Course Offerings

Fall 2016

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 - Verhage, Florentien

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.

Introduction to Philosophy

PHIL 100 - Taylor, Erin P.

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 - 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.

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.

FS: First-Year Seminar

PHIL 180 - Cooper, Gregory J. (Greg)

A seminar for first-year students.

Fall 2016, PHIL 180-01: FS: Animal Minds (3). First-Year Seminar. Prerequisite: First-Year class standing. This course explores the philosophical and scientific literature on animal cognition. It examines questions such as: Do rats laugh? Does the praying mantis have the concept of prey? Do primates exhibit rudimentary moral behavior? Do animals attribute "mindedness" to other creatures? Does animal cognition involve beliefs, concepts, and rationality? Can the study of animal cognition tell us something about human cognition? How do we investigate these kinds of questions scientifically? What role does philosophical inquiry play? We explore both the history of thought on animal cognition as well as the most current scientific and philosophical literature to arrive at our best current understanding of these issues. (HU) Cooper.

FS: First-Year Seminar

PHIL 180 - McGonigal, Andrew J.

A seminar for first-year students.

Seminar in a Philosophical Topic

PHIL 195A - McGonigal, Andrew J.

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

Fall 2016, PHIL 195A-01: Seminar: Risk, Rationality, and Choice: Making Good Decisions (3). This seminar explores philosophical and formal questions related to reasoning under uncertainty. What are the principles of rational action when we are ignorant of, or uncertain about, some relevant facts? How is it rational to choose, or to form beliefs, under risk of being wrong? What does it mean to say that there is a particular chance that the stock market will lose half its value in five years? What are "chances" and how do they fit into a scientific vision of the world? How are chances, choices, beliefs, outcomes and rationality related? Topics can include: logic of probability; evidence and confirmation; decision theory; ampliative inference; rational preference; prisoner's dilemma; the problem of induction. (HU) McGonigal.

Heidegger and Being in the World

PHIL 218 - Kosky, Jeffrey L.

This course explores the work of Martin Heidegger and the development of its themes in the work of select philosophical, literary, and/or film artists. A close reading of the magisterial account of being in the world in Being and Time is followed by careful study of representative essays from his later work. After our reading of Heidegger, we consider the literary, cinematic, and/or philosophical work of major 20th- and 21st-century artists who let us reflect on the possibilities and/or problems that his account of being in the world poses for ethical, religious, and existential concern.

John Stuart Mill

PHIL 228 - Bell, Melina C. (Melina)

A study of the life and ideas of a 19th-century philosopher who was ahead of his time. The class considers such questions as: Are liberty and individuality absolutely crucial to human happiness? Are we morally obligated to conduct our lives in ways that maximize the greatest aggregate happiness? Should women and men have equal rights and opportunities? How can we combine the benefits of capitalism (higher productivity and innovation) with the benefits of socialism (avoiding poverty and exploitation)? Is it more important to fill your head with knowledge or your heart with love?

Existentialism: Meaning and Existence

PHIL 238 - Verhage, Florentien

Overview of existential thought in the 19th and 20th centuries. The course presents core existentialist thinkers and their critics - e.g. Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Sartre, de Beauvoir, Fanon, Heidegger, Camus - and explores important existential themes such as human experience, anxiety, freedom, authenticity, and absurdity.

Philosophy of Law

PHIL 252 - Bell, Melina C. (Melina)

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.

American Pragmatism

PHIL 288 - Goldberg, Nathaniel J.

Pragmatism is America's most distinctive contribution to philosophy. In the 19th century, Pragmatists, inspired by the horrors of the Civil War and hopes of Darwinism, argued that truth is linked to concrete consequences, meaning is a social phenomenon, and the line between philosophy and social action is permeable. In the 20th and 21st centuries, philosophers developed these themes, so that today Pragmatism is a force to be reckoned with in philosophy.

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 2016, PHIL 395A-01: Advanced Seminar: Environmentalism for the Anthropocene (3). 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 - 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 .

Spring 2016

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.

The Second Sex: Beauvoir on the Power of Gender

PHIL 235 - Verhage, Florentien

Sixty years after its initial publication, The Second Sex is as eye-opening and relevant as ever. Simone de Beauvoir's masterpiece weaves together history, philosophy, economics, biology, and a host of other disciplines to analyze the Western notion of "woman" and to explore the making and the power of gender and sexuality. The Second Sex is an important philosophical and political document about inequality and enforced "otherness." Referring to the history of philosophy, new developments in existential thought, and drawing on extensive interviews with women, Beauvoir synthesizes research about women's bodies and psyches as well as their historic and economic roles.

Philosophies of Life

PHIL 250 - Bell, Melina C. (Melina)

Additional fee. 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 2016

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 - 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.

Introduction to Logic

PHIL 170 - Hu, Jing (Iris)

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 - Hu, Jing (Iris)

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

Winter 2016,

Winter 2016, PHIL 195-01: Seminar: Comparative Philosophy East and West (3). Taking a multi-cultural perspective, this introductory level class discusses some of the most essential and fundamental philosophical questions in both Western and Eastern civilizations. This course explores and compares, in depth and breadth, texts in Ancient Chinese philosophy, Ancient Greek philosophy, and contemporary philosophy. Some questions investigated include: What is human nature? Is it inherently good or bad? What are virtues, and how do we achieve them? What is a happy life? What is the ideal relationship between individual and community? (HU) Hu.

