Course Offerings

Fall 2017

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 - McGonigal, Andrew J.

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 Greek Philosophy

PHIL 110 - Taylor, Erin P.

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 - Smith, Angela M. (Angie)

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.

Introduction to Logic

PHIL 170 - Gregory, Paul A.

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.

Introduction to Logic

PHIL 170 - McGonigal, Andrew J.

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 - Dudley, William C. (Will) / Strong, Robert A. (Bob)

A seminar for first-year students.

Fall 2017, PHIL 180-01: Philosophy of Education: Why Are We Here? (3). First-Year Seminar. Prerequisite: First-Year class standing. What is education? Which purposes can and should it serve? What obligations do private colleges have to the communities and societies in which they operate? These questions about the nature of education are essential to philosophy, and also to the history and future of Washington and Lee University. In this course, students read and discuss classic texts in the philosophy of education in close conjunction with materials concerning the public policy commentaries about present practices in American liberal arts colleges. Special attention is paid to Washington and Lee, and students are encouraged to reflect upon their own educational goals and choices in light of the philosophical works that they read. (HU) Dudley, Strong.

FS: First-Year Seminar

PHIL 180 - Henzel, Melissa B. (Beth)

A seminar for first-year students.

Fall 2017, PHIL 180-02: FS: Equality and Difference (3) . First-Year Seminar. Prerequisite: First-year standing only. How should differences affect equal treatment? Do we treat persons equally in light of their differences or in spite of them? These questions, among others, motivate our study. We first explore why equality matters and then seek to determine what equal treatment might look like in particular contexts (applied philosophy). After some theoretical background, we ask how we should distribute benefits in light of differences in well-being when we have a finite supply of resources, followed by an examination of how bad luck affects equal treatment. Other topics include distribution of health care resources, and commonly discussed differences in public life, relying on legal cases and op-eds as well as academic articles, including debates surrounding what equal treatment with regard to race and gender means in education and the military. (HU) Henzel.

Religion and Existentialism

PHIL 214 - Kosky, Jeffrey L.

A consideration of the accounts of human existence (faith and doubt; death and being-in-the-world; anxiety, boredom, and hope; sin and evil; etc.) elaborated by philosophers, theologians, and literary figures in the 19th and 20th centuries. The central figures considered are Søren Kierkegaard and Friedrich Nietzsche. Attention is paid to their significance for future philosophers, theologians, artists, and literary figures, and consideration may also be paid to forerunners in earlier centuries.

Plato

PHIL 221 - Crotty, Kevin M.

An in-depth examination of the philosophy of Plato. We look at Plato's epistemology, metaphysics, philosophy of mind, ethics, and political philosophy through a careful analysis of several dialogues, including some or all of the following: Euthyphro, Laches, Apology, Gorgias, Meno, Phaedo, Symposium, Phaedrus , and Republic . In addition, we consider certain challenges posed by Plato's use of the dialogue form, such as whether we are justified in assuming that Socrates is a mouthpiece for Plato's own views, and how we should interpret Plato's frequent appeal to myths and other literary devices within his dialogues.

Epistemology: Knowledge and Doubt

PHIL 278 - Goldberg, Nathaniel J.

An examination of the basic problems in epistemology with an emphasis on contemporary discussions. Topics include skepticism, knowledge, justification (foundationalism, coherentism, reliabilism), relativism, and rationality.

Philosophy of Biology

PHIL 282 - Cooper, Gregory J. (Greg)

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.

Kant

PHIL 310 - Goldberg, Nathaniel J.

A close reading of the Critique of Pure Reason , Kant's most important work in metaphysics and epistemology and one of the most influential philosophical works ever written.

Advanced Seminar

PHIL 395A - Cooper, Gregory J. (Greg)

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 2017, PHIL 395A-01: Environmentalism in the Anthropocene (3).   No prerequisites. Students may not also register for ENV 395A-01. Many people believe we have entered a new geological epoch: The Anthropocene, or Age of Human Domination. Some of the central questions explored in this seminar include: What does it mean to be an environmentalist in the Anthropocene? Are the traditional goals of wilderness preservation and conservation of biodiversity still appropriate? Should conservation biology shift its goals in the direction of conserving valuable ecosystem goods and services? Should our attitudes towards introduced and/or invasive species be transformed?  Should we assist the migration of species that are unable to respond on their own to the habitat shifts that will result from global warming? Has the planet become, in effect, one large human garden to be managed as best we can?  (HU) Cooper

Honors Thesis

PHIL 493 - Goldberg, Nathaniel J.

Honors Thesis. Students must petition the department via the listed instructor. While awaiting a decision, the student must ensure a full credit load not including PHIL 493. The department honors program is outlined at https://www.wlu.edu/philosophy-department/about-the-department/about-the-major-and-the-minor/honors-program .

Spring 2017

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.

Ethics of War

PHIL 248 - Smith, Angela M. (Angie)

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?

Philosophy and Science Fiction

PHIL 272 - Goldberg, Nathaniel J.

Discussion of one or more major works in science fiction and in philosophy that explore related themes.

Winter 2017

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 - McGonigal, Andrew J.

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.

Modern Philosophy

PHIL 120 - Goldberg, Nathaniel J.

