Spring 2019 Course Descriptions

102Y: Introduction to Existentialism - CRN 33544-(Tue/Thu, 11-12:20; Sherman).

Satisfies general education requirement—Group IX: Democracy and Citizenship. Although a varied bunch, the existentialists all shared a concern with the fate of the individual in the modern world. We begin with two short novels and an essay by Camus, which frame many of the issues in the course. We then briefly consider Hegel, examine some of the more important writings of the two most important existential philosophers of the 19th century, Kierkegaard and Nietzsche, and quickly look at two pieces by Dostoyevsky. We end by examining some of the more important writings of the two most important existential philosophers of the 20th century, Heidegger and Sartre.

110E: Introduction to Ethics. Satisfies general education requirement—Group VIII: Ethics and Human Values. Three sections:

  • Section 01-CRN 32143-(Mon/Wed/Fri, 10-10:50; Clarke).
  • Section 03 -CRN 33426-(Tue/Thu, 11-12:20; Strohl).
  • Section 50-CRN 34761-(Online; Strenger).

112E: Introduction to Ethics and the Environment -CRN 32992-(Tue/Thu, 9:30-10:50; Preston).

Satisfies general education requirement—Group VIII: Ethics and Human Values. This class is an introduction to ethics in the western tradition and, in particular, the consideration this tradition has given to animals and the natural environment. In the course of familiarizing ourselves with some of the main ideas in animal and environmental ethics, we will also gain familiarity with the three central traditions in western ethical thought, Kantianism, Utilitarianism, and Aristotelianism. We will apply our reading to contemporary ethical issues of importance such as animal rights, global climate change, environmental justice, endangered species, and wildland preservation.

114E: Introduction to Political Ethics: Justice -CRN 34555-(Tue/Thu, 12:30-1:50; Sherman).

Satisfies Ethics and Human Values general education requirement. The relationship between philosophical ethics and political philosophy is a complex one. Ethical considerations might not implicate political considerations, and there are political considerations that do not reduce to ethical ones. Nevertheless, these two subdisciplines within philosophy are closely related, and there is much overlap. We shall be concerned with this area of overlap, or more exactly with ethical reasoning in political contexts. The course consists of four parts. We begin by briefly examining the three basic ethical theories that inform ethical reasoning as such. We then consider the three basic approaches in political philosophy today—libertarianism, liberal egalitarianism, and communitarianism—before ending with a few classes on ethical duties to citizens of other countries. The ultimate aim of the course is to enable you to critically assess the ethical assumptions that underlie the political positions that you both endorse and attack.

210: Moral Philosophy -CRN 34094-(Tue/Thu, 11-12:20; Stenger).

Designated writing course. Satisfies general education requirement—Group VIII: Ethics and Human Values. 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.

241H/N: History and Philosophy of Science -CRN 34095-(Mon/Wed/Fri, 9:00-9:50; Duwell).

Satisfies two general education requirements—Group VI: Historical and Cultural Studies; Group XI: Natural Sciences. This is a survey course of the epistemological and metaphysical development of natural philosophy or science from the Greeks through Einstein, a course in intellectual history. We will outline Greek views on the ultimate nature of reality, with an emphasis on Greek physics. We will pay special attention to the developments in the Scientific Revolution including the metaphysical shift to corpuscularianism and mechanism, and the new emphasis on experimentation. We will look at the ontological change in the conception of space and time after Newton, as well as views about the nature of scientific theories. We will examine the history of evolutionary theory with an emphasis on the kind of evidential support Darwin mustered for his theory. Finally, we will discuss philosophical issues related to the history that we have learned.

262Y: History of Modern Philosophy -CRN 31798-(Mon/Wed/Fri, 12:00-12:50; Le Bihan).

Required for philosophy majors and minors. Satisfies general education requirement—Group IX: Democracy and Citizenship. This course will introduce you to seven of the major figures of 17th and 18th centuries in philosophy: Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, Hume and Kant. We will focus on metaphysics (roughly concerned with the question of the nature and structure of reality) and epistemology (roughly concerned with the question of the nature and scope of knowledge), leaving aside moral and political matters. Very little emphasis will be put on the historical and social contexts. The 17th and 18th centuries are centuries of radical changes in the domains of philosophy, science and politics. Most of our modern western culture originates in these times. That said, in studying modern philosophy, you should expect to encounter and to learn to understand worldviews that are also alien to your own. Confronting radically different ways of thinking should shed new light on your own views, methods and prejudices. In analyzing competing views on a subject, you will not only learn some philosophy, but learn to do philosophy.

