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Wake Forest University

Philosophy Department

Spring 08 Courses

FYS 100 – God
Christian Miller
TR – 1:30 – 2:45 p.m. - Collins 007

Is it rational to believe in the existence of God, understood as an all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-loving being? Do features of the natural world entitle us to believe in the existence of such a being? How are we to understand the claims that God is omnipotent and perfectly good? Can we reconcile human freedom with divine foreknowledge, and the existence of evil with God’s perfect goodness? Are divine commands the source of the moral rightness of acts?

FYS 100 – Movies & Metaphysics
Stavroula Glezakos
TR – 3:00 – 4:15 p.m. - Collins 008

This seminar will introduce students to several issues in contemporary metaphysics, including causation, freedom, the self, and the appearance-reality distinction. We will read classic and contemporary writings by philosophers, as well as view movies, in which these and other philosophical themes are explored.

FYS 100 - Philosophy of War
Clark Thompson
TR – 4:30 – 5:45 p.m. - Tribble A201

This course studies 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. Questions to be studied will include the following: To what extent is military intervention justified when used to address humanitarian concerns, promote liberal or democratic values, or head off a potential threat? Can a meaningful distinction be drawn between combatants and noncombatants? Should a defense of superior orders shield military subordinates from accountability for illegal or immoral acts they commit in war?

PHI 111 – Basic Problems of Philosophy
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
Patrick Toner
MWF – 9:00 – 9:50 and 10:00 - 10:50 a.m. - 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 112 – Introduction to Philosphical Ideas
Charles Lewis
MWF – 11:00 – 11:50 a.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 115 – Introduction to Philosophy of Religion
Clark Thompson
TR – 12:00 – 1:15 and 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
Adrian Bardon
MWF – 12:00 – 12:50 p.m. - Tribble Hall A306

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 161 – Medical Ethics
Hannah Hardgrave
MW – 3:00 – 4:15 p.m. - Tribble Hall A201

Contemporary medical ethics is a development of the last half of the 20th century, the result of the progress of medical research and its application in clinical practice. Bioethics is a field of applied ethics, applying fundamental concepts of philosophical ethics to problems arising out of developments in medical research and practice. The ethical principles include; (1) Autonomy (respect for persons), (2) Beneficence (the promotion of human well-being) and (3) Justice (a fair distribution of the benefits and burdens of medicine). How these principles of bioethics are applied will be the subject of this course. Historically important cases, contemporary issues, and films will be used. The course requirements will include three short papers on films, an oral presentation by each student of an issue chosen by the student, and a research paper on the topic of the oral presentation.

PHI 164 – Contemporary Moral Problems
Avram Hiller
TR – 1:30 – 2:45 p.m. Greene Hall 162 &
TR – 3:00 – 4:15 p.m. – Greene Hall 308
This course is designed to help you think carefully about ethical issues of deep importance to contemporary life. Hopefully, many of the questions we will try to answer – what are our obligations to others? how should we treat the environment? is abortion immoral? is the death penalty just or unjust? how should one live? – are ones which you have already thought about and have tried to answer. A variety of topics will be covered, though special emphasis will be placed on environmental issues and issues of global economic development. By the end of the course you should be able to express clear, cogent, philosophical arguments on topics we discuss in class and on other issues of importance to you.

PHI 221 - Symbolic Logic
Avram Hiller
MW – 4:30 – 5:45 p.m. - Tribble Hall A306

This course is an introduction to principles of deductive reasoning - a kind of reasoning upon which much of our thinking is based. In a sense, studying logic is a way of studying one's own ways of thinking. We will learn to symbolize ordinary-language arguments into a formal system and analyze their validity - this will help us understand better and worse ways of arguing. We may also discuss topics of a more theoretical character, such as Godel’s incompleteness theorem.

PHI 241 – Modern Philosophy
Adrian Bardon
MWF – 2:00 – 2:50 p.m. - Tribble Hall A306

In this course we examine the central ideas of some of the most influential European philosophers of the 17th and 18th centuries; this time period is also known as the “early modern” period of philosophy. The central concern of the great figures of that period was the possibility and nature of scientific knowledge, and its relation to religious and moral subjects. The early modern period was characterized by a revolution in scientific thought, accompanied by closely related revolutions in thought regarding knowledge, reality, theology, political theory, and morality. We shall study the work of several great philosophers of this critical era through reading, writing, lecture, and discussion.

