Philosophy Course Offerings for Spring 2018

The following courses will be offered by the Philosophy Faculty for Spring 2018.  Sign up now!

Introduction to Philosophy (1000): A general introduction to the basic patterns and methods of philosophy as presented through representative thinkers.

Logic I (1100): This course is an introduction to logical reasoning. It will include the study of truth-functions, translations of English sentences into logical notation, truth-tables, deductions, and some fallacy identification. The concepts of validity, consistency, tautology, contradiction, and logical equivalence are introduced. Additional topics, such as category syllogisms, inductive reasoning, and quantification may be included at the discretion of the instructor.

Mind, Knowledge, and Reality (1501): An introduction to the special problems, topics or issues in philosophy from historical and social perspectives. 

Philosophy and Popular Culture (1502): An introductory examination of the special problems, topics or issues in philosophy through comic books, works of literature and films. 

Selves, Bodies, and Cultural Diversity (1503): An introduction to the special problems, topics or issues in philosophy from local to global perspectives. 

Philosophy, Society, and Ethics (2000): An introduction to ethical reasoning and an examination of moral problems in contemporary social issues.

Environmental Ethics (2015): This course is an introduction to the ethical dimensions of environmental issues. Students will have the opportunity to study theoretical perspectives such as deep ecology, ecofeminism, Native American views of the land, and social ecology. The course will also consider environmental ethical issues such as the moral status of nature, pesticide use, environmental racism, the treatment of animals, deforestation, world population growth, and what it means to live an ecologically responsible life.

Logic II (2100): A study of some major systems of logic, including a formal study of truth functions and quantification. The notions of proof, theorem and axiom are defined and some theory of logic is included. At the discretion of the instructor, additional topics may be included (for example, the Logic of Relations, Boolean Algebra Systems, Modal Logic, the Logic of Probability or Inductive Logic). Dr Patrick Rardin

Philosophical Aesthetics (3013): Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Or is it? What is beauty, and why do we experience the world in this peculiar way? This course will take a theoretical look at the nature of aesthetic experience. Our concern will be to understand what makes aesthetic experience unique, what are the causes of aesthetic experience, and to examine further connections between aesthetics and other areas of philosophical interest. Topics may include aesthetics and authenticity, aesthetics and ethics, environmental aesthetics, fiction and reality, and the metaphysics of music. Dr Christopher Bartel

Medical Ethics (3015): This course is an introduction to ethical issues in medicine. We begin with an overview of theoretical medical ethics and then move on to discuss some of the major ethical issues in medicine and consider how various theories inform or fail to inform ethical issues that arise in healthcare. Along the way we will make ample use of actual cases in order to practice addressing deeply contested moral issues just as health care providers and medical ethicists are required to do everyday, and as a team. We will also delve into psychiatric ethics and the emerging field of neuroethics. The course ends with an unsettling expose of the pharmaceutical industry. Dr Matthew Ruble

Feminist Philosophy (3030): Feminist philosophers have made substantial contributions in all major subfields of philosophy. In this course, we will study work in feminist epistemology, feminist metaphysics, feminist environmental philosophy, feminist science studies, feminist philosophy of race, feminist social and political philosophy, feminist disability studies, and queer theory. We will begin by considering the meaning of oppression and feminist philosophical critiques of implicit bias. We will then move into classic and contemporary feminist philosophical analyses of sex, gender, and sexuality; race, racism and decolonial perspectives; feminist theories of knowledge, ignorance, epistemic injustice, and epistemic resistance; and feminist theories of reality, identity, nature, and new materialisms. We will consider how feminist theorists have thought about the meaning of resistance, revolution, and social change. Issues to be discussed include oppression and privilege, resistance, the meaning of experience, transgender, sexuality, race and racism, class and classism, the relation between the personal and the political, and the relation between feminist theory and activism. Prof Kim Hall

Modern Philosophy (3200): This course examines modern philosophy's "epistemological turn." According to thinkers such as Descartes, Hume, and Kant, the way to find out what there is in the world (metaphysics) is to investigate how we know about the world (epistemology). The course charts the theoretical philosophy of these three major philosophers with an eye to the central epistemological questions in their work and, in particular, their interaction with skepticism. One of the central questions we will ask is: how can we articulate the problem of skepticism, and ca n the skeptic's problem be solved? Dr Anna Cremaldi

