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Spring 2014

See complete information about these courses in the course offerings database. For more information about a specific course, including course type, schedule and location, click on its title.

Beauvoir and The Second Sex

PHIL 235 - Verhage

The Second Sex (1949) is Simone de Beauvoir's most well-known work in philosophy. It is a deep and urgent meditation on a true hope that is still elusive for many of us: to become, in every sense. one's own. It weaves together philosophy, history, social studies, economics, and biology to analyze the notion of "woman" and to explore the making and the power of gender and sexuality. Newly translated, The Second Sex is an important philosophical and political document about inequality and enforced otherness. In this course, we read this text together with recent work in the field and discuss it both as an important historical document and as a still relevant work on our gendered being in the world.

Philosophies of Life

PHIL 250 - Bell

This course provides opportunities to explore philosophies of life held by influential philosophers and by ordinary people, focusing on what it means to live a good or worthwhile life. It also gives students a chance to clarify and develop their own vision of what a good life is for them. Projects include conducting interviews with members of the community outside the classroom.


Winter 2014

See complete information about these courses in the course offerings database. For more information about a specific course, including course type, schedule and location, click on its title.

Modern Philosophy

PHIL 120 - Mahon

An examination of the metaphysics, epistemology, and philosophy of religion in the rationalist philosophers Rene Descartes, Baruch Spinoza, and Gottfried Willhelm von Leibniz, and the empiricist philosophers John Locke, George Berkeley, and David Hume. Topics include skepticism about the external world, mind-body dualism, the existence and nature of God, theories of substance, free will and determinism, personal identity, and causation.

Ethics and the Environment

PHIL 150 - Cooper (Multiple Sections)

This course is a philosophical exploration of one's responsibilities to the natural world. It has three main objectives: first, to provide an understanding of different dominant ethical theories and their application to animals, plants, and ecosystems; second, to provide an understanding of major environmental issues in current political debates, such as climate change, species preservation, and sustainable development; and third, to facilitate the development of a student's own ethic towards the environment.

Introduction to Logic

PHIL 170 - Goldberg, Gregory (Multiple Sections)

The study of argumentation and modern formal logic. This course explores the basic principles of deductive and inductive reasoning. Students learn to symbolize and evaluate natural language arguments. Topics covered include sentential and quantificational logic.

FS: First-Year Seminar

PHIL 180 - Renault-Steele

A seminar for first-year students.

Winter 2014 Topic:

PHIL 180: FS: Philosophers, Sophists and Other Liars (3). First-Year Seminar. Prerequisite: First-year class standing. Plato targets Sophistry as classical philosophy's most sinister adversary. Our course begins at the crux of this bitter dispute: the problem of the nature of reality and its relationship to appearance. We track this debate as it manifests in pre-Socratic and classical Greek philosophy, right up to its resurgence in contemporary French thought. Throughout, we ask how this problem of reality and appearance might matter for the political, cultural and aesthetic dimensions of our own time? Given that our world is shaped by continually developing virtual possibilities, Plato and the Sophists have laid the groundwork for a discussion that is all the more pressing today. (HU) Renault-Steele. Winter 2014

Seminar in a Philosophical Topic

PHIL 195 - Burstein

A consideration of selected issues in philosophy. May be repeated for degree credit if the topics are different.

Winter 2014 topic:

PHIL 195: Seminar: Philosophy and Film (3). Film is popular and ubiquitous, but is it worthy of serious consideration? Or is it merely the detritus of consumer culture? In this seminar, we take film seriously, and we submit it to the variety of inquiry that we would give any artistic, literary, or philosophical text. To that end, we begin by looking at the ways in which film is philosophical, how film makers have explored traditional questions in philosophy (truth, knowledge, and mindedness) as well as how the film medium can itself be a mode of philosophical inquiry. In the second part of the class, we examine the more literary elements of cinema, including the nature of authorship, adaptation, and genre; we also look, if only briefly, at the role that gender and race can play in film. We close with "metacinema'', or what happens when filmmakers make films about films. (HU) Burstein.

