FYS 100 (27289) – Philosophical Approaches to Social, Political, and Philosophical Issues
Mondays (Asynchronous) and Wednesdays (Synchronous) 12:30-1:45 p.m.
Uses philosophical texts, plus other media, to examine a number of social, political, and philosophical issues. Emphasizes participation in class discussion and online forum.
FYS 100 (27506) – Virtue, Leadership and Education: Ancient Greek vs. Ancient Chinese Views
Mondays and Wednesdays (F2F) 8:00-9:15 p.m. (NOTE: P.M.) – Location Kirby 104
How does good governance in one’s soul/mind translate into excellence in external governance, as, for example, in political leadership? Is the former a precondition for the latter? If virtue is excellence in self-governance resulting in a well-ordered soul, is it an inborn quality? Or can it be learned or cultivated by everyone? What role does knowledge play in virtue? These questions are central to both Ancient Greek and Ancient Chinese Philosophy. We compare the answers and the critique of them in the two traditions and explore whether cross-fertilization would yield superior answers. Readings will be drawn from original texts in English translation, including Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics, Kungzi (Confucius), Mengzi (Mencius), The Great learning, Daodejing, and Han Fei.
FYS 100 (27508) – Good and Evil in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings
Wednesdays and Fridays (F2F) 9:30-10:45 a.m. Location: Salem 205
The Lord of the Rings is one of the most popular books ever written, but what is it really about? Is it just fantasy literature? What is its connection to the great epics? What is its connection to fairy stories? What does it have to teach us? Is it great literature? Should we care? What does the Ring of Power symbolize? We will study the book particularly in its relation to Tolkien’s Catholicism and with some consideration given to his near-contemporary GK Chesterton, and his friend CS Lewis. Students must re-read the book prior to the start of the semester.
FYS 100 (27507) – Philosophy of War
Mondays and Wednesdays (Synchronous) 5:00-6:15 p.m.
This course studies 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. Our questions include the following: To what extent is military action justified when used to address humanitarian crises, to promote liberal or democratic values, or to combat oppression by foreign countries of their own citizens? Can a meaningful distinction be drawn between combatants and noncombatants? Should a defense of superior orders shield military subordinates from accountability for illegal acts they commit in war? To what extent are citizens in a democracy responsible for their state’s decision to go to war?
PHI 111 – Problems of Philosophy
Section A (27086) – Mondays and Wednesdays (Online – Synchronous) 12:30-1:45 p.m.
Section B (27089) – Mondays and Wednesdays (Online – Synchroonous) 2:00-3:15 p.m.
Among the questions in moral philosophy, political philosophy, the philosophy of religion, and in epistemology (the theory of knowledge) that we shall study are the following: 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? What is “the nature and limits of the power which can be legitimately exercised by society over the individual” (Mill, On Liberty)? Is it reasonable to believe in God even if we lack sufficient evidence for His existence? Is it reasonable to believe that miracles occur? Can the existence of God be reconciled with the existence of suffering and moral evil? How useful is the belief in God, and is there a secular substitute for religion? Can we know that any of our beliefs are true? Are we justified when, on the basis of cases we have observed, we form beliefs about cases that we have not observed? We shall read works by Plato, Locke, Mill, James, Descartes, and Hume.
PHI 111C (27176) – Problems of Philosophy
Tuesdays (Online – Synchronous) and Thursdays (Online – Asynchronous) 9:30-10:45 a.m.
In this course, we will grapple with some of life’s biggest questions—questions about the nature of reality, knowledge, morality, and meaning. We will engage with ideas in classic and contemporary works of philosophy through a variety of sources, including texts, podcasts, and films. Our central goal is not to learn information about these topics, but to live better by thinking through fundamental issues for ourselves. How we do this will be partly up to you: Students will help to determine the specific topics we address. Much of the course will be asynchronous, but you’ll also have regular online meetings with the instructor and with a small group of classmates. The course culminates in a large project applying the course material to a real-world issue chosen by the student.
PHI 111 – Problems of Philosophy
Section D (27105) – Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays (Online – Synchronous) 10:00-10:50 a.m.
Section E (27108) – Monday, Wednesdays, and Fridays (Online – Synchronous) 11:00-11:50 a.m.
