PHI 111 - Basic
Problems of Philosophy
FYS 100 Philosophy of War
TR 4:30-5:45 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 just war theory 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 military actions would violate such provisions and rules.
FYS 100 Contemporary Moral Problems
TR 3:00-4:15 p.m. – Tribble A307
In this seminar, we will consider several contemporary moral issues, including: abortion, euthanasia, what may be owed by the fortunate to the less fortunate, animal rights, and gay marriage.
We will begin by studying frameworks that philosophers have developed to consider moral issues. We will then go on to examine the positions taken by various philosophers on specific issues. It is expected that students will acquire a greater understanding of moral reasoning, an enhanced ability to give reasons and arguments in support of their own moral views, and an appreciation of the strengths as well as the weaknesses of the moral positions with which they disagree.
Assignments will include oral presentations, papers, and at least one examination.
PHI 121 Logic
MWF 1:00-1:50 – Tribble A307
We will learn some very basic logic in this course. That should improve your reasoning skills or at least your ability to detect errors in the inferences that people make. About two-third of the course will be focused on deductive arguments. We will learn about what makes a valid deductive argument. We will also learn some basic formal techniques for proving the validity of an argument. A number of subjects will be covered, including syllogistic arguments, truth-functional logic, and basic quantification. The remaining one-third of the course will be devoted to inductive logic and decision theory. Probabilistic reasoning and inferences will be the focus.
PHI 232 Ancient & Medieval Philosophy
TR 9:30-10:45 a.m. - Tribble A307
Ancient and Medieval Philosophy, because of its scope, has to center on certain philosophers--Aristotle, Augustine and Aquinas--while others are more cursorily treated. Aristotle especially provided the vocabulary of middle and later Medieval Philosophy (1200-1350 A.D.). Medieval Philosophy embodies perhaps the most refined and rigorous analysis of man in relation to God in the history of philosophy. It treated problems such as how we know about God, including proofs of His existence, the relation of faith to reason, and the problem of evil.
PHI 252 Contemporary Philosophy
W 6:00-8:30 p.m. – Tribble A306
Tumultuous, hard to define, and vibrantly variegated in method and aspiration – such, in the words of one historian, is the state of contemporary philosophy. How did philosophy get that way? By examining the history of philosophy in the 20th Century, this course aims to find out.
We will look at some of the major figures of 20th century philosophy including Russell, Wittgenstein, Heidegger and Quine as well as such active contemporaries as Derek Parfit and Hilary Putnam. We will examine some of the topics that interest them such as matter, meaning, morals and mind. We will read representative samples of their work – samples that are accessible to students. In some cases, Wittgenstein especially, we will also explore their personal lives to learn how philosophy imitates life and life philosophy.
Grades will be based on periodic take-home essay questions or assignments and a short term paper; no exams. No background in the history of philosophy is presupposed. Students of all interests are welcome, not just philosophy majors or minors.
PHI 262 Philosophy of Law
TR 1:30-2:45 p.m. – Tribble 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
TR 12:00-1:15 p.m. – Greene 308
“Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing admiration and awe the more often and more enduringly reflection is occupied with them: the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me.” -- I. Kant, 1788
Immanuel Kant was and is one of the most influential philosophers to have lived. He sought to reconcile the rationalist and empiricist trends in early modern philosophy through his own profoundly original treatments of knowledge and reality. Understanding his work in these areas, along with his ideas on issues of freedom and morality, is critical to understanding the history of philosophy since Kant. In this course we study Kant’s critical analyses of claims to metaphysical, scientific, theological, and moral knowledge via a close reading of his Critique of Pure Reason.
PHI 361 Topics in Ethics: Objective Morality
MW – 3:00-4:15 p.m. Tribble A307
Is there an objective morality? Or is morality merely a product of our desires? Of our upbringing? Of our culture? What does it mean to say that a morality is "objective" or "relative". If there is an objective morality, does it need a creator, or does it simply exist on its own? We will examine these and other related questions by looking at the history of 20th century philosophical debates in this area. More specifically, we will look at:
- Early Objectivists (Moore and Pritchard): Moral properties are objective features of the world.
- Emotivists (Ayer and Stevenson): Moral judgments are expressions of desires.
- Prescriptivists (Hare): Moral judgments are really commands.
- Error Theorists (Mackie): All moral judgments are simply false.
- Relativists (Harman): Morality is only relative to individuals or groups.
- Contemporary Objectivists (Sturgeon, Boyd, and Brink): There is an objective morality, and moral facts are scientifically legitimate.
We will finish by reading a cutting edge monograph, namely Russ Shafer-Landau's Moral Realism: A Defence (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003). Tentative Requirements: Two five page papers and one final ten page paper.
PHI 372 Philosophy of Religion
TR 3:00-4:15 p.m. – Tribble B313
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)?