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Skidmore College
Philosophy Department


PH 101 - Introduction to Philosophy

3 credits

This course introduces students to the study and the practice of philosophy. Through the analysis of historical and contemporary texts, class discussions and lectures students gain an understanding of philosophy both as a discipline and as a way of asking—and attempting to answer—fundamental questions about ourselves and the world. The emphasis is both on learning about philosophy and on doing philosophy.

Open to first- and second-year students or by permission of instructor. Fulfills Humanities and Humanistic Inquiry requirements.

PH 101-001     T/TH     11:10 – 12:30                                                                                                          W. Lewis

PH 101-002     T/TH     12:40 – 2:00                                                                                                        W. Lewis

PH 101-003      M/W      2:30 – 3:50                                                                                                         L. Jorgensen

PH 101-004     T/TH     9:40 – 11:00                                                                                                          R. Lilly

PH 203 - Ancient Greek Philosophy

4 credits

Ancient Greek thinkers engaged in a continuous dialogue about core philosophical questions. Perhaps the two most central are: What is the good life? And what kind of person does it take to live it? A number of issues stem from these two central concerns, including: How do I know what sort of person I am? What is the connection between doing philosophy and living well? What role do love and friendship play in leading fulfilling lives? And what sort of political communities provide the best opportunities to live well?

It will be our task to enter into the dialogue among Greek philosophers and consider its relevance for our own lives. Special attention will be given to Plato’s and Aristotle’s thought.

Fulfills Humanities and Humanistic Inquiry requirements. Counts toward Classics.

T/TH      9:10 – 11:00                                                                                                                                               S. Carli

PH 207 - Introduction to Logic

4 credits

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.

Fulfills QR2 requirement (except for class of 2024 and beyond)

M/W    4:00 – 5:50                                                                                                                                            P. Murray

PH 210 - Aesthetics

3 credits

A study of the aesthetic dimension of life in relation to the artist, the art object, the audience, and human experience in general. Several important and diverse theories of the aesthetic will be analyzed, discussed, and used in examining examples of art.

Fulfills Humanities and Humanistic Inquiry requirements.

T/TH    3:40 – 5:00                                                                                                                                                 R. Lilly

PH 211 - Ethics

3 credits

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.

Fulfills Humanities and Humanistic Inquiry requirements.

 W/F    10:10 – 11:30                                                                                                                                             S. Blake

PH 218 - Identity, Knowledge & Ignorance

3 credits 

An examination of the ways in which we are affected by, and participate in, systems of injustice, epistemic and otherwise, with a focus on the contemporary US. Epistemic injustice and epistemic violence involve giving diminished credibility to those we have biases against, and undermining people’s ability to think clearly, share information, and even to assess their own abilities. Epistemic injustice hinders the development of a just society in the dimensions of race, class, ability, gender, sexuality, etc.; and it fosters injustice in these dimensions. It is particularly pernicious because it damages our most intimate capacities of thinking and feeling—it distorts our understanding of the world while simultaneously concealing its own operation. In so doing, it enables the belief that society is just and that our actions, policies, and systems treat others fairly. Our readings describe such knowing and unknowing in the contemporary US in the theoretical terms of epistemology and critical race theory. Such discussions of epistemic injustice thus help us understand how unjust social systems are composed of individuals who may even believe they are acting fairly, justly, or well, they also help us understand how we as individuals can participate in creating better ones.

Fulfills Bridge Experience Content/Theory.

W/F   12:20 – 1:40                                                                                                                                              S. Blake

PH 219 - Identity, Knowledge & Ignorance Practicum

This practicum may be taken only by students also enrolled in the main section of the “Identity, Knowledge, and Ignorance” (PH 218) course.

1 credit 

That course provides an examination of the ways in which we are affected by, and participate in, systems of injustice, epistemic and otherwise, with a focus on the contemporary US. This practicum requires students to become more expert in conducting dialogues about identity, race, and injustice, as they affect our daily lives and in communicating their observations on these topics to a wider audience through practices of conversation and public writing.

Fulfills Bridge Experience Practicum.

M   12:20 – 1:15                                                                                                                                                  S. Blake

PH 230D - Philosophy of Law

4 credits 

‘Law’ and ‘Justice’ are arguably the first ideas to inspire philosophical reflection in the Western tradition.  This course will introduce students to basic concepts in legal theory and jurisprudence that are indispensable for justice in social relations.  Among the questions and issues we’ll study in their historical and contemporary context: ‘Wherein lies the force of law?’; ‘What does it mean to interpret the law?’; ‘What are rights and which ones are there?’; ‘How are justice and equality related?’; ‘What is legal responsibility?’ Finally, we will pay particular attention to contemporary debates concerning theories on how to interpret the Constitution.   Monday classes are dedicated to studies of court cases whose rulings shaped and continue to shape legal reasoning.

Fulfills Humanities and Humanistic Inquiry requirements.

T/TH   12:40 – 2:00 & M 12:20 – 1:15                                                                                                                R. Lilly

PH 327 - Marx and Marxisms

4 credits

A study of Karl Marx as the originator of a philosophical and political tradition. This course critically examines the formation, elaboration, and practical deployment of Marxian concepts such as alienation, class struggle, science, economic determination, progress, and ideology.  In addition to studying Marx’s classic works and discussing their continued relevance, this course will explore representative development in Marxist theory made over the last century and a half by such figures as Lenin, Lukács, Luxembourg, Mao, Mariátegui, Lefebvre, Althusser, Cohen or Fraser. 

Fulfills Humanistic Inquiry requirement.

Prerequisites: One course in Philosophy or permission of the instructor

W/F  10:10 – 12:00                                                                                                                                        W. Lewis

PH330C - Daoism & Philosophy of Language

3 credits

In this course, we will address the philosophical question of whether it is possible to say something in one language that is not possible to say in another language. Readings and discussion will provide opportunities to reflect on philosophical theories about worldview and conceptual scheme, understanding others, and the commensurability of philosophical and theoretical concepts in differing systems of thought. We will consider these philosophical theories primarily in an encounter with a difficult text in translation, the Zhuangzi.  We will employ three translations into English (those by Ziporyn, Waley, and Graham), which will highlight different interpretive choices and allow us to focus on concrete issues of translation. In examining the text and its translations, we will examine not only examine the ideas therein, but also consider in more detail the methodology and theory of comparisons of systems of thought, which depend on the ability to understand terms in context and in relation to their counterparts in our systems.

Fulfills Humanistic Inquiry requirement.

Prerequisites: One course in Philosophy or permission of the instructor

M  6:00 – 8:50                                                                                                                                           S. Blake

PH330D - Anger and Forgiveness

4 credits 

Political polarization, social injustice, a long-term pandemic, and our own individual responses to each of these have given ample opportunity for anger. And many of us have responded to calls for unity as too quick—accountability first, then unity. We may have hit upon a case where the limits of forgiveness and reconciliation have become all too clear. In this course, students will explore the ethical issues surrounding anger and forgiveness, raising questions about the limits and possibilities of anger and forgiveness both in interpersonal contexts and in the broader context of social injustice. How are anger and forgiveness related to the desire for justice and peace? How are they related to our own desires for peace of mind?

Fulfills Humanistic Inquiry requirement.

Prerequisites: One course in Philosophy or permission of the instructor

W/F   12:20 – 2:10                                                                                                                                   L. Jorgensen