Fall 2010 Courses

PHI 111 – Basic Problems of Philosophy
Prof. Patrick Toner
MWF – 9:00 – 9:50am – Tribble Hall A306

This is a historical introduction to philosophy. What makes it historical is that the readings shall, for the most part, be drawn from the works of the great dead philosophers. But what makes it philosophical is that our objectives are to take seriously the questions these great dead philosophers asked, to think carefully about the answers they offered, and to critically analyze the arguments the used in supporting their answers. We will ask whether it can be shown that God exists, or that he doesn’t exist; whether we have a soul; whether we can be certain that there really is an external world; what kind of life we ought to live; and other central philosophical questions. Our main readings will be drawn from Plato, St. Thomas Aquinas, Rene Descartes, George Berkeley and David Hume.

PHI 111 – Basic Problems of Philosophy
Prof. Stavroula Glezakos
MWF – 12:00 – 12:50pm – Tribble Hall A306

In this class, we will consider important philosophical questions, including: Can the existence of God be proven (or disproven)? Is it possible to know anything for certain? Do we possess free will? How is the human mind related to the human body? Is morality relative? Students will develop their ability to discern sound reasoning in argumentation, improve the clarity of their writing, and gain a better understanding of their own views and commitments.

PHI 112 – Introduction to Philosphical Ideas
Prof. Charles Lewis
MWF – 11:00 – 11:50am – 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 – 9:30 – 10:45am – Tribble Hall A306
TR – 1:30 – 2:45pm – Carswell 208
TR – 04:30 – 05:45pm – Tribble Hall A306

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
Prof. Adrian Bardon
MWF – 3:00 – 3:50pm – Tribble Hall A306
MWF – 4:00 – 4:50pm – Tribble Hall A306

Should we believe in the existence of a deity? Are there reasons to believe even without proof? Can there be morality without God? Can free will be reconciled with divine foreknowledge? Can the existence of evil be reconciled with divine goodness? Is life after death metaphysically possible? Does the theory of evolution conflict with the idea that life is the product of design? Is faith inherently irrational? Is religion, on balance, a good or bad thing for humanity? We shall consider classic and contemporary pro and con answers to all these questions.

PHI 164 – Contemporary Moral Problems
Prof. Earl Crow
MWF – 10:00-10:50 am – Wingate 209
MWF - 12:00-12:50 pm– Wingate 209

A study of pressing ethical issues in contemporary life, such as abortion, euthanasia, animal rights, affirmative action, marriage, cloning, pornography, and capital punishment.

PHI 164 – Contemporary Moral Problems
Prof. Emily Austin
MWF – 1:00 – 1:50pm – Tribble Hall A306 – FRESHMEN ONLY
MWF – 2:00 – 2:50pm – Tribble Hall A306 - FRESHMEN ONLY

Study of pressing ethical issues in contemporary life, such as abortion, euthanasia, animal rights, affirmative action, marriage, cloning, pornography, and capital punishment.

PHI 165 – Intro to Philosophy of Law
Prof. Clark Thompson
TR – 12:00 – 1:15pm – Tribble Hall A306
TR – 1:30 – 2:45pm – Tribble Hall A306

An examination of prominent legal principles and cases. Topics include the rule of law, judicial review, constitutional interpretation, the use of criminal law to enforce morality, the requirements for criminal liability, punishment, and the right to privacy.

PHI 232 – Ancient Greek Philosophy
Prof. Emily Austin
TR – 9:30 – 10:45am – Tribble Hall A104

This course examines some of the high-water marks of philosophy in ancient Greece. We will discuss a wide-range of philosophical problems: the justification of knowledge, the content of the good life, the nature of matter and change, the parts of animals, and the source of political obligation. Attention will be paid to the way these questions unfolded in their historical context, as well as how ancient treatments compare to contemporary efforts.

PHI 361 –PHI Theories in Bioethics
Prof. Ana Iltis
TR – 9:30 – 10:45am – Tribble Hall B117

A study of the main philosophical approaches to contemporary bioethics. Each approach will be examined critically and students will explore how each approach informs analysis of contemporary issues in bioethics.