 311.01: The Art of Living -CRN 34325-(Tue/Thu, 9:30-10:50; Muench).

In ancient Greece and Rome philosophy wasn’t simply an academic discipline; people chose to become philosophers and to engage in an art of living devoted to rigorous self-examination and the rational molding of the self. This course will examine this conception of philosophy as a way of life and explore some of the questions that often most concern us and that have seemed to many to have a particularly philosophical character to them: What is happiness? What is a good life? How should I live? Should I fear death? What role should reason play in my life? What role should the emotions play? What is friendship? What is love? What is marriage? Course materials will be drawn from a mixture of traditional philosophical works (including works by Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, Seneca, and Thoreau) together with some philosophically challenging works of literature, film, and music. Students will be expected not only to examine these materials closely but also to reflect upon their own convictions about these matters and to try to adhere to the Delphic injunction to know thyself. “To be a philosopher,” wrote that great New England genius Henry David Thoreau, “is not merely to have subtle thoughts…but so to love wisdom as to live according to its dictates….It is to solve some of the problems of life, not only theoretically, but practically.” In this course we will seek to put Thoreau’s words to the test.

 311.02: Relativism and Social Justice -CRN 34387-(Mon/Wed, 12:30-1:50; Clarke). 

“Ethnic cleansing is always—anywhere and everywhere—a bad thing.” “One should never support the use of children as sexual slaves.” “Annihilating a culture because its customs seem backward is always wrong.” These judgments seem clearly and importantly correct, but if moral relativists are right, there is nothing rationally compulsory about them. They reflect our upbringing and personal experience rather than enduring facts or truths about how humans ought to live and act. In this course we’ll read some of the most powerful arguments for and against moral relativism. We’ll also read essays and works of history that bear on our theme. By the end of the course students should be able to say precisely what it is to be a moral relativist, whether they consider themselves to be one, and why.

 363H: Ancient Greek and Roman Philosophy -CRN 34723-(Mon/Wed/Fri 1-1:50; Ausland).

Satisfies general education requirement—Group VIII: Ethics and Human Values. This course examines the ethical and philosophical dimensions of medicine. After a review of major ethical theories and approaches to medical ethics, we will explore a variety of contemporary ethical issues, including the doctor-patient relationship, obligations to treat or not-treat, end-of-life decision-making and physician aid-in-dying, the fundamental goals of medicine, procreative choice, emerging biotechnologies such as stem-cell research, human subjects research, and medical resource allocation. Numerous cases and videos are used to highlight moral issues for discussion. Students will also learn skills of medical ethics case analysis.

391.01: Applied Logic -CRN 34556-(Mon/Wed/Fri, 11-11:50; Le Bihan).

Analytical thinking skills involve the ability to assess reasons, arguments, and evidence provided in support of a claim. These skills are of practical value to anyone, and they will be taught here independent of subject matter. The course focuses on basic elements of both deductive and inductive logic. Students will develop their analytical thinking skills in logically assessing various forms of reasoning in various contexts: logic games, short arguments, and more developed reading excerpts. Most of the course will be relying on LSAT material, so that the course can be seen as an excellent preparation for test-takers.

391.02: Heidegger and Contemporary Culture (Tue/Thur, 11-11:50; Borgmann).

Heidegger’s life and thought can serve as crucibles for separating what is dross and what is gold in contemporary culture. To get a sense of the challenges we face in contemporary culture, we will read Anthony Appiah’s The Lies That Bind. We will then trace the stages of Heidegger’s life by way of selections from his Basic Writings. We’ll conclude with Heidegger’s Bremen Lectures, his most comprehensive and revealing account of the modern condition.

398: Internship -CRN 34125-(TBA; Le Bihan)

 407: Epistemology-CRN 34557-(Mon/Wed, 2-3:20; Duwell).

