SearchDirectoriesHelpSite MapHome
Wake Forest University

Philosophy Department

Fall 03 Courses
 

PHI 111 - Basic Problems of Philosophy

FYS 100 - Mad Minds, Broken Minds
George Graham - (TR- 09:30 – 10:45 a.m. - Tribble A207)
     Description and Goals: Most of us live our lives against a background of normalcy. We may feel sad, but never become clinically depressed. We may get anxious, but never experience complete distortion of our personalities. We may forget things, but never suffer from dramatic deficits in autobiographical memory. We may have difficulty relating intimately with other people, but never fall into utter social isolation.
     Not everyone’s mind is up to the job. Some minds are broken, some from birth, others in the course of development or in response to lesion, trauma or crisis. Historically, broken minds have sometimes been referred to as mad minds – as forms of madness or insanity. Partly because of recent successes in the study of how the brain performs but also can deform mental activity, talk of madness has been replaced by talk of broken or disordered minds.
     This is a seminar about ‘mad’ or broken minds. It is about four types of broken minds in particular: the minds of victims of autism, Alzheimer’s disease, clinical depression, and borderline personality disorder. The seminar is premised on the following assumption. We can learn from broken minds about healthy, unbroken minds. We can discover facts about how healthy, normal, or well-functioning minds are put together by examining what happens to the human mind when it comes apart.
     Inferring lessons about healthy minds from damaged or broken minds is challenging. However it is a common strategy in a number of areas of philosophical and psychological research. We shall pursue the strategy. In the course of discussion a number of topics will be discussed. These will include (among others): the problem of other minds, the nature of personal autonomy and identity, the positive role of negative emotions in human happiness, and the nature and power of irrationality.
     The goals of the course are threefold.
     * To reveal how the study of mental illness can contribute to understanding healthy or normal human mental functioning.
     * To encourage students to enter compassionately and intelligently into the lives of mentally ill persons.
     * To expose students to central questions about the nature and character of the human mind.
     Required Readings:
     * Temple Grandin (with M. M. Scariano), Emergence: Labelled Autistic. Warner, pb, 1996, ISBN 0446671827
     *Simon Baron-Cohen, Mindblindness: Autism and Theory of Mind. MIT, pb, 1997, ISBN 026252225X
     * Thomas De Baggio, Losing My Mind: An Intimate Look at Life with Alzheimer’s. Touchstone, pb, 2003, ISBN 0743205669
     * Susanna Kaysen, Girl, Interrupted. Vintage Books, pb, 1994, ISBN 0679746048
     * William Styron, Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness. Vintage, pb. 1992, ISBN 0679736395

Go to top of page

FYS 100 - What’s a Person to Do: Ethics and Film
Hannah Hardgrave - (MW – 03:00 p.m. – 04:15 p.m. - Tribble A307)
     The question, “How ought I to live?” is one that most people face at some time in their lives; it is also a question faced by characters in many films. In this seminar basic issues in philosophical ethics concerning the nature of morality, the right, and the good will be applied to the situations depicted in selected films. Among the questions to be addressed are: Is morality subjective? Is happiness always the (only) Good? Is the violation of a moral duty ever justified? What is the basis of morality – reason or faith or emotion or something else? Class discussion of the ethical ideas and their application will form the core of the course; the goal of the course is to give students extensive practice in moral reasoning.

FYS 100 - Philosophy of War
Clark Thompson - (TR – 03:00 p.m. – 04:15 p.m. - Tribble A201)
    A study of the implications of moral theory for the determination of when war is morally permissible and of how war is to be conducted if it is to be waged in a morally acceptable way. We shall examine whether either just war theory or utilitarianism can offer acceptable guidance in making these determinations. We shall ask whether the provisions of international law governing warfare, as well as the rules conducting warfare adopted by the military forces of the United States, are morally acceptable, and whether various possible military actions (e.g., the bombing of cities to weaken civilian morale) violate such provisions and rules.

PHI 121 –Logic
Marcus Hester - (TR – 09:30 a.m. - 10:45 a.m. – Tribble Hall A307)

     This course on elementary logic is oriented to students with other interests in addition to interest in pure philosophy, for example, to students intending to go to law, business or medical school. Thus it emphasizes translating and formulating arguments in ordinary English instead of a hybrid language of English and logic. However, philosophical and theoretical issues are discussed--for example the nature of causation and contrary to-fact-conditionals (conditionals such as "Stonewall Jackson would not have been a great general if Lee had not been commanding general of the Confederate Army"). Further, arguments intended to establish their conclusion with probability are studied as well as arguments intended to establish an airtight link between premises and conclusion.