  • Understand the main philosophical approaches to contemporary bioethics
  • Compare and critically evaluate the main philosophical approaches to contemporary bioethics
  • Understand how the main philosophical approaches to contemporary bioethics inform analysis of issues in bioethics

PHI 363 – Philosophy of Law
Prof. Win-chiat Lee
TR – 12:00 – 01:15pm – 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 371 – Philosophy of Art
Prof. Patrick Toner
MWF - 10:00 – 10:50 am – Tribble Hall A307

This course is an investigation of the nature of beauty, the nature of art, and the relation (if any) between the two. Readings will be drawn from great historical figures as well as recent and contemporary philosophers.

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

An examination of such questions as the following: What is religion? Are the gods (of polytheism) dead or dying? What about God? How is religious belief to be explained? Is it a symptom of some underlying human weakness, need, or biological process? Or is it a response to the sacred? How could anyone know? Must believers rely on something less than knowledge? Are philosophical proofs the way to knowledge of God? Is the “problem of evil” a metaphysical problem? A theological problem? A critical problem? How are religious beliefs like and unlike metaphysical, moral, and modern scientific beliefs?
*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
TR – 1:30 – 2:45 p.m. – Tribble Hall A307

This course will be an exploration of such questions as the following: What is the mind? Is it, for instance, the brain and central nervous system? Is it an immaterial substance? Is it neither? Is having a mind nothing more than being able to behave or act in certain ways? Are there limits on the kinds of things that could have minds? For instance, could a machine have a mind? Is the mind something like “software” with the brain being the “hardware” on which it runs? What is a thought? How can thoughts be about things? How is it possible to have thoughts about things that are very distant in time (and perhaps space as well)? It seems for instance that we can have thoughts about such things as the death of Socrates and even the Big Bang. But how can something going on now in our heads be _about_ such remote items? 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?
The only prerequisite is one philosophy course or POI. However, the course will operate at a somewhat advanced level, so I would recommend in most cases that students have taken at least two philosophy courses. Ideally---though not necessarily---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.

PHI 375 –Philosophy of Language
Prof. Stavroula Glezakos
MWF – 2:00 – 2:50pm – Tribble Hall A307
We use language to talk about the world – for example, by uttering the sentence “The cat is on the mat,” I tell you how things are with the cat and the mat. But how does this work? Why are the sounds that I have produced words, and why do they have the meanings that they do? If Superman is Clark Kent, do the names “Superman” and “Clark Kent” have the same meaning? Can the sentence “Anne let the cat out of the bag” be true, even if Anne has never actually allowed any cats to escape from bags? In this class, we will examine answers to these (and other) questions that have been offered by contemporary analytic philosophers.

PHI 378 –Philosophy of Space and Time
Prof. Adrian Bardon
TR – 4:30 – 5:45pm – Tribble Hall 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.

PHI 385/MUS 285 –Seminar: Wagner/Schopenhauer
Profs. Julian Young and David Levy
TR – 6:00 – 7:15pm – SFAC M307

Wagner is the only great composer who was also a serious philosopher of music.  In the early 1850s he developed important ideas about the place of art in society and about the nature of the great artwork: the ‘artwork of the future’, he held, should be a ‘collective artwork’ (Gesamtkunstwerk) both in the sense of ‘collecting’, and so preserving, community, and in the sense of collecting together all of the individual arts – as did his own music-dramas. We shall consider the merits of this early theory, consider whether or not Wagner was successful in executing his plan, and trace the impact his theory and practice may have had on future creative artists, including film-makers.
In 1854 Wagner discovered Schopenhauer, whose philosophy was fundamentally opposed to his own earlier thought: whereas the youthful Wagner had been a utopian anarchist-socialist, Schopenhauer was a pessimist who believed all attempts to improve the world were futile.  We shall consider the impact of theory on practice: the extent to which Wagner’s early theory influenced his practice as an artist, and the extent to which his later, Schopenhauerian philosophy did. Since the Schopenhauerian ‘conversion’ happened half way through writing the Ring of the Nibelung cycle, we shall consider to what extent the inconsistency between the earlier and later thought introduces inconsistency into the Ring itself. We shall also study the two operas he wrote during the interruption of his work on the RingTristan und Isolde and Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg—operas that reflect the Schopenhauerian dilemma. Finally we shall consider some of the criticisms directed against both Wagner’s theory and his practice by philosophers such as Nietzsche and Theodor Adorno.