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Wake Forest University

Philosophy Department

Spring 04 Courses
 

PHI 111 - Basic Problems of Philosophy

FYS 100 - Information Technology Ethics
Adrian Bardon - (TR 9:30 - 10:45 a.m. - Tribble A307)
     There are rapidly developing ethical and social issues of considerable importance involving digital media, communication, the internet, and the World Wide Web. In this course we shall examine some areas of concern within the field sometimes called “information technology ethics.” This course will focus on the development of critical reasoning, oral presentation, and writing skills in the context of a discussion of issues related to privacy, security, intellectual property rights, free speech, and the global information community. Class discussion and student presentations will be emphasized.
     We shall address a number of questions regarding the impact of the internet and new information technology on areas of central moral, social, political, and legal concern. We shall study real-life cases and policy discussions, and read very recent work that will help illuminate the social, ethical, and regulatory dilemmas raised in these important areas. The central questions we shall address are as follows:

  • What constitutes ethical and unethical behavior on the internet?
  • How should the global information community be governed?
  • What policies should be adopted with regard to free speech and regulation of digital content?
  • What policies should be adopted with regard to privacy and security?
  • What policies should be adopted with regard to intellectual property rights and the sharing of information?
  • Can the internet and World Wide Web be used to improve communication between different cultural and religious traditions?
  • How can values be embedded in certain kinds of technology, and how can technology affect our values?
  • What are the risks of new information technology, and how can information technology best be used to enhance human well-being?

     We shall explore these questions through reading, writing, research, and discussion. The course will include an ongoing discussion of ethical theory and applied ethics as it pertains to the subject-matter. The course will center around a series of projects by students. Small groups of students will do research on particular areas of concern, and then present their work to the class for discussion. Group work will involve critical analyses of debates regarding issues of current interest; groups may be asked to come up with policy proposals in these areas. Presenters will be encouraged to explore both the technological aspects of their subject and the use of information technology in researching and presenting their topic.

 

FYS 100 - Good and Evil in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings
Hannah Hardgrave - (MW 3:00 - 4:15 p.m. - Collins Seminar)
     The evil represented by Sauron and his Ring of Power can be understood only if the moral universe depicted in both the epic narrative and the film adaptation are recognized. The discovery and critical evaluation of Tolkien’s moral universe will be the goal of this seminar. Student familiarity with both Tolkien’s epic and Jackson’s film adaptation will be necessary.

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PHI 221 - Symbolic Logic
Dorothea Lotter - (TR 4:30 - 5:45 p.m. - Tribble Hall A307)

    Suppose you have a set of assumptions (premises) and a conclusion you suspect to be a logical consequence of those assumptions. How do you go about proving the conclusion from the premises? This course serves as an introduction to first order logic (propositional and predicate logic). We will start out analyzing the meanings of sentential connectives (like “not”, “and”, “or”, “if…then”) in ordinary language and their formal counterparts in a symbolic notation. We then go on studying the notions of validity and invalidity of an argument. Next, we’ll look at and practice various proof procedures for arguments whose validity rests on the sentential connectives alone, as well as for the invalidity of arguments belonging to propositional logic. The second part of the course is dedicated to the notions “some”, “all”, “the” and “is identical with”, which are all topics of predicate logic. Here we will study arguments whose validity/invalidity does not rest on sentential connectives but rather on the distribution of quantifiers, predicates and/or on the laws of identity. The course is urgently recommended for anyone interested in learning thoroughly analytical ways of thinking and rigorous proof procedures.      
      Requirements:
(1) regular attendance; (2) weekly written homework exercises; (3) midterm take-home exam; and (4) final take-home exam
      Textbooks: Donald Kalish, Richard Montague, Gary R. Mar, Robert J. Fogelin (eds.), Logic: Techniques of Formal Reasoning, Oxford; 2nd edition, 1980.

 

PHI 241 - Modern Philosophy
Dorothea Lotter - (TR 12:00-1:15 p.m. - Tribble A307)
    A detailed study of some primary texts of the 17th and 18th centuries representative of the epoch commonly called “Early Modern Philosophy”. As far as time permits, we will discuss the metaphysical and epistemological views of Descartes, Spinoza, Hobbes, Locke, Leibniz, Berkeley and Hume, and also consider the impact of some of these views in the areas of ethics and political philosophy. Our approach will be that of a critical historian, who tries to find out what aspects of the “great systems of the past” may still be valuable for us today and what other aspects might appear rather hopelessly outdated. The course is (supposed to be) discussion-oriented.
     Requirements: (1) regular attendance; (2) active participation (including two short oral presentations of part of a text); (3) a take-home midterm exam; (4) two essays (5-7 pages, 1.5-spaced)
     Textbooks: All of our primary sources are contained in Roger Ariew/Eric Watkins (ed.), Modern Philosophy: An Anthology of Primary Sources, Hackett Publishing Company 1998. Also recommended: Steven M. Emmanuel (ed), The Blackwell Guide to the Modern Philosophers: From Descartes to Nietzsche, Blackwell Publishers 2000

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PHI 261 - Ethics
Avram Hiller - (MWF 11:00 - 11:50 a.m. - Tribble A307)
     How should one live? What are our obligations to others? What should we do in the face of seemingly irreconcilable moral differences? Is there any foundation to our moral beliefs? In this class, we will attempt to answer these questions by discussing answers given by major figures in the history of philosophy, such as Aristotle, Kant, Hume, Mill, and Nietzsche, as well as contemporary scholars. Though most of the course will be dedicated to theoretical questions about the nature of moral judgments, we will ground these questions by discussing several real-world moral problems, such as those stemming from cultural differences, environmental issues, and distribution of wealth.

