PHIL 103R Introduction to Ethics
What are your rights and duties, and so what should you do? What is the best life for you, and so what type of person should you become? These two questions are both important, but they mark different approaches to ethics, with many emphasizing one but not the other. A principal aim in this course is to teach you an approach to ethics as a practical problem-solving self-discipline. This approach has traditionally been known as casuistry.
During the course we will examine the relations between evolution, theology, psychology, and morality. What is the basis of your moral values? Biology, God, your culture and upbringing, your gender, and/or other things? We will discuss, among other things, whether non-human primate social groups exhibit morality, whether morality is the same universally across cultures, and whether divine commands are right because God commands them or are commanded by God because they are right on independent grounds.
Students will write papers on their ideal life, the type of person they need to become to accomplish this ideal, and the personal standards they need to set for themselves to accomplish this ideal. The specific issues we discuss will include medical intervention in birth and death, human sexuality, the distribution of wealth and privilege, and differences of race and ethnicity. Five short tests will be taken, and the final exam will be comprehensive. The course is writing intensive. It is for people who relish an intellectual challenge.
PHIL 110M-Logic and Critical Thinking
This course will be divided into two parts. During the first part of the semester we will work on developing our critical thinking skills. Evaluating various forms of discourse including film, literature, and philosophy, students will learn to detect instances of prejudice, racism and oppression, identifying the biases inherent in certain structures like language. Students will be expected to write four critical reaction papers for this part of the course. The second part of the course is designed to introduce students to formal logic. By the end of the semester the students should be able to do the following: (1) translate statements in Categorical, Propositional, and Quantificational Logic, (2) evaluate and solve proofs in Categorical, Propositional, Quantificational Logic, (3) understand better some methods and techniques for problem solving. Students will take three exams and quizzes during this part of the class. Prerequisite: None
PHIL 200R Revolutions in Latin America
The course focuses its attention on selected Latin American philosophers and the role philosophical thought play in social and political revolutions. The context of this course, consequently, takes place within the context of Latin American revolutions primarily in the 20th century. The student should be able by the end of the semester to appreciate more fully some of the philosophical perspectives that have been developed in Latin America in relation to social and political problems most specifically. Students will be expected to write four critical essays. There will also be short answer quizzes given periodically on the reading assignments. In this class students will be expected to engage in dialogue with me and, at times, with each other. Prerequisite: None. Writing intensive.
PHIL 211R Modern Philosophy
This course will analyze the modern period in philosophy, the seventeenth-century through the nineteenth-century. We will read modern thinkers as Descartes, Spinoza, Locke, Kant, and Darwin and contemporary analyses of these thinkers by philosophers such as Charles Mills, Carole Patemen and Susan Bordo. During the semester we will consider a wide variety of issues. Some of these will be what is the proper role of government, how does one know if others have thinking minds, the role of the individual in society, what is reason, who has reason. There will be weekly writing assignments focused on developing philosophical skills and tests/quizzes. Writing intensive.
PHIL 240R Philosophy of Science
This course will focus on the nature/nurture debates that frequently arise in the human sciences. Our two main areas of study will be the Human Genome Project and human gender. We will discuss the historical roots of the HGP, its affects on medical technology and on questions in medical ethics. We will also talk about the way that DNA has become part of popular culture and discourse. Tentative texts for this section are: The Perfect Baby, by Glenn McGee and The DNA Mystique, by Dorothy Nelkin and Susan Lindee, as well as several articles. The second half of the course will focus on human gender. We will question whether gender is a cultural construct or a biological phenomenon (or perhaps both). We will read articles by and about John Money, the founder of the gender identity clinic at Johns Hopkins, Mickey Diamond, Money's intellectual (and, at times, physical) rival, and the famous twins case, which some argue has totally refuted the position that gender is only a social construct.
You should come to class having read the material for the day and prepared to write on and discuss the material. This will not be a lecture oriented class. I expect your full participation so that we can engage in dialogue together. This will make the course much more interesting for all of us. The course is a writing-based course, requiring several shorter papers and one longer paper.
PHIL 380-Ethics of Economic Development
The primary aim of the course is to provide students with the abilities to recognize and evaluate ethical issues and perspectives as they relate to economic, social, cultural, political, and technological development. Students will be engaged critically with aspects of development ranging from the growing rates of economic inequalities, poverty and healthcare, and sexism and its effects on policy alternatives. Students will be expected to write four critical essays. In this class you and your classmates will be expected to engage in dialogue with me and, at times, with each other. Your education, as a philosopher, requires that you learn to understand, appreciate, and be able to think critically about philosophical positions. Prerequisite: One course in philosophy. Writing intensive.