Fall 2021 Philosophy Courses

Introduction to Ethics | PHL 110 E

Course Description: This course introduces you to the major approaches to the study of ethics within the Western philosophical tradition, which reaches all the way from antiquity to the present. We’ll ground and enrich our inquiry with some vital history (American, mainly) and with a variety of works of art. In the first part of the course we’ll examine some popular ways of thinking that can generate misplaced resistance to the study of ethics.

Section 01 Instructor: Bridget Clarke | Gen Ed Attributes: Ethics and Human Values (E) | Course Time: TR 11:00 - 12:20 | CRN 70174 

Section 02 Instructor: TBA | Course Time: MWF 12:00 - 12:50 | CRN 72073

Section 50 Instructor: Armond Duwell | Course Time: www | CRN 73838

Introduction to Political Ethics | PHL 114E

Course Description: An examination of the issues of political ethics through the careful study of selected writings from the three great Western political traditions: classical natural law theory, modern individualism, and contemporary distributive justice.

Instructor: David Sherman | Gen Ed Attributes: Ethics and Human Values (E) | Course Time: TR 9:30 - 10:50 | CRN 73407 

Introduction to Logic: Deduction | PHL 233

Course Description: This is an introductory course in logic. The objective is to provide you with a basic understanding of deductive logic in preparation for more advanced courses in philosophy and other subjects. We will be studying artificial languages that operate according to very strict rules. These languages are much simpler than ‘natural’ languages such as English (so-called because their acquisition is a universal part of human development) but they throw light on the reasoning we do in our day-to-day lives and help to refine that reasoning. Specifically, we will learn how to translate from English into the languages of sentential and predicate logic and how to determine the validity of arguments in each of these languages.

Instructor: Armond Duwell | Gen Ed Attributes: Ethics and Human Values (E) | Course Time: TR 2:00 - 2:50 | CRN: 72595 

History of Ancient Philosophy | PHL 261Y

Course Description: 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.

Instructor: Matthew Strohl | Gen Ed Attributes:  | Course Time: TR 9:30 - 10:50 | CRN: 71306 

Law & Discrimination| PHL 319

Discrimination and the Law

Course Description: 

The main goal of the course is to familiarize students with philosophical analyses of the concept(s) of discrimination and provide them with an understanding of how these analyses apply to various discriminatory practices in US law.  The main questions guiding the course are: 

What is discrimination and under which conditions is it morally wrong and/or politically unjust?

Which are some of the wrongful instances of discrimination within the past/current US legal institutions and practices?

What should our way forward be?

To that effect, the course includes a rigorous presentation of the basic concepts and forms of reasoning that define relevant traditions in ethics and political theory, including utilitarianism, deontological theory, social contract theory, and communitarianism. In addition, students will be exposed to current philosophical analyses of the concept(s) of discrimination. Finally, the course will guide students toward a better understanding of how these theoretical traditions and conceptual analyses can be applied, so that they can make sense of various kinds of discriminatory practices in US legal institutions. We shall focus on discrimination related to African Americans, Native Americans, and immigrants. 

Instructor: Soazig Le Bihan | Course Time: MWF 12:00 - 12:50 | CRN: 76151 (01) & 76152 (Honors 80)

Aesthetics & the Arts | PHL 327

Course Description: This course is an introduction to the philosophy of art. It is appropriate for students with no prior background in philosophy. Artists and students who study are are encouraged to enroll. The primary goal will be to give students the conceptual tools to reflect more deeply on art and their relationship with it in a way that will make an impact on their daily lives going forward. 

Instructor: Matthew Strohl | Course Time: TR 11:00 - 12:20 | CRN: 76153 (01) 76154 (Honors 80)

Science & Environment | PHL 423 & 523

Course Description: This course aims to equip environmentalists, or those with environmentalist leanings with some useful knowledge about how science works, its relation to values, modeling in science, and then foundational issues in ecology and climate science.  Some of the topics covered will be: the appropriate role of values in science, values in relation to policy advice for scientists, conceptions of public trust and how to foster it, whether nature can be thought to be in balance, the complexity-stability debate, the role and nature of models in ecology, the existence and robustness of ecological communities and ecosystems, what “biodiversity”, “invasive species”, or other central notions in ecology mean and why we should care about them, definitions of climate, data sets and models, detection of climate change, attribution of change, modeling climate change, confirming climate models, limits of climate projections, uncertainty, model ensembles, varieties of uncertainty, and strategies for choosing when facing uncertainty with respect to climate decision making.

Instructor: Armond DuwellCourse Time: MW 3:30 - 4:50 | CRN: 76155 (423) & 76159 (523)

Rousseau | PHL 469

Course Description:[I]f one sees a handful of powerful and rich men at the height of glory and fortune while the crowd grovels in obscurity and misery, it is because the former value the things they enjoy only to the extent that the latter are deprived of them ... they would cease to be happy if the people ceased to be miserable. —Discourse on the Origin and the Foundations of Inequality among Men (1755)

Why are liberal democratic societies plagued by vicious forms of inequality despite their commitment to the ideal of equality? The Swiss philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) may hold the answer. Rousseau held that modern societies are destined to foster excessive amour propre in their members. Amour propre is a passion to be seen as valuable or worthy by others relative to others; it seeks social standing or status for its possessor. (Think of the desire to be a “somebody” or to win first prize.) We'll read Rousseau's First and Second Discourses in order to understand why he considers amour-propre to be a major force in societies such as our own, and why he thinks it is likely to take deeply pathological forms (such as racism, sexism, and acute income inequality). We'll also read contemporary pieces on some of these pathologies in an effort to better understand the challenges and possibilities of our own time. 

 Instructor: Bridget ClarkeCourse Time: TR 2:00 - 3:20 | CRN: 76156

Hegel | PHL 470

Course Description: In this course, we shall consider Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit and his Philosophy of Right, which deals with “truth” and “right.” In these works, Hegel extends and transforms Kant's philosophy by rejecting his dualistic metaphysics, the fixedness of the categories on which his epistemology is based, and his abstract morality in favor of a non-metaphysical framework that argues for the fluid and social nature of the categories through which we come to know the world, and the collective, concrete nature of our ethical commitments. We shall consider these achievements both in terms of Kant's philosophy and in terms of contemporary issues in epistemology and value theory. 

Instructor: David ShermanCourse Time: TR 12:30 - 1:50 | CRN: 76157

Thoreau | PHL 472 & 572

Course Description:Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) has long been celebrated as a writer who helped to establish a distinctively American literature. In the process, however, his significance as a philosopher has often been overlooked. In this course we will read a number of Thoreau’s writings, including selections from The Journal, essays about civil disobedience, Thoreau’s advocacy for the abolition of slavery, and the value he attached to walking, before turning to a close reading of his masterpiece Walden. Our goal will be to try to recover the sense in which Thoreau is, first and foremost, a philosopher who seeks to equip his readers with the tools for a better life. 

Instructor: Paul Muench | Course Time: MW 2:00 - 3:20 | CRN: 76158 (472) & 76160 (572)

Philosophy Colloquium | PHL 510

Course Description: 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.

Instructor: Soazig Le Bihan | Course Time: Thursday 5 - 6pm | CRN: 75386