PHI 111 - Basic
Problems of Philosophy
FYS 100 - Information Technology Ethics
Adrian Bardon - TR 3:00 – 4:15 p.m. - Greene Hall 312
There are rapidly developing ethical and social issues of considerable importance involving digital media, communication, the internet, and the World Wide Web. This course focuses 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. Student participation in the form of class discussion and presentations is heavily emphasized.
In this course we 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 study real-life cases and policy discussions in order to illuminate the social, ethical, and regulatory dilemmas raised in these important areas. The central questions we 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 explore these questions through reading, writing, research, and discussion. The course centers around a series of projects by students. Small groups of students do research on particular areas of concern and present their work to the class for discussion. Group work involves critical analyses of debates regarding issues of current interest. Presenters are encouraged to explore both the technological aspects of their subject and the use of information technology in researching and presenting their topic.
FYS 100 – Citizenship and Global Justice
Win-chiat Lee - TR 3:00 – 4:15 p.m – Tribble Hall A307
We will cover the following topics in this first-year seminar.
I. Introduction to Moral Thinking - What is right and wrong? What is the basis of moral judgement? Are moral judgements relative? How do we determine whether a certain act is morally wrong? Can an individual’s act be morally wrong if it affects only himself or herself?
II. The Right to Privacy and the Enforcement of Morals - Where does individual moral choice end and where does the legitimate use of coercive force by the state begin? Are there activities that are morally unsuitable for legislation even if they are or considered to be morally wrong? Should there be laws prohibiting prostitution, polygamy, "unnatural" sexual acts, pornography, the use of certain drugs and other activities often considered as matters of morals?
III. Freedom of Expression and Censorship - Should we refrain from expressing ourselves in ways that are offensive to others? Should there be legal limits on what we may express in public? Do words ever harm? Is obscenity a good justification for censorship?
IV. Abortion and Euthanasia - We will deal with issues such as the sanctity of life, the quality of life, legal and moral personhood, and an individual’s right over his or her own body. How should individuals approach certain life and death issues? How much control should individuals have over these life and death matters?
V. Civil Disobedience - Does an unjust law command our obedience? Is there a general moral obligation to obey the law? How should we choose in case of conflict between our individual moral conscience and the law? Is it right for the state to prosecute cases of civil disobedience?
FYS 100 – Philosophy of War
Clark Thompson - TR 4:00 – 5:15 p.m. – Tribble Hall A201
A study of the implications of moral theory for the determination of when war is morally permissible and of how war is to be conducted if it is to be waged in a morally acceptable way. We shall examine whether either just war theory or utilitarianism can offer acceptable guidance in making these determinations. We shall ask whether the provisions of international law governing warfare, as well as the rules conducting warfare adopted by the military forces of the United States, are morally acceptable, and whether various possible military actions (e.g., the bombing of cities to weaken civilian morale) violate such provisions and rules.
PHI 221 - Symbolic Symbolic Logic
Stavroula Glezakos - WF 3:00 – 4:15 p.m - Tribble A307
We encounter and formulate arguments both while examining philosophical problems, and in the course of everyday life. It is thus desirable to develop techniques that allow us to determine whether a given argument is valid – that is, to determine whether an argument’s conclusion follows from its premises.
In this course, we will learn increasingly sophisticated techniques for establishing the validity of arguments. We will introduce a symbolic language, learn how to represent sentences of English by sentences in that symbolic language, and develop a formal system of derivation – a way to demonstrate that an argument’s conclusion follows by valid reasoning from its premises.
No prior study of logic or mathematics is required. Requirements: completion of regular homework assignments; 2 midterm exams; 1 final exam.
PHI 241 - Modern Philosophy
Adrian Bardon - MWF 1:00 – 1:50 p.m. - Tribble A307
In this course we examine the central ideas of some of the most influential European philosophers of the 17 th and 18 th centuries: Descartes, Leibniz, Newton, Berkeley, Locke, Hume, Reid. The central concern of the best-known figures of that period was the possibility and nature of scientific knowledge, and so this will also be our main concern this semester. The early modern period was characterized by a revolution in scientific thought, accompanied by closely related revolutions in thought regarding knowledge, reality, religion, political life, and morality. We shall study selections from the work of the most important philosophers of this critical era through reading, writing, lecture, and discussion.
