Spring 2015

FYS 100 – Philosophy Goes to the Movies – CRN: 19996
T &TR – 3:30-4:45 – Tribble Hall A304
Adrian Bardon

Many excellent films have been built around interesting philosophical issues. This course uses film, in conjunction with targeted readings, to inspire discussion and debate of a variety of philosophical questions on the subjects of moral responsibility, memory and personal identity, artificial intelligence, genetic manipulation, the environment, drugs, abortion, religious belief, racial justice, economic justice, and immigration. Students will do individual short essays and work in groups to lead discussion.

FYS 100 – God – CRN: 14916
MW – 12:30-1:45 – Tribble Hall A307
Christian Miller

Is it rational to believe in the existence of God, understood as an all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-loving being? Do features of the natural world entitle us to believe in the existence of such a being? How are we to understand the claims that God is omnipotent and perfectly good? Can we reconcile human freedom with divine foreknowledge, and the existence of evil with God’s perfect goodness? Are divine commands the source of the moral rightness of acts? These are some of the questions which we will consider in a setting which will aim to be fair to both sides and encourage lots of discussion.

FYS 100 – Sports and Society – CRN: 19985 – T & TR – 9:30-10:45 – Tribble Hall A307
FYS 100 – Sports and Society – CRN: 19993 – T & TR – 11:00-12:15 – Tribble Hall A307
Adam Kadlac

This course takes a critical approach to sports and examines the role sports play in our lives, both as participants and as spectators.  Among the questions to be considered are the following: What is the value of participating in sports?  Does being a sports fan really make our lives better?  Are the resources we devote to sports as a society better devoted to other things?  How do our sporting ideals influence our culture, and how are our cultural ideals reflected in our sports?  Is the ideal of the student-athlete outdated?  Throughout the class, we will also consider how issues of race and gender affect our responses to these and related questions.

PHI 111 – Basic Problems of Philosophy – CRN: 20944
T & TR – 2:00-3:15 – Tribble Hall A304
Ralph Kennedy

Are there any true or rationally defensible religious beliefs? Even apart from religion, how much of what we think we know do we really know? Does our knowledge all come from sense experience, or is it possible sometimes (in mathematics, perhaps) to produce new knowledge simply by thinking? How does the “evidence of our senses” support our beliefs about the nature of the world? Is the world entirely physical or does it have irreducibly mental features? Do machines think? Could they someday? How would we know? Do the laws of nature allow for free will?

Required text: Feinberg and Shafer-Landau, eds., Reason and Responsibility, 15th edition. Wadsworth 2013. Paperback. ISBN 9781133608479. Note: this book is expensive. You might want to look into getting a rental copy.

PHI 111 – Basic Problems of Philosophy – CRN: 20950 – WF – 11:00-12:15 – Tribble Hall A304
PHI 111 – Basic Problems of Philosophy – CRN: 20997 – WF – 2:00-3:15 – Tribble Hall A304
Ty Goldschmidt

This course introduces some big philosophical debates through dialogues. We’ll read dialogues about:

  • Free will: What is free will? Do we have it?
  • Knowledge: How do you know that you’re not in the matrix?
  • God: Is there any evidence for or against the existence of God?
  • Body and soul: Are we purely material beings? Or do we have souls?
  • Abortion: Is abortion morally permissible or wrong? Is it ever obligatory?

And maybe a few other questions too, depending on time and student interest.

PHI 111 – Basic Problems of Philosophy – CRN: 20984
MW -12:30-1:45 – Tribble Hall A306
Stavroula Glezakos

In this class, we will consider important philosophical questions, including: Is it possible to know anything for certain? Do we possess free will? How is the human mind related to the human body? Is morality relative? Students will develop their ability to discern sound reasoning, improve the clarity of their writing, and gain a better understanding of their own views and commitments.

PHI 111 – Basic Problems of Philosophy – CRN: 20994 – TR – 12:30-1:45 – Tribble Hall A306 (Freshmen Only)
PHI 111 – Basic Problems of Philosophy – CRN: 20994 – TR – 2:00-3:15 – Tribble Hall A306
Win-chiat Lee

Students will be introduced to the subject of philosophy through the careful study of representative writings from three different periods: ancient Greek (Plato), early modern European (Descartes and Hume), and contemporary American (Frankfurt, Nagel, Searle and others). The goal is not only to study what some great philosophers of the past or influential philosophers of the present think about certain subjects, but also to help students, through the examination of these philosophers’ work, develop skills to philosophize and think critically for themselves. The topics discussed will include the existence of God, the relation between the mind and the world, skepticism and the nature of knowledge, free will and determinism, responsibility, the nature of moral and value judgments, the meaning of life, death, the mind-body problem, and the nature of the self.

