Spring 2013

FYS 111 – Crimes and Punishments

Clark Thompson

TR – 3:30-4:45pm – Tribble Hall A202

This is a course in legal philosophy and in constitutional law.  We shall consider several attempts to justify punishment and to determine when and how much people should be punished.  We shall also examine the ban on cruel and unusual punishments in the Eighth Amendment to the Bill of Rights.  A particular concern will be capital punishment. 

FYS 111 – The History and Philosophy of Civil Disobedience

Earl Crow

MWF – 11:00-11:50am – WING 209

A philosophical and historical examination of civil disobedience as a moral option. The students will read the writings of Thomas Aquinas, Henry David Thoreau, Martin Luther King, Jr., Daniel Berrigan, and other appropriate articles and authors and explore civil disobedience from Biblical time, through the Middle Ages, to the Modern era. Emphasis will be placed on research and reading, critical thought, oral presentations, and class discussions. Students will develop and defend philosophical positions.

PHI 111 – Basic Problems of Philosophy


TR – 12:30-1:45pm – Tribble Hall A208

TR – 3:30-4:45pm – Tribble Hall A208

Examines the basic concepts of several representative philosophers, including their accounts of the nature of knowledge, persons, God, mind, and matter.

PHI 111 – Basic Problems of Philosophy

Earl Crow

TR – 11:00-12:15 – WING 209

Examines the basic concepts of several representative philosophers, including their accounts of the nature of knowledge, persons, God, mind, and matter.

PHI 112 – Introduction to Philosophical Ideas

Charles Lewis

MWF – 11:00-11:50am – Tribble Hall A306

This course, after examining the common sense and religious background of the first scientific thinkers or philosophers, turns to the study of Plato and Aristotle, the major shapers of pre-modern scientific, theological, and philosophical thought.  Then the course turns to Descartes, the first great architect of the modern scientific and philosophical ways of thinking.  An examination of the new Cartesian science of nature and its momentous departure from pre-modern belief in the teleology of all natural processes is followed by the study of Hume, one of Descartes’ major critics, who takes modern skepticism to a new level.  Twentieth-century existential nihilism is introduced along the way in order to consider its place in modern thought and its radical rejection of conventional assumptions about the meaning or purpose of human existence.  Attention is given throughout to how an examination of modern and pre-modern ways of thinking can help us to understand contemporary conceptions of self and world. 

PHI 114 – Philosophy of Human Nature

Patrick Toner

MWF – 9:00-9:50am – Tribble Hall A306

Is there such a thing as human nature?  If so, are there legitimate philosophical questions to ask about it, or does natural science tell us (at least in principle) all that we need to know?  Is there a soul?  What is the mind?  Could we survive our deaths?  What does evolution tell us about ourselves?  We will read Human Nature After Darwin, by Janice Radcliffe Richards; The Abolition of Man, by CS Lewis; and Naturalism, by Stewart Goetz and Charles Taliaferro. 

PHI 115 – Introduction to Philosophy of Religion

Clark Thompson

TR – 11:00 – 12:15pm and 12:30 – 1:45pm – Tribble Hall A306

We shall examine philosophical arguments concerning the existence and nature of God to see how far reason can establish and defend various beliefs about God.  Among the topics we shall explore are: Is it rational to believe in the existence of God, understood as an all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-loving being? Is it reasonable to believe in miracles? Can we reconcile human freedom with divine foreknowledge, and the existence of evil with God’s perfect goodness?

PHI 115 – Introduction to Philosophy of Religion

Adam Pelser

MW – 2:00-3:15pm – Tribble Hall A306

The existence of God is often taken to be something that it is impossible to offer evidence for (or against). Yet, arguments for the existence of God have been offered since the early days of philosophy. In this course, we will carefully examine classical and contemporary versions of arguments for the existence of God, as well as different versions of the most important argument against the existence of God – the argument from evil. We will then reflect on whether belief in God can be rational in the absence of an argument (or proof) for God’s existence and what this has to do with the relationship between reason and religious faith. We will also consider other important questions in the philosophy of religion, including several challenges to traditional theistic conceptions of God, such as: can God know what someone with free will would do?, is God outside of time?, how strong or weak is the evidence for miracles? Students will be exposed to alternative viewpoints on every issue and encouraged to think issues through in relation to their own convictions.

