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Wake Forest University

Philosophy Department

Fall 08 Courses

PHI 111 – Basic Problems of Philosophy
Professor Win-chiat Lee
TR – 3:00 – 4:15 p.m. – Tribble A306
Students will be introduced to the subject of philosophy through the careful study of representative writings from three different periods: ancient Greek (Plato), early modern European (Descartes and Hume), and contemporary American (Frankfurt, Nagel and Searle). The goal is not only to study what some great philosophers of the past or influential philosophers of the present think about certain subjects, but also to help students, through the examination of these philosophers’ work, develop skills to philosophize and think critically for themselves. The topics discussed will include the existence of God, the relation between the mind and the world, skepticism and the nature of knowledge, free will and determinism, responsibility, the nature of moral and value judgments, the mind-body problem, and the nature of the self.

PHI 111 – Basic Problems of Philosophy
Professor David Landy
TR – 9:30 – 10:45 – Tribble A306
TR – 1:30 – 2:45 – Wingate 210
TR – 4:30 – 5:45 – Tribble 304
This course will be an introduction to philosophy via an engagement with some of the most important topics taken up in that discipline. We will investigate the answers that some of history's most important philosophers have given to such questions as: what ought we to do? How ought we to live? What reason can we have to trust those in authority? What if don’t trust them? How can we know anything? Does God exist? How is God’s existence compatible with the evils in the world? What is "the world"? How do we know about it? Do we have immortal souls? Our texts will be Plato's Republic, Descartes' Meditations, Hume's Treatise, and Perry's Dialogues on Personal Identity and Immortality.

PHI 111 – Basic Problems of Philosophy
Professor Christian Miller
MWF – 11-11:50 a.m. - Tribble A306 – FRESHMEN ONLY

MWF – 1-1:50 p.m. – Tribble A306 – FRESHMEN ONLY
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 112 – Introduction to Philosphical Ideas
Professor Charles Lewis
MWF – 12:00 – 12:50 p.m. – Tribble Hall 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. An examination of the new Cartesian science of nature and its momentous departure from pre-modern belief in the teleology of all natural processes 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 rejection 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.

PHI 114 – Philosophy of Human Nature
Prof. Anabella Zagura
TR – 8:00 – 9:15 a.m. – Tribble Hall A306
TR – 12:00 – 1:15 p.m. – Wingate 209
TR – 3:00 – 4:15 p.m. – Tribble Hall A304
Humans seem (at least to themselves) to be beings of a quite special kind, markedly different from any others. In this course we will consider some of the ways in which the human condition has been thought to be unique. Do we, for instance, have free will? Can we sometimes be genuinely morally responsible for our actions? What role do emotions play in our lives? Could we be immortal?

PHI 115 – Introduction to Philosophy of Religion
Clark Thompson
TR – 12:00 – 1:15 p.m. – Tribble Hall A306
TR - 1:30 – 2:45 p.m. - Tribble Hall A306
We shall examine philosophical arguments concerning the existence and nature of God to see how far reason can establish and defend various beliefs about God. Among the topics we shall explore are: Is it rational to believe in the existence of God, understood as an all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-loving being? Is it reasonable to believe in miracles? Can we reconcile human freedom with divine foreknowledge, and the existence of evil with God’s perfect goodness?

PHI 160 – Introduction to Moral and Political Philosophy
Prof. Adrian Bardon
MWF – 10:00 – 10:50 a.m. – Tribble Hall A306
MWF -11:00 – 11:50 p.m. – Tribble Hall B13
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.

PHI 220 - Logic
Prof. Patrick Toner
MWF – 9:00 – 9:50 a.m. – Tribble A306
This is an introduction to logic, and will cover both deductive and inductive reasoning. The course presupposes no previous study of philosophy. This course contributes towards satisfying the Division I requirement.

PHI 221 - Symbolic Logic
Prof. Stavroula Glezakos
TR – 1:30 – 2:45 p.m. - TBA
This course provides an introduction to symbolic logic. We will learn how to translate sentences of English into a symbolic language, and will develop techniques for determining whether arguments in that symbolic language are deductively valid or not. No prior study of logic or mathematics will be assumed. Requirements: completion of regular homework assignments; midterm exams; final exam.

PHI 232 – Ancient Greek Philosophy
Prof. Patrick Toner
MWF – 10:00 – 10:50 a.m. – Tribble Hall A307

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

PHI 360 –Ethics
Prof. Christian Miller
MW – 3:00 – 4:15 p.m. – Tribble Hall 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
Prof. Win-chiat Lee
TR – 09:30 – 10:45 a.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 372 – Philosophy of Religion
Prof. Charles Lewis
TR – 3:00-4:15 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)?
*Note:  Officially, this class meets from 3:00 to 4:15, but in fact the class generally lets out considerably later than 4:15.  If you cannot stay for the entire class, Professor Lewis will work with you outside of class time so that you do not miss any of the material.

PHI 374 –Philosophy of Mind
Prof. Ralph Kennedy
MWF – 11:00 – 11:50 a.m. – Tribble A307

This course will be an exploration of such questions as the following: Can computers think and experience? That is, do they – or could they – have minds? Do (non-human) animals think and experience? If so, is this something all of them do or just some of them – and how can we know? Is the mind a physical object – the brain, perhaps? Or is the mind more like “software” (with the brain being the “hardware” on which it runs)? Or what? What is a thought? How can thoughts be about things? (For instance, if you have a thought right now about ancient Sparta, what is it about your thought that makes it a thought about Sparta?) Do we all experience things more or less the same way? For instance, do I perceive colors the same way you do? How could we ever tell? What is consciousness? What are the prospects of explaining consciousness scientifically? What is “the self”?

Required books:

  • Searle, John R. 2005. Mind: A Brief Introduction. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195157346
  • Gertler, Brie and Lawrence Shapiro (eds.). 2007. Arguing about the Mind. Routledge. ISBN 0415771633

The only prerequisite is one philosophy course or POI. However, the course will operate at a reasonably advanced level, so I would recommend in most cases that students have taken at least two philosophy courses. Ideally, one of these would have been a general introductory course that included some discussion of the topics of this course, and the other would have been a logic course.
This course counts as an elective in the neuroscience interdisciplinary minor.

PHI 385 – Seminar: Feminist Philosophy
Prof. Stavroula Glezakos
TR – 12:00 – 1:15 p.m. – Tribble Hall A307

The study of western philosophy is, by and large, an examination of work done by men. In this course, we will examine feminist challenges to the traditional categories and methods of mainstream western philosophy, along with some responses that have been offered to those challenges. We will also consider topics that have been of particular interest to feminist philosophers, including the ontological status of gender, women’s roles in family and society, and whether certain words and ways of using language are ‘sexist’ (and, if so, what ought to be done about it).

PHI 385 – Seminar: Philosophy of Space and Time
Prof. Adrian Bardon
MWF – 1:00 – 1:50 p.m. – Tribble A307

An examination of philosophical approaches to space and time from the Presocratic period to the present. Issues discussed include the reality of the passage of time, paradoxes of change and motion, puzzles about time-awareness, the status of space and time as entities in their own right, theology and the Scientific Revolution, spacetime and relativity, and the possibility of time-travel.

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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,