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Wake Forest University

Philosophy Department

Fall 07 Courses
 

FYS – Truth, Reality, & Objectivity
Profs. Dany Kim-Shapiro and Ralph Kennedy
TR – 1:30-2:45 p.m. – Tribble Hall A307

Is all truth relative, contingent on social and historical factors? Does it make sense to speak of what is "real", independently of what anybody says or thinks? Is objectivity ever a reasonable goal? We will consider these philosophical questions with reference to natural science generally and quantum mechanics in particular, a field which poses acute challenges for traditional understandings of reality and objectivity.

PHI 111 - Basic Problems of Philosophy
Prof. Christian Miller
MWF – 1:00-1:50 p.m. - Tribble A304

This course will be concerned with some of the most challenging and interesting questions in all of human experience. For example, we will consider some of the arguments for the existence of God, whether God would allow evil to exist, whether faith is compatible with reason, whether there is an objective morality, whether we should be moral at the expense of self-interest, whether the death penalty is morally permissible, and what we should do about famine. In each case, we will examine particular questions not only with an aim at arriving at the truth, but also with an aim at determining what relevance these questions have to our ordinary lives. The text will be Joel Feinberg and Russ Shafer-Landau, Reason and Responsibility (Wadsworth Press, 2005) and our readings will be drawn from both classic and contemporary sources. This course contributes towards satisfying the Division I requirement.

PHI 111 – Basic Problems of Philosophy
Lecturer Clark Thompson
TR – 12:00-1:15 p.m. and TR – 1:30-2:45 p.m. – Tribble A306

We shall study the following questions in political and moral philosophy, and in the philosophy of religion. Do we have an obligation to obey the law? What is the extent of the legitimate authority of government when it comes to religion? Is it reasonable to believe someone who says he witnessed a miracle? Can God's existence and attributes be established by an appeal to the existence of design in nature? Is the existence of an all-powerful, all-knowing, and benevolent God consistent with the existence of suffering and moral evil? Is something good only insofar as it is pleasant or a means to pleasure? What makes an act morally right? Do different moral truths hold for different cultures? Are all intentional actions motivated by self-interest? Is capital punishment morally acceptable? Should there be a duty of rescue? We shall read works by Plato, Locke, Hume, Mill, and others. This course contributes towards satisfying the Division I requirement.

PHI 111 – Basic Problems of Philosophy
Prof. Avram Hiller
MW – 4:30-5:45 p.m. - Tribble A306

This course will help you think critically about systems of belief, including your own. Readings will suggest that we should doubt all knowledge; that we should doubt the existence of God; that we should question the authority of science; that there is no foundation to any moral system. We will provide means to respond to these doubts, but if this class is successful, it will raise more questions than it answers. The course is designed to develop your ability to read texts and respond critically to them. It is also intended to help you write more clearly and persuasively. While the class will be very challenging, it should be rewarding – as the editors of our textbook write, “those of our values and concepts that survive this process will be more truly our own. This course contributes towards satisfying the Division I requirement.

PHI 112 – Introduction to Philosophical Ideas
Prof. Charles Lewis
MWF - 11:00-11:50 a.m.-Tribble A306

This course, after examining the common sense and religious background of the first scientific thinkers or philosophers, turns to the study of Plato and Aristotle, the major shapers of pre-modern scientific, theological, and philosophical thought. Then the course turns to Descartes, the first great architect of the modern scientific and philosophical ways of thinking. The study of this momentous departure from pre-modern belief in the purposive natures of all things--and thus from classical moral and political philosophy--is followed by the study of Hume, one of Descartes' major critics who takes modern skepticism to a new level. Twentieth-century existential nihilism is introduced along the way in order to consider its place in modern thought and its radical critique of conventional assumptions about the meaning or purpose of human existence. Attention is given throughout to how an examination of modern and pre-modern ways of thinking can help us to understand contemporary conceptions of self and world. This course contributes towards satisfying the Division I requirement.  