PHI 261 – Ethics
Christian Miller - TR1:30 – 2:45 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 332 – Aristotle
Dorothea Lotter - W 4:30 – 7:00 p.m. - Tribble B313
Not only was Aristotle – together with Plato -- one of the most important philosophers of Greek antiquity, but he also is to this day considered one of the most influential thinkers in the history of humankind in general. This concerns not merely Aristotle’s contributions to the development of logic, which remained almost entirely unchallenged until the end of the 19 th century, but also his work in metaphysics, philosophy of mind, ethics, politics, art and poetics, which can be found in the more or less scattered fragments and notes that have been preserved with the help of his students and other scholars.
This course serves as an introduction to Aristotle’s thought. Depending on the time available, we shall try to read and discuss a little bit of each major area of the same beginning with his system of categories (logic and ontology) and then move on to his epistemology and metaphysics (including philosophy of physics, biology and psychology), ethics and politics, and finally to his basic views on poetics and art. We shall be guided in our discussions by two overall issues: (1) our attempt to find out whether, and if so how, Aristotle’s views in these different areas are logically related to one another, and (2) whether, and if so to what extent, they make sense. Grading will be based on one term paper (10-12 pages sometime during the semester) and two take-home exams (midterm and final).
Primary Textbook: Richard McKeon (ed.), The Basic Works of Aristotle , Modern Library 2001 (reprint).
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 362 – Social & Political Philosophy
Win-chiat Lee - TR 12 :00 – 1 :15 p.m. – Tribble A307
The main theme of the course is: liberalism and its critics. We will begin with John Rawls's influential account of the liberal conception of justice. While some attention will be paid to his methodology, the main focus will be on Rawls's substantive view on political, social and economic justice and his attempt to reconcile our concerns for liberty and equality. The rest of the course will be devoted to the study of criticisms of the liberal conception of justice, especially those directed specifically at Rawls’s account. Our study of the critics will begin with Robert Nozick's libertarian account of the origin of the state, the moral limits of the exercise of state power and the role of free market in distributive justice. In addition to discussing whether Rawls’s theory of justice can meet the challenges posed by Nozick’s libertarian view, we will also examine the adequacy of Rawls’s theory in dealing with a number of other issues – issues such as virtues, the good life, class and gender inequalities, culture, citizenship, and community – which are the focus of some of Rawls’s feminist, Marxian, and communitarian critics. Besides Rawls and Nozick, readings for this course will include works by Plato, John Locke, Karl Marx, Charles Taylor, G. A. Cohen, Susan Okin, and Will Kymlicka.
PHI 373 – Philosophy of Science
Dorothea Lotter - TR 9:30 – 10:45 a.m. – Tribble A307
The main topics included in this course can be summarized in the following questions: (1) How does science differ from other cultural enterprises, like art and poetry? (2) Are the distinguishing features of science its rationality and systematicity, or is it something else? (3) If the former, then just wherein do this rationality and systematicity consist, and is science really as systematic and rational as it has been claimed to be? (4) In particular, when taking a look at the history of science, can we say that there has been a steady progress of our knowledge in the sense of an accumulation that brings us ever closer to the one complete and true theory of the world, or does what we consider scientific progress in reality always involve a lot of random, even irrational, decisions? (5) Finally, what significance, if any at all, has the study of language for the study of scientific concepts and theories, or even for determining whether certain questions belong or do not belong into science?
The course is intended as both an historical and a critical-systematic introduction to 20 th century philosophy of science. Roughly the first half of the semester shall be dedicated to the program of Unified Science (in its main relevant aspects) that was developed and spread by the Logical Positivists of the Vienna and Berlin Circles in the earlier decades of the 20 th century up until World War II. Though first practiced in Germany and Austria, the ideas and methods endorsed by this school were adamant in shaping what is today commonly regarded as 20 th century Anglo-American analytic – as opposed to “continental” -- philosophy in general. They were imported by exiled refugee members of the school, most of whom had fled continental Europe when the Nazis took over.
The second half of the semester is dedicated to the decline of Logical Positivism as a feasible general program for the philosophy of science. We shall here take a closer look at the arguments and alternative views of some prominent critics of that program who were particularly influential in the second half of the 20 th century; i.e., Karl Popper, W.v.O. Quine, Thomas Kuhn, Paul Feyerabend, and Imre Lakatos. We shall try to read and discuss at least one text by each of these authors as far as time permits.