Fall 2013 topic:

PHIL 195: Seminar:Honor Beyond the Classroom (3).

Social Inequality and Fair Opportunity

PHIL 242 - Bell

An exploration of the different range of opportunities available to various social groups, including racial, ethnic and sexual minorities, women, and the poor. Topics include how to define fair equality of opportunity; the social mechanisms that play a role in expanding and limiting opportunity; legal and group-initiated strategies aimed at effecting fair equality of opportunity and the theoretical foundations of these strategies; as well as an analysis of the concepts of equality, merit and citizenship, and their value to individuals and society.

Intermediate Logic

PHIL 270 - Goldberg

An examination of alternative formal logics and issues in the philosophy of logic. Topics include formal ways of modeling possibility, actuality, and necessity; obligation and permissibility; pastness, presentness, and futurity; and others. They also include informal considerations of topics like conditionals, counterfactuals, intuitionism, and others.

Seminar on Philosophical Topics

PHIL 295 - Burstein

A consideration of selected issues in philosophy. May be repeated for degree credit if the topics are different.

Winter 2014 topic:

PHIL 295: Seminar: Queer Theory (4). No prerequisite. In this seminar, we analyze conceptions of gender and sexuality, with a special focus on the efforts societies make in creating and enforcing conditions that are supposed by those societies to be "natural." We make a first go of analyzing the gendering project by examining the ways in which both men and women are the product of robustly normative systems. Subsequently, we examine the role that sexuality plays in the gendering process, highlighting the normative privilege that heterosexual identity brings with it. In the final meetings, we consider how the lives of transgender and intersex persons complicate theories of sex, gender, and sexuality, and examine what might constitute the proper moral and political responses to deeply ingrained practices based upon compulsory heterosexuality. Due to the subject matter of the course, we considering, in addition to philosophical texts, work in biology, sociology, history, and psychology. Additionally, we draw on the resources of mass culture, including television and film, as source materials for inquiry and discussion. (HU) Burstein.

Metaethics

PHIL 342 - Mahon

This course focuses on contemporary issues in metaethics. For example, we address questions such as the following: Do moral judgments express truths that are independent of our feelings and conventions? Are "goodness" and "wrongness" real properties of things, or do we simply use these terms to express our subjective preferences toward states of affairs? Can we reason about morality? Do moral considerations provide practical reasons for all rational agents, or does the normative force of these considerations depend upon an agent's subjective desires? We also consider some meta-theoretical questions about the aims, methods, and authority of moral theory.

Medical Ethics

PHIL 346 - Burstein

An examination of the issues arising out of the human impact of modern biomedical research and practice. Specific issues are selected from among the following: abortion, contraception, death and dying, experimentation/research, genetics, in vitro fertilization, mental retardation, public health/community medicine, science/technology, transplantation and patients' rights.

Legal Ethics

PHIL 348 - Cooper

An examination of the issues associated with lawyers' roles in society and their impact upon and obligations to the client, the court, and the legal profession. The course also addresses questions of the role and function of law and the adversary system.

Philosophy of Mind

PHIL 375 - Gregory

A consideration and assessment of dualism and materialism and of various theories of the relation between the mental and the physical, such as the identity theory, functionalism, and supervenience.

Seminar on A Living Philosopher

PHIL 399 - Verhage

Philosophy has a long and distinguished history. It is also an amazingly lively and active area of current research. In this seminar, students engage in an in-depth examination of the work of a major contemporary philosopher, including relevant material from other authors. Toward the end of the term, that philosopher visits campus for a few days to meet with students in class and give a lecture open to the university at large. Students have the opportunity to exchange ideas with, and critique the ideas of, someone at the forefront of the field. This course may be repeated for degree credit if the topics are different. Majors who are pursuing Honors may also chose to take PHIL 399 in place of one of their 10 courses in philosophy.