PHI 114 - Philosophy of Human Nature
Prof. George Graham
MW 4:30-5:45 p.m - Tribble Hall A307

What are the basic characteristics of human beings?  Are we good or evil?  Altruistic or egoistic?  Wholly physical or partly non-physical?  Free or unfree? Just like animals or merely partly like animals?
These are questions about human nature.  Questions about what makes us what we are.   And that is the topic of this course: what makes us what we are.  Indeed, not just what we are, but who we are as unique persons.  Some of the greatest figures in the history of philosophy have addressed these questions – Plato, Aristotle, and Kant.  Christianity offers answers.  So, too, do Freudian and Darwinian theories.  We will look at what each has to say and we will examine various problems associated with our humanity, like the mind/body problem, the problem of personal identity, and the problem of freedom of will.
The graded written assignments will all be take-home.  The course will be taught as if it’s the very first course in philosophy that you, the student, have ever taken.  The requirements in attitude?  Curiosity and a willingness to Think, with a capital ‘T’.
Required readings will come from two books
Stevenson and Haberman, Ten Theories of Human Nature, Oxford paperback 4th edition.
Graham, Philosophy of Mind, Blackwell paperback 2nd edition.
This course contributes towards satisfying the Division I requirement.

PHI 160 – Introduction to Moral & Political Philosophy
Prof. Adrian Bardon
MWF – 11:00-10:50 a.m. (Tribble A304) and 12:00-12:50 p.m. (Tribble 306)

From what does government derive its authority? Is the proper purpose of organized society to protect individual rights or to promote the general welfare? What claims can we legitimately make on our fellow citizens? Is there a basic right to property? How we answer questions like these has a lot to do with our attitudes about morality. This course examines the role of fundamental moral positions in determining attitudes about liberty, equality, and authority, and, in so doing, provides an overview of the major topics of social and political thought. We will read portions of classic texts by writers like Plato, Hobbes, Locke, Mill, Marx, Hayek, Friedman, Rawls, and Nozick, along with more recent work by contemporary figures. We will draw on film and other media in showing how key moral and political questions resonate in the issues of the day. This course contributes towards satisfying the Division I requirement.

PHI 164 – Contemporary Moral Problems
Lecturer Hannah Hardgrave
MW – 3:00-4:15 p.m. - Tribble A306
This course will deal with a select group of moral problems – those which are sources of public controversy. Among the problems to be addressed are: sex education, abortion, gay marriage, euthanasia, the death penalty and affirmative action. These issues will be addressed in two distinct ways: first what might be called “the loose and popular sense” and second “the strict and philosophical sense.” The popular claims and the philosophical arguments will both be analyzed in terms of their soundness and their presuppositions. Heated arguments are inevitable but let us hope that the heat will be followed by light, and perhaps enlightenment. This course contributes towards satisfying the Division I requirement.

PHI 164 – Contemporary Moral Problems
Prof. Avram Hiller
TR – 1:30-2:45 p.m. (Tribble A304) and TR - 3:00-4:15 p.m. (Tribble A306)
This course is designed to help you think carefully about ethical issues of deep importance to contemporary life. Hopefully, many of the questions we will try to answer – what are our obligations to others? how should we treat the environment? is abortion immoral? is the death penalty just or unjust? how should one live? – are ones which you have already thought about and have tried to answer. A variety of topics will be covered, though special emphasis will be placed on environmental issues and issues of global economic development. By the end of the course you should be able to express clear, cogent, philosophical arguments on topics we discuss in class and on other issues of importance to you.
This course contributes towards satisfying the Division I requirement.

PHI 220 - Logic
Prof. Win-chiat Lee
MWF – 2:00-2:50 p.m. – Tribble A306

We will learn some very basic logic in this course. That should improve your reasoning skills and 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. This course contributes towards satisfying the Division I requirement.

