Spring 2014

FYS 100 – Philosophy Goes to the Movies (19996)
Adrian Bardon – WF – 3:30-4:45 – Tribble Hall A307

FYS 100 – Philosophy of War (19997)
Clark Thompson MW – 5:00-6:15 – Tribble Hall A307

Philosophy of War is a study of the implications of moral theory for the determination of when war is morally permissible and of how war is to be conducted if it is to be waged in a morally acceptable way.  We shall examine whether just war theory can offer acceptable guidance in making these determinations.  We shall ask whether the provisions of international law governing warfare, as well as the rules of warfare adopted by the military forces of the United States, are morally acceptable, and whether various military actions (e.g., the bombing of cities to weaken civilian morale) violate such provisions and rules.

FYS 100 – Art and Religion (19998)
Patrick Toner – MWF – 10:00-10:50 – TRIB A307

Over the last several centuries, religion has been on the decline in the West. Art has often been seen as a promising replacement. In various ways, and to varying degrees, this apotheosis of art has been defended by such people as Goethe, Beethoven, Shelley and Blake. This seminar shall ask what art is, how we ought to understand it, whether art could replace religion, whether religion might need replacing, how the arts do or should relate to religion (particularly Christianity), and many other such questions.

PHI 111 A – Basic Problems of Philosophy (19547)
First-year students only
Christian Miller – MWF – 11:00-11:50 – Tribble Hall A309

This course will be concerned with some of the most challenging and interesting questions in all of human experience. For example, we will consider some of the arguments for the existence of God, whether God would allow evil to exist, whether faith is compatible with reason, whether there is an objective morality, whether we should be moral at the expense of self-interest, whether the death penalty is morally permissible, and what we should do about famine. In each case, we will examine particular questions not only with an aim at arriving at the truth, but also with an aim at determining what relevance these questions have to our ordinary lives.  The text will be Joel Feinberg and Russ Shafer-Landau, Reason and Responsibility (Wadsworth Press, most recent edition) and our readings will be drawn from both classic and contemporary sources.

PHI 111 – Basic Problems of Philosophy
Chris Smith

TR 11:00-12:15 – Tribble Hall C316 (section B) 19548
TR 12:30-1:45 – Tribble Hall A306 (section C) 19549
TR 3:30-4:45 – Tribble Hall A309 (section D) 19550

We will explore some important problems of philosophy by discussing the ideas of five important philosophers: Socrates, Plato, René Descartes, David Hume, and Bertrand Russell. These thinkers span the history of philosophy, from ancient Greece to the 20th century. While we will touch on a number of different problems—including morality, God, and the relation between mind and body—our chief focus will be on the problem of knowledge: what is it, and how much do we have?

Class time will consist of lecture, discussion, and activities like worksheets and small group work. Coursework will consist of four short papers, a short class presentation, and a final essay exam.

PHI 112 A – Introduction to Philosophical Ideas (19551)
Charles Lewis – MWF – 11:00-11:50 – 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 A – Philosophy of Human Nature (19552)
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; The Revolt of the Masses, by Jose Ortega y Gasset; and St. Thomas Aquinas by GK Chesterton.

PHI 115 – Introduction to Philosophy of Religion
Clark Thompson

MWF 12:00-12:50 – Tribble Hall A306 (section A) 19553
MWF 1:00-1:50 – Tribble Hall A306 (section B) 19554

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 116 – Meaning and Happiness (19555)
Julian Young – TR – 11:00-12:15 – 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 A – Medical Ethics (19556)
Hannah Hardgrave – MW – 3:30-4:45 – Tribble Hall A306

This course will deal with selected issues arising from the practice of medicine, understood broadly. It should be of particular interest to students planning careers in the health sciences although the issues concern all of us who are going to be patients at some time and will have loved ones in need of health care.  Among the topics in the course are: (1) the problems concerning the allocation of scarce resources, exemplified by the treatment decisions for those with organ failure, (2) the dilemmas arising from the treatment of those with extreme, incurable disabilities such as extensive paralysis or permanent loss of consciousness, and (3) end-of-life care issues.

Full length feature films will provide extended cases to be the subject of student led discussions and will be the topics for short papers.  Students will be strongly encouraged to engage in discussion with the instructor about their papers before writing them.  The course is an introduction to critical thinking about these issues and requires the active participation of students in this process

PHI 164 – Contemporary Moral Problems
Adam Kadlac
TR 9:30-10:45 – Tribble Hall A306 (section A) 19557
TR 2:00-3:15 – Tribble Hall A306 (section C) 19559
TR 3:30-4:45 – Tribble Hall A306 (section D) 19560

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 B – Contemporary Moral Problems (19558)
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 A – Logic
TR 12:30-1:45 – Tribble Hall C316 (section A) 19561
TR 2:00-3:15 – Tribble Hall A309 (section B) 19562

Elementary study of the laws of valid inference, recognition of fallacies, and logical analysis.

