Course

PHIL 107  Informal  Logic, Critical Reasoning

Professor

James Brudvig

CRN

17217

 

Schedule

Wed Fr       1:30 -2:50 pm      OLIN 203

Distribution

OLD: A

NEW: Humanities

The focus of this course is informal logic, though it begins with a thorough examination of syllogistic reasoning.  There are two reasons for this.  First, people often reason syllogistically, so it is helpful to learn how to do it well and avoid error.  Second, a primer in syllogistic logic requires close attention to fundamentals of reasoning, such as the use and meaning of quantifiers, and is, therefore, important ground to cover before engaging real world arguments that are often linguistically and logically complex. Following this introduction to the logic of the syllogism, we move to the analysis of ordinary language arguments.  We start with simple arguments and learn to diagram them to see how they work logically.  Next, we set out a topology of mistakes in informal arguments.  Finally, in this section of the course, we attempt to identify examples in the daily press of informal fallacies. The last part of the course looks at the arguments in more sophisticated pieces of writing.  Articles from law, social and environmental policy, and philosophy provide challenging examples of critical reasoning.  The goal in this section is to not so much to find logical fallacies (though they happen at this high level, too), but rather to use the tools of informal and formal analysis learned previously to try to better understand (and then criticize) the arguments of their authors. On-line registration

 

Course

PHIL 111   Introduction to Philosophy: Five Key Questions

Professor

Franklin Bruno

CRN

17209

 

Schedule

Wed Fr       10:30 - 11:50 am  OLIN 303

Distribution

OLD: A

NEW: Humanities

Philosophers attempt to formulate general questions about ourselves, each other, and our place in the world – and to give reasoned answers to them.  This course introduces major approaches to five such questions: How should we live?  Is there a God?  How do we know what we know?  What sort of beings are we?  And, how should we live together?   Our emphasis will be on the (often conflicting) answers philosophers have given to these questions, but at least one other question about our endeavor will also be at issue: Is there a right and a wrong way to go about answering these questions – and who has the authority to decide?  Readings are selected from classical texts of Western philosophy (Descartes, Locke, Hobbes) and contemporary work (John Searle, Judith Jarvis Thomson, Bernard Williams).  On-line registration  (Contact William Griffith with questions.)

 

Course

PHIL 216   Contemporary Political Theory

Professor

Alan Sussman

CRN

17210

 

Schedule

Mon Wed   10:30 - 11:50 am  OLIN 306

Distribution

OLD: A

NEW: Humanities

Related interest:  Human Rights

The tension created by the promise of equality and the guarantee of liberty has largely shaped the debate among contemporary political theorists. Most believe it is the function of the liberal state to meld these two goals but a resolution of the conflict requires, in turn, an examination of more fundamental normative questions. What, for example, should be relegated to the private sphere and what is more properly viewed as a matter of public concern? By which principles ought social and material goods be distributed, and what does a “fair” distribution mean? Are there moral limits to actions sanctioned by individual or collective consent? From what perspective(s) should political judgments be made, and from what source does a judgment gain its authority? These questions will be discussed as we read late 20th century political works by Rawls, Nozick, Walzer, Dworkin and Nagel. Familiarity with political thought of the Enlightenment would deepen a student’s appreciation of the course but is not a prerequisite.  On-line registration

 

Course

PHIL 220   Relativism

Professor

David Shein

CRN

17216

 

Schedule

Tu Th          2:30 -3:50 pm      OLIN 303

Distribution

OLD: A

NEW: Humanities

Cross-listed: Human Rights

A semester-long investigation of philosophical relativism.  The first half of the semester will focus on epistemic relativism and the second half will focus on moral/cultural relativism.  While this will introduce us to several fundamental modes of philosophical inquiry (among them, metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of language, and meta-ethics), the focus of the class will be a detailed exploration of relativism as a philosophical position.  Authors to be read include: Richard Rorty, W.V. Quine, Thomas Kuhn, Bernard Williams, Peter Winch, and others.  A prior course in philosophy is desirable but not necessary. On-line registration

 

Course

PHIL 230   Philosophy and the Arts

Professor

Franklin Bruno

CRN

17212

 

Schedule

Tu Th          10:30 - 11:50 am  OLIN 310

Distribution

OLD: A

NEW: Humanities

This course explores the ways that philosophers (and philosophically engaged critics) have approached issues concerning the nature and value of art.  After a discussion of Plato’s influential account of representation and the place of art in society, we will turn to questions raised by painting, photography and film, and music.  From there, we will turn to broader topics that cut across various art forms: Are serious (or “high”) and popular (or “low”) art to be understood and evaluated differently?  How do we evaluate works of art, and why do we so often disagree on their value?  And what, if anything, do the various items and activities that we classify as “art” have in common?  Readings include Hume and Kant on taste,  Stanley Cavell on the moving image, and Theodore Adorno and Walter Benjamin on mass culture.  On-line registration  (Contact William Griffith with questions.)