Winter 2014 topic:

PHIL 399: Seminar on A Living Philosopher: Knowlefge and Identity (3). In the heated debates over identity politics, few theorists have looked carefully at the conceptualizations of identity assumed by all sides. Linda Alcoff's work fills this gap. Drawing on both philosophical sources as well as theories and empirical studies in the social sciences, Alcoff makes a strong case that identities are not like special interests, nor are they doomed to oppositional politics, nor do they inevitably lead to conformism, essentialism, or reductive approaches to judging others. Identities are historical formations and their political implications are open to interpretation. But identities such as race and gender also have a powerful visual and material aspect that eliminativists and social constructionists often underestimate. (HU) Verhage.

Directed Individual Study

PHIL 403 - Bell, Gregory (Multiple Sections)

May be repeated for degree credit if the topics are different.

Honors Thesis

PHIL 493 - Bell

Honors Thesis.


Fall 2013

See complete information about these courses in the course offerings database. For more information about a specific course, including course type, schedule and location, click on its title.

Introduction to Philosophy

PHIL 100 - Burstein (Multiple Sections)

The course provides a broad historical survey of Western Philosophy. Students read selections from the work of a number of great women and men from the ancient to the contemporary period, dealing with questions of ethics, knowledge and reality, and social and political philosophy. Starting with Socrates who stands trial for questioning his fellow citizens, we consider how philosophy can be way of life and how we can pursue wisdom through careful argumentation and analysis of the foundations of our beliefs about the world, god(s), mind and body, truth and falsehood, morality, human nature, good and evil, government and society, justice, and equality.

Ancient Philosophy

PHIL 110 - Mahon

An examination of the metaphysics of the pre-Socratic philosophers, especially the Milesians, Pythagoras, Xenophanes, Heraclitus, Parmenides, Zeno of Elea, and the Atomists, and the ethics and political philosophy of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Topics include the origin and nature of the kosmos , the nature and existence of the god(s), the trial and execution of Socrates, theories of virtue, the nature of knowledge and truth, justice and the ideal state, the nature of eudaimonia (happiness, flourishing), and the possibility of akrasia (weakness of the will).

Introduction to Ethics

PHIL 140 - Burstein

The aim of this course is to sharpen your understanding of some important issues concerning value and morality. We read classic works and contemporary writings in considering such questions as: Is pleasure the only ultimate good? Are individuals' preferences the only basis for assessing the quality of their lives? What makes right acts right? What makes for a just society? What is the role of character in ethical behavior? We examine a number of influential ethical theories, including Utilitarianism, Kantianism, Contractualism, and Virtue Ethics, and assess their competing answers to these and other questions. The aim is to help you to understand the arguments put forward by defenders of these views and, by examining them, to refine your own understanding of the questions.

Contemporary Moral Problems

PHIL 145 - Bell

Philosophical consideration of some of the main moral and political issues we confront in society and the world today, such as war, terrorism, global climate change, poverty, capital punishment, affirmative action, abortion, the treatment of animals, and hate speech. Topics vary.

Introduction to Logic

PHIL 170 - Goldberg, Lowney (Multiple Sections)

The study of argumentation and modern formal logic. This course explores the basic principles of deductive and inductive reasoning. Students learn to symbolize and evaluate natural language arguments. Topics covered include sentential and quantificational logic.

Seminar in a Philosophical Topic

PHIL 195 - Bell

A consideration of selected issues in philosophy. May be repeated for degree credit if the topics are different.

Winter 2014 topic:

PHIL 195: Seminar: Philosophy and Film (3). Film is popular and ubiquitous, but is it worthy of serious consideration? Or is it merely the detritus of consumer culture? In this seminar, we take film seriously, and we submit it to the variety of inquiry that we would give any artistic, literary, or philosophical text. To that end, we begin by looking at the ways in which film is philosophical, how film makers have explored traditional questions in philosophy (truth, knowledge, and mindedness) as well as how the film medium can itself be a mode of philosophical inquiry. In the second part of the class, we examine the more literary elements of cinema, including the nature of authorship, adaptation, and genre; we also look, if only briefly, at the role that gender and race can play in film. We close with "metacinema'', or what happens when filmmakers make films about films. (HU) Burstein.

