Fall 2023

FYS 100 – The Good Life
Session B (61775) – W & F – 9:30-10:45 a.m. – Location TBA
Session BB (63291) – W & F – 12:30-1:45 – Location TBA
Emily Austin

Everyone wants to live a ‘good life.’ But what does that really mean, and how do we accomplish it? According to many ancient philosophical traditions, our greatest chance of living well lies in developing and implementing a coherent ‘philosophy of living.’ Absent such a philosophy, we will find ourselves unable to articulate our values, much less actually live by them. In this course, we will focus on some of the major schools of ancient philosophy that explored how we can best navigate life—Stoicism, Scepticism, Epicureanism, Confucianism, and Buddhism. Each of these schools weighed in on important questions, including: Do we need to be virtuous to live well? Does living well depend on luck and good fortune? Should we aim for tranquillity, or does the good life require struggle? How, if at all, can we make sense of suffering and death? Do we need knowledge to live well, and if so, of what kind? What makes a tradition valuable? When, if ever, is expressing anger appropriate? Do we need money to live well, and if so, how much? Do we need friends, and if so, why and of what kind? Does living well require concern for the wider community, and if so, why and to what extent? We will explore competing answers to such questions not merely for their academic interest, but also in the service of developing and refining our own principled account of living well.

PHI 111A (62730) – Problems of Philosophy – Freshmen Only
T & R – 11:00-12:15 – Location TBA
Francisco Gallegos

This course will introduce you to philosophy, the discipline that grapples with some of life’s biggest questions, such as: How can I know what’s really going on? What does it mean to be happy? To be a good person? To be free? How can I be true to myself despite all of the pressure others put on me? What is the meaning of life? We’ll explore how these philosophical questions relate to pressing issues in our own lives and in our communities, while becoming acquainted with a diverse array of historical and contemporary philosophers. Participants should be prepared for a learning experience that is intellectually, emotionally, and physically engaging. You should plan to spend around 6 hours outside of class each week reading, writing, and talking to people (including your friends and family) about ideas from the course. You will also be invited to engage in experiential learning activities in order to test out some philosophical ideas for yourself, and to reflect on, and even react emotionally to, the personal relevance of our course material.

PHI 111C (62738) – Problems of Philosophy
W & F – 12:30 – 1:45 p.m. – Location TBA
Matthew Shields

Are we motivated exclusively by self-interest, or are we able to act selflessly? Is there a ‘self’ that persists through time? Do moral norms exist exclusively within particular cultures and historical moments, or are they binding on everyone at all times? Can we act freely, and what would it mean to do so? What forms of political resistance are justified? In this course, students will be introduced to the subject of philosophy through these and other questions. We will examine key themes from the history of philosophy and contemporary philosophy in the following areas: ethics, philosophy of mind, epistemology, and political philosophy. Students will learn how to think more carefully and critically about questions of deep theoretical and moral importance. Students will also practice how to construct and analyze sophisticated arguments.

PHI 111D (62739) – Problems of Philosophy
T & R – 2:00 – 3:15 – – Location TBA
Win-chiat Lee

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

PHI 111 – Problems of Philosophy
Section E (64746) – T & R- 11:00 – 12:15 = Location TBA
Section F (64747) – T & R – 11:00 – 12:15 – Location TBA
Justin Jennings

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

PHI 111 A (62726) – Problems of Philosophy
M, W & F – 9:00 – 9:50 a.m. – Location TBA
Amanda Corris

This course will serve as an “intellectual workshop” of sorts: a place where we will learn how to use philosophical tools to explore ideas, questions, debates, worries, puzzles, and more. One of our main goals will be to craft our own sophisticated philosophical approaches to some of life’s most fundamental questions, as well as all of the little ones in between. Along the way, we will examine how to evaluate arguments from both classic and contemporary philosophers, how to determine what makes for a good argument in the first place, and how to apply philosophical thought to issues at the individual, community, and societal scale.

PHI 160 – Intro to Political Philosophy
Section A (64739) – M, W, & F – 12:00-12:50 p.m. – Location TBA
Section B (64739) – M, W, & F – 1:00-1:50 p.m. – Location TBA
Adrian Bardon

An overview of major issues in social and political thought, beginning with some historical accounts relevant to present day debates. The study of political philosophy is the study of questions about justice. What could justify claims to political authority? Is the proper purpose of organized society to promote the general welfare or to protect individual rights? Is there a natural right to property? Is there a right to equal opportunity? How are answers to these questions implicit in real world policy?

PHI 161C (64743) – Intro to Bioethics
T – 4:00 – 6:30 p.m. – Tribble Hall A304
Ana Iltis

 A study of ethical issues that arise in health care and the life sciences. Topics to be explored include questions about death and organ donation, regenerative medicine, genetic testing and research, and the allocation of health care resources, among others.