 

Course

PHIL 243   Self-Knowledge and Self-Discovery

Professor

Marcia Cavell

CRN

17495

 

Schedule

Mon Wed  3:00 – 4:20  OLINLC 208

Distribution

OLD: A

NEW: Humanities

Since Plato, self-knowledge was thought to be indispensable to the fully human life. Yet a great number of philosophers have been struck by how puzzling a condition it is. For one thing, perhaps alone among the different kinds of knowledge, self-knowledge is presumed to change the object known, and to be an essentially private, subjective, affair. In the context of self-knowledge, the terms knowledge, self, subject, and object, all become problematic. Working through these problems reveals both why self-knowledge is as valuable as it is, and why it is so difficult to achieve. We begin this course not with philosophy but with Socrates’ tragedy, Oedipus the King, as a way of disclosing that self-discovery is essentially a dramatic process. Thereafter we will discuss selections from Spinoza, Descartes, Nietzsche, Freud, Wittgenstein, and Becoming a Subject.  On-line registration

(Contact Mary Coleman with questions.)

 

Course

PHIL 247   Philosophy of Mind

Professor

Mary Coleman

CRN

17003

 

Schedule

Tu Th          9:00 - 10:20 am   ASP 302

Distribution

OLD: A

NEW: Humanities

An introduction to the philosophy of mind. We will focus on contemporary readings and such questions as: is your mind something different from your body and, in particular, something different from your brain?; can you know for sure that the people around you have conscious mental lives?; might it be, in principle, impossible for a computer or robot to have a mind, no matter how fancy the program it's running is?; is it possible that you yourself don't have a mind?  On-line registration

 

Course

PHIL 255   Medical Ethics

Professor

Daniel Berthold

CRN

17214

 

Schedule

Mon Wed   9:00 - 10:20 am   ASP 302

Distribution

OLD: A

NEW: Humanities

Cross-listed: Human Rights, Science, Technology & Society

Through a reading of both theoretical literature and case studies, we will examine a range of topics in contemporary debates over medical ethics: issues of genetics, reproduction, death and dying, medical research and experimentation, involuntary psychiatric hospitalization and treatment, informed consent, confidentiality, and paternalism. On the theoretical side, we will look at competing ethical positions philosophers have proposed as models for understanding and resolving issues of medical ethics and study basic concepts with which all such theories grapple (autonomy, nonmaleficence, beneficence, justice). On the practical side, we will examine the ways these theories and concepts are applied to actual cases and consider the conflict between philosophical-ethical reasoning and social, religious, and legal concerns.  On-line registration

 

Course

PHIL 352   Philosophy of Language

Professor

Franklin Bruno

CRN

17215

 

Schedule

Th               4:00 -6:20 pm      OLIN 306

Distribution

OLD: A

NEW: Humanities

Since the early 20th century, philosophical inquiry into the nature of language has revolved around the notion of meaning, and questions of how it comes about that our words can make “contact” with the world, our thoughts, and each other.  This course explores two living traditions that attempt to answer these questions.  The “semantic” approach associated with Gottlob Frege, Bertrand Russell, and Saul Kripke, emphasizes reference and the logical structure of language; while the “pragmatic” approach associated with Ludwig Wittgenstein, J.L. Austin, and Paul Grice, emphasizes communication and our everyday uses of language.  Through readings from these and other philosophers, we will assess the strengths and limitations of both approaches.  The course will conclude with a discussion of metaphor, a linguistic phenomenon often thought to present difficulties for philosophical theories of language. Prerequisite: Some degree of knowledge with the subject.  On-line registration

(Contact William Griffith with questions.)

 

Course

PHIL 371   The Philosophy of Kant

Professor

Mary Coleman

CRN

17467

 

Schedule

Wed            1:30 -3:50 pm      OLIN 308

Distribution

OLD: A

NEW: Humanities

Cross-listed: German Studies

An introduction to one of the classic texts of western philosophy, Kant’s magnum opus, The Critique of Pure Reason. Prerequisite: a previous course in philosophy and permission of the instructor. On-line registration