An examination of the metaphysics, epistemology, and philosophy of religion of the modern European philosophical era, including views of the rationalists Rene Descartes, Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia, and Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz; and the empiricists Catharine Cockburn, John Locke, and David Hume. Topics include skepticism about the external world, mind-body dualism, the existence and nature of God, theories of substance, personal identity, and causation.

Ethics and the Environment

PHIL 150 - Cooper, Gregory J. (Greg)

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, Nathaniel J.

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.

Introduction to Logic

PHIL 170 - Gregory, Paul A.

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.

Introduction to Logic

PHIL 170 - McGonigal, Andrew J.

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 195A - Gregory, Paul A.

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

Winter 2016, PHIL 195A-01: Seminar: Cyborgs, Artificial Intelligence, and Human Enhancement (3). What does it mean to have a mind? Are we purely physical or something more? Are our machines becoming a part of us, or we a part of them? Will AI accelerate out of control and destroy us all? Should we use info-tech and bio-tech to engineer enhanced humans? Through philosophical texts and films, this seminar explores questions about the nature of human minds, human integration with technology, the perils of artificial intelligence, and the prospect of biomedical/computational enhancement of humans. (HU) Gregory .

Social Inequality and Fair Opportunity

PHIL 242 - Bell, Melina C. (Melina)

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.

Poverty, Dignity, and Human Rights

PHIL 245 - Pickett, Howard Y.

Is severe poverty a human rights violation? This course examines that question and others by means of an investigation of the main philosophical and religious debates about human rights. More broadly, the course provides students with the opportunity to examine our duties (individually and collectively) to those said to suffer from any human rights abuse. Questions considered include: Are human rights universal or culturally specific? What (if anything) grounds human rights? Are religious justifications of rights permissible in a pluralistic world? Is dignity a useful concept for defending and/or discerning human rights? Do we only have liberty rights (to be free of mistreatment) or do we also have welfare rights (to claim certain positive treatment from others)? What are the practical (moral, political. and legal) implications of identifying severe poverty as a human rights violation?

Philosophy of Sex

PHIL 246 - Bell, Melina C. (Melina)

This course explores questions related to contemporary conceptions of sexuality and its proper role in our lives. Questions addressed include: What is the purpose of sex? Are sexual practices subject to normative evaluation on grounds of morality, aesthetics, and/or capacity to promote a flourishing human life? We consider the relation between sex and both intimacy and pleasure, viewed from the perspective of heterosexual women and men, and gay men and lesbians. What are our sexual practices and attitudes toward sex? What should they be like?

Aesthetics

PHIL 264 - McGonigal, Andrew J.

This course offers a wide-ranging, reflective overview of contemporary debates in the philosophy of art. We discuss the following kinds of questions: How are artistic experience and value interrelated? In what does beauty consist? What is the nature of aesthetic experience? Should we value works of art for what we can learn from them? How do pictures represent? What constitutes artistic expression? In what ways is the imagination involved in engaging with artworks? Can emotional responses to fiction be genuine and rational? Is artistic intention relevant to the interpretation of artworks? Are there general principles of aesthetic evaluation? What are the relations between the moral and aesthetic values of art?

Intermediate Logic

PHIL 270 - Gregory, Paul A.

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.

The Unruly Body: Philosophy, Science, and Culture

PHIL 285 - Verhage, Florentien

"We are bodies." This statement apparently affirms the obvious. But if this is so obvious why then do we so often disregard and disrespect our bodies and the bodies of others? In this interdisciplinary course, students study theories of embodiment through the study of the (i) history of philosophy, (ii) contemporary scientific and philosophical depictions of the body, and (iii) social-cultural structures affecting our bodies. Finally (iv), we consider how we can rethink, relive, regard, refigure, restore, and respect our body and the body of others in more productive and thought-provoking ways.

Seminar on Philosophical Topics

PHIL 295A - Taylor, Erin P.

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

Winter 2016, PHIL 295A-01: Seminar: Medicine, Research, & Poverty (3). This course introduces students to central ethical issues in the provision of medical care and the conduct of medical research in the context of poverty. Specific topics include: medical research on prisoners and the indigent, ancillary care obligations in low and middle income countries (LMIC), meeting the standard of care in LMIC, access to essential medicines, allocation of scarce medical resources, and compensated donation for organs or tissues. This seminar will count toward the POV minor. Taylor.

Medical Ethics

PHIL 346 - Taylor, Erin P.

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, intellectual and developmental disabilities, public health/community medicine, science/technology, transplantation and patients' rights.

Legal Ethics

PHIL 348 - Cooper, Gregory J. (Greg)

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 Language

PHIL 372 - Goldberg, Nathaniel J.

A survey of central topics in the field, including some or all of the following: reference, meaning, truth, analyticity, speech acts, pragmatics, verificationism, indeterminacy, innateness, metaphor, and development of language in the species and in the individual.

Seminar on A Living Philosopher

PHIL 399 - Smith, Angela M. (Angie)

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.

Honors Thesis

PHIL 493 - Verhage, Florentien

Honors Thesis. Students must petition the department via the listed instructor. While awaiting a decision, the student must ensure a full credit load not including PHIL 493. The department honors program is outlined at https://www.wlu.edu/philosophy-department/about-the-department/about-the-major-and-the-minor/honors-program .