Autumn 2019 Course Descriptions

101L/Y: Introduction to Philosophy(Mon/Wed/Fri, 10-10:50; Muench). Satisfies Literary and Artistic Studies/Democracy and Citizenship general education requirements. This course will introduce you to some of the questions that philosophers have traditionally asked (questions about what we know and how we know it, about what is real, about what is valuable, and about how one should live) and to some of the answers they have proposed. It will also introduce you to some of the skills and methods used in philosophical inquiry, skills and methods that may be useful in other sorts of inquiries as well. These include the ability to analyze and criticize arguments; the ability to articulate one’s own views and to support them with reasoned arguments; and the ability to read a text carefully, sympathetically, and critically.

110E: Introduction to Ethics. Satisfies Ethics and Human Values general education requirement. An examination of the Western vision of morality through the careful study of selected writings from Aristotle, Kant and Mill. Additional works in ethics may supplement primary readings.

Three sections:

  • Section 01 (Mon/Wed/Fri, 12-12:50; Staff).
  • Section 02 (Tue/Thu, 11-12:20; Sherman).
  • Section 03 (Tue/Thu, 9:30-10:50; Clarke).

114E: Introduction to Political Ethics: Justice (Mon/Wed/Fri, 11:00-11:50; Staff). Satisfies Ethics and Human Values general education requirement. The purpose of this course is to help you understand and appreciate the sources, the premises, and the forms of reasoning that have shaped Western thinking about the nature and justifications for our political institutions. To that end, we will study three works, representative of the three great Western traditions of thought about politics. Our focus will be on the justifications which can be offered for, and the reasoning which is characteristically used in, modern, liberal, constitutional democracies of the sort familiar in modern industrial states (represented by John Rawls), and the ways in which those justifications draw upon, and contrast with, early modern political thought (represented by John Locke), and classical thought (represented by Plato). 

210E: Moral Philosophy (Tue/Thu, 12:30-1:50; Clarke). Required for philosophy majors and minors; satisfies Ethics and Human Values general education requirement. Also an intermediate writing course. This is an introductory course in ethics restricted to philosophy majors and minors and honors students. Our objective in this course is to develop an appreciation for three leading approaches to moral philosophy (or three types of moral ‘theory’) through a careful reading of classical texts in the Western tradition.

233: Introduction to Logic: Deduction (Mon/Wed/Fri, 9:00-9:50; Duwell). Required for philosophy majors and minors. This course is an introduction to a formal language called First Order Logic (FOL). For people new to logic, this course is more akin to a mathematics course or computer science course than most philosophy courses. We will be doing a good deal of symbolic manipulation and proofs. That said, we will also be studying how FOL, as an abstract formal language is related to the natural language English. Juxtaposing the two highlights the interesting differences between the two, especially the context sensitivity and ambiguity of English in comparison to FOL. What you take away from this course will partly be a matter of your own interests. For mathematicians and computer scientists one will get a solid introduction to FOL that one can use as a basis for leaning the metatheory of FOL. For those with a more traditional philosophical bent, you will learn to tell good argumentation from bad, and sharpen your ability to analyze argumentation, and be able to better formulate arguments yourself.

261Y: History of Ancient Philosophy (Tue/Thu, 11-12:20; Strohl). Required for philosophy majors and minors; satisfies Democracy and Citizenship general education requirement. Two sections (both meet at the same time): 01 and 80 (Honors). This course will introduce you to some of the central writings of Plato and Aristotle, and will also include a brief overview of Presocratic and Hellenistic Philosophy. Topics covered in Plato will include Socratic definition, the examined life, Meno’s paradox, the theory of recollection, the theory of forms, the immortality of the soul, challenges to morality, the analogy of city and soul, the tripartition of the soul, and the famous metaphors of the sun, line and cave. Turning to Aristotle, topics covered will include change, nature, hylomorphism, the four causes, soul as first actuality, the Prime Mover, happiness (eudaimonia), virtue, responsibility, and the place of theoretical study in a happy life.

323: Ethics of Climate Change (Tue/Thu, 11-12:20; Borgmann).

This course examines some of the fundamental issues raised by global climate change and considers how environmental ethics might help to address these issues. Students will become acquainted with the essential elements of climate change science and be provided with an introduction to contemporary approaches to environmental ethics that have developed out of the primary ethical traditions of western thought: deontological (Kantian) ethics, utilitarian ethics, and virtue ethics. In addition, the course examines alternative understandings of the appropriate relationship between humans and the natural world including: Deep Ecology and Native American perspectives.