Upper-division core course in analytic philosophy.  Epistemology is the study of knowledge and justified belief. Towards that end, we will examine: proposed definitions of knowledge or criteria for the possession of knowledge and their shortcomings; how beliefs must be structured in order to justify other beliefs; whether justification is mind independent or not; how we might identify epistemic virtues and how they might be used to determine the epistemic status of various beliefs; how knowledge and justification are anchored in the world, or in testimony, memory, and perception; and finally how we might attempt to rebut skepticism.

 422: Environmental Philosophy -CRN 34388-(Tue/Thu, 2:00-3:20; Preston).

Upper-division core course in value theory. This course looks in some depth at several of the key themes that have been developed in the last forty years of environmental philosophy. Readings will be chosen from figures who are viewed as central to this young discipline. Topics may include (1) the intrinsic value debates, (2) environmental virtue theory, (3) feminist approaches to environmental thinking, (4) wilderness and environmental restoration, and (5) climate change and environmental justice. The goal is for students with some existing background in ethics to develop a solid basis in contemporary environmental philosophy.

466: Aristotle -CRN 34330-(Tue/Thu, 9:30-10:50; Strohl). 

Upper-division core course in history.  This course is a survey of several of Aristotle’s central works, focusing on topics in physics, philosophy of mind, metaphysics, and ethics. There will be an emphasis on learning how to make sense of Aristotle’s (very difficult) writing. Students will write an 8 page paper and take two exams.

 467: Nietzsche -CRN 34061-(Tue/Thu, 12:30-1:50; Muench).

Upper-division core course in continental philosophy. Our focus in this course will be on Nietzsche’s attempt to provide what he calls a genealogy of morality, which consists of an investigation into the origin and function of western moral values, and of morality in general. We will consider in some detail the following topics: (1) the very notion of genealogy and the nature of Nietzsche’s project; (2) Nietzsche’s attack on the Judeo-Christian system of values; and (3) Nietzsche’s perspectivism (his view that knowledge is accessible only from a particular perspective). Our aim will be both to understand Nietzsche’s attack on morality and to evaluate it critically. We shall consider whether Nietzsche’s attack on Christianity is plausible, shall critically examine the new ideal of the human being he proposes and the kind of values he thinks should replace the old morality, and question whether Nietzsche’s perspectivism undermines his own position on morality.

 499: Senior Seminar -CRN 30970-(Mon/Wed 3:30-4:50; Slicer).

Required for philosophy majors (senior standing). Satisfies upper-division writing requirement. 

On July 19, 1995, shortly after apartheid was legally abolished, South Africa’s Parliament created a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). The aim was both political, to avoid violent reprisals and minimize societal instability, and moral, to restore dignity and to heal. As Archbishop Desmond Tutu said: “Retributive justice is largely Western. The African understanding is far more restorative—not so much to punish as to redress or restore a balance that has been knocked askew. The justice we hope for is restorative of the dignity of the people.”* Tutu also comments that “our nation needs healing. Victims and survivors who bore the brunt of the apartheid system need healing. Perpetrators are, in their own way, victims of the apartheid system and they, too, need healing” (cited in Martha Minow’s Between Vengeance and Forgiveness). In addition to South Africa, TRCs have been established in other countries that experienced massive, government-sponsored violence, including Chile, El Salvador, Argentina, and Canada.

The idea and practice of restorative justice have also found their way into the U.S. criminal courts. Perpetrators and victims may work toward reconciliation with government and nonprofit reconciliatory mediators. Here, too, the main goal is to restore dignity through some kind of reconciliation rather than through vengeance and punishment.

Among other things we want to know if restorative justice is “just”? Is restorative justice up to the two tasks—political and moral—that Tutu optimistically proposed? Or is it too soon to tell? What does Tutu mean when he says that perpetrators are victims too?

Readings include Simon Wiesenthal’s short story “The Sunflower” and responses from both friends and critics of restorative justice, and Martha Minow’s Between Vengeance and Forgiveness, along with two documentary films and guest speakers from Missoula’s Community Restorative Justice center and the Missoula courts.

 510: Philosophy Forum Colloquium -CRN 30365-(Tue 3:30-4:50/Wed 9:00-9:50; 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.