PHI 252 – Contemporary Philosophy
Dorothea Lotter - (MWF– 10:00 a.m. - 10:50 a.m. – Tribble Hall A307)

     This course is aimed primarily at students who have previously completed a Philosophy 111 course and now are curious to learn a little more about how philosophy is professionally done at a slightly higher level. Previous acquaintance with at least some basic notions of modern logic and/or critical thinking will be of help. The course provides an introduction to contemporary philosophy in the so-called “analytic” tradition, which means that we will try to logically analyze and evaluate arguments from classical texts of the 20th century. Also, any attempts at developing new or alternative views and arguments will be encouraged both in class and in written assignments.

The selected texts will introduce you to various fields of contemporary philosophical thought and inquiry, such as philosophy of language, metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of mind, ethics and general methodology. We will be reading texts by Gottlob Frege, Bertrand Russell, G.E. Moore, Ludwig Wittgenstein, P.F. Strawson, W.V. Quine, Edmund Gettier, Nelson Goodman, D.M. Armstrong, Thomas Nagel, David Lewis, Bernard Williams, among others. Grading is based on: (1) participation, including occasional short oral presentations of part of a text, (2) two essays (5-7 pages), (3) a final take-home exam. Extra credit can be earned for submitting short written responses to special study questions handed out each week.

All of our primary texts are contained in David Sosa, Aloysius Martinich (eds.): Analytic Philosophy: An Anthology, Blackwell 2001. As a secondary source I also recommend Kwame Anthony Appiah: Thinking It Through. An Introduction to Contemporary Philosophy, OUP 2003. Both books will be available at the book store.

PHI 253 – Main Streams/Chinese Philosophy & Religion
Patrick Moran - (MWF– 03:00 p.m. – 03:50 p.m. – Carswell 14)

      An introduction to the most important traditions in Chinese philosophy and religion: Confucianism, Daoism (Taoism), and Chinese Buddhism or Chinese Chan (Zen) Buddhism.

Go to top of page

PHI 262 – Philosophy of Law
Win-chiat Lee – (TR – 01:30 p.m. – 02:45 p.m. – Tribble Hall A307)

     What is law? Does law have to be just or reasonable in order to be binding? Can we interpret the law without exercising moral judgment? These are some of the more general questions regarding the nature of law and legal reasoning that will be discussed in the first part of the course. In the second part of the course, we will explore the moral limits of criminal law and discuss some of the philosophical issues regarding individual liberty in American Constitutional Law--issues such as the legislation of morals, freedom of expression, and legal paternalism. In the third and final part of the course, we will deal with the extent of responsibility and liability in tort and criminal law, including the problem of the insanity defense. The overall topic is the relation of law to morality.

PHI 341 – Kant
Adrian Bardon – (TR – 12:00 p.m. – 01:15 p.m. Tribble Hall A307)
     In this course we shall study Kant’s critical discussion of claims to philosophical, scientific, religious, and moral knowledge in his Critique of Pure Reason and Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals. In these works Kant mediates between rationalist and empiricist approaches to knowledge; thanks to his brilliant and innovative approach, these works are widely considered to be among the most important and influential philosophical texts ever written. Students will write a number of short essays and a longer term paper.

PHI 372 – Philosophy of Religion
Charles Lewis – (TR – 03:00 p.m - 04:15 p.m. – Tribble Hall A307)
     Are the gods dead? Is God? What is the nature and significance of religious experience and what causes it? Is it a symptom of some underlying human malady or need? Or is it, in fact, engendered by something nonhuman, such as God or gods? Is there any knowledge of God, whether via proofs or revelation, or must believers rely on something less than knowledge? How are religious claims like or unlike moral or metaphysical claims? How are they like or unlike modern scientific claims (e.g., about unseen things such as particles)?