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 F (27110) – (Online – Asynchronous)
Section G1 (27197) – (Blended w/Online Pathway) Tuesdays 2:00-3:15 p.m. Location: Tribble C216
Section G2 (27219) – (Blended w/Online Pathway) Thursdays 2:00-3:15 p.m. Location: Tribble C216
How should we live? Who has authority? What is good? What is just? What is real? Who are we? How can we know? In this course, we address these questions by reading the principal works of the historically most significant thinkers of Western philosophy.
PHI 111 H (27318) – Problems of Philosophy
Tuesdays and Thursdays – (Online – Synchronous) 9:30-10:45 a.m.
We’ll consider such questions as: Does God exist? What is knowledge? Is there anything we can know or reasonably believe without observation? How can we know anything about the “external world” (i.e., about anything beyond our own ideas and sensations)? What is it to have a mind? Could a machine have a mind? What is consciousness? What is morality? Could a machine be evil?
This list is tentative: we probably won’t discuss all the topics on it, and we’ll probably add some that are not on it. The point of the list is to give a sense of what philosophy is without trying to define the term. Constructing a decent definition of “philosophy” turns out to be much more difficult than one might think. Still, after completing this course, you should be able to recognize philosophy when you see it!
Our texts will be from the ancient, modern, and contemporary periods, and will be drawn mostly from Western authors.
PHI 161 – Introduction to Bioethics
Section A (27307) – Online – Asynchronous)
Section B (27311) – Online – Asynchronous)
Introduction to Bioethics: 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 161C (27446) – Introduction to Bioethics
Mondays (Online – Asynchronous) 10:00-10:50 a.m.
Wednesdays and Fridays (Online – Synchronous) 10:00-10:50 a.m.
A study of ethical issues that arise in health care and the life sciences such as informed consent, experimentation on human subjects, truth-telling, confidentiality, abortion, and the allocation of scarce medical resources.
PHI 164A (27313) – Contemporary Moral Problems
Tuesdays and Thursdays (Online-Synchronous) 12:30-1:45 p.m.
Study of pressing ethical issues in contemporary life, such as abortion, euthanasia, healthcare, animal suffering, inequity, pornography, and criminal justice.
PHI 164B (27583) – Contemporary Moral Problems
Tuesdays and Thursdays (Online-Synchronous) 3:30-4:45 p.m.
In this course we’ll equip ourselves with some of the tools of moral philosophy, and we’ll investigate several pressing moral questions in contemporary life, examples of which might include the following (or other) questions: is torture ever morally permissible? Is eating animals ok? Is it wrong to download copyrighted software without paying? Is it ever wrong to play violent video games?
PHI 220 – Logic
Section A (27443) – (Online – Asynchronous) Restricted for Non-continental remote (NCRM)
Section B (27320) – (Online – Asynchronous)
Elementary study of the laws of valid inference, recognition of fallacies, and logical analysis.
PHI 221A (27316) – Symbolic Logic
Mondays and Wednesdays (Online- Synchronous) 2:00-3:15 p.m.
Introduces propositional and predicate logic, including identity and functions. Construction of proofs. Use of models to demonstrate consistency and invalidity. Application of these techniques to the assessment of arguments expressed in ordinary language.
PHI 280B (27314) – Topics in Philosophy: Latin American & Latin Philosophy
Mondays and Wednesdays (Online – Synchronous) 9:30-10:45 a.m.
This course surveys key moments in the history of Latin American philosophical thought and important works in contemporary Latinx philosophy. We will engage with these ideas through a variety of sources, including texts, podcasts, films, and music. Topics may include identity, community, oppression, liberation, immigration, and art, and students will help to determine the specific topics we address. A guiding question is what it means to be American when the notion of “America” is understood in terms of the Americas, born in conquest and still grappling with the legacy of colonization. The course will meet synchronously via Zoom, and students will also meet weekly with a small group of classmates. No prior experience with philosophy is expected. The course counts toward the Latin American and Latino Studies minor, as well as the Philosophy major and minor.
PHI 333A (27640) – Hellenistic Philosophy
Tuesdays and Thursdays (Online – Synchronous) 9:30-10:45 a.m.
The Hellenistic Age, traditionally dated from the death of Alexander in 323 BCE to the birth of Augustus’ Roman Empire in 31 BCE, gave the world three of its most innovative and influential schools of philosophy: Epicureanism, Skepticism, and Stoicism. This course investigates the central features of their thought. We will focus on Hellenistic theories of mind, free will, moral psychology, wisdom, happiness, friendship, death, and politics.
