Course Listings - Spring 2003
Department of Philosophy Course Descriptions
PHIL 103R Introduction to Ethics, (4 credits), Reed
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.
Evaluations will be based on daily quizzes, periodic short tests,
class participation, class presentations, and a final exam. The
aims of the course are the following:
1) Develop critical thinking skills, distinguishing manipulation from persuasive reasoning and valid from faulty reasoning,
2) Learn the relationship between happiness, ethics, and morality,
3) Learn the relationship between morality and social identity (gender/sex, race/ethnicity, socio-economic class, & sexuality/sexual orientation),
4) Learn why cultural differences do not entail that morality is relative to culture or society,
5) Learn a method for making decisions in situations where important life-choices or values are at stake but in which you don't know what to do, and
6) Explore the relationships between ethics, biology, psychology, and culture.
PHIL 110M/R Logic and Critical Reasoning, (4 Credits), Martinez-Saenz(Two sections)
This course is divided in two parts. The first part of course considers
important aspects of philosophical reasoning in relation to the
Aristotelian tradition by way of the study of categorical logic,
the analytic tradition by way of the study of prepositional/predicate
logic and its different applications. Students will take three exams
and weekly quizzes to determine their competency during this part of
the semester. The second part of the course helps students develop their
critical thinking skills. Students will engage in exercises evaluating
landmark Supreme Court decisions. Students, for example, will evaluate
Dred Scott v. Sanford, Marbury v. Madison, Brown v. Board of Education,
Roe v. Wade, and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. These are just a few
examples of landmark cases that not only had undeniable political
implications, but forced us to question our willingness to accept
others. The second part of the class will be evaluated by weekly
quizzes, in-class exercises and one final paper.
PHIL 200R Philosophy of Women’s Lives, (4 credits), McHugh
In this course we will survey contemporary feminist theory across
cultures. Because we will be doing readings across cultures, we
will seek to question if there is one standard feminist view that
encompasses all of feminist theory. We will be reading feminist
perspectives from Islamic women, African women, African-American
women, Latinas, Chicanas, Indian women, and Euro-American women.
We will be covering a wide array of topics and a diversity of
Tentative texts are: Lila Abu-Lughod, (ed), Remaking Women;
Patricia Hill Collins, Black Feminist Thought; bell hooks, All
About Love; Linda Kauffman, (ed) American Feminist Thought at
Century's End; Elaine Kim, (ed) Making More Waves: New Writing
by Asian American Women; Ellen McCracken, The New Latina
Narrative: The Feminist Space of Postmodern Ethnicity; Gwendolyn
Mikell, African Feminism: The Politics of Survival in Sub-Saharan
Africa; Vandana Shiva, Biopiracy: The Plunder of Nature and Knowledge.
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.
(Cross-listed with Women's Studies.)
PHIL 200R Signs, Symbols, and Language, (4 credits), Sagastume(same as Spanish 230R)
This is a theory course designed to provide a comprehensive background
of the philosophy of language from Plato to Derrida. The course is
taught in English and is geared to students of different disciplines
: English, Foreign Languages and Literatures, Philosophy, Theatre,
being particularly beneficial for majors and minors in areas of
Literature and Philosophy.
PHIL 200R Mysteries of Self & Soul (4 credits), Reed
In this course students will explore a range of definitions and
descriptions of what we variously refer to as “the self,” “the mind,
” “the soul,” “the spirit,” “the psyche,” “free will,” “personality,
” “character,” etc. The two primary prompts for our considerations
will be movies such as The Matrix and The Exorcist and texts from the
history of philosophy and psychology, including Freud and Beauvoir.
Evaluations will be based on daily quizzes, periodic short tests,
class participation, class presentations, and a final exam.
We will address questions such as the following:
1. Am I my body, or something more than but including my body, or something in but distinct from my body?
2. Can I be aware of anything except through the medium of my bodily sense organs? Can I have an “out-of-body” experience?
3. Am I the same person I was 10 years ago, even though almost every cell in my body is different? Would I be the same person if I lost an arm? If I became quadraplegic? If I were just a brain in a vat?
4. When did “I” begin existing? When I was conceived as a fertilized egg? When I became a viable fetus? When I was born? When I learned to talk? When I went through puberty?
5. Will I survive the death of my body in any meaningful sense?
Philosophy 200R, Mysteries of Self & Soul continued:
6. What is the relationship between my conscious experience and the functioning of my brain? Are they the same thing? If they are different, how do they influence each other? Do they influence each other?
7. Do I constitute myself through my own choices and actions? Or am I constituted – made to be who I am – by the influences in my environment?
8. Am I free or just unaware of the many ways my will is determined by forces outside of me?
9. Do I know for sure that other selves exist? Could they all just be extremely complicated mechanisms like robots?
10. Am I just an extremely complicated mechanism?
PHIL 200R Philosophy of Culture in Latin America, (4 credits), Martinez-Saenz
Prerequisite: None. Writing Intensive
The student will be exposed to different philosophical
perspectives from different regions in Latin America.
The class covers primarily four areas of study. First,
we will examine the idea of a “Latin American Philosophy.”
In other words, is there some “thing” that we can identify
as peculiar to Latin America? Second, we will evaluate different
conceptions of being in the world from a Latin American
perspective. Our questions will include but will not be
limited to the following: What does it mean to be a human
being? Why do I exist? How should I live? Third, we will
consider education and movements of liberation. What role
does spirituality play in social and political movements
in Latin America? How does education affect culture and
cultural identity most specifically? Fourth, we will evaluate
the influence of the “postmodern” movement in Latin America.
What does it mean to be a postmodern Latin American philosopher?
Should one be a postmodern Latin American philosopher?
Have Latin American philosophers in general remained prisoners
of “modernity”? Students will be expected to write 4 short
essays and take two exams. 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.
PHIL 211 Modern Philosophy, (4 credits), McHugh
Prerequisite: PHIL 210 or permission.
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.
Philosophy 380 Constructing Bodies, (4 credits), McHugh
Prerequisite: one course in Philosophy or permission.
Constructing Bodies is an advanced course in epistemology
and philosophy of the body. We will begin by studying standard
theories of knowledge, critical theories of knowledge, and
critical aesthetics. We will then move on to readings in philosophy
of the body focusing on the construction of female and male
bodies through Susan Bordo's Unbearable Weight and The Male
Body along with supplementary readings. In addition to
philosophical texts, we will be using popular media as a
text and a subject for analysis. Course projects consist
of weekly reaction papers, a book review, a midterm and final
paper you will reconstruct for a class colloquium. Writing intensive.