PHI 161 – Intro to Bioethics
Session A (62748) – T & R – 9:30 – 10:445 – Location TBA
Session B (64736) – T & R – 11:00 – 12:15 – Location TBA
Adam Kadlac

 In this class, we will examine a number of ethical issues that arise in the context of medicine. The questions we will consider include: How do we go about deciding who is a reliable source of medical information? Is vaccine skepticism irrational, and should vaccines be mandated? Is unhappiness a medical problem? What is disability, and does having a disability necessarily make one’s life worse? What obligation do doctors have to simply carry out the wishes of their patients? Assignments will be an assortment of short written reflections, two 1600-word dialogue papers, and quizzes.

PHI 221A (64738)– Symbolic Logic
W & F – 12:30-1:45 p.m. – Location TBA
Stavroula Glezakos

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 arguments as valid or invalid. No prior study of logic or mathematics will be assumed.

PHI 232A (63956) – Ancient Greek Philosophy
T & R – 9:30 – 10:45 – Location TBA
Emily Austin

A study of the central figures in early Greek philosophy, beginning with the Presocratics, focusing primarily on Plato and Aristotle, and concluding with a brief survey of some Hellenistic philosophers.

PHI 239A (64741) – Latin American & Latinx Philosophy
T & R – 2:00 – 3:15 – Location TBA
Francisco Gallegos

This course surveys some of the central ideas and texts of the Latin American and Latinx philosophical traditions. Beginning with pre-colonial indigenous philosophy, and with a special emphasis on the work of Mexican phenomenologist Jorge Portilla and Chicana philosopher Gloria Anzaldúa, we will examine topics including human nature, freedom, justice, nationality, normativity, aesthetics, identity, and immigration. Philosophical texts will be supplemented with an introduction to the history of Latin America, as well as videos, films, and podcasts that can help bring the course material to life.

PHI 343A (63906) – Topics: Kant – Practical Philosophy
T & R – 3:30-4:45 – Location TBA
Justin Jennings


PHI 364 – A(64744) – Freedom, Action, and Responsibility
M & W – 5:00- – 6:15 – Location TBA
Adam Kadlac

The first part of this class will provide an overview of some key positions in contemporary discussions of free will with a particular focus on what conceptions of freedom are required to preserve moral responsibility. In the second part of the class, we will consider some more “practical” issues concerning agency such as addiction, criminal punishment, moral luck, and what norms should govern making promises.

PHI 366A (64735) – Global Justice
T & R – 11:00 – 12:15 – Location TBA
Win-chiat Lee

In this course, we are interested in discerning the extent to which national boundaries matter morally. This question has implications for many practical issues that involve the proper scope of humanitarianism and our concern for justice. We will pay special attention to the debate between cosmopolitanism and nationalism regarding whether we owe special duties to our fellow citizens and whether they should take precedence over our general duties toward fellow human beings. The justification and application of universal human rights (in the face of a plurality of cultural norms) will also be discussed. Other topics include national sovereignty and self-determination, Just War Doctrine, humanitarian intervention, international criminal law, global distributive justice, global environmental ethics, immigration and refugee policy.

PHI 369A (64740) – Philosophy and Psychology
M, W, & F – 2:00 – 2:50 p.m. – Location TBA
Adrian Bardon

A wide-ranging examination of the philosophy and psychology of bias, motivated reasoning, self-deception, and denial. We will discuss the roles of ideology, personality, and identity in science denial, in political economy, in racism, and in religious belief.

PHI 374A (64254 – Philosophy of Mind
M & W – 11:00 – 12:15 – Location TBA
Amanda Corris

Our mental lives are unfathomably rich and complex, yet our brains are nothing more than lumps of meat. But is the mind even the same thing as the brain? Are humans the only beings with minds, despite the fact that other beings have brains? And how exactly is conscious experience possible in the first place?  Questions about the mind span the history of the discipline of philosophy, and persist despite their extensive treatment. One of the most fundamental of these is the relationship between the mind, brain, and body. If the mind is something distinct from the brain, then how does it interact with our physical selves? If it’s identical to the brain, how can we explain phenomena like conscious experience, or the sensation of “what it’s like” to see the color red, or hear a trumpet? These are key issues in the field of philosophy of mind, and these issues will structure the course.

PHI 376A (64742) – Epistemology
W & F – 3:30 – 4:45 p.m. – Location TBA
Matthew Shields

What does it mean to know something? And how can we be sure that what we take to be true lines up with how the world in fact is? In this course, we will examine these questions in detail by delving into the philosophical tradition known as epistemology. We begin by surveying some of the main positions in this literature. We consider skeptical and other challenges to the idea that we can have knowledge of the world at all. We look at different ways of responding to these challenges and different accounts of the nature of knowledge. We will look closely at the role that expertise and experts play in generating knowledge of the world. Throughout the course, we will also consider epistemological questions that appear to be especially urgent in our social and political lives. We will look at what epistemologists have said about whether identity shapes knowledge, the nature of fundamental or deep disagreements, and the phenomena of conspiracy theories and fake news.