider arguments regarding the ethical value of patriotism, nationalism, and cosmopolitanism. Prerequisite: Two courses in philosophy. Four credit hours.  I.    

[314]    Karl Marx and Marxist Philosophical Thought    Beginning with Marx's and Engels's primary texts, the influence of Marxist philosophical thought on economic theory, revolutionary theory (Mao, Guevara, Castro, Luxembourg, Gramsci), cultural criticism (Marcuse, Adorno), feminism (Hartmann), and aesthetic theory (Jameson, Williams, Eagleton). Four credit hours.  S.    

[316]    Metaphysics     What is the nature of space and time? How do things persist through change? What is the relationship between cause and effect? How are parts and wholes related? What is the ontological status of universals? How are things individuated? These and similar questions are treated in this general survey of metaphysics. Prerequisite: Two philosophy courses. Four credit hours.    

[317]    Philosophy of Science     A consideration of some major 20th-century conceptions of what scientists aim to do, what theoretical structures they employ in pursuing their aims, and what legitimates these structures. Science seems to be constrained by experience in distinctive ways, but it also ventures far beyond experience in pursuing its theoretical and explanatory aims. These issues are approached historically by examining the rise and fall of the project known as logical empiricism (or logical positivism). Four credit hours.    

318s    Philosophy of Nature     Philosophia naturalis (philosophy of nature)--the study of physical existences, living nature, and cosmology--reigned from Aristotle's time to the scientific revolution, when it was eclipsed by modern science. Perceived limitations of the new science led to alternative "philosophies of nature" that seek different explanations of nature and seek to reveal the harmful moral and political consequences of the new scientific worldview. What is nature? Is there one correct understanding of nature? What is characteristic of the dominant scientific understanding of nature? Is the environmental crisis the result of defective ways of thinking about and relating to nature? What is the place of human beings in nature? Formerly offered as Philosophy 397. Four credit hours.    PETERSON

328f    Radical Ecologies    Mainstream environmental philosophy is preoccupied with the question of nature's intrinsic value. Radical ecologies additionally interrogate our everyday and scientific conceptions of nature, emphasize connections between environmental problems resulting from human-to-nature relations and those originating in human-to-human relations (e.g., gender, class, and race relations), and call for comprehensive changes through their critiques of existing social forms. They critically explore the political, economic, and technological aspects of the "place of the human in nature." Readings from anarchist social ecology, Deep Ecology, ecofeminism, and ecosocialism. Prerequisite: One philosophy course. Four credit hours.    PETERSON

[338]    Philosophy of Language    Philosophy has taken a linguistic turn in the 20th century: philosophers have come to suppose that reflection on the nature of language and the linguistic representation can help solve long-standing philosophical problems. The development of the philosophy of language and its success, with special attention to the role of metaphor. Prerequisite: Philosophy 151 or 158. Four credit hours.    

352f    American Philosophy     An introduction to classical American philosophy (roughly 1870-1945), with focus on pragmatic naturalism as a response to cross-Atlantic forms of empiricism and idealism and an exploration of its contemporary relevance. To provide context, we begin with the transcendentalist thinker Ralph Waldo Emerson and conclude with contemporary neo-pragmatist Richard Rorty. The bulk of the course, however, features the close study of thinkers most representative of the "classical" period: Charles Sanders Peirce, William James, John Dewey, Jane Addams, George Herbert Mead, and others. Prerequisite: One course in philosophy. Four credit hours.  H.    BEHUNIAK

353s    Contemporary Analytic Philosophy     At the beginning of the 20th century, G.E. Moore, Bertrand Russell, and Ludwig Wittgenstein revolutionized the way we philosophize. The change in philosophical methods with its intense focus on language led to an overhaul of the entire philosophical agenda: new answers were given to old questions, and entirely new questions were asked. In particular, new questions were asked about the nature of philosophy itself and how it relates to other disciplines. Additional reading will come from logical positivism, as an articulation of some of those early views, as well as the ordinary language and neo-pragmatist reactions of positivism. Prerequisite: Two philosophy courses. Four credit hours.    COHEN

355f    Kant and German Idealism     The years between the publication of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason (1781) and Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit (1806) are among the richest in the history of philosophy. Kant's work inspired ardent devotion and passionate protest: Fichte's Science of Knowledge, Schelling's Naturphilosophie, Schiller's essays on the tragic and the sublime, and Hegel's dialectical system all responded to Kant's critical philosophy. We will read parts of the above works as well as examples of German Romanticism, a movement that sought to undermine Kantian rationality through irony and aphorism. Prerequisite: Three courses in philosophy. Four credit hours.  H.    MOLAND

[359]    19th-Century Philosophy    Philosophy in the 19th century began with the great systematic philosopher G.W.F. Hegel's assertion that what is rational is actual, and what is actual is rational; it ended with Nietzsche's virulent attacks on the entire Western rationalist tradition. Between these two benchmarks we find Karl Marx's claim that philosophy's job is not to understand the world but to change it; John Stuart Mill's articulation of utilitarianism; and Kierkegaard's philosophy of existential renunciation. A survey of these and other philosophers along with a study of the social upheaval and scientific advances to which they reacted. Four credit hours.  H.    

[360]    African Philosophies, 1945 to the Present    A survey of philosophy on the African continent in the postcolonial period. Examines the ongoing critical conversation of just what "African philosophy" is; how it can or should be related to European academic philosophy; how and whether it is particular to a specific geographic region, political circumstances, or cultural beliefs and practices; and whether there are some universal philosophical concerns. Four credit hours.  I.    

