Spring Term Courses 2011
PHIL 248: The Ethics of War
An investigation of important ethical issues concerning the justification, conduct, and consequences of war.
The course concentrates, in particular, on traditional just war theory and on recent challenges that have been raised to the central tenets of this theory in light of the rise of terrorism and "asymmetric conflict" (i.e., conflicts waged between state and non-state parties), on the one hand, and reflection upon the moral responsibility of individuals who choose to support or participate in unjust wars, on the other.
We address questions such as the following: Should we regard all combatants in war as having the same moral status, regardless of whether they are fighting for a "just cause"? Is it ever morally permissible to attack non-combatants? Is terrorism ever morally justified? Is torture ever morally justified? Is there a moral obligation to engage in humanitarian intervention to stop genocide? Can the conditions of war constitute an excusing condition for acts of moral atrocity?
Prof. Angela Smith
MWF 12:30-3:25 (movies on R 1:25-3:25)
PHIL 275: The Unruly Body: Philosophy, Science and Culture
In this course students study theories of emodiment.
Beginning with the history of philosophy, we consider how the body gets to be subordinated to a mind; how it is considered mere matter, a building block that is unpredictable and passionate and needs to be controlled or shaped by the mind or the soul (e.g., Aristotelian biology).
Continuing with an examination of how in science the body is depicted, shaped and, at times, reconstructed, the course then moves to social-cultural structures, including bodily containment and construction and, with Foucault, execution of power and punishment.
Lastly, we consider how we can rethink, relive, regard, refigure, restore and respect our bodies and the bodies of others in more productive and thought-provoking ways.
Prof. Florentien Verhage
MTWR 10:10-12:10 (and trips)
PHIL 280: Philosophies of Life
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.
Prof. Melina Bell
MWF 12:20-3:25 (and local trips)
PHIL 380: Human Nature and Human Sciences
What does it mean to be human? Must we stay that way? We address these questions by looking critically at the technological enhancement of human capabilities.
We have the means – prosthetic, pharmaceutical, electronic, informational, and genetic – to alter and enhance our biological endowments. We can increase our lifespan, improve our physical, cognitive, and emotional abilities like never before.
What is currently possible? What will be possible in the short, medium, and long term? Could we change ourselves to such an extent that we are no longer human (becoming posthuman or transhuman)?
If we can, should we? What are the dangers and moral/ethical considerations, and how are we to adjudicate them?
We read authors ranging from essentialist bioconservatives to radical transhumanists. We also consider enhancements as mundane as caffeine and as far out as life extension and extreme body modification.
Prof. Paul Gregory
For more information - to see syllabi, to check if there are any prerequisites, etc. - please visit the Spring Term Course Offerings webpage here.