PHI 111 - Basic
Problems of Philosophy
FYS 100 Mad Minds, Broken Minds
TR 3:00 – 4:15 p.m. - Greene Hall 312
What can be learned about the human mind by studying mental illness? This seminar aims to find out. By probing five different mental illnesses, we hope to come to a better understanding of such topics as rationality, personal identity, autonomy, the inner emotional life of persons, and the nature of human motivation. The illnesses from which we hope to learn include the following: alcohol dependence, antisocial personality disorder (psychopathy), depression with suicidal ideation, dissociative identity (multiple personality) disorder, and religious delusions in schizophrenia. We’ll look at philosophical writings and the clinical literature. Students will also be encouraged to view films and to read memoirs. We will be exploring such questions as:
*Was Jesus deluded?
*Can one and the same human body house more than one person?
*Do alcoholics possess irresistible desires?
*Why are psychopaths egoistic and immoral?
Grades will be based on three in-class open-book tests, a seminar journal, and a short (5-7 pages) term paper.
FYS 100 Moral Choice, Individual Liberty, and the Law
T R 3:00 – 4:15 p.m - Tribble Hall A207
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 International Ethics
TR 4:30 – 5:45 p.m. - Tribble Hall A201
We shall study from a moral perspective several issues arising in international contexts: Can the relations between states be meaningfully evaluated in moral terms? What value should be assigned to state sovereignty? What provides a just cause for war; in particular, is actual aggression the sole just cause, or are preventive--or even humanitarian--wars morally permissible? Do the rules of war need to be revised in light of terrorism and the threat of weapons of mass destruction? What limits does morality place on responses to terrorism? Should the United States be subject to the same restraints as are other states, or does America’s hyperpower status exempt it from the rules by which other states are bound? Are there human rights, and if so, what is their content and what obligations do they impose? What are the obligations of individuals and states to relieve suffering in less developed countries? Does globalization have undesirable consequences, or does it raise the standard of living in the developing world, and promote respect for human rights and democracy? Does our membership in a political community create special obligations to our fellow citizens that we lack toward humanity at large? Is patriotism a virtue, and how does patriotism differ from nationalism?
PHI 221 Symbolic Logic
MW 4:00 – 5:15 p.m - Tribble A307
This course is an introduction to principles of deductive reasoning. We will learn to symbolize ordinary-language arguments into a formal system and analyze their validity. We will also discuss topics of a more theoretical character, such as Godel’s incompleteness theorem.
PHI 241 Modern Philosophy
TR 12:00 – 1:15 p.m. - Tribble A307
This course covers the central ideas of some of the most influential European philosophers of the 17th and 18th centuries. The early modern period was characterized by a revolution in scientific thought, accompanied by closely related revolutions in thought regarding knowledge, reality, religion, politics, and morality. The central concern of the great figures of this period was the possibility and nature of scientific knowledge, and its relation to religious and moral subjects. We shall study the work of several great philosophers of this critical era, including Hobbes, Descartes, Newton, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, and Hume. Regular written assignments and a term paper will be required.
PHI 261 Ethics
TR 1:30 – 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 274 Philosophy of Mind
TR 9 :30 – 10 :45 a.m. - Tribble A307
This is an introductory survey of the philosophy of mind but with a difference. The survey will examine such topics as the mind-body problem, what it means to have a mind, and to be conscious, self-conscious, to think, reason, remember, and act. The difference will be this. We will approach the philosophy of mind primarily by examining disorders of mind, the places where human mentality exists but in a diminished, dysfunctional or disordered form. By probing mental disorders, we will come to an empirically and clinically informed understanding of standard topics in the philosophy of mind.
Special attention will be given to five disorders. These include: alcohol dependence, anti-social personality disorder (psychopathy), depression with suicidal ideation, dissociative identity (multiple personality) disorder, and schizophrenia with religious delusions. We will frame and discuss topics in the philosophy of mind that arise from the study of each disorder. These include:
• Alcohol Dependence and Weakness and Freedom of Will
• Antisocial Personality Disorder and Psychological Egoism
• Depression and the Inner Emotional Life of Persons
• Dissociative Identity Disorder and Personal Identity
• Religious Delusions and Rationality
Various metaphysical issues in the philosophy of mind that hover over discussions of disorders, such as the Mind-Body Problem and the Problem of Mental Causation, will also receive discussion. Grades will be based on three open-book tests, a short 5-7 page term paper, and a course journal..
PHI 352 Hegel, Kierkegaard, & Nietzsche
TR 3 :00 – 4 :15 p.m. -Tribble A307
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.