[373]    History of Medieval Philosophy    The evolution of philosophical debate in the Latin West from Augustine to Ockham, with particular focus on the problems of the reconciliation of faith and reason, of the metaphysics of universals, and of the sources and possibilities of human knowledge. Prerequisite: Philosophy 175 or 231. Four credit hours.  H.    

[374]    Existentialism    An examination of the individual, freedom, death, meaning, value, nihilism, authenticity, responsibility, and faith in the works of Nietzsche, Heidegger, Camus, Sartre, de Beauvoir, Buber, and black existential philosophers. Prerequisite: One course in philosophy. Four credit hours.    

[376]    Philosophical Psychology    A focus on philosophical accounts of the nature of mind and psychological phenomena, including the relation of mind to body, the significance of consciousness to having a mind, theories of emotion, and the problem of determining personal identity over time. Authors studied include Descartes, William James, Freud, Skinner, and Ryle. Prerequisite: Two courses in philosophy. Four credit hours.  S.    

[377]    Phenomenology     Phenomenology constitutes the most significant development in 20th-century European philosophy; it is the foundation for existentialism, hermeneutics, poststructuralism, and deconstruction, and it informs concepts and methods across the humanities and social sciences. An analysis of foundational concepts in the work of Husserl. More than half the course devoted to Heidegger's Being and Time. Finally, a variety of later developments in phenomenology of the body, ethics, hermeneutics, feminism, race, and ecophenomenology. Prerequisite: One philosophy course. Four credit hours.    

[378]    Contemporary Continental Philosophy    An exploration of the most significant questions and themes in the work of Levinas, Foucault, Derrida, and the later Heidegger. Prerequisite: One philosophy course. Four credit hours.    

[381]    Philosophers in Focus: Plato    A close reading of several of Plato's dialogues about erotic love, working toward a holistic understanding of his philosophical project, focusing on the interpretive strategy that treats philosophically the dialogues' dramatic and literary elements. Prerequisite: Philosophy 231. Four credit hours.    

[382]    Philosophers in Focus: Socrates     Socrates, who wrote nothing, has appeared as a conspicuous figure in other thinkers' work in a variety of ways: sophistic buffoon, beloved mentor, philosophical gadfly, dangerous political threat, inhuman monster, and archetypal teacher of disciples, to name a few. The figure of Socrates and what he represents in a variety of sources, from his contemporaries in classical Athens to the present. Readings from Aristophanes, Plato, Xenophon, Montaigne, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, and some contemporary philosophers. Prerequisite: Philosophy 231. Four credit hours.    

[383]    Philosophers in Focus: Aristotle     A close examination of some text(s) of Aristotle's, along with relevant secondary literature. The topic will change from time to time, depending on which work(s) we read. Texts most likely to be the focus in any given semester include poetics, politics, ethics, and rhetoric. Prerequisite: Philosophy 231. Four credit hours.    

[384]    Philosophers in Focus: John Dewey    During the first half of the 20th century, John Dewey (1859-1952) was referred to simply as "America's Philosopher." After a brief period of neglect, there has been a resurgence of interest in his work, and today Dewey studies are as vital as ever. Close reading of some of Dewey's central works. Prerequisite: Two philosophy courses. Four credit hours.    

[385]    Philosophers in Focus: Nietzsche     A more or less chronological examination of major Nietzschean themes by way of reading substantial primary source excerpts and selections from scholars working in various traditions. Themes include Nietzsche's philosophy of art and music; the influence of Goethe, Schopenhauer, and Wagner; Nietzsche's critiques of morality and Christianity; his metaphysical and epistemological theories including anti-Platonism and perspectivism; the "affirmative" doctrines he advocates in his mature works--will to power, the Übermensch, eternal return, and amor fati. Four credit hours.    

[386]    Philosophers in Focus: Immanuel Kant     Working knowledge of Kant's philosophy is indispensable for an understanding of virtually all contemporary philosophical schools. The aim is to develop an understanding of the systematic whole of Kant's critical philosophy. Select portions of all three critiques, (Critique of Pure Reason (1781); Critique of Practical Reason (1788); and Critique of Judgment (1790), will be examined. We will also discuss the historical reception of Kant and Kantianism. Most of the term will be spent on the Critique of Pure Reason, addressing the other critiques directly in the last third of the course. Four credit hours.    

387s    Philosophers in Focus: William James     Single-author course devoted to the writings of the celebrated American thinker William James (1842-1910). Surveys the full scope of James's writings, touching on his psychology, philosophy of religion, metaphysics, and epistemology. Includes a careful study of James's groundbreaking work, Pragmatism (1907), the most famous single work in American philosophy. Prerequisite: Two courses in philosophy. Four credit hours.    BEHUNIAK

483f, 484s    Philosophy Honors Program    Research conducted under the guidance of a faculty member and focused on an approved topic leading to the writing of a thesis. A 3.25 major average at the end of the senior year, a grade of A- or better on honors work, a public presentation, and final approval by the department are conditions of successful completion of this program. Prerequisite: Senior standing, a 3.25 major average at the end of the junior year, and permission of the department. The honors tutor must be a member of the philosophy faculty. Four credit hours.    FACULTY

491f, 492s    Independent Study    Individual projects in areas where the student has demonstrated the interest and competence necessary for independent work. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor. One to four credit hours.    FACULTY