412: Just War Theory (Mon/Wed, 10:00-11:20; Slicer). Upper-division core course in value theory.

We begin with discussion of some current conflicts or potential conflicts. Ideas about just war will surface as we discuss these cases. From there we begin our in-depth readings in classical just war theory. Specifically, we look at issues concerning not only just cause (morally just reasons for going to war) but also just conduct (how one conducts a war morally— including the use of weapons and tactics, treatment of civilians during war, treatment of prisoners, and enemy interrogation). In addition to discussing these classical questions we look at the very contemporary issues of terrorism, cyber attacks, and on the special costs for women and the environment during conflict. We also read essays about pacifism—what it is and whether it’s a rationally consistent or practical response to aggression. Our final set of essays looks at what it might mean to assign post-war blame and at the notions of forgiveness and reconciliation toward a former belligerent. Most of our essays are by philosophers, but we’ll also read several essays from news magazines that examine our current involvement in conflicts around the world, and we’ll watch the documentary film “The Fog of War” (on the tactical, political, and moral rationale the Johnson administration used in conducting the Viet Nam war).

In fall 2019 Deborah Slicer (Philosophy) and Elizabeth Barrs (History PhD candidate) will co-teach this course. Deborah Slicer is Professor in Philosophy and has taught versions of just war theory multiple times. Elizabeth Barrs is a retired Lt. Col. who has been deployed in conflicts and on humanitarian missions all over the world and has also served in the White House. She is currently the George and Jane Dennison Fellow in the Department of History and the lead author of a recent National Institute of Humanities grant that made possible the creation of a Veterans’ Studies Program at Missoula College.

427: Topics in Aesthetics (Tue/Thu, 9:30-10:50; Strohl). Upper-division core course in value theory. This course will be an eclectic introduction to aesthetics. Some central issues that will be discussed include the nature of the aesthetic, the role of criticism, beauty, the paradoxes of tragedy and horror, and the supposed distinction between high and low art.

445: Central Issues in the Philosophy of Science (Mon/Wed, 2:00-3:20; Duwell). Upper-division core course in analytic philosophy. This is a survey course in philosophy of science. The course will introduce students to the main areas of general philosophy of science. Topics include: the demarcation problem (distinguishing science from pseudoscience); the role of rationality, objectivity and values in science; underdetermination of theory by evidence (the DuhemQuine problem); Induction, prediction and evidence; confirmation; scientific explanation; and empiricism and scientific realism. Seminal papers on each of these topics will be read.

468: Sartre (Tue/Thu, 12:30-1:50; Sherman). Upper-division core course in continental philosophy. Sartre’s philosophical influence was virtually without equal in the post-War period, but by the 1960s it was eclipsed by structuralism and then poststructuralism, both of which rejected its reliance on "the subject."  We consider whether his philosophy was inappropriately rejected as merely another form of Cartesianism and whether it still has something philosophically important to contribute. We begin by considering Sartre’s two most important early essays, The Transcendence of the Ego and The Emotions: Outline of a Theory.  These phenomenological works, inspired by Husserl, revolve around the unbridled freedom of consciousness.  We then spend roughly ten weeks on Being and Nothingness, in which Sartre offers an existential phenomenology based on his attempt to mediate the philosophies of Husserl and Heidegger.  We conclude by spending a few weeks on Search for a Method, which constitutes a succinct introduction to his phenomenological Marxism. 

504: Topics in Environmental Philosophy (Mon/Wed, 3:30-4:50; Slicer). Course content TBA.

507: Philosophical Foundations of Ecology (Tue/Thur, 12:30-1:50; Le Bihan). In this seminar we will look at some of the key papers in philosophy of the science of ecology (and perhaps, more broadly, environmental philosophy). Some of the topics covered will be: the role and nature of models in ecology, the complexity-stability debate, whether nature can be thought to be in balance, whether there are laws of ecology, what biodiversity is and why we should care about it.

510: Philosophy Forum (Tue, 3:30-4:50; Wed, 9-9:50; Borgmann). The purpose of the Colloquium is to give graduate students a wider understanding of the professional side of philosophy, of the current issues, the different schools of thought, the leading figures, the conceptions the profession has of itself, and of the profession’s relations to contemporary society and culture.