Fall 2015 Course Descriptions

Liberal education courses (200 level can serve as major/minor electives also)

PHIL 222: Existentialism

In this course we will read and study selected writings of Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Camus, and Sartre. Topics include Kierkegaard's how vs what to believe, Nietzsche's master morality and slave morality, Camus' absurd hero, and Sartre's authenticity.

Additional courses being offered:

PHIL 111: Multicultural Philosophy (Goals 6, 8; Diversity)
PHIL 112: Philosophical Explorations (Goal 6)
PHIL 116: Video Gaming (Goal 6)
PHIL 212: Moral Problems and Theories (Goals 6, 9)
PHIL 213: Environmental Ethics (Goals 9, 10)
PHIL 223: Elementary Symbolic Logic (Goal 4)

Major/minor program required courses and upper level electives


PHIL 251: History of Philosophy I

This class focuses on several themes discussed in ancient & medieval philosophy: the role of the philosopher in society, the nature of the soul, the possibility of knowledge and the existence of God. Of special interest throughout the course is the role of philosophy and the philosopher in society. Parmenides describes the philosopher as taking a higher path to knowledge and wisdom, far above the “opinions of mortals, in which there is no true reliance.” Philosophizing with those mortals forces Socrates to defend his love of wisdom in the Apology, and (spoiler!) leads ultimately to his death in the Phaedo. In Plato’s Republic, philosophers are kings, as they alone are capable of organizing the city justly. Cicero, in contrast, writes On the Ideal Orator to direct the state. In addition to these works, we will also discuss Aristotle’s On the Soul, Sextus Empiricus’ Outlines of Scepticism, Augustine’s On Free Choice of the Will and works from Thomas Aquinas and Christine de Pizan.

Course requirements include participation in class activities and discussions, completion of reading assignments, and three or so papers that explain the arguments discussed in class and develop students’ own philosophical ideas.

PHIL 322: Social and Political Philosophy

This class begins with Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Discourse on Inequality and On the Social Contract, and explores how the nature of human beings as individuals who are nevertheless social creatures influences political philosophy. From here, we will discuss John Rawls’ Theory of Justice. Rawls develops a social contract theory that promotes justice as fairness, which seems to underlie many of the institutions we are familiar with today, such as public education and other programs aimed at providing a fair equality of opportunity. Two important criticisms of Rawls’ justice as fairness come from Marxists and communitarians. The Marxist critique argues that the power structures that are essential to capitalism are also embedded in Rawls’ principles of justice. To explore these ideas, we will delve into Marx’s writings, especially Capital, Paris Notebooks, and the Communist Manifesto, as well as discuss Hannah Arrendt’s The Human Condition. Communitarians argue that community is prior to individuality, and thus that communal conceptions of good must be the focus of political theory. To explore the value of community, we will discuss Josiah Royce’s writings on community and Simone Weil’s The Need for Roots. All of these philosophers discuss the use of violence by the state against its own people. Throughout the semester we will explore what they have to say about recent incidents of police violence, as well as other disparities of justice.

Course requirements include participation in class activities and discussions, completion of reading assignments, papers and presentations.

PHIL 411: Reading Wittgenstein

Come decode some of the Master’s writings in this experimental course: we’ll be doing the actual reading in the classroom, with supplementary outside research.the course of taking turns reading aloud, we’ll stop and reflect on and discuss the ideas, problems, and insights the passages provoke.

PHIL 441: Philosophy After Graduation

This class will examine the vocational application of philosophy, the nature of a liberal arts education, and give students the opportunity to write a high quality research paper on a topic of their choice. Topics covered will include (but not be limited to): graduate school in philosophy, law school, workforce application of philosophical skills, the nature of vocation, and the role of philosophy in a liberal arts education. Roughly half of the semester will be spent research, writing, and revising a research paper.Students will present their paper in a colloquium setting at the end of the semester.

Additional courses being offered:

PHIL 301: Ethics
PHIL 303: Epistemology
PHIL 484: Global Business Ethics

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