PHI 116 – Meaning and Happiness – Julian Young

TR – 2:00-3:15 p.m. – Tribble Hall A306

Beginning with Plato (c. 400 BCE) and ending with Foucault (died 1984) the course will look at the views of Western philosophers who have discussed the question of how to live a happy, meaningful life. Particular attention will be paid to ‘post-death-of-God’ philosophers (e.g. Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Marx, Sartre, Camus, Heidegger) who reject the traditional Christian answer to the question of meaning and seek to provide an alternative. Since these philosophers all (a) argue for their positions and (b) disagree with each other, we shall improve our skills in critical thinking in seeing with whom we agree (if anyone) and with whom we disagree. At the end of the course we should have an outline grasp of the history of Western philosophy.

PHI 161 – Medical Ethics

Hannah Hardgrave

TR – 3:30 – 4:45pm – Tribble Hall A304

Biomedical ethics is the application of the theories, arguments and concepts of moral philosophy to ethical issues in medical practice and research. Among the issues to be discussed in this course are: end of life, assisted reproduction, genetics, and research using human subjects, organ donation, physician-patient relationships, scarce resources, and public health.

Written assignments will consist of four short papers (one of which will be a substitute for a final exam) on assigned topics.

PHI 164 – Contemporary Moral Problems

Adam Kadlac

TR – 9:30 – 10:45am – Tribble Hall A306

TR – 12:30 – 1:45pm – Tribble Hall A103

TR – 3:30 – 4:45pm – Tribble Hall A306

In this course we will discuss several moral issues of contemporary concern including: truth-telling (in public and private life), performance-enhancing drugs (in sports and in the classroom), abortion, and capital punishment.  We will also think about the relationship between our modern market economy and other social values.

PHI 164 – Contemporary Moral Problems

Emily Austin

MWF – 10:00-10:50am – Tribble Hall A306

Study of pressing ethical issues in contemporary life, such as abortion, euthanasia, animal rights, affirmative action, marriage, cloning, pornography, and capital punishment.

PHI 220 – Logic

Win-chiat Lee

MWF – 1:00-1:50pm – Tribble Hall A306

We will learn some very basic logic in this course. That should improve your reasoning skills or at least your ability to detect errors in the inferences that people make. About two-third of the course will be focused on deductive arguments. We will learn about what makes a valid deductive argument. We will also learn some basic formal techniques for proving the validity of an argument. A number of subjects will be covered, including syllogistic arguments, truth-functional logic, and basic quantification. The remaining one-third of the course will be devoted to inductive logic and decision theory. Probabilistic reasoning and inferences will be the focus.

PHI 221 – Symbolic Logic

Stavroula Glezakos

WF – 2:00-3:15pm – Greene Hall 308

Symbolic logic is the application of formal methods to the study of reasoning.  In this course, we will learn techniques for constructing arguments in a symbolic language and for evaluating such arguments as valid or invalid.  No prior study of logic or mathematics will be assumed. Requirements: completion of regular homework assignments; three midterm exams; one final exam.

PHI 352A/652AG – 19 Century European PHI – Hegel, Kierkegaard, & Nietzsche

Charles Lewis

TR – 3:30 – 4:45pm – Tribble Hall A307

Is there a way to think about the natural world that also makes sense of human life and history? Is anything gained, or lost, by thinking holistically about the world as a whole? Is a life dedicated to thinking about the world (and living accordingly) a way of avoiding an authentic human life? What does it mean to live authentically? Does nihilism provide the answer or is it a form of avoidance? What motivates avoidance and is there a remedy? *Note:  Officially, this class meets from 3:30 to 4:30 but in fact the class generally lets out considerably later than 4:30. If you cannot stay for the entire class, Professor Lewis will work with you outside of class time so that you do not miss any of the material.

