Fall 2014 Course Descriptions

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


PHIL 112 Philosophical Explorations T Th 12:30-1:45 Casey Swank

We'll carefully consider questions like these . . .

Is there a God?
What is an artwork?
Is life after death possible?
Am I ever responsible for my actions?
What reason have I to think I'm not in the matrix?
What reason have we to think there will be another sunrise?
Are morals a matter of personal taste? divine decree? something else?
Is it okay for me to have more than I need while others are desperately needy?
No book to buy. Assigned readings will be available online. Work: Numerous one page discussion papers and a few short-answer/essay exams

PHIL 212-1: Moral Problems and Theories T Th 11:00-12:15 Carla Johnson

What do you owe others? What do they owe you? Is it always right to exercise your rights? Does being law-abiding have ethical merit? Who do you want to be? What do you value above all else? What's integrity and is it worth it? Is trust a good idea? Is judging others ever acceptable? Who cares? These and other basic life questions will be discussed as we consider a range of moral theoretical perspectives and apply them to contemporary personal and professional issues. A short practice-oriented textbook (Weston’s A Practical Companion to Ethics) will accompany online readings and student supplied resources for discussion.

Additional courses being offered:

PHIL212-2: Moral Problems and Theories MWF 12:00-12:50 Jordan Curnutt
PHIL213: Environmental Ethics TR 11:00-12:15 Jordan Curnutt
PHIL 221: Philosophy of Religion TR 2:00-3:15 Jordan Curnutt


Major/minor program required courses and upper level electives


PHIL 251: History of Philosophy I T Th 9:30-10:45 Kathleen Gill

A delightful thing about an historical approach to philosophy is the inclusion and relevance of every sort of philosophical question. Theories explaining how we “know” things (epistemology) can be assessed in conjunction with theories that purport to explain the fundamental nature of reality (metaphysics). General claims about what’s true, and what’s real, can be merged with beliefs about moral goodness and the nature of art. All of these, in turn, are pertinent to questions about community—what social norms and governance structures best suit our natures and most fully capture the meaning of life?

Another marvelous thing about studying philosophy historically is the oddly jumbled way in which entirely plausible ideas are suddenly surrounded by ideas clearly constructed by aliens. Piecing together a cultural perspective from which all these might fit together helps us recognize the fact that we, too, are radically shaped by time and place—just the sort of big picture thinking that philosophy nurtures.

Four famous philosophers will be our guides: Plato, Sextus Empircus, Christine de Pizan and Umberto Eco. These are four amazing people, who, I believe, every student taking the class will be glad to have met. Students will be asked to read (carefully); to write (clearly, thoughtfully); to memorize lots of information about the past; and to converse—to share your thoughts and listen to others. Texts: Plato’s Republic; Sextus Empiricus’s Major Writings on Scepticism, Man & God; Umberto Eco’s Art and Beauty in the Middle Ages; Christine de Pizan’s The Book of the City of Ladies

PHIL 301: Ethics T 5:00 – 7:45 Susana Nuccetelli

Philosophy 301 provides a general introduction to the use of systematic reason in thinking about right and wrong. It introduces students to some fundamental philosophical problems that arise in thinking about morality. It also considers the most prominent normative ethical theories that purport to provide standards for assessment in practical situations and guides to resolving moral dilemmas. We will examine some ways in which the application of these theories can be useful in clarifying the terms of our thinking about ethical dilemmas in real-life cases involving certain major moral controversies. Of particular interest to us will be moral cases in bioethics.

PHIL 321: History of Western Philosophy III W 5:00-7: 45 Paul Neiman

This class will begin with Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, a story of consciousness’s investigation of itself as it attempts to attain absolute knowledge. Along with Hegel, we will trace self-consciousness’s investigation throughout history, from slave societies, in which self-consciousness seeks recognition of itself in master-slave relations, to various religious movements in which self-consciousness attempts to identify itself with the divine, and ending with the French revolution and self-consciousness’s attempt to find certainty of itself in the ethical rule of law. We will examine how Hegel has influenced Karl Marx’s concepts of alienation and historical materialism. Hegel’s arguments on the conflict between individuality and community will inform a discussion of Josiah Royce’s concept of the infinite community of minds. We may also spend time with William James’ Pragmatism, GE Moore’s “Refutation of Idealism,” Bertrand Russell’s Logical Atomism and Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology of Perception.

PHIL 324: Philosophy of Mind T Th 12:30-1:45 Carolyn Hartz

What is the nature of consciousness? What makes things with minds different from things without minds? What is the relationship between the mind and the brain? Is the mind itself a material object (or explicable in materialistic terms), or is it essentially non-material? Come join us for a spirited (!) discussion of these and other issues as we explore some of the most fundamental questions about ourselves and our place in the universe.

Additional courses being offered:

PHIL 303: Epistemology MWF 11:00-11:50 Omar Mirza
PHIL 484: Global Business Ethics Multiple sections Staff

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