PHI 241 A – Modern Philosophy (19563)
Adrian Bardon – WF – 2:00-3:15 – Tribble Hall A307

Study of the works of influential 17th and 18th-century European philosophers such as Descartes, Locke, Leibniz, Berkeley, and Hume, with a concentration on theories of knowledge and metaphysics.

PHI 331A/631AG – Plato (19564/19572)
Emily Austin – TR – 9:30-10:45 – Tribble Hall A307

Detailed analysis of selected dialogues, covering Plato’s most important contributions to moral and political philosophy, theory of knowledge, metaphysics, and theology.

PHI 352A/652AG – 19 Century European Philosophy – Hegel, Kierkegaard, & Nietzsche (19566/19573)
Charles Lewis – TR – 3:30 – 4:45 – 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 4:45 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 360A/660AG – Ethics (19567/19574)
Christian Miller – MW – 12:30-1:45 – Tribble Hall B307

Ethics is concerned with the way we should live our lives and the type of person we should become.  This course will focus, not on applied topics in ethics like famine relief, abortion, or the death penalty, but rather on ethical theory itself.  We will look at such questions as: Which actions are right and which are wrong?  Which outcomes should we promote?  What kind of character should we attempt to cultivate? Our approach will be both historical and contemporary, and will focus on the four major ethical traditions:

  • Divine Command Theory, where the commands of a loving and just God are central to ethical theorizing.  Authors will include Robert Adams and Philip Quinn.
  • Kantian Deontology, where categorical imperatives and respect for others are central to ethical theorizing.  Authors will include Kant, Christine Korsgaard, and Fred Feldman.
  • Utilitarianism, where maximizing good outcomes is central to ethical theorizing.  Authors will include Mill, Michael Stocker, and Robert Nozick.
  • Virtue Ethics, where virtuous character traits are central to ethical theorizing.  Authors will include Aristotle, Rosalind Hursthouse, and Robert Louden.

I envision requiring four moderately sized papers and no exams.

PHI 367A – Philosophical Theories in Bioethics (19568)
Ana Iltis – TR – 12:30-1:45 – 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 through discussion of cases and topics.

PHI 371A/671AG – Philosophy of Art (20008/20009)
Patrick Toner – MWF – 11:00-11:50 – Tribble Hall A307

This course is an investigation into the nature of art, beauty, and taste.  Our readings will include Francis Kovach’s Philosophy of Beauty, Carl Wilson’s Let’s Talk About Love, Jose Ortega y Gasset’s The Dehumanization of Art, Noel Carroll’s, and Jorge Gracia’s Images of Thought, and some wonderful essays by Susan Sontag, Ananda Coomaraswamy, GK Chesterton and others.  We will arrange at least one visit to the “American Moderns” exhibition at Reynolda House, and we will attend the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra’s performance at Wait Chapel in February.  Students will write three 6-8 page papers.

PHI 374A/674AG – Philosophy of Mind (19569/19575)
Ralph Kennedy – TR – 11:00-12:15 – Tribble Hall A307

A central issue in philosophy of mind is the nature of consciousness. We’ll consider such questions as: What is it to have conscious experiences? Is there a special problem about how something could be made of matter, as we seem to be, and nevertheless be conscious? If there is such a problem does it make sense to suppose that we are not wholly material, as Descartes famously suggested? Could a robot be conscious? What would it take to convince us that a robot was indeed conscious? How should we think about animal consciousness? It seems hard to deny that chimpanzees and others of our close cousins are conscious, but what about ‘possums, sharks, dragonflies, earthworms, planaria? It seems natural to think that at some point consciousness just isn’t there, but what criteria should we use for drawing the line wherever we do?

We’ll consider all these questions and more as treated in the writings of authors from Descartes (1596-1650) to Quine (1908-2000) and beyond. Most of our readings will be from the twentieth-century.

Requirements: three papers, for a total of roughly twenty pages. There will be a final examination. Attendance and participation will count towards the final grade. Books: David Chalmers (ed.), Philosophy of Mind: Classical and Contemporary Readings; and Jaegwon Kim, Philosophy of Mind, third edition (Westview 2010).

PHI 385A/685AG – Seminar: Wagner and German Philosophy (19571/19576)
Julian Young – TR – 2:00-3:15 – Tribble Hall A307

Under the influence of Hegel, Proudhon, Feuerbach, and Bakunin, the early Richard Wagner produced a revolutionary philosophy of art and society. We will see how this ‘philosophy of the Gesamtkunstwerk (collective artwork)’ affected the content and form of his earlier operas, in particular, Das Rheingold. Later, Wagner became a convert to Schopenhauer’s pessimistic philosophy. We will examine the effect of this new philosophy on the content and form of Wagner’s subsequent operas, in particular, on Tristan und Isolde, Parsifal, Götterdämmerung. Finally, we will examine the question of whether Nietzsche, in spite of his later critique of Wagner, remained, fundamentally, a ‘Wagnerian’.