Course Descriptions

Philosopher Harriet Taylor211 – Philosophical Problems – This course is an introduction to the topic of personal identity as treated in the theory of knowledge and in metaphysics. Readings are contemporary and interdisciplinary. Topics include mind and body, memory, artificial intelligence, and cultural relativism. Offered every fall. Three hours.

212 – Ethics – This course is an introduction to philosophy focused on ethical thinking. Its fundamental aim is to occasion the clarification of our thought concerning how to live, what sorts of persons to be, which kinds of actions and principles to affirm and which not in our relations to others. We will pursue this inquiry by reading classical texts, contemporary dialogues and essays on ethics, and decided cases in law. Our thinking about ethics will attend to three broad approaches to ethical situations: Utility, Rights and Duties, Virtue. Our discussion of these and other considerations will constantly attend to specific moral problems (e.g., abortion, sexual morality, affirmative action, animals, and the environment). Offered every spring. Three hours.

213 – Environmental Ethics – This course addresses basic issues of environmental ethics: the value of ecosystems (both inherent and instrumental), human beings’ treatment of animals and non-animal nature, the meaning and justification of moral obligations to species and to the environment, and the complex and profound ways in which our actions with regard to the environment affect our fellow human beings. We will apply moral theory to environmental problems in the enterprise of formulating an adequate ethical approach to our environment. Recommended: PHIL 212 and EVST 105. Offered every two-three years. Cross-listed with EVST 213. Three hours.

220 – Philosophy East and West – The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the classic philosophic traditions of Greece, Rome, India, China, and Japan. This introduction might consist of a study of representative texts or of a comparative analysis of central concepts and assumptions. Offered every two to three years. Three hours. Huff. 225 – Women’s Nature – A philosophical and psychological inquiry into the concept of women’s nature. Topics include genetic determinism, moral development, sexuality, race, gender in communication, feminism and Christianity and gender and culture. Offered every two years. Three hours.

234 – Philosophy of Education – What are the proper goals of education, and how can we best achieve those goals? In this course we read and discuss classic works in the philosophy of education by authors such as Plato, Rousseau and Confucius, contemporary writings by philosophers and educators, and recent news articles spotlighting pressing questions in education today. We will consider the roles of autonomy and authority, the development of values and desires as compared with skills and information, and the opportunities and dangers of specialization. Students will reflect on their own experiences in education, and develop their views as to what sort of education they should pursue for themselves. They will also develop and argue for their views on what kind of education is best to build a healthy, flourishing society. Offered every two to three years. Three hours.

251 – History of Western Philosophy: Ancient – A study of classical philosophers who importantly shaped Western thinking and sensibility. Readings include the Pre-Socratics, Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, and Epictetus. Emphasis is placed on the writings of Plato and Aristotle. Offered every fall. Three hours.

252 – History of Western Philosophy: Modern – This course focuses on the critical evaluation of important philosophers from the Renaissance through the 18th century. Emphasis is placed on the emergence of modern science and secular humanism in the works of Descartes, Locke, Berkeley, Hume and Kant. Offered every spring. Three hours.

260 – Philosophy of Religion – This course investigates the relation between philosophy and religion and applies philosophic methods to such problems as the nature of religious experience, the nature of religious language, the question of the existence and nature of God, the problem of the reality of evil or suffering as it relates to assertions of the benevolence and omnipotence of deity, and the issue of the relevance of religious experience to human existence. Offered every two to three years. Three hours.

280 – Philosophy of Science – This course examines science as a distinctive way of approaching the A associated with truth. How is this view of science to be justified? What are its historical origins? Particular attention to the characterization of scientific objectivity and the views of knowledge and reality this entails. Topics include: logic and probability, rationality and irrationality, science and gender, relativism, objectivity and truth. Readings are primarily contemporary. Offered every two to three years. Three hours.

308 – Feminist Theory – Critical examination of contemporary theories in feminism according to a variety of discourses on difference. Topics include: the politics of sexuality, black feminism, feminist theories of knowledge and reality, marginality, and Post-Colonial theory. Primarily philosophy with interdisciplinary readings, seminar format. Prerequisite: two courses in philosophy or consent of instructor. Offered every three years. Three hours.

328 – Bio-Medical Ethics – An examination of the ethical dimensions of decision-making in medical practice, research and technology. Among the issues considered are: the concepts of health and illness, experimentation and consent, abortion, death and dying, rights and justice in health care, and the allocation of scarce medical resources. Prerequisite: two courses in philosophy or consent of instructor. Recommended: PHIL 212. Offered every three years. Three hours.

343 – Confucian Tradition – An in-depth study of the Confucian philosophical tradition, including both classical sources and neo-Confucian developments, guided by recent scholarship. We will explore debates within the tradition over questions such as the relationship be- tween virtue and human nature and the authority of tradition versus individual insight. We will also consider Confucian thought’s potential to address contemporary philosophical and practical challenges in both the East and the West. Prerequisite: two courses in philosophy or consent of instructor. Recommended: PHIL 212 and/ or 220. Offered every three years. Three hours.

