Rice Unconventional Wisdom

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Philosophy Courses

 Spring 2012


 Phil 100  Problems of Philosophy - The Best Arguments of All Time - J. Adams

TR 2:30-3:45


This course is unconventional in two ways.  First, it focuses on a select few philosophical discussions, the “Best Arguments of All Time.”  Secondly, the course is limited to just 15 students.  Less material and fewer students will allow us additional time to understand, to analyze and critique, and, most importantly, to write.  One of the major goals of this course, in fact, is to substantially improve both the quality of your writing and the quality of your attitude toward writing.  I have figured out how to enjoy the writing process, and I'd like to share that insight with you. 

While you will for sure write more than usual—probably more than you ever have—your quid for that quo (your benefit for that sacrifice) will be less reading and absolutely no exams.  The individual attention means that you will benefit whether your writing skills are weak or strong. 

A second major goal is to give you an appreciation of philosophy, both its content and its form.  While our writings will certainly help with this, you will also demonstrate your understanding in an alternative medium (there will be opportunity for choice and creativity in this matter).  In short, this course should appeal to students who want to substantially improve their writing and analytical thinking skills, and who would enjoy learning about the questions that “make us tremble,” in the words of Robert Nozick, as they do so.

Phil 101 001 Contemporary Moral Issue - L. Eddleman 

TR 9:25-10:40

Examination of moral issues surrounding such topics as abortion, euthanasia, war, capital punishment, justice, and equality.


Phil 101 002 Contemporary Moral Issues - J. Bulcock

MWF 9:00-9:50

In this course we will survey contemporary issues in bioethics from the perspective of American bioethicists and other scholars from around the world. We will begin by discussing basic moral theories which will later inform our analysis of contemporary issues in American bioethics, including abortion, euthanasia, organ donation, and resource allocation. We will also consider the similarities and differences between the bioethical theories used to analyze these issues in America, Asia, Singapore, Iran, and the Netherlands. Ultimately, we will consider whether a truly global bioethics is possible.   


Phil 103 Phil. Aspect Cognitive Science - N. Orlandi/TBA

MWF 10:00-10:50     F 10:00-10:50 - TBA

An examination of current research in cognitive science and its philosophical implications. Topics include whether the mind is a computational system, how the mind is organized, whether certain components of the mind are innate.


Phil 106  Logic - J. Mills

MWF 9:00-9:50

Introduction to the formal theory of reasoning, which will be used to assess the validity of arguments in natural languages.


Phil 202 History of Philosophy II - M. Kulstad

TR 10:50-12:05

A survey of the history of philosophy from the 17th- to the 20th century.


Phil 301 Ancient & Medieval Philosophy - A. Carreras

TR 1:00-2:15

Topic: Ancient Ethics.  Ancient ethical theories are typically centered on the notion of eudaimonia – often translated “happiness.”  To live an ethical life is to live a happy life.  That claim strikes us as odd; we tend to think that whether someone lives happily and whether someone lives ethically are two very different things.  And this makes the ancient Greek philosophers all the more interesting and all the more worth studying.  In this course we shall examine and evaluate the ethics of Plato, Aristotle, the Epicureans, and the Stoics, paying particular attention to their differing conceptions of eudaimonia and how they understand the relation between virtue and happiness.  We shall also read some of the best scholarship that has been written on these thinkers by scholars such as Burnyeat, Kraut, Annas, and Vlastos. 


Phil 304 Metaphysics - C. Siewert

MWF 11:00-11:50

This course will study metaphyscis from the perspective of questions about personhood and personal identity. Topics will include: theories of personal identity over time; persons and embodiment; unity of self and unity of consciousness; and personhood, self-consciousness and agency.  Recommended prerequisite(s): A previous course in philosophy.



Phil 308 Continental Philosophy - J. Miller

MWF 10:00-10:50

This course is a survey of the major figures of continental philosophy from the late nineteenth to early twentieth century. In response to the crisis in philosophy brought on by the decline of both Enlightenment and romantic philosophy in Europe, a series of philosophical movements began to emerge which sought radically new approaches to the traditional problems of philosophy: experience, language, truth, subjectivity. We will focus primarily on the classic texts of existentialism (Nietzsche, Sartre), phenomenology (Husserl, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty), deconstruction (Derrida), and feminist philosophy (De Beauvoir, Irigaray). As an essential part of our inquiry, this course will also integrate important works of film and literature with the readings. Repeatable for credit with consent of instructor. Graduate/Undergraduate Equivalency: PHIL 508.