PHI 332 – Aristotle
Patrick Toner
MWF – 11:00 – 11:50 a.m. – Tribble Hall A307
This is a study of the philosophy of Aristotle. We shall read parts of the Categories, the Physics, the De Anima, the Metaphysics, the Nicomachean Ethics, and the Politics.

PHI 352 – Hegel, Kierkegaard, & Nietzsche
Charles Lewis
TR – 3:00-4:15 p,m. – Tribble Hall A307

Is there a best or superior way of life? Is an examined life compromised by questioning, provoking doubt and insecurity? Is there a best political form of life? Is there any good reason to fear death? What is love? What account of causation is required by a good explanation of human and of non-human things or states of affairs? Is there any way to know the answers to such questions or are we confined to our opinions? What is the status of religious or poetic answers? What is knowledge and is it something different from well-justified true belief? What is truth?
Please expect this class to run approximately 30 to 45 minutes past 4:15 p.m.

PHI 361 – Topics in Ethics
Christian Miller
TR – 9:30 – 10:45 a.m. – Tribble Hall A306

Is there an objective morality? Or is morality merely a product of our desires? Of our upbringing? Of our culture? What does it mean to say that a morality is "objective" or "relative". If there is an objective morality, does it need a creator, or does it simply exist on its own? We will examine these and other related questions by looking at the history of 20th century philosophical debates in this area. More specifically, we will lo at:

  • Early Objectivists (Moore and Pritchard): Moral properties are objective features of the world.
  • Emotivists (Ayer and Stevenson): Moral judgments are expressions of desires.
  • Prescriptivists (Hare): Moral judgments are really commands.
  • Error Theorists (Mackie): All moral judgments are simply false.
  • Relativists (Harman): Morality is only relative to individuals or groups.
  • Contemporary Objectivists (Sturgeon, Boyd, and Brink): There is an objective morality, and moral facts are scientifically legitimate.

We will finish by reading a cutting edge monograph, namely Russ Shafer-Landau's Moral Realism: A Defence (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003). Tentative Requirements: Two five page papers and one final ten page paper.

PHI 375 – Philosophy of Language
Stavroula Glezakos
TR – 12:00 – 1:15 – Tribble Hall A307

We use language to talk about the world – when I utter: “The cat is on the mat”, I am telling 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? How should we understand sentences like “Anne let the cat out of the bag”: can this sentence be true, even if Anne has never allowed any animals to escape from bags? What is going on in so-called ‘puzzles about belief’, such as the one that arises from the fact that, though Mark Twain is identical to Samuel Clemens, it can be false to say of some person: “She believes that Samuel Clemens wrote Tom Sawyer”, though it is true to say of her: “She believes that Mark Twain wrote Tom Sawyer”? In this class, we will examine the answers to these questions (and others) that have been offered by philosophers like Gottlob Frege, Bertrand Russell, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Paul Grice, Saul Kripke, John Searle, and Donald Davidson.  

PHI 376 - Epistemology
Ralph Kennedy
TR - 1:30-2:45 p.m. - Tribble A307

The sources, scope and structure of human knowledge. Topics include: skepticism; perception, memory, and reason; the definition of knowledge; the nature of justification; theories of truth. P -- One 200 level course in philosophy or permission of instructor.

PHI 385 – Seminar: Citizen & Global Justice
David Weinstein and Win-chiat Lee
W – 3:00 – 5:30 p.m. - Tribble A307
The course covers several topics about global justice in a world of nation states. We will raise general questions about the moral status of nations and national boundaries. Specific topics include national sovereignty, humanistic intervention, human rights, war and global distribution of resources. The course is jointly taught by Profs. David Weinstein (Political Science) and Win-chiat Lee (Philosophy). Cross-list as POL 269. Philosophy majors and minors are advised to sign up under the Philosophy course number to receive proper credit toward their programs of study.

Wake Forest
WFU Philosophy Department, P.O.Box 7332, Winston-Salem, NC 27109
Phone: 336-758-5359, Fax:336-758-7183,