Go to top of page

PHI 381 – Topics in Epistemology
Dorothea Lotter – (MW – 03:00 p.m. – 04:15 p.m. - Tribble Hall B313)
     Epistemology is the philosophical inquiry into the nature, conditions and extent of human knowledge. As such, it seeks to provide a comprehensive answer to three basic questions: (1) What is knowledge? (2) How we can know anything about the world? (3) What are the limits of our knowledge? Epistemology therefore is one of, or maybe the most essential and fundamental disciplines of philosophy itself, if we want to assume that there is something like a reliable method of gaining specifically philosophical knowledge or insights. Epistemology comprises the very tasks of justifying philosophical inquiry itself and of defining its nature.
     Historically, probably the major driving force of epistemological inquiry has been Skepticism, which can be regarded either as a method or a view (or attitude). As a view, Skepticism denies that we can acquire genuine knowledge about things (ultimately including even whether we can know anything about them), and thereby gives a radically pessimistic answer to the second and third question above as they were traditionally posed. As a method, most prominently used by Descartes in his Meditations, it employs skeptical doubt systematically in order to finally overcome it by finding a reliable foundation of knowledge that resists the skeptical challenge. In similar ways, Skepticism has motivated numerous later philosophers to find a route out of (or around) it.
     This course will be focusing on the following basic questions: (a) What does Skepticism really mean, or in other words: What is the difference between philosophical and scientific or everyday questions about human knowledge? (b) Does Skepticism -- understood as an answer to a specifically philosophical question -- make sense at all? (c) What, if anything, does philosophical skepticism imply about the knowledge we possess in science and everyday life? (d) How, if at all, could Skepticism be refuted? An important issue will be the question of whether a so-called “naturalized epistemology” could be regarded as serious answer to the skeptical challenge, or as serious philosophical treatment of knowledge in general. In assessing these and other questions resulting from them -- including questions about the very concept of knowledge itself and its conditions -- we will turn to both classical (Descartes, Kant, Moore) and contemporary readings (e.g., Ayer, Quine, Chisholm, Stroud, Lehrer, Kim, DeRose, and others).
     Textbooks (Additional readings may be available at the library, the bookstore, or distributed in class):
Barry Stroud, The Significance of Philosophical Skepticism, Clarendon Press, 1984; Keith Derose/ Ted A. Warfield (eds.), Skepticism: A Contemporary Reader, Oxford University Press, 1998; and Sven Bernecker/Fred I. Dretske (eds.), Knowledge: Readings in Contemporary Epistemology, Oxford University Press 2000

PHI 382 – Topics in Metaphysics
Ralph Kennedy – (MWF – 11:00 a.m. – 11:50 a.m. - Tribble Hall A307)
     Metaphysics as a branch of philosophy has nothing to do with "New Age" spirituality, the occult, mysticism, astral bodies, or any of the other topics one might find represented in the Metaphysics section of certain bookstores.
     What is metaphysics, then? The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy defines it as "the philosophical investigation of the nature, constitution, and structure of reality. It is broader in scope than science, e.g., physics and even cosmology…, since one of its traditional concerns is the existence of non-physical entities, e.g., God. It is also more fundamental, since it investigates questions science does not address but the answers to which it presupposes. Are there, for instance, physical objects at all, and does every event have a cause?"
     In keeping with this definition, we will focus first on themes concerning some very general features of reality, such as: the nature of time and temporal passage, analogies between space and time, the persistence of objects through changes that befall them, and the nature of causality. Then we'll turn to the less general topic of how we fit into the world. Are we physical objects, and if so, of what sort? If not, what else could we be? Is freedom of action a genuine possibility or merely an illusion? How does consciousness fit into the scientific world-picture? Another important metaphysical question is whether there is a world (i.e., a unique one) at all, or whether it would be better to adopt a kind of relativism according to which "what there is" is relative to the "conceptual scheme" of the person thinking about the question. And no metaphysics course would be complete that did not turn its attention at some point to the fascinating question, "Why is there anything at all, rather than nothing?"
     Given the sweep of metaphysics, it is to be expected that there should be controversy over whether such a discipline is genuinely possible. Accordingly, we will end the course by considering various influential arguments against the possibility of metaphysics as a legitimate intellectual enterprise.
     Readings for the course will be from the following two books: Metaphysics: The Big Questions, edited by Peter van Inwagen and Dean Zimmerman; and Metaphysics (2nd edition), by Peter van Inwagen. The first of these is an anthology and the second a textbook.

Go to top of page

 
-
Wake Forest
WFU Philosophy Department, P.O.Box 7806, Winston-Salem, NC 27109
Phone: 336-758-5359, Fax:336-758-7183, Email:simmonde@wfu.edu