DEPARTMENT OF PHILOSOPHY
PHIL 102R 01 & 02 - Introduction to Philosophy
This course is an introductory examination of the basic areas of philosophy, addressing questions like the following: How do we know if an action is right or wrong, and are any actions universally wrong? Is "beauty" really only in the eye of the beholder, or are there objective standards in the visual, musical, and literary arts? What sorts of things exist, for instance, do any non-physical things (such as minds, souls, or spirits) exist? Do we have free will, or are our behaviors and thoughts determined by chemical and physical events in our brains? Is knowledge possible and, if so, how do we know what we know? And is there a genuine difference between reasoning and coercion, between persuasion and manipulation, and how can we tell?
PHIL 103R 01 & 02 - Ethics and Identity
This is an introductory level course in ethics and social identity, exploring the ways our moral principles and ethical ideals are related to our places and identities within concrete social systems. The goals of the course are to teach a method of moral decision-making, to enable students to understand how moral norms are in some sense relative and yet also in some sense objective, to explore ways that we are all to some extent selfish and yet to some extent always already in relations of interdependence and cooperation with others. Primary texts by theorists such as J.S. Mill, Kant, Hume, and Aristotle are studied. Evaluations will be based on daily quizzes, periodic short tests, and a final exam.
PHIL 200R 1W - Critical Reasoning and the Law
This course is an introduction to the process of using critical reasoning to interpret the law. We will explore how the law has been defined, and why the law is often challenged. Students will gain knowledge about the philosophical approaches to the study and practice of law through the examination of United States Supreme Court decisions to develop critical thinking skills. While engaged in critical analysis of Supreme Court decisions, students will learn a systematic approach to the analysis, synthesis, and application of facts to construct legal arguments. The class discussions and writing assignments will serve as an opportunity for students to practice utilizing the critical reasoning approaches that philosophers and legal scholars utilize to answer difficult questions in American jurisprudence. Class evaluations will be based on weekly quizzes, critical analysis essays, and a final examination. This course is ideal for students considering attending law school or fascinated with the legal system. Writing intensive.
PHIL 306 1W - 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 or permission. ECON 190 recommended. Writing intensive.
PHIL 310 1W - Ancient & Medieval Philosophy
This course is an introduction to the historical method of philosophical reflection and an introduction to the philosophers of a particular period and a particular tradition (ancient Greek to medieval European). As part of the first goal, we will observe the historical nature of philosophical thinking, i.e., the way it develops historically, not by accident but by its very nature. We will trace one tradition of answers to questions variously answered by four particular notions (which themselves are reformulated over and over again): (1) the notion that abstractions (like geometrical figures and the periodic table of elements) are the true objects of knowledge, (2) the notion that it is sometimes very difficult if not impossible to do what you know is good and not to do what you know is bad, (3) the notion that to be real and to be excellent are the same, i.e., that being and goodness are identical, and (4) the notion that the soul is immortal and lives on after the body decays and ceases. Students will take a mid-term and a final exam and write four papers. Prerequisite: One prior course in philosophy or permission. Writing intensive.
PHIL 312 1W - Contemporary Philosophy
While the focus of this class will
not be all movements in the 20th century, the student will become acquainted
with two traditions, namely “continental tradition” and the “pragmatist
tradition.” We will be asking questions related to but not limited to
the following: How does Marx influence philosophy, most specifically the Frankfurt
School, in the 20th century? What is the relation between philosophical positions
and social change? Can we identify the ills of society? If so, how do we go
about critiquing social movements and social institutions? Do human beings have
the power to change the world or does the world exert so much power over human
beings that we are at the whim of social (and natural) forces? What constitutes
a philosophical solution both to a philosophical problem and a social-political
problem? Students will be expected to write two 8-10 page papers and will be
required to take two in-class exams. In addition, students will have weekly
quizzes. Prerequisite: PHIL 211R or PHIL 311 or permission. Writing intensive.