PHI 221 – Symbolic Logic
Prof. Ralph Kennedy
MWF – 10:00-10:50 a.m. – Tribble A306

Philosophy 221 is an introduction to the basic concepts and techniques of symbolic logic. The subject is called "symbolic" logic primarily because it is pursued through the study and use of an artificial language - one whose symbols do not belong to any of the natural languages, such as English, that human beings speak and write. This language, the first-order functional calculus, has an extremely simple structure compared to any natural language. We will learn how to express arguments in this language and how to determine whether the arguments (so expressed) are valid or invalid. Our aims in this course are the following: (1) to learn what logical consequence, logical consistency, validity, and invalidity are all about; (2) to develop a heightened awareness of how deeply complex even apparently simple arguments expressed in English and other natural languages can be; (3) to become more skillful at constructing and analyzing such arguments.
The textbook will be Language, Proof and Logic, by Barwise & Etchemendy. Please purchase a new copy. If you buy a used copy, you will not be able to submit your homework assignments to the grading program and consequently will not get any credit for your homework. Click here for more information.
This course contributes towards satisfying the Division I requirement.

PHI 232 – Ancient Greek Philosophy
Prof. Patrick Toner
MWF – 1:00-1:50 p.m. – Tribble A306

This is a survey of ancient Greek philosophy. We will concentrate on reading central works by Plato and Aristotle.

PHI 341 – Kant
Prof. Adrian Bardon
MWF – 2:00-2:50 p.m. – Tribble A307

"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 360 – Ethics
Prof. Christian Miller
MW – 3:00-4:15 – 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 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 Fred Feldman. Utilitarianism, where maximizing good outcomes is central to ethical theorizing. Authors will include Mill, Michael Stocker, and Robert Nozick. Virtue Ethics, where virtuous character traits are central to ethical theorizing. Authors will include Aristotle, Rosalind Hursthouse, and Robert Louden. I envision requiring 4 moderately sized papers and no exams.

PHI 363 – Philosophy of Law
Lecturer Clark Thompson
TR – 4:30-5:45 p.m. Tribble A201

Does a law have to be just or reasonable in order to be binding? What principles should we employ in interpreting a law? These are two 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 shall 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 and freedom of expression. In the third part of the course, we shall deal with the extent of liability in criminal law. The overall topic is the relationship between law and morality.

PHI 372 - Philosophy of Religion
Prof. Charles Lewis
TR – 3:00-4:15 – Tribble A307

Are the gods dead? Is God dead? 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, weather 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)?

PHI 377 – Metaphysics
Prof. Patrick Toner
MWF – 11:00-11:50 p.m. - Tribble A307

This course will cover some of the central topics in metaphysics, including the nature of properties; the nature of substance; time and persistence; and personal identity. No particular background will be assumed, but this will be a challenging course. What makes this course particularly exciting—aside from the inherent interest of the subject matter!—is that we will have a number of distinguished philosophers involved in the seminar. While Aristotle and Descartes have, sadly, declined our offer to come to Wake, some outstanding people will be here. We will read some work by these folks, and then they will come and talk to us about it. This means you’ll learn about some of the most important contemporary work in metaphysics from the people who are writing that work.

PHI 385 – Seminar: Consciousness & Self-Consciousness
Prof. George Graham
W – 6:00-8:30 p.m. - Tribble A307

This is a course about what we are. We are conscious and self-conscious beings. We are subjects of experience and we are aware of ourselves as subjects of experience. The course will examine consciousness, what it is, how it works, its varieties, orders, disorders, and importance to us as persons. Is it a precious gift? Is it filled with paradoxes and mysteries? What can cutting edge research tell us about it? Are there lower forms in non-human animals and higher forms in the experience of mystics? How does the brain produce consciousness? What are the “raw materials” of consciousness of self in self-consciousness? We will read from some of the best research of the last twenty years. And our consciousness will be raised!

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Wake Forest
WFU Philosophy Department, P.O.Box 7332, Winston-Salem, NC 27109
Phone: 336-758-5359, Fax:336-758-7183, Email:simmonde@wfu.edu