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.

Martin Luther King Jr.: Poverty, Justice, and Love

PHIL 243 - Pickett, Howard Y.

This course offers students the opportunity to examine the ethics and theology that informed the public arguments about poverty made by one of the 20th century's most important social justice theorists and activists, Martin Luther King Jr., as well as the competing views of his contemporaries, critics, forebears, and heirs. The course asks the following questions, among others: How do justice and love relate to one another and to poverty reduction? What role should religion play in public discussions and policies about poverty and justice? Are the dignity and the beloved community King championed the proper goal of anti-poverty efforts?

Feminist Social and Political Philosophy

PHIL 244 - Bell, Melina C. (Melina)

This course critically examines the gender norms that pervade our identities, govern our everyday behavior, and organize our social life. Questions addressed may include: What is gender? In what ways does it affect the quality of women's and men's lives? Is gender difference natural? Is it valuable? Can it contribute to, or interfere with, human flourishing? Can a gendered society be just? What can any of us do to promote good relations among women and men?

Free Will and Moral Responsibility

PHIL 256 - Smith, Angela M. (Angie)

This course provides an introduction to the problem of free will and moral responsibility. It is natural to wonder what place there is for freedom in a natural world of cause and effect. Our ordinary practices of holding people responsible (which includes not just blame, but also, e.g., credit, where credit is due) seem threatened equally by either determinism or indeterminism, fate or chance. In this class, we ask: What sort of concepts are freedom and responsibility, and what must a person be for those concepts to be applicable? The course begins with a brief historical overview of the problem of free will and moral responsibility, and then examines a number of contemporary philosophical perspectives on this problem, including the seminal work of P. F. Strawson, Harry Frankfurt, Gary Watson, John Martin Fischer, Susan Wolf, and T. M. Scanlon, among others.

Seminar on Philosophical Topics

PHIL 295 - McGonigal, Andrew J.

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

Winter 2016,

Winter 2016, PHIL 295-01: Seminar: Philosophy and Film (3) . Counts towards Film and Visual Culture minor. In this seminar, we discuss a range of issues in philosophy of film, and reflect on other relationships between philosophy and film. Students focus on the following kinds of questions: What is film? How should we understand the art(s) of film? What is the distinctive nature of documentary film? Why is it valuable? How do film narratives differ from other narrative forms? In what ways do motion pictures stand in a distinctive relationship to the emotions? To ethics? To knowledge? To philosophy? Do films have authors? (HU) McGonigal.

Seminar on Philosophical Topics

PHIL 295 - Hu, Jing (Iris)

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

Winter 2016,

Winter 2016, PHIL 295-02: Seminar: The Moral Emotions (3). The theme of the seminar is moral emotions; such as empathy, anger, shame, guilt, pride, and gratitude. We explore popular moral psychological studies, historical texts in both the Eastern and Western philosophical traditions, and contemporary philosophers' account of these emotions. Students gain knowledge about what moral emotions are, the history of emotion, and their role in moral reasoning, moral practice and moral theories. (HU) Hu.

Perception and Human Experience: Merleau-Ponty's Phenomenology

PHIL 327 - Verhage, Florentien

This course is centered on Maurice Merleau-Ponty's landmark work, The Phenomenology of Perception . Bringing together phenomenological philosophy and (neuro)psychology. Merleau-Ponty discusses a wide range of subjects: the bodily nature of consciousness, the expressivity of the body, our relations to others, the experience of time, space, freedom. etc. The course situates this discussion within a contemporary dialogue between phenomenology and the cognitive sciences. Perception is the primary relation that we have to the world; it reveals to us a world of meaningful objects; it reveals a world to which we belong as embodied subjects. A careful philosophical study of perception not only makes us understand the world better but also gives us more insight into our own embodied existence: "By thus remaking contact with the body and with the world, we shall also rediscover ourself." (PhP. 206).

Philosophy of Mind

PHIL 375 - Gregory, Paul A.

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 - Cooper, Gregory J. (Greg)

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 2016, PHIL 399-01: Seminar on a Living Philosopher (3). Dale Jamieson is at the Graduate Center, CUNY, where he is Chair of the Environmental Studies Department; Professor of Environmental Studies, Philosophy; Founding Director of Environmental Studies and Animal Studies; Affiliated Professor of Bioethics; and Affiliated Professor Law. Jamieson is author of four books, editor or co-editor of nine, and has published more than 100 articles. He focuses primarily on environmental ethics and environmental policy, with special emphasis on the ethics of climate change, animal rights, and agricultural practices. Jamieson will visit campus toward the end of the term to lead class and give a public lecture. (HU)

Directed Individual Study

PHIL 403 - Gregory, Paul A.

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

Senior Thesis

PHIL 473 - Goldberg, Nathaniel J.

Senior thesis.

Honors Thesis

PHIL 493 - Goldberg, Nathaniel J.

Honors Thesis.