Spring 2021 Philosophy Courses

Introduction to Existentialism | PHL 102L R01


Course Description: Against the backdrop of the rise of science, the industrialization of modern society and the Enlightenment’s celebration of reason, a number of nineteenth- and twentieth-century thinkers became increasingly dissatisfied with the manner in which philosophy had come to be practiced and the way that it was written. Philosophy seemed too impersonal, too rationalistic, and too much in awe of science. To attend to the human situation and to address the challenges of living an authentic human life in a world seemingly stripped of all external sources of meaning and value (a world in which Nietzsche famously declared that “God is dead”), something else was needed: new ways of writing philosophy, a rethinking of the significance of reason and its relation to the emotions, and a new emphasis on the concrete individual human being and the different modes in which the individual exists in the world.

Instructor: David ShermanCredits: 3 | Gen Ed Attributes: Literary and Artistic Studies (L) , Democracy and Citizenship (Y) |Course Time: TR 11:00-12:20 (Remote) | CRN: 33042 

Introduction to Ethics | PHL 110E sections R01, R80, R02 & 50

Course Description: This course is an introduction to the major approaches to the study of ethics in the Western tradition. Our objectives are to get a sense of the major approaches to ethics, but most importantly learn how to critically evaluate the quality of moral arguments, even those whose conclusions we might agree with. Applied topics include physician assisted suicide, euthanasia, animal ethics, death penalty, and abortion.

Instructor: Staff | Credits: 3 | Gen Ed Attributes: Ethics and Human Values (E)
Course Time: TR 2:00 - 3:20 (Remote) | CRN: 31903 & 34850(Honors)

Additional Details:  Section 02 | Matthew Strohl | TR 11:00-12:20 (Remote) | CRN: 32955; Section 50 | Staff | Online | CRN: 34466

Introduction to Ethics and the Environment | PHL 112E R01

Course Description: This class is an introduction to ethics in the western tradition and, in particular, the consideration this tradition gives to animals and the natural environment. We will be approaching our study by mixing a modern story of one environmental journalist’s environmental quest in search of wildness with a collection of classic articles in environmental ethics. While familiarizing ourselves with the main ideas in animal and environmental ethics, we will also take time to understand some of the main frameworks in western ethical thought (e.g. Utilitarianism, care ethics, the virtues). Through reading and discussion, students will engage in sustained reflection about their own environmental values and choices.

Instructor: Christopher Preston | Credits: 3 | Gen Ed Attributes: Ethics and Human Values (E) | Course Time: TR 11 - 12:20 (Remote) | CRN: 32593  

Moral Philosophy | PHL 210E R01

Course Description: The aim of the course is to acquaint you with the principal traditions of moral philosophy in the West and to help you to write successful philosophy papers. To this end, we’ll be reading classical texts together with more recent ones, and you’ll be writing and re-writing highly focused papers on the material. Our investigation of each tradition will center around three questions: how am I supposed to tell if an action (or norm or practice) is morally good?; what is supposed to make an action (or norm or practice) morally good?; what is supposed to motivate me, or anyone else, to care about whether it’s morally good? We begin, however, with some popular ways of thinking that can generate resistance to the very idea of reflecting on such questions.

Instructor: Bridget Clarke | Credits: 3 | Gen Ed Attributes: Ethics and Human Values (E) , Writing | Course Time: TR 11:00-12:20 (Remote) | CRN: 33411

History and Philosophy of Science | PHL 241N R01 & R80

Course Description: 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.

Instructor: Armond Duwell | Credits: 3 | Gen Ed Attributes: Natural Science (N) , Historical Studies (H) | Course Time: MWF 2 - 2:50 (Remote)| CRN: 33412 & 34120 (Honors)

History of Modern Philosophy | PHL 262Y R01 & R80

Course Description: This course will introduce you to seven of the major figures of the 17th and 18th centuries in philosophy, with a focus on how the Enlightenment has forged most of our Western culture. The 17th and 18th centuries are centuries of radical change in the domains of philosophy, science, and politics. That said, while studying modern philosophy, you should expect to encounter and to learn to understand worldviews that are 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 also learn to do philosophy. 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), with some detours into moral and political matters. Little emphasis will be put on the historical and social contexts.

Instructor: Soazig Le Bihan | Credits: 3 | Gen Ed Attributes: Democracy and Citizenship (Y) | Course Time: MWF 12:00 -12:50 (Remote) | CRN: 31602 & 34121 (Honors)

The Art of Living | PHL 309E R01 & R80

Course Description:This course examines the ancient Greek conception of philosophy as a way of life and explores some of the following ethical questions: 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) 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. 

Instructor: Paul Muench | Credits: 3 | Course Time: MWF 10 - 10:50 (Remote) | CRN: 34848 & 34849 (Honors)

Ethics of Climate Change | PHL 323 R01

Course Description: 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.

Instructor: Staff | Credits: 3 | Course Time: TR 11:00-12:20 (Remote) | CRN: 34390

Philosophy of Mind | PHL 391 R01 & R80


Course Description: Could a machine think?  Is artificial intelligence possible?  Can androids embody consciousness?  This course considers these and related questions concerning the nature of the mind and its relation to bodies, both biological and mechanical.  Topics include:  Zombies, brains in vats, computational theories of mind, Turing machines, robots and consciousness, classical AI and alternatives, ethics and AI.

Instructor: Armond Duwell | Credits: 3 | Course Time: MW 3:30 - 4:50 (Remote) | CRN: 35031& 34847(Honors)

Environmental Philosophy | PHL 422 R01

Course Description: Critical exploration of selected philosophical and literary texts pertinent to the ethics of human relationships with the natural environment.

Instructor: Christopher Preston | Credits: 3 | Course Time: TR 12:30 - 1:50 (Remote) | CRN: 34469

Aristotle | PHL 466 R01

Course Description: This course is a survey of several of Aristotle’s central works, focusing on topics in physics, philosophy of mind, metaphysics, and ethics. Aristotle’s writings are dense and often very difficult, and so while the reading assignments for the course are short in terms of number of pages, you should spend as much time on them as you would on much longer assignments, and always read important segments more than once.

Instructor: Matthew Strohl | Credits: 3 | Course Time: TR 9:30-10:50 (Remote) | CRN: 34470

NCCP: Kierkegaard | PHL 467 R01 & R80

Course Description:In this course we will read Kierkegaard’s first pseudonymous work, Either/Or. We will discuss, among other things, the difference between aesthetic and ethical views of life, and consider how both relate to a religious view of life. Other topics include the difference between erotic seduction and marriage, the relationship between melancholy and the failure to become a self, and why truly to become a self essentially takes time. 

Instructor: Paul Muench | Credits: 3 | Course Time: MW 2 - 3:20 (Remote) | CRN: 34471 & 34845 (Honors)

Senior Seminar | PHL 499 R01

Course Description: Research in problems in philosophy.

Instructor: David Sherman | Credits: 3 | Gen Ed Attributes: Writing | Course Time: TR 2 - 3:20 Remote| CRN: 30896

Philosophy Forum Colloquium | PHL 510 R01

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: Deborah Slicer | Credits: 1 | Course Times: TBD (Remote)| CRN: 30337