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Skidmore College
Philosophy Department


Course Number/Title Days and Times Credits Professor

PH 101-001 Intro 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.

Open to first- and second-year students or by permission of instructor.
Fulfills humanities requirement.

Section-001  T/R
12:40 – 2:00 p.m.

Section-002  T/R
2:10 – 3:30 p.m.


R. Lilly



S. Carli

PH 110W Introduction to Political Philosophy

An examination of who should have power over others, of the forms that this power should take, and of the possibility of resisting and reconfiguring these power relations. Students will engage with classical and contemporary texts in social and political philosophy to answer these questions and will pose related questions about justice, equality, freedom, citizenship, and social organization.

9:05 – 10:00 a.m.

9:40 – 11:00 a.m.

4 W. Lewis

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.

Fulfills humanities requirement.

M  1:25 – 2:20 p.m.

T/R  2:10 – 3:30 p.m.

4 L. Jorgensen

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.

Note: Fulfills QR2 requirement.

8:00 – 8:55 a.m.
3 P. Murray

PH 230C-001 Medical Ethics

This course is a philosophical introduction to ethical issues in health care. We will discuss several of the issues you are most likely to encounter as a patient, as a patient’s family member, as a future doctor or nurse, or as a voter. In thinking about these issues, we will consider some of the central theoretical questions in contemporary moral philosophy. The following are some of the practical and theoretical questions we will discuss:
-Autonomy, Welfare, and Fairness: Why does autonomy matter morally? What should doctors do when patients’ (or prospective research subjects’) autonomy and their welfare appear to be in conflict? How should we make health care decisions for people who cannot competently choose for themselves? What should doctors do when the values incapacitated patients express are not the same as the values they expressed before they lost capacity?

-Killing and letting die: When, if ever, is it morally permissible to kill a human being? Is there a morally significant difference between killing someone and letting someone die? Are active euthanasia, passive euthanasia, and physician-assisted suicide morally permissible? What is the correct definition of death for ethical purposes?

-Moral status: To which living beings do we owe the full degree of moral concern that we owe to adult humans? Does a fetus have the moral status of a person? How does the answer to that question bear on the morality of abortion? Is it ethical to do research that causes non-human animals to suffer if the research may save or improve human lives?

-Justice in access to care: How should inherently limited health care resources such as organs for transplant be allocated? Should doctors with limited resources try to maximize the number of people they save? Should they take patients’ age into account? At a broader level, should a theory of distributive justice treat access to health care as special?

11:10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
3 P. Murray

PH 230C-002 Love and Friendship

What are love and friendship? Why do we love and who are our friends? What is the relation between self-love and love for others? Is there something that love for a partner, for the divine, for art and knowledge, and for one’s country share? Can a political message centered on love be effective?

This course explores a number of philosophical approaches—from ancient Greece to the contemporary world—to these questions. Particular attention will be paid to the implications of the theories we will analyze for issues such as human nature, happiness, and moral and political relations.

12:20 – 1:40 p.m.
3 S. Carli

PH 230D Race and Gender

Arguments about the status and meaning of the categories of race and gender have been a part of philosophy almost since its inception. For the most part, these arguments have taken two forms with some philosophers arguing that race and gender are essential categories that must be taken account in any comprehensive account of human existence and other philosophers arguing that race and gender are secondary characteristics whose discussion is not worthy of philosophical consideration. In fairly recent times, these positions have been complicated by thinkers who point out that--essential or not--the categories of race and gender tend to color, influence and maybe even determine the way in which we are able to live in the world and think about it. Beginning with thinkers like Darwin, Marx, Boas, Shelley and De Beauvoir who provide the conceptual foundations for any philosophical discussion of race and gender, the course will then discuss contemporary conceptions of race and gender as these are articulated by philosophers like Nancy Fraser, Alison Jaggar, Linda Martin-Alcoff, Leonard Harris, Charles Mills, Lucius Outlaw and Sally Haslanger.

10:10 – 12:00 p.m.
4 W. Lewis

PH 330D-001 Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) is seemingly everywhere now, and each day brings news of further advances in AI technology and further discussion of its promises and perils. The questions we will investigate in this seminar include: What, in general, is "intelligence", and what makes an AI "artificially" intelligent? What ethical principles should we program into the AIs that will soon be—or already are—piloting our cars, trucks, and planes, helping to make our medical, financial, and legal decisions,      tending our children and elderly, and even fighting our wars. Is ethical decision-making even amenable to algorithmic implementation? Who should be morally or  legally responsible for AI systems and their actions? Finally, could an AI system come to have ethical duties and commensurate rights? Could the decision to turn an AI   system on or off become as ethically laden an issue as whether to bring a child into the world or to end a human being’s life? Or will an AI always be just a tool?

12:20 – 2:10 p.m.
4 P. Murray

PH 330-002 Exploring Plato's Republic

At the beginning of the Republic, Thrasymachus argues that the life of injustice is far more desirable than the life of justice. Socrates and his friends try to refute him and their conversation leads them to address a number of fundamental questions, such as: What is justice? What is Socratic philosophizing? What sort of person should rule the state? Can men and women achieve perfect political equality? Is censorship ever justifiable? Do we see reality as it is or do we live amid illusions and prejudices that we mistake for reality?

Because the Republic is a dialogue and not a treatise, we never receive definitive answers in Plato’s own name. One of our fundamental goals, then, will be to make these questions our own and try to outline possible answers to them. To this end, we will also consider some of the most prominent interpretations of the Republic produced in the 20th and 21st century.

Prerequisites: One prior Philosophy course or permission of the instructor.

T/R   9:10 – 11:00 a.m. 4 S. Carli

PH 330D-003 Thinking (with) Bodies

Prison of the soul,’ ‘sacred vessel,’ ‘sacrificial object,’ ‘individualizing substance’ – these are a few of the ways the body has been thought of and experienced throughout history.  This course will draw on holistic views from philosophers, gender theorists, artists, psychologists and others to historically and critically examine the mind/body dualism dominant in the cognitive sciences, philosophy of mind and other fields that view the body as a ‘bio-mechanism.’  Holistic views see embodiment not as a ‘thing’ but as a basic condition of the self as a ‘being in the world.’ Among the topics we will explore are questions of how embodiment is understood in terms of gender, race, and age; how body art and body modification bear on questions of identity; the connections we have with each other through touch, whether traumatic or pleasant; and the developmental unity of body and psyche.

Prerequisite: One prior Philosophy course or permission of the instructor.

3:40 – 5:30 p.m.
4 R. Lilly

PH 375 Senior Seminar Thinking Through Buddhism

Note: Fulfills the writing requirement in the major.
Prerequisite: Senior Philosophy major or permission of the instructor.

2:30 – 4:20 p.m.
4 J. Smith