PHI 112 A – Introduction to Philosophical Ideas – CRN: 20948
MWF – 11:00-11:50 – Tribble Hall A306
Charles Lewis

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 – Intro to Philosophy of Religion CRN 20963 – MW – 12:30-1:45 – Tribble Hall A306
PHI 115 – Intro to Philosophy of Religion CRN 20989 – MW – 2:00-3:15 – Tribble Hall A306 (Freshmen Only)
Clark Thompson

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 161 – Intro to Bioethics – CRN: 20964
T & TR – 12:30-1:45 – 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 164 – Contemporary Moral Problems – CRN: 20945
MWF – 10:00-10:50 – Tribble Hall A306
Emily Austin

Study of pressing ethical issues in abortion, euthanasia, world hunger, capital punishment, animal rights, pornography, and cognitive enhancement.

PHI 164 – Contemporary Moral Problems – CRN: 21261 – T & TR – 11:00-12:15 –
Tribble Hall A306
PHI 164 – Contemporary Moral Problems – CRN: 21354 – T & TR – 3:30-4:45 –
Tribble Hall A306
Nicholas Smith

After a brief introduction to relevant concepts in philosophical ethics, we will discuss recent arguments from a variety of perspectives regarding controversial subjects such as abortion, mercy killings, the treatment of animals, and pornography.  We will be concerned to clarify and develop our thoughts not only about these controversies but also about how, in general, we should think about moral dilemmas.

PHI 220 – Logic – CRN: 20940
WF – 9:30-10:45 – Tribble Hall A304
Ty Goldschmidt

Want to be able to think better? Want something that will help with any other course that makes use of reasoning or the construction of precise arguments? Then take this course. We’ll learn how to reason more carefully, how to recognize fallacies, and the essentials of logical analysis.

PHI 221 – Symbolic Logic – CRN: 20943 – T & TR – 9:30-10:45 – Tribble Hall A304
PHI 221 – Symbolic Logic – CRN: 20951 – T & TR – 11:00-12:15 – Tribble Hall A304
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 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 241 – Modern Philosophy – CRN: 21014
MW – 5:00-6:15 – Tribble Hall A306
Clark Thompson

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 332 – Aristotle – CRN: 20966
MW – 12:30-1:45 – Tribble Hall B13
Emily Austin

Study of the major texts, with emphasis on the physics, metaphysics, ethics, and politics.

PHI 352 – 19 Century European PHI – Hegel, Kierkegaard, & Nietzsche – CRN 21012
T & TR – 3:30-4:45 – Tribble Hall A307
Charles Lewis

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 360 – Ethics – CRN: 20952
WF – 11:00-12:15 – Tribble Hall A307
Adam Kadlac

This course will be organized around the central ethical theories in the Western philosophical tradition: Kantian deontology, utilitarianism, and Aristotelian virtue ethics.  Readings will be from both historical and contemporary sources.

PHI 361 – Topics in Ethics: Virtue and Character – CRN: 20956
T & TR – 11:00-12:15 – Tribble Hall A201
Jonathan Jacobs

The course will explore some of the most influential conceptions of virtue and the conceptions of character associated with them. We will be discussing issues at the intersection of normative ethics, moral psychology, and conceptions of moral agency. We will read works by Aristotle, Hume, and Kant but also by recent and contemporary philosophers such as G. E. M. Anscombe, Philippa Foot, John McDowell, and Bernard Williams (among others). In addition, we will read Gabriele Taylor’s Deadly Vices, a study of why certain vices are ‘capital’ vices, i.e., vices especially damaging to the agent who has them, in part, by leading to additional corruptions of character. Taylor’s book is one of the few recent studies of the ways in which vices erode and undermine rational agency. Our discussions will be placed in an overall context of considering the role of virtues, vices, and different conceptions of character in moral theorizing.

PHI 370 – Philosophy and Christianity – CRN 20999
MW – 2:00-3:15 – Tribble Hall A307
Christian Miller

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 374 – Philosophy of Mind – CRN: 21008
T & TR – 12:30-1:45 – Tribble Hall A307
Ralph Kennedy

What is it to have conscious experiences? Is there any reason to doubt that a wholly physical thing could be conscious? Does it make sense to suppose, as Descartes did, that we are not wholly physical? What should it take to convince us that a robot was indeed conscious? How should we think about animal consciousness? Surely the other apes are conscious, but what about ‘possums, sharks, dragonflies, earthworms, planaria? At some point, presumably, consciousness just isn’t there, but what criteria should we use for drawing the line? We’ll consider these and related questions as treated in the writings of authors from Descartes (1596-1650) to Quine (1908-2000) and beyond. Most of our readings will be from 20th and 21st century sources.

Required texts: John Heil, Philosophy of Mind: A Contemporary Introduction, 3rd edition. Routledge 2012. Paperback. ISBN 0415891752; John Heil, ed., Philosophy of Mind: A Guide and Anthology. Oxford 2004. Paperback. ISBN 978-0199253838

PHI 378 – Philosophy of Space and Time – CRN: 21005
T & TR – 2:00-3:15 – Tribble Hall A307
Adrian Bardon

 An examination of philosophical approaches to space and time from the Presocratic period to the present. Issues discussed include the reality of the passage of time, paradoxes of change and motion, puzzles about time-awareness, the status of space and time as entities in their own right, spacetime and relativity, time and freedom of the will, and the possibility of time-travel.