 

PHI 274 - Philosophy of Mind
George Graham - (W 6:00 - 8:30 p.m. - Tribble A307)
     The mind is so fascinating and complex, that it’s no wonder that the philosophy of mind is one of the most active fields in philosophy today. This course introduces the field. Among topics to be discussed are: the power of consciousness, death and personal identity, mind as mind versus mind as brain, the ills of mental illness, and the minds of non-human animals, machines, and God.
     Interdisciplinary applications to neuroscience and psychology will be discussed. The teaching format will combine lectures with open and interactive discussion. There will be no exams. Take-home essays will be graded. A short term paper will also be required.

 

PHI 332 - Aristotle
Marcus Hester - (TR 9:30-10:45 a.m. - Tribble B313)
     We acquire tools for reading Aristotle's texts from learning some of the language of his logic and categories (the ten different kinds of questions we ask about things). Then we apply these tools to selected works from his biology, (Physics, Generation and Corruption), physical science (Generation and Corruption, Meteorology), psychology, (On the Soul), metaphysics (Metaphysics), ethics (Nicomachean Ethics), politics (Politics) and poetics (Poetics) (the study of how to understand tragedy and other arts). The unity of his thought on these very different topics is emphasized. We study recurrent ideas such as causation, the status and origination of knowledge, the relation of nature to the First Cause, the nature and motivation of actions, the nature of social institutions, and the nature of art and artifacts.
     In terms of grading, there is a midterm and final exam. Also a term paper is required, and it can be on any topic in Aristotle.

 

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PHI 352 - Hegel, Kierkegaard & Nietzsche
Charles Lewis - (TR 3:00 - 5 :00 p.m. - Tribble B313)
    Is there a way to think about the natural world that also makes sense of human life and history? Is anything gained, or lost, by thinking holistically about the world as a whole? Is a life dedicated to thinking about the world (and living accordingly) a way of avoiding an authentic human life? What does it mean to live authentically? Does nihilism provide the answer or is it a form of avoidance? What motivates avoidance and is there a remedy? *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 361 - Topics: Citizenship & Global Justice
Win-chiat Lee - (W 3:00 - 5:30 p.m. - Tribble A307)
(Also as Pol 269)
     In this course, we are interested in discerning the extent, if any, to which the moral duties we have towards each other as fellow citizens are different from the ones we have as fellow human beings. This question presumably has implications for many practical issues, including the proper scope of our concern for justice.
     Part I of the course deals with the relevant foundational issues in moral philosophy, including those concerning citizenship as a possible source of normative demands. The existence of a plurality of norms among nations and cultures and its implications for value relativism and pluralism will also be discussed.
     The remaining three parts of the course deal with more specific global moral issues – issues such as international intervention in matters concerning war and peace (Part II), global distributive justice in both economic and environment matters (Part III) and human rights and their conflict with certain cultural practices (Part IV).
     Much has been written by moral and political philosophers on these issues in recent years. Readings for the course will be drawn from writers such as John Rawls, Samuel Scheffler, Will Kymlicka, Joseph Raz, Martha Nussbaum, Amartya Sen, and Peter Singer.

 

PHI 385 Seminar: Rousseau
Clark Thompson - (TR 1:30-2:45 p.m. - Tribble A307)

     A study of Rousseau's social and political thought, taken widely to include not only his work in political philosophy, but also his work in educational theory and in the theory of culture. Topics include Rousseau’s discussion of civic virtue and the education that promotes such virtue; his defense of the martial virtues and patriotism; his account of the harmful role advances in the arts and sciences have had on morality, happiness, political life, and social relations; and his account of civic religion.
     We shall look at Rousseau's relationship to a number of thinkers, from classical authors through Rousseau's contemporaries.
     Readings from Rousseau will include his three Discourses (On the Sciences and Arts, On Political Economy, and On the Origin and Foundations of Inequality Among Men), Of the Social Contract, Emile, and the Letter to d'Alembert.
     Those interested can receive extra credit through the Languages Across the Curriculum program. For more information, contact Byron Wells in the Department of Romance Languages.

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Wake Forest
WFU Philosophy Department, P.O.Box 7806, Winston-Salem, NC 27109
Phone: 336-758-5359, Fax:336-758-7183, Email:simmonde@wfu.edu