A Critique of Worldmaking (3300): This course studies the major developments in recent analytic philosophy which have led to a radical challenge to common sense, Nelson’s Goodman’s Critique of Worldmaking. The basic principle is that worlds are made by making world-versions. The critique is a comparative study of world-versions and their making. We assess how well such a critique has advanced analytic philosophy. Our readings may be drawn from philosophers such as: Ayer, Carnap, Wittgenstein, Dewey, James, Goodman, Quine, Kuhn, and Rorty. Dr Patrick Rardin

Contemporary Continental Philosophy (3400): The discourse of so-called Continental Philosophy has arguably been guided, above all else, by a particular interpretation of Classical German Philosophy. It, therefore, behooves a course on “contemporary” Continental Philosophy to begin by addressing some of the philosophical problems that emerge in this Nineteenth Century milieu. This investigation into the historical precursors of Continental thought is not, however, done for the sake of gaining our bearings or simply brushing up on the dead facts of the past. As will become evident in our readings of Kant, Hegel, and Marx, the problem of history—namely its meaning or purposiveness, how it relates to cognition, to metaphysics, indeed, to our conception of justice, ethics, and political reconciliation—is of paramount importance to the Continental approach. More specifically, Continental theory insists that philosophical investigation is indissolubly bound to or in tension with specific developments or metamorphoses in material reality. The past, in this conception, continues to weigh on and determine the present; it shows itself anew when read off the ever-changing appearances of the present. We must, therefore, continue to read it in order to understand ourselves. When humanity is, along these lines, faced with a century of massive industrialization, world wars, imperialism, and a general anxiety about economic, political, and environmental disaster, it should come as no surprise that Continental Philosophy would aim to understand how the “crises” of history relate to the traditional categories of philosophy. Thinking the nature of these crises has taken many forms. In this course, we will broach some of the most influential approaches: phenomenology and the problem of instrumental or technical rationality; existentialism and the crisis of meaning; critical theory and the crisis of social and political domination; psychoanalysis and the dangers of repression. Once we have been grounded in these influential approaches, we will be in a better position to begin grappling with the significance of recent philosophical approaches such as poststructuralism, feminist theory, and new realism. Dr Joe Weiss

Existentialism: Philosophy and Literature (3530): Existentialism emerged from the 19th century attempt to think the importance of the material world, the possibility of universal truth, the existence of God, and the promise of modern progress, but it was galvanized into a philosophical system by the horrors of the World Wars. In the face of these horrors, our traditional understandings of the world and of our place in it had to be radically rethought. Existentialism cannot be understood independent from its historical context and so, in this class, we will explore how the experience of the First and Second World Wars—with the introduction of mechanized and trench warfare, death camps, and the use of the atomic bomb—forced a questioning of reason, freedom, and our relationship to death, ethics and one another. However, we will also explore how the basic set of concerns motivating Existentialism: the critique of truth, the revaluing of the material world, and the death of god, are currently reemerging in the face of catastrophic climate change. Perhaps at the end of the world, a rethinking of who and what we are must once again take place. And perhaps existentialism offers us resources to take on such a project. Dr Rick Elmore

Philosophy of Mind (3550): What is it for a creature to possess a mind or to exhibit mindful behavior? What is the nature of consciousness? Are mental states such as beliefs and desires nothing but brain states, or are they states of an altogether different kind? Can a person’s mind survive the death of his/her body? Do animals and robots have minds? Does it make sense of speak of minds as extending beyond a person’s body and brain to include, say, his/her calculator or cell phone? Are minds necessarily embodied in nature? What is the nature of emotions? This introductory course to the philosophy of mind will examine these questions. In addition, it will survey the major contemporary theories of mind, including substance dualism, philosophical and methodological behaviorism, identity theories, functionalism and connectionism. It will draw from both historical and contemporary sources. This course does not have a prerequisite and should be of interest to all students, especially philosophy and psychology majors. Dr Jack Kwong

Senior Research: Philosophy (4700): This course is designed primarily for philosophy majors that are at or near graduation. As a culminating foray into the discipline, students will develop research papers that displays both their learning experiences and identities as burgeoning philosophers. Drafts of those papers will be presented during the Spring term with the final presentation performed on reading day to a general audience. As a continuance of your learning experiences (at a high level of abstraction) the course will cover The Critique of Pure Reason, by Immanuel Kant. He was, of course, the last of the major figures of the modern period. In this vein, Kant was himself a capstone figure who was tasked to pay homage to the likes of Locke, Berkeley, Leibniz and Hume, while at the same time inserting their thought into the network of his philosophical contributions. We will examine the Critique for both its historical and content merits. Dr Jesse Taylor