Fall 2014

FYS 100 – Movies & Metaphysics
Stavroula Glezakos TR – 11:00-12:15 – Tribble Hall A307

In this seminar, we will examine some central issues in philosophy, including: the appearance-reality distinction, free will, personal identity, and the nature of love. We will read classic and contemporary writings by philosophers, as well as view movies, in which these and other philosophical themes are explored.

PHI 111 – Basic Problems of Philosophy
Tyron Goldschmidt
TR – 9:30-10:45 am and 11:00 -12:15 – Tribble C316
TR – 3:30-4:45 pm – Tribble A306

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
Ralph Kennedy
MWF – 9:00-9:50 am and 10:00-10:50 am – Tribble A305

PHI 111 – Basic Problems of Philosophy
Clark Thompson
MWF – 12:00-12:50 pm- Tribble C316
MWF – 1:00-1:50 pm – Tribble A306

We shall study the following questions in moral philosophy, political philosophy, the philosophy of religion, and in epistemology (the theory of knowledge): Is an act morally right because it is in accord with a cultural practice? Because it is commanded by God? Because it promotes the self-interest of the agent? Because it maximizes overall happiness? Is capital punishment morally acceptable? Do we have an obligation to obey the law? What is the extent of the legitimate authority of government in matters of religion? Is it reasonable to believe that miracles occur? Is the existence of an omniscient, omnipotent, and perfectly good god consistent with the existence of suffering and moral evil? Are there any limits to what we can doubt?  We shall read works by Plato, Descartes, Locke, Hume, and Mill.

PHI 112 – Introduction to Philosophical Ideas
Charles Lewis
MWF – 11:00 – 11:50 p.m. – 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 115 – Introduction to Philosophy of Religion
Adrian Bardon
WF 3:30-4:45 pm – Tribble A306

Should we believe in the existence of a deity? Are there reasons to believe even without proof? Can there be morality without God? Can free will be reconciled with divine foreknowledge? Can the existence of evil be reconciled with divine goodness? Is life after death metaphysically possible? Does the theory of evolution conflict with the idea that life is the product of design? Is faith inherently irrational? Is religion, on balance, a good or bad thing for humanity? We shall consider classic and contemporary pro and con answers to all these questions.

PHI 116 – Meaning and Happiness
Julian Young
TR – 2:00-3:15 pm – Tribble 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 – Introduction to Bioethics
Adam Kadlac
TR – 9:30-10:45 am and 11:00 – 12:15 pm – Tribble A306

The theme of this course will be “Happiness, Health, and Society.” Among the questions we will consider: Is happiness a purely psychological phenomenon? How is health related to happiness? How have advances in medical technology changed our understanding of the good life? What role should physicians play in promoting the happiness of their patients? And what obligations do we have to promote the health and/or happiness of others?

PHI 161 – Introduction to Bioethics
Ana Iltis
TR – 12:30-1:45 pm – Tribble A306

A study of ethical issues that arise in health care and the life sciences. This course is linked to BIO 101: Biology and the Human Condition.

PHI 220 – Logic
Adrian Bardon
WF – 2:00-3:15 pm – Tribble A306

The study of reasoning itself. We shall examine logical inference, logical fallacies, cognitive bias, self-deception, “motivated reasoning” (reasoning designed to arrive at a predetermined conclusion), and the influence of personality traits on belief. We shall use current debates in politics, public policy, and religion to illustrate and analyze good and bad practices in reasoning and believing.

PHI 232 – Ancient Greek Philosophy
Emily Austin
MW – 2:00-3:15 pm – Tribble A307

PHI 241 – Modern Philosophy
Clark Thompson
MW – 5:00-6:15 pm – Tribble A307

A study of works by the following seventeenth- and eighteenth-century philosophers: Descartes, Locke, Leibniz, and Hume. Topics include skepticism, the existence and nature of God, necessity, freedom, induction, evil, and the argument from design. We shall also study Locke on religious toleration and political obligation.

PHI 362/662 – Social & Political Philosophy
Adam Kadlac
MW – 12:30-1:45 pm – Tribble A307

In this course, we will examine the work of selected historical and contemporary philosophers on topics such as the state, the justice, rights, freedom, and equality.

PHI 363 – Philosophy of Law
Win-chiat Lee
TR – 12:30-1:45 pm – Tribble A307

PHI 372/672 – Philosophy of Religion
Charles Lewis
TR – 3:30-4:45 p.m. – Tribble Hall A307

An examination of such questions as the following: What is religion? Are the gods (of polytheism) dead or dying? What about God? How is religious belief to be explained? Is it a symptom of some underlying human weakness, need, or biological process? Or is it a response to the sacred? How could anyone know? Must believers rely on something less than knowledge? Are philosophical proofs the way to knowledge of God? Is the “problem of evil” a metaphysical problem? A theological problem? A critical problem? How are religious beliefs like and unlike metaphysical, moral, and modern scientific beliefs?
*Note: Officially, this class meets from 3:30 to 4:45, but in fact the class generally lets out considerably later than 4:45. 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 375/675 – Philosophy of Language
Stavroula Glezakos
TR – 9:30-10:45 am – Tribble A307

This course will introduce and investigate central themes in the philosophy of language, including the nature of meaning, reference, understanding, and communication.

PHI 376 – Epistemology
Ralph Kennedy
TR – 2:00-3:15 – Tribble A307

Epistemology, or the theory of knowledge, is the systematic reflection on such questions as the following: If you believe something that just happens to be true, do you know that thing? If not, what more is required? Some have thought that the additional requirement is justification and have accordingly thought of knowledge as justified true belief. Is this correct? What does it take for a belief to be genuinely justified? If justification is not the additional ingredient that turns true belief into knowledge, what if anything is?

Additional questions include: Why do we value knowledge: in what way if any is the true belief that p less valuable than the knowledge that p? Where does knowledge come from? Does it all come from sense experience as the empiricists say or are there other sources as well? What role does the testimony of others play in our coming to know things? What roles do reason and memory play? Can we have genuine knowledge about the future, the past, the minds of others? Can we have knowledge of the “external” world — the world beyond our own minds — at all? Descartes notoriously argued that our knowledge of our own minds was knowledge of an especially secure sort compared, for instance, to our knowledge of the familiar world of physical objects within which we live and move. Was he right? Or is the familiar view that knowledge of our own minds is particularly difficult to achieve more compelling in the final analysis?