363 – Social and Political Philosophy – A consideration of the justification of political authority, fundamental social principles and the social policies that follow from them. Issues considered include: anarchism and political authority, freedom, justice and equality, rights, as well as such contemporary social controversies as reverse discrimination, free expression and censorship, property rights, and social welfare. Prerequisite: two courses in philosophy or consent of instructor. Recommended: PHIL 212. Offered every three years. Three hours.

370 – 19th Century European Philosophy – An introduction to the thought of several important 19th century philosophers: Hegel, Kierkegaard, Marx, Mill, Nietzsche, Freud. Central considerations: rationality/irrationality; objectivity/subjectivity; freedom/bondage; community/individuality; theory/practice; integration/ alienation. Prerequisite: two courses in philosophy or consent of instructor. Recommended: PHIL 252. Offered every two to three years. Three hours.

371 – 20th Century European Philosophy – This course focuses on the work of several important 20th century philosophers in different traditions: Existential Phenomenology, Logical Positivism, Structuralism/ Post-Structuralism, and Postmodernism. Prerequisite: two courses in philosophy or consent of instructor. Recommended: PHIL 252 or 370. Offered every two to three years. Three hours.

381-382 – Special Topics – Taught by departmental staff and designed to meet the needs and interests of advanced students of philosophy and related majors. Topics vary but may be an intensive study of a major figure or movement in recent or contemporary philosophy. Prerequisite: consent of instructor. Three hours each.

401 – Philosophy Capstone – Intensive writing of one’s personal philosophy. Students examine their own beliefs about philosophical issues by reflecting on matters of importance to them to which they were exposed in their courses in philosophy. Students meet bi-weekly to share their writing and discuss their ideas. Prerequisite: permission of instructor. Offered every year. One hour.

404 – Freedom – A study of human freedom and how the causality of the human will is to be understood in light of the laws of nature. If humans are a part of the natural world, governed by the laws of biology, physics and chemistry, can we be free? Is freedom simply the ability to carry one’s desires into action? To be truly free, must we also be free with respect to the contents of our wills? Contemporary readings from the analytic tradition will be combined with readings from the history of philosophy that provide both context and critical perspective. Prerequisite: at least one course in philosophy at the 300 level or consent of instructor. Recommended: PHIL 212 or PHIL 252. Offered every three years. Three hours.

405 – Emotion – Traditional conceptions of objectivity devalue the influence of emotion in rationality. This course examines a variety of approaches to thinking that insist on the importance of feeling. Topics include: emotion as a kind of judgment, self-deception and the problem of self-knowledge, mind-body dualism, and the politics of emotion. Readings from cognitive psychology, ethics and moral psychology, cultural anthropology and feminist theories of knowledge. Prerequisite: at least one course in philosophy at the 300 level or consent of instructor. Recommended: PHIL 211 or 252. Offered every three years. Three hours.

407 – Truth and Meaning – In both ordinary language and disciplinary specific languages, important questions arise regarding meaning. We do not always mean what we say and we can struggle to clarify what we mean. What, then, determines meaning? How is it related to truth? How do we know in cases of disagreement, ambiguity, and other languages? This course ex- amines questions in the philosophy of language. Topics include: the relationship of language to the world, truth, intentionality, translation, speech acts, and body language. Readings are in primarily analytic and continental philosophy. Prerequisite: at least one course in philosophy at the 300 level or consent of instructor. Recommended: PHIL 252 or 260. Offered every three years. Three hours.

408 – Virtue – In ancient Greece, philosophical discussions of ethics typically centered on a notion of good character, or virtue. A virtuous person has good judgment of what to do, and desires to do it. This approach fell out of favor during the modern period as desire was given less attention, and Kantian and utilitarian approaches came to dominate philosophical ethics. In recent decades, however, there has been a strong revival. We will typically examine both historical sources for virtue ethics, such as texts by Plato and Aristotle, and contemporary work. Prerequisite: at least one course in philosophy at the 300 level or consent of instructor. Recommended: PHIL 212 or 251. Offered every three years. Three hours.

450 – Internship in Philosophy – Students complement their classroom study of philosophy with practical experience in a career setting consistent with their goals, preparation, and interests. Students will complete tasks mutually agreed on by the student, the supervisor, and the instructor. Quarterly reports reflecting on the application of philosophy. Prerequisites: three hours of upper level philosophy and permission of instructor. Open to juniors and seniors who are majoring in philosophy. Application required; see Internship Program. Three hours.

455 – Directed Field Studies in Philosophy – This course provides an opportunity for interested students to gain practical experience with the application of philosophical principles to actual situations through field placement with an appropriate community agency. Prerequisites: six hours of upper level philosophy and permission of instructor. Open to juniors and seniors who are majoring in philosophy. Students must meet with the department chair and then submit a proposal for filed study placement and anticipated goals at the time of registration of the course. Three hours.

491-492 – Independent Study – The department staff offers programs of a tutorial nature for qualified students. At least a 3.25 cumulative quality point ratio and approval by the curriculum committee are required. Topics will vary and will be determined in part by the specific interests of the students. Prerequisite: consent of instructor. Three hours each.

496-498 – Senior Project – Seniors may select an area of intensive study and write a thesis on some topic arising from that study. Consent of instructor required. Six hours.