Academic Catalog 2020-2021

Philosophy (PHIL)

PHIL-200  Problems in Philosophy  - (3 Credits)  

An introduction to central philosophical about knowledge and belief, causality and freedom, nature and metaphysics, mind, identity and artificial intelligence, and the problems of moral judgment.

PHIL-205  Philosophy Through Film  - (3 Credits)  

An introduction to philosophical issues raised by classical and modern cinema. As this is a philosophy course and not a course in film theory or history, we will use films to discuss questions of epistemology, metaphysics and ethics; among the topics considered are memory, time and the mind-body relationship; language and identity; illusion and reality; guilt, violence, forgiveness and justice. Extensive readings will be drawn from philosophy, literature, and film theory.

PHIL-208  History of Philosophy, Ancient to Medieval  - (3 Credits)  

A survey of major figures and theories from Greek and Roman antiquity to the early Renaissance, which follows the development of philosophic themes such as the nature of the good life, the difference between truth, belief and opinion, free will and determinism, religion and political obligation, and the reality of the physical world. The course introduces characteristic examples of philosophic argument and inquiry through close readings of philosophers like Plato, Aristotle, Plotinus, Augustine, Aquinas, Ockham, Bacon and Machiavelli.

PHIL-209  Modern Philosophy:History and Problems  - (3 Credits)  

What is knowledge? Does consciousness exist? Is morality just a cover for human prejudices and fears? What do we think we're doing when we speak? This course introduces the key debates that have shaped modern philosophy through a close reading of philosophers ranging from Montaigne and Descartes to Kant, Hegel and Nietzsche representing a variety of positions from the empiricist and rationalist to the skeptical and nihilist.

PHIL-210  Ethics And Social Issues  - (3 Credits)  

This course brings moral and ethical and ethical reflection to bear on concrete moral problems in public and private life. When philosophy engages practical and social issues, it puts into question the distinction between the political and the personal, between controversy and consensus. Debates may change but the problems of justice, duty and fairness continue to arise, demanding not partisanship but rigorous investigation, conceptual clarity, and self-examination all of which philosophers from antiquity to the present attempt, with varying degrees of success. Issues discussed in this course may include violence and war, human and animal rights, sexual freedom, giving and taking life, censorship and resistance, duties to other species, cultural and religious conflict,and poverty and famine.

PHIL-265  Aesthetics  - (3 Credits)  

What is art? Must art be beautiful? Are aesthetic this course judgments and taste merely subjective? Is the aesthetic sphere autonomous? What are the relations between art and politics, artistic experiment and institutional reality? Is originality important? Is there a difference between art and craft? These and other questions, belonging to the philosophical reflection on art (the sensuous and the practical) are covered in this course. For students with a general interest in the problems of art and aesthetic experience.

PHIL-301  Logic  - (3 Credits)  

An elementary introduction to logical thinking. One-third of the course is devoted to problems of language and semantics.

PHIL-307  Philosophy and Contemporary Cultural Theory  - (3 Credits)  

An examination of contemporary cultural critique as developed in contemporary intellectual movements, such as critical theory, post-structuralism and deconstruction anti-theory. The course also elicits and explores central insights of cultural critique in the context of contemporary intellectual, political, and aesthetic concerns.

PHIL-311  Philosophy of Literature  - (3 Credits)  

In this course we will enter the lively borderlands between literature and philosophy, where we will begin to explore questions of good and evil motivation and freedom, chance and time power and performativity, language, subjectivity, and memory. And after that, we'll move on to the really big issues! Through readings of literary texts from Greek tragedy to postmodern fiction-and philosophy ranging from structuralism to phenomenology, systems theory and psychoanalysis-we will map out some of the vexed relationships between truth and rhetoric, author and audience, sense and nonsense, argument and image, text and context, the fake and the authentic.

PHIL-312  Philosophical Ethics  - (3 Credits)  

Ethics may be broadly defined as the inquiry into what we should or ought to desire, feel or do. All lives and all cultures there is an ethical dimension, but in philosophical ethics we look for the reasons behind moral thinking, and we ask: what is an ethical judgment? Are ethical judgments universal or culturally specific? Are they expressions of emotional preferences or do they correspond to facts about the world? What is the goal of ethical action: individual happiness, pleasure or fulfillment. The greatest good of the greatest number? And can we know what is right or wrong, what we ought to do? We will examine these issues through contemporary examples and recent philosophical discussion. Moral theories discussed will include utilitarianism, moral realism versus moral relativism, intuitionism and deontology,and perfectionism.

PHIL-320  Existentialism  - (3 Credits)  

A comprehensive treatment of existentialist philosophy, including the work of Kierkegaard and Nietzsche, and the contemporary work of Heidegger and Sartre.

PHIL-350  Metaphysics  - (3 Credits)  

Metaphysics is the study of reality and its nature. Raising fundamental questions about time, matter, space, identity, action, objects, chance, causation and freedom, metaphysical inquiry underlies all specialized forms of knowledge and discourse, from the natural sciences to recent and early modern theories of consciousness, subjectivity and meaning. Other central topics in metaphysics are the mind/body relationship, the existence of God, the relation of substance and accidents, and the reality of number.

PHIL-355  Theories of Knowledge  - (3 Credits)  

This course examines the nature and scope of knowledge. Is knowledge innate, or is it the product of our experiences? What makes it possible, what makes it legitimate, and what are its limits? We will read and consider some of the major arguments from the ancient world through the modern era and into the present day, addressing concepts such as skepticism, truth, justification, rationality, evidence, testimony, illusion, and perspective, as well as investigation the conception of knowledge pursued in the natural and social sciences.

PHIL-356  Environmental Ethics  - (3 Credits)  

If we can be ethical in our relation to others, why can't we be ethical in our relations with the environment? This course assesses the capability of traditional ethical paradigms (and their alternatives) to address current environmental issues, including global climate change, food ethics, sustainable consumption practices, and the intrinsic value of non-human nature.

PHIL-400  Phenomenology  - (3 Credits)  

Phenomenology is most commonly used to refer to a movement in 20th century philosophy, the central figures of which were Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Maurice Merleau-Ponty. What these philosophers share is their view that the proper subject matter of philosophy-what distinguishes it from other disciplines, including the objective sciences-is experience, and that experience can only be studied subjectively from within the first person point of view. In addition to the general topic of the nature and structure of experience, related areas of interest will include first person perspectives on the self and its relation to itself, body, world, and other selves, as well as the emotions that are constituted by those relations (pride, shame, anxiety, love, hate,).

PHIL-450  Advanced Topics in Philosophy  - (3 Credits)  

Philosophy is a conversation in which ideas and arguments are the speakers; the most important thinkers in the tradition are those who create concepts, transform categories and habits of reading, and reshape the map of thinking. This seminar offers a close engagement with the work of a single major thinker, or movement through: (1)an in-depth study of one influential book ,The Critique of Pure Reason, Being and Time, Philosophical investigations, Madness and Civilization, Capital,or The Phenomenology of Perception); or (2) a sequence of key texts.