PHI 342 – Topics: Kant’s Ethical Theory
Section A1 (27198) Tuesdays (Blended – Traditional) 3:30-4:45 p.m. – Location: Tribble C216
Section A2 (27356) Thursday (Blended – Online Pathway) 3:30-4:45 p.m. – Location: Tribble C216
Section 642AG (27447) Tuesdays and Thursdays (F2F) 3:30-4:45 p.m. – Location Tribble C216
In this course, we read the three main texts of Kant’s moral and political philosophy in their near-entirety: the Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, the Critique of Practical Reason, and The Metaphysics of Morals. In so doing, we will address the nature of value, the origins of property, the ultimate goal of rational action, the nature of justice, the structure of the self, the possibility of reconciling free will and determinism, and the extent of the right to revolution, among other questions.
PHI 361A – Topics in Ethics: The Ethics of Food
Section A (27449) – Wednesdays and Fridays (F2F) 11:00-12:00 p.m. – Location: Salem 205
Section AG (27450) – Wednesdays and Fridays (F2F) 11:00-12:00 p.m. – Location: Salem 205
This class will start with a study of some of the now-standard arguments for and against vegetarianism/veganism. Then we’ll ask what follows if we suppose that meat eating is morally permissible. Wouldn’t we still have some obligations to animals? If so, what? How would this change how we farm? We will also think about genetically modified organisms, the ethics of hunting, food production’s environmental impact and perhaps other such matters. I expect there to be two papers and a final exam.
The reading list is not complete at this point, but we will certainly be reading works by Peter Singer, Tom Regan, Rosalind Hursthouse, Roger Scruton, and Mary Midgley; and we will likely include works by at least some of the following: Jose Ortega y Gasset, Paul Thompson, Lori Gruen, Wendell Berry, and maybe others.
PHI 364 – Freedom, Action, and Responsibility
Section A1 (27183) – (Blended – Traditional – Asynchronous) Mondays
Section A2 (27389) – (Blended – Traditional – Synchronous) Wednesdays & Fridays – 11:00-11:50 – Location: Tribble A202
The first part of the class will be organized around a close reading of two books: Elizabeth Anscombe’s Intention and Berislav Marusic’s Evidence and Agency. These works will help us explore a number of compelling questions about the relationship between our thoughts, desires, and actions as well as various norms of practical reasoning. In the latter part of the course, we will examine the perennial debate between determinists and indeterminists concerning free will.
PHI 365A (27451) – Philosophy of Love and Friendship
Wednesdays and Fridays (F2F) 12:30-1:45 p.m. – Location: Salem 205
In this class, we will examine historical and contemporary philosophical investigations of love, sex, and friendship. Among the questions that we will consider are: What is love exactly? Why do we pursue love and sex and associate them with happiness when they often make us unhappy? Is there, or should there be, an ethics of love, sex, and friendship? What happens to sex when it is associated with “scoring” (the conquest model of sex)? Are love and friendship necessary for happiness? Are they sufficient?
PHI 366 – Global Justice
Section A1 (27453) (Blended – Traditional & Asynch) Tuesdays 8:30-9:45 p.m. – Loc.: Winston 126
Section A2 (27455) (Blended – Traditional & Asynch) Thursdays 2:00-3:15 p.m. – Loc.: Winston 126
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 refugees policy.
PHI 367A (27334) – Philosophical Theories in Bioethics
Tuesdays 4:00-6:30 p.m. (F2F) Location: Salem 205
A study of the main philosophical approaches to contemporary bioethics. Each approach is examined critically and students explore how each approach informs analysis of contemporary issues in bioethics.
PHI 370 – Philosophy and Christianity
Section A (27372) (Online Synchronous) Mondays and Wednesdays 12:30-1:45 p.m.
Section AG (27384) – (Online Synchronous) Mondays and Wednesdays 12:30-1:45 p.m.
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 376A (27319) – Epistemology
Tuesdays and Thursdays (Online – Synchronous) 2:00-3:15 p.m.
The sources, scope and structure of human knowledge. Topics selected from: skepticism; perception, memory, reasons; the definition of knowledge; the nature of justification; theories of truth; epistemic injustice; fake news; conspiracy theories.
PHI 378A (27328) – Philosophy of Space and Time
Tuesdays and Thursdays (F2F) 2:00-3:15 p.m. Location: Salem 205
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.