PHI 111 - Basic
Problems of Philosophy
FYS 100 Philosophy of War
TR 4:30-5:45 p.m. – Tribble A307
FYS 100 Philosophical Issues in Feminism
TR 3:00-4:15 p.m. - Trible A205
PHI 121 Logic
MWF 9:00-9:50 p.m. – Tribble A307
PHI 261 Ethics
MW 3:00-4:15 p.m. - Tribble A307
Ethics is concerned with the way we should live our lives and the type of person we should become. This course will focus, not on applied topics in ethics like famine relief, abortion, or the death penalty, but rather on ethical theory itself. We will look at such questions as: Which actions are right and which are wrong? Which outcomes should we promote? What kind of character should we attempt to cultivate? Our approach will be both historical and contemporary, and will focus on the four major ethical traditions:
Divine Command Theory, where the commands of a loving and just God are central to ethical theorizing. Authors will include Aquinas, Robert Adams, and Philip Quinn.
Kantian Deontology, where categorical imperatives and respect for others are central to ethical theorizing. Authors will include Kant, Christine Korsgaard, and David Velleman.
Consequentialism, where maximizing good outcomes is central to ethical theorizing. Authors will include Bentham, Mill, and Shelly Kagan.
Virtue Ethics, where virtuous character traits are central to ethical theorizing. Authors will include Aristotle, Alasdair MacIntyre, and Martha Nussbaum. At the moment, I envision requiring 3-4 moderately sized papers and no exams.
PHI 262 Philosophy of Law
MWF 1:00-1:50 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 273 Philosophy, Mental Health & Disorder
W 6:00-8:30p.m. – Tribble A307
Philosophy, Mental Health, and Mental Disorder. Our lives as persons are the sums of many moments, both good and bad, and, not infrequently, the survivals of crises – including, in some cases, crises of mental distress and disorder. This course is about those disorders. It will explore the following questions.
* Why is it so difficult to distinguish between mental health and mental disorder? Is the difference between them objective or merely an arbitrary social construction? Among our readings will be Carl Elliott’s widely admired Better Than Well: American Medicine Meets the American Dream.
* How can we tell the difference between religious experience and symptoms of mental illness? Are religious experiences signs of neurosis or, worse, madness? We will look at the views of William James, Sigmund Freud, and Daniel Dennett, and read, among other things, Dennett’s controversial new book entitled Breaking the Spell.
* Aristotle is said to have asked (in the Problemata): “Why [are people] who have become outstanding in philosophy, statesmanship, poetry or the arts [so often] melancholic?” Is depression both a poison and a gift?
We will try to come to a deeper understanding of the complex relationship between mental health and disorder, including lessons of disorder for how the human mind works – even when it doesn’t.
PHI 331 Plato
TR 3:00-4:15 p.m. - Tribble B313
Is there a best or superior way of life? Is an examined life compromised by questioning, provoking doubt and insecurity? Is there a best political form of life? Is there any good reason to fear death? What is love? What account of causation is required by a good explanation of human and of non-human things or states of affairs? Is there any way to know the answers to such questions or are we confined to our opinions? What is the status of religious or poetic answers? What is knowledge and is it something different from well-justified true belief? What is truth?
PHI 342 Studies in Modern Philosophy
TR 1:30-2:45 p.m. Tribble A307
This course will focus on key developments in the philosophy of time in the 17th and 18th centuries—in particular, the work of Newton, Leibniz, Locke, Hume, and Kant. In order to put these developments in context, we will also be surveying ideas about the reality and the awareness of time from the ancient/medieval period (Parmenides, Aristotle, Augustine) to the recent past (Einstein, Husserl, McTaggart). Coursework will consist in writing assignments and class discussion.
PHI 375 Philosophy of Language
MWF 2:00-2:50 p.m. – Tribble A307
It seems clear that we use language to talk about the world – when I utter: “The cat is on the mat”, I am telling you how things are with the cat and the mat. But how does this work? What makes the sounds that I have produced words, with particular meanings? We will consider various answers that philosophers have offered to this question, paying particular attention to the role that speakers and their intentions play in the meaningfulness of linguistic expressions. We will also think about whether we can reconcile our treatment of sentences like “The cat is on the mat” with sentences like “She let the cat out of the bag”. Can the latter sentence be true, even if there is no bag and no cat? It also seems clear that language is the means by which we externalize, represent, or express our thoughts. We will explore the extent to which this is so by considering ‘puzzles about belief’. How should we explain the (apparent) fact that, though Mark Twain is identical to Samuel Clemens, it is false to say of some person: “She believes that Samuel Clemens wrote Tom Sawyer”, though it is true to say of her: “She believes that Mark Twain wrote Tom Sawyer”? We will also consider the mythical “Twin Earth”, where the liquid flowing in the rivers and filling the oceans - though called “water” by its inhabitants, whose thoughts about that liquid are seemingly just like our thoughts about water - may not, in fact be water.