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Philosophy Courses

Fall 2012


Phil 100   Problems of Philosophy   MWF 9:00-9:50   (Phillips)   An introduction to philosophy through such fundamental problems as the basis of morality; the foundation of state authority, determinism and freedom, and the possibility of knowledge.


Phil 101  Contemporary Moral Issues  MWF  2:00-2:50   ( Sher )  This course will discuss a number of moral issues of contemporary concern.  Although the topics vary from year to year, some issues that have been discussed in recent sections of the course include abortion, animal rights, capital punishment, freedom of expression, the criminalization of addictive substances, war and terrorism, immigration, and sex and pornography.  A first aim of the course is to help students think through these issues, while a second is to acquaint students with some of the main approaches that philosophers have developed for thinking about moral problems.  

Phil 104  Introduction to Philosophy of Science  MWF  11:00-11:50  (Fagan ) This course examines core features of scientific method and philosophical accounts of scientific knowledge. Topics include: discovery, explanation, evidence, theories and models.

Phil  201  History of Philosophy I   TR 9:25-10:40  (Siewert)    A study of important and influential ideas in the philosophy of Ancient Greece.  Topics will include: the early nature philosophers' challenge to traditional accounts of the gods and the origins of the cosmos; Socrates' trial and his call to live "the examined life"; Plato on the soul, the possibility of knowledge, and the nature of reality; Aristotle's search for the first principles of science and his conception of the natural world; Aristotelian, Stoic, and Epicurean ideas on what constitutes a good human life and how it is to be achieved.

Phil 302  Modern Philosophy  TR 2:30 - 3:45  (Kulstad ) This course covers varying central figures and topics in the history of modern philosophy, primarily in early modern philosophy, that is, the period in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries spanning approximately the timeframe of Descartes to Kant.  Since the exact figures and topics change from year to year, the course may be retaken for credit. (The term 'modern philosophy' suggests for many people, misleadingly, that PHIL 302 covers current or at any rate twentieth-century philosophy.  It is important to be clear that it does not.  The terminology is perhaps unfortunate, but it is standard in academia--and not only in philosophy circles.)  This year's version of PHIL 302 covers specifically Locke, Berkeley, and Hume, commonly known as the British Empiricists, and influential in a surprising number of ways, inside philosophy and out.  Normally offered every year.  The recommendation for majors is that PHIL 302 be taken only after PHIL 202 -- a more general survey providing important background, especially on Descartes.  For non-majors at least one previous course in philosophy is recommended.

Phil 303  Theory of Knowledge  MWF 1:00-1:50  (Fagan ) What is knowledge, and how is it possible that we have it? This course examines important contemporary theories of knowledge, including foundationalism, coherentism, contextualism, and reliabilism.  We will use contemporary classics in the epistemological literature to exemplify these positions, and to examine their strengths and weaknesses. We will also examine two different challenges to the major theories:  naturalism and radical skepticism.

Phil 305  Mathematical Logic  MWF 10:00-10:50  (GrandyLogic is the study of forms of argument,  the main goal being to distinguish correct from incorrect forms.  In this course we  develop  formal languages and methods for assessing correctness.  This requires facility both in manipulating the language and in thinking about it. Along the way we  discover  important strengths and limitations of the languages, and, by translating back and forth into English, learn a lot about the logical structure of English.  We briefly explore some further directions for developing logic—many-valued logics,  the logic of necessity and possibility, and if there is time, some tense logic. Distribution  Group III


Phil 306  Ethics  MWF 1:00 - 1:50  (SherThis course deals with fundamental questions of value and morality-questions such as: What sort of life is best? What kind of person is it best to be? What does morality require of us? It also deals with important second-order questions about these fundamental questions- for example: Can morality be justified? How can we know what's right or good? Is there moral truth? What is the relation between morality and self-interest? Readings are drawn from both classical and contemporary sources.


Phil 327  Hist. Social & Political Philosophy  TR 9:25-10:40  (Morrison)This course surveys the European tradition of political philosophy, from Socrates to the 20th century.  Students will read selections from the "greatest hits"; the most important and influential works of political philosophy in history.  All the great questions of political philosophy are raised by these texts, questions such as:  What is the state?  What is law?  What is the basis of political obligation?  What is human nature?  What are the proper aims of government?  What is the best form of government? 


Phil 352  Philosophy of Psychology  TR 2:30-3:45   (SiewertThis course considers fundamental issues regarding psychology’s method and aims, and the philosophical interpretation of experimental and clinical findings.  This semester the focus is on the following three sets of questions. (1) What is the special ‘introspective’ way of knowing one’s own mind? Does psychological research depend on it? Does its use conflict with the goals of “objective” science? How does what psychology says about its nature and scope bear on traditional philosophical debates about knowledge and mind? (2) How do we know minds other than our own? Do we ordinarily understand others by constructing an implicit theory to explain other’s  behavior—or is that an over-intellectualization? Does knowledge of others rely on our knowledge of our own minds (and the assumption that others are like us)? Does research into child development and autism help us to answer these questions? (3) What implications does psychological research—including neuroscientific research—have regarding the notion that we have “free will”? Does psychology show that free will is an illusion?


Phil 390  Topics in Philosophy  F 2:00-5:00  S. Keller

Phil 401  Independent Reading I

Phil 411  Senior Thesis




Phil 505  Mathematical Logic  MWF 10:00-10:50  F 11:00-11:50  R. Grandy 

Phil 508  Sem. Continental Philosophy  M 2:00-5:00  S. Crowell 

Phil 524  Seminar in Hegel  T 2:00-5:00  H.T. Engelhardt 

Phil 536  Seminar in Medical Ethics  W 2:00-5:00  B. Brody 

Phil 590  Topics in Philosophy  F 2:00-5:00  S. Keller

Phil 598  Advanced Independent Reading

Phil 701  Research Qualifying & Thesis

Phil 800  Research and Thesis