FALL 2018 COURSE OFFERING
PH 101-001 - Introduction to Philosophy: Soul & Society
Philosophers have historically agreed that there needs to be a complimentary relationship
between the nature of the individual and of society. For instance, one 17th century
British philosopher argued that, because people are at base self-interested and prone
to violence, society must stop the strong from preying on the weak. But who is to
say that human beings are essentially malevolent? Might it not be the case that human
beings are essentially good and that it is actually their government or other social
institutions that make them do bad things? In this case, it would be society, not
the soul of human beings that is in need of correction. In an attempt to come to
a better understanding of ourselves and of our relationship to society, it is questions
like these that we will raise and together attempt to answer in this introduction
PH 101-003 - Introduction to Philosophy
An historical and topical survey, this course will introduce the student to the discipline
of philosophy through the close reading of representative texts, both historical and
contemporary. Through analysis of the texts, lecture, and discussion the student will
gain an understanding of philosophy both as a unique discipline and as a way of asking
and attempting to answer the most profound questions about ourselves and our world
that we may pose.
PH 203 - Ancient Greek Philosophy
Ancient Greek thinkers engaged in a continuous dialogue about certain core philosophical questions, such as: Why do we philosophize? What is the nature of the cosmos and what place do human beings have in it? How do we attain knowledge? What is happiness and how can we achieve it? Is ethical conduct necessary to live a good life?
It will be our task to enter into that conversation and consider its relevance for our own lives. Special attention will be given to Plato’s and Aristotle’s approaches to these questions.
PH 204 - Modern Philosophy from Descartes to Kant
An introduction to major thinkers and themes of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century
Europe. The dynamics of the Scientific Revolution-the collection of new discoveries
and inventions and the evolving experimental methods in the early modern period led
philosophers to a profound reappraisal of fundamental issues such as the sources and
limits of knowledge, the relation between mind and body, theories of human freedom
and personal identity, and the apparently competing desires to explain the surrounding
world in both natural and religious terms. Students will investigate how these philosophical
developments led to distinctively modern ways of thinking about nature and the self.
Primary documents will be read throughout.
PH 207 - Logic
An introduction to the basic concepts and methods of modern symbolic logic, with a
focus on their application to proper reasoning. Students learn how to represent sentences
in logical notation, to reconstruct arguments in that notation, to assess arguments
for validity and soundness, and to prove conclusions from premises using a system
of natural deduction. Students also learn to recognize common argument forms and common
mistakes in reasoning (fallacies), are introduced to philosophical issues related
to logic, and learn how symbolic logic is the basis for the digital computer.
PH 211 - Ethics
A critical examination of the nature and principles of some of the major ethical theories
proposed in the history of Western thought. Theories studied may include virtue ethics,
natural law, deontological ethics, social contract, and utilitarianism. The course
may also include some consideration of the application of the theories studied to
selected contemporary moral issues.
PH 225 - Environmental Philosophy
An introduction to philosophical questions regarding the relation of humans to the
environment. This course explores both foundational issues such as our understanding
of nature and value as well as specific problems in environmental ethics such as animal
rights, duty to future generations, and the justification of public policy. In addition
to these explorations, students will have the opportunity to apply the knowledge gained
in this class by developing an environmental ethics embodied by the institutions and
practices that surround us.
PH 230C - The Meaning of Life
Many of us have good reasons for doing this rather than that or choosing this path
over another. There is often a point to these choices that we are able to identify.
But is there a point, is there significance to life as a whole?
PH 241 - Mind, Thought and Consciousness
A philosophical (as opposed to a psychological or biological) approach to the study of mind. Students will investigate the metaphysical foundations for a philosophy of mind, the nature of mental representation, and the “hard problem” of consciousness.
PH 304 - Social/Political Philosophy
Topic: CONTEMPORARY POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY
PH 329 - Seminar in Kant
A study of Immanuel Kant, the pivotal thinker of modern Western philosophy. Kant offers
a critique of both early modern empiricist and rationalists, introduces the transcendental
standpoint into philosophy, and sets the stage for nineteenth- and twentieth-century
philosophers, all of whom respond to his critique of theoretical and practical reason
in one way or another.
PH 330C - Forgiveness & Revenge
On June 17, 2015, a man entered the Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, South Carolina,
sat quietly during their Bible study, and then pulled out a gun and opened fire, killing
nine of the congregants. Within 48 hours, several family members of the victims made
personal offers of forgiveness to that man. The variety of editorials and opinion
pieces commenting on this offer of forgiveness revealed a deep division in public
attitudes towards forgiveness, particularly in the context of racially-motivated crimes.
Some argued that the offer of forgiveness was a serious act of resistance, allowing
for constructive responses to the tragedy. Others argued that forgiveness is simply
a way of pretending that “the world is a fairer place than it actually is.”