Fall 2013 topic:

PHIL 195: Seminar:Honor Beyond the Classroom (3).

Philosophy of History

PHIL 215 - Lambert

Who makes history, individual human beings, social or economic classes, or broad and deep circumstances, such as climate, disease, currency exchange rates, or the collective psyche? How are explanations of historical events different from explanations in physics, biology, psychology, or economics? How is our understanding of historical events influenced by ethical, aesthetic, or ideological considerations? Is history just one thing happening after another, or is there a descernible pattern or meaning in it? What role do theories play in our understanding of history? What do historians and artists have in common? What does history tell us about ourselves? Readings include works by Kant, Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, Arendt, and contemporary authors.

Postmodernism: Power, Difference, and Disruption

PHIL 239 - Renault-Steele

While many things are said to be "postmodern" --architecture, pop-culture, literature, art, philosophy-- the term itself escapes many attempts at definition. In this seminar, we examine the philosophical roots of postmodern thought in an effort to gain better insight to its fluid character. The course concentrates especially on the writings of Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, and Gilles Deleuze. We read Foucault's account of power and the docile body in Discipline and Punish; we discuss Derrida's deconstructionist project and his concept of "differance"; and we explore the fascinatingly complex world of Deleuze's and Guattari's A Thousand Plateaus. After carefully exploring these complicated texts, we read several critical appropriations of these works in contemporary race theory, postcolonial studies, and feminist philosophy.

Contemporary Ethics

PHIL 240 - Mahon

An examination of different normative ethical theories, including consequentialism (utilitarianism), Kantian deontology, moral intuitionism, and virtue ethics, followed by an application of these normative theories to a selection of ethical problems, including famine and world hunger, abortion, infanticide, euthanasia, suicide, and self-defense. Philosophers include W.D. Ross, J. J. C. Smart, Bernard Williams, Susan Wolf, Peter Singer, Michael Tooley, Judith Jarvis Thomson, and Shelly Kagan.

Philosophy of Law

PHIL 252 - Bell

An examination of topics in the philosophy of law, such as the concepts of a law and of a legal system; Natural Law theory; legal positivist and legal realist theories of law; the nature of the relationship between law, morality, and religion; civil disobedience; rights in the U.S. Constitution; freedom of speech and pornography; abortion and the right to privacy; punishment and the death penalty; and different forms of legal liability. Readings include United States Supreme Court opinions.

Metaphysics: Existence and Reality

PHIL 274 - Goldberg

An examination of central Issues in metaphysics. Topics include existence, the relationship between an object and its properties, time, space, persistence, and cause and effect. Topics may also include the nature of possibility, actuality, and necessary, and discussions about why anything exists at all.

Philosophy of Biology

PHIL 282 - Cooper

An examination of philosophical issues raised by biology, with an emphasis on current evolutionary theory. Topics include the structure of the theory of evolution by natural selection, an examination of the concepts of fitness and adaptation, the role of teleological explanation in biology, reductionism, the nature of biological species, individuality, levels of selection, and sociobiology.

Advanced Seminar

PHIL 395 - Cooper

An intensive and critical study of selected issues or major figures in philosophy. May be repeated for degree credit if the topics are different.

Fall 2013 topic:

PHIL 395: The Environmental Philosophy of Aldo Leopold (3). No prerequisite. Student may not also register for ENV 395. Aldo Leopold is arguably the seminal figure in the history of environmental ethics. This course is an in-depth examination of his thought. Using primary and secondary sources, we explore the development of his major contributions to environmental philosophy. Among the topics included are 1) his land ethic; 2) the nature of his environmental aesthetic; 3) his views on the value of wilderness; 4) his prescient focus on the role of apex predators; 5) his emphasis on the connection between biodiversity and ecosystem function; 6) his development of an ecology of place; and 7) his philosophy of outdoor recreation. (HU) Cooper.

Senior Thesis

PHIL 473 - Bell

Senior thesis.

Honors Thesis

PHIL 493 - Bell

Honors Thesis.