PHI 360A/660AG –Ethics

Emily Austin

MWF – 2:00-2:50pm – Tribble Hall B307

Systematic examination of central ethical theories in the Western philosophical tradition. Such theories include Kantian deontology, utilitarianism, Aristotelian virtue ethics, and divine command theory.

PHI 361A/661AG – Topics in Ethics

Stavroula Glezakos

WF – 11:00-11:50am – Tribble Hall B307

This course will examine a variety of historical and contemporary philosophical investigations of love and friendship. Among the questions that we will consider are: What is love? What is the difference between friendship and love? Can emotions be rationally justified? Are love and friendship necessary for happiness? Are they sufficient? In what way do our values guide our choices of friends and lovers?

Readings will include selections from philosophical works by Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Nietzsche, Simone de Beauvoir, Annette Baier, Harry Frankfurt, Niko Kolodny, Robert Nozick, Martha Nussbaum, and David Velleman, as well as selected works of literature.

PHI 367A – Philosophy Theories in Bioethics

Ana Iltis

TR – 9:30 – 10:45am – Tribble Hall A307

A study of the main philosophical approaches to contemporary bioethics. Each approach will be examined critically and students will explore how each approach informs analysis of contemporary issues in bioethics.


  • Understand the main philosophical approaches to contemporary bioethics
  • Compare and critically evaluate the main philosophical approaches to contemporary bioethics
  • Understand how the main philosophical approaches to contemporary bioethics inform analysis of issues in bioethics


PHI 370A/670AG – Philosophy and Christianity

Christian Miller

MW – 12:30 – 1:45pm – A307

This course will examine central claims of the Christian creeds from a philosophical perspective. In particular, we will consider in detail most if not all of the following topics: the trinity, original sin, incarnation, atonement, grace, resurrection and life everlasting, and heaven and hell. Our readings will draw from medieval as well as contemporary analytic authors, with a focus on work by the latter. Examples of medieval authors include Augustine, Anselm, and Aquinas. Examples of contemporary authors include Peter van Inwagen, Trenton Merricks, Philip Quinn, Richard Swinburne, Eleonore Stump, Robert Adams, and Lynne Rudder Baker.

Right now I envision 2-3 short papers and a final exam.

PHI 371A/671AG – Aesthetics & Philosophy of Art

Patrick Toner

MWF – 10:00 – 10:50am – Tribble Hall A307

 If our notion of beauty is a concept that arose through wholly contingent evolutionary processes, then couldn’t be radically other than it is?  Even leaving evolution aside, is there any reason to think that beauty is objective?  What about art?  What makes something count as art?  What is the purpose (if any) of art?  Why do we make art?  We will be reading The Invention of Art, by Larry Shiner; Beauty: A Very Short Introduction, by Roger Scruton; Glittering Images, by Camille Paglia; But is it Art? by Cynthia Freeland; and The Art Instinct, by Dennis Dutton.  There will be three papers of 6-8 pages.

PHI 385A/685AG – Seminar: Wagner and German Philosophy

Julian Young

TR – 11:00 – 12:15 – Scales Fine Arts Center M308

The course will examine the impact of philosophy on Wagner’s theoretical writings about art and society and the impact of those writings on his operas. We shall focus on the influence of Schelling, Feuerbach, Proudhon, Bakunin and especially Hegel on his earlier theorising, and the strikingly different influence of Schopenhauer on his later thought. We shall also examine the philosophical critiques of Wagner as both thinker and artist put forward by Nietzsche, Adorno, and Thomas Mann.

[There will be two (3000 word) essays and one three-hour final exam. They will each be worth 30% of the final grade, the remaining 10% coming from attendance and participation.]