Phil 311 Philosophy of Religion - B. Brody

TR 2:30-3:45

Examination of God's existence, the problem of evil, the relation between faith and reason, and the varieties of religious experience.


Phil 312 Philosophy of Mind - C. Siewert

MWF 2:00-2:50

To try to construct a framework for understanding how mind and body are related is to deal with fundamental issues about ourselves and our place in the natural world. In this course we will examine a number of diverse and conflicting views about the mind/body relationship. Our aim will be to develop a critical response to both historically and recently influential perspectives on topics including: the debates between dualism and physicalism; what consciousness is and how it might be explained; and whether the mind “extends” outside the brain. Prerequisite(s): One course in philosophy or permission of the instructor. 



Phil 331 Moral Psychology - J. Summers

MWF 1:00-1:50

An examination of the role of intellect, emotion, and character as they contribute to the moral (and immoral) life, and as they pertain to rationality and moral responsibility.


Phil 334 Achievement & Meaning of Life - G. Bradford

TR 9:25-10:40

This course looks at the value of achievements in a rigorous philosophical manner. we examine approaches to the meaning of life and the value of achievement in the works of great philosophers, current philosophy, and we also draw from literature, history, current events, and psychology.


Phil 336 Seminar in Medical Ethics - J. Blumenthal-Barby

TR 9:25-10:40

A philosophical examination of some of the fundamental issues in clinical ethics, including informed consent, competency, confidentiality, end of life decision making, the definition of death, allocating scarce medical resources, and the role of economic analysis in clinical decision making. Readings drawn from the clinical and philosophical literature. Graduate/Undergraduate Equivalency: PHIL 536.


Phil 338 Metaethics - J. Summers

MWF 11:00-11:50

Metaethics studies higher-order questions about morality. Its questions include: What reasons do we have to do the right thing? What do claims about rightness and goodness mean? Can those claims be true or false? Are there objective moral truths, and if so, how can we know them?


Phil 390 001 Topics in Philosophy - A. Carreras

W 2:00-5:00

Topic: Philosophy of Friendship.  Friendship seems to require that we extend a special concern to our friends that we do not extend to others, yet morality seems to require that we treat everyone impartially.  Can the demands of friendship conflict with the demands of morality?   If so, to which should we yield, friendship or morality?  What is friendship anyway, and why is it valuable?  These are some of the questions we shall attempt to answer in this seminar, as we examine the nature and value of friendship and its relation to morality.  The course will draw from both classical (e.g. Plato, Aristotle, Cicero) and contemporary sources (e.g. Badhwar, Whiting, Brink). 


Phil 390 002 Topics in Philosophy - M. Kulstad, G. Kaplan

F 2:00-5:00

The topic for the spring semester of 2012 is the radical thought of Spinoza.  This course is interdisciplinary:  the professors team-teaching the course are in the Departments of Philosophy (Kulstad) and Religious Studies (Kaplan).  Kulstad is an expert on early modern philosophy, the period Spinoza is in.  Prof. Kaplan has serious philosophical interests spanning the thought of many centuries.  Among the philosophers he knows extremely well is Spinoza.  He brings to bear on Spinoza a wealth of contextual knowledge on Jewish thought, philosophy, religious thought and history. 



Phil 501 Ancient & Medieval Philosophy   - D. Morrison   R 1:00-4:00


 PHIL 507: Adam Smith and Karl Marx - J. Miller  F 1:00-4:00
Terms such as “capitalism,” “socialism,” “corporate greed,” and “class warfare” have come to play a central role in contemporary political discourse. But what are the historical and philosophical origins of these concepts? How might a richer understanding of such concepts allow us to exchange the often vague and divisive political rhetoric for meaningful, productive dialogue? This seminar aims to answer such questions through an in-depth analysis of the social and political writings of Adam Smith and Karl Marx. We will divide our time roughly evenly between the two great architects of modern political economy, focusing the first half of the term on Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments and The Wealth of Nations, and the second half on Marx’s early political writings and critique of capitalist economy.


Phil 512 Seminar Philosophy of Mind - N. Orlandi  M 2:00-5:00

Phil 530 Seminar Hist. Analytic Philosophy - R. Grandy  W 2:00-5:00

Phil 535 Advanced Topics in Value Theory - G. Bradford  T 2:00-5:00

Phil 590  Topics - M. Kulstad, G. Kaplan  F 2:00-5:00