Spring 2023

Introduction to Existentialism | PHL 102L

Although a diverse group, the existentialists are all concerned with the fate of the individual in the modern world, and pursuant to this shared concern, they all critically consider such concepts as freedom, personal responsibility, authenticity, value, and meaning. It is with these concepts in mind that we consider the works of Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Dostoyevsky, Heidegger, Sartre, and Camus. At the end of the course, you should not only be acquainted with their respective views but should also be in a better position to meaningfully reflect upon your own life.

Instructor: David Sherman | Credits: 3 | Gen Ed Attributes: Literary and Artistic Studies (L) | Course Time: TR 12:30 -1:50

Introduction to Ethics | PHL 110E

This course is a broad introduction to moral philosophy. We will cover topics in metaethics, normative ethics, and applied ethics. Readings will be drawn from both historical and contemporary sources.

Instructor: Matt Strohl | Credits: 3 | Gen Ed Attributes: Ethics & Human Values (E) | Course Time: TR 11-00 - 12:20

Additional Sections:

 Instructor:Jeffrey Stephenson | Course Time: MWF 12:00 - 12:50

Instructor: Armond Duwell | asynchronous online

Introduction to Ethics & Environment | PHL 112E

This class is an introduction to ethics in the western tradition and, in particular, the consideration this tradition gives to animals and the natural environment. We will be approaching our study by mixing a modern story of one environmental journalist's environmental quest in search of wildness with a collection of classic articles in environmental ethics. While familiarizing ourselves with the main ideas in animal and environmental ethics, we will also take time to understand some of the main frameworks in western ethical thought (e.g., Utilitarianism, care ethics, the virtues). Through reading and discussion, students will engage in sustained reflection about their own environmental values and choices.

Instructor: Christopher Preston | Credits: 3 | Gen Ed Attributes: Ethics & Human Values (E) | Course Time: TR 9:30 - 10:50 

Moral Philosophy | PHL 210EW

In this class, we will look at the sort of thinking that seems to characterize the person of character, and in so doing, will find that the intensive focus on clear writing in this course performs this sort of thinking.  We will begin with Arendt’s essay “Thinking and Moral Considerations” and a few other short pieces that help us explore what we might mean by “thinking,” and to help us ground the most obvious question: can the person of character be defined by the presence of a type of thinking if they do not also engage in a type of acting?  We will then take up the three foremost canonical works of western ethical thought, Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, Kant’s Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals, and Mill’s Utilitarianism in light of that exploration.   

Instructor: Melodie Velasco Stenger | Credits: 3 | Gen Ed Attributes: Ethics & Human Values (E), Writing | Course Time: TR 12:30 - 1:50

History of Modern Philosophy | PHL 262Y

This course will introduce you to seven of the major figures of the 17th and 18th centuries in philosophy, with a focus on how the Enlightenment has forged most of our Western culture. the 17th and 18th centuries are centuries of radical change in the domains of philosophy, science, and politics. That said, while studying modern philosophy, you should expect to encounter and learn to understand worldviews that are alien to your own. Confronting radically different ways of thinking should shed new light on your own views, methods and prejudices. In analyzing competing views on a subject, you will not only learn some philosophy, but also learn to do philosophy. We will focus on metaphysics (roughly concerned with the question of the nature and structure of reality) and epistemology (roughly concerned with the question of the nature and scope of knowledge), with some detours into moral and political matters. Little emphasis will be put on the historical and social contexts.

Instructor: Soazig Le Bihan | Credits: 3 | Gen Ed Attributes: Democracy & Citizenship (Y) | Course Time: MWF 12:00 - 12:50

Ethics of Climate Change | PHL 323

This course examines some of the fundamental issues raised by global climate change and considers how environmental ethics might help to address these issues. Students will become acquainted with the essential elements of climate change science and be provided with an introduction to contemporary approaches to environmental ethics that have developed out of the primary ethical traditions of western thought: deontological (Kantian) ethics, utilitarian ethics, and virtue ethics. In addition, the course examines alternative understandings of the appropriate relationship between humans and the natural world including: Deep Ecology and Native American perspectives.

Instructor: Patrick Burke | Credits: 3 | Course Time: TR 11:00 - 12:20

Science, Truth, and Democracy | PHL 391

Controversy over scientific claims has existed since the birth of science itself. That said, it wasn’t until the advent of the 20th century that we have seen the rise of manufactured scientific controversies. These are cases where there is no controversy among scientists about certain scientific claims, but controversy existed among the general public about those claims, and such controversy was deliberately created. Potent examples include controversy over whether smoking is harmful to your health and whether there is anthropogenically induced climate change. Manufactured controversies are problematic for a great many reasons, some of the most important being the resulting harms, e.g. more people dying of lung cancer caused by smoking, but also for another important reason: they undermine the epistemic authority of science. In this seminar we use the tools of historians, philosophers, and social scientists to investigate the causes and harms of manufactured controversies and misinformation generally. We will also investigate how to properly situate science in a democratic society.

Instructor: Armond Duwell | Credits: 3 | Course Time: MWF 1:00 - 1:50

Advanced Writing in Philosophy | PHL 400

Instructor: Christopher Preston | Credits: 1 | Course Time: TBA  | Coreq., PHL 422

Instructor: David Sherman| Credits: 1 | Course Time: TBA | Coreq., PHL 451

Instructor: Matthew Strohl | Credits: 1 | Course Time: TBA | Coreq., PHL 466

Instructor: Armond Duwell | Credits: 1 | Course Time: TBA | Coreq., PHL 391

Environmental Philosophy | PHL 422

This course looks in some depth at discussions prominent in the first forty-five years of professional environmental philosophy. These include the intrinsic value debates, ecological feminism, environmental virtue ethics, environmental justice, the wilderness debates, and climate ethics. The goal is for students with a small amount of background in environmental ethics to develop a more sophisticated understanding of the existing work in the field.

The work we will read appeared in English language journals and came out of university systems, professional associations, and a particular understanding of what philosophy looks like. We should be aware this gives it a very distinctive bias. We will give regular consideration to this bias and consider what environmental ethics might look like without it.

Although environmental philosophy is clearly connected to the practical goal of living justly within a healthy and sustainable environment, the discipline is also a serious theoretical endeavor in its own right. Be prepared to delve deeply into the theoretical aspects while staying alert to how you might tie these discussions back into practical matters.

Instructor: Christopher Preston | Credits: 3 | Course Time: TR 2:00 - 3:20

Justice | PHL 451

We consider the major approaches in contemporary political philosophy—liberal egalitarianism, libertarianism, communitarianism, and the capabilities approach—by way of a close reading of the works that were formative for each approach. We will read large chunks of Rawls’s Theory of Justice (liberal egalitarianism), Nozick’s Anarchy, State, and Utopia (libertarianism), and Sen’s The Idea of Justice (capabilities approach), as well as shorter selections from MacIntyre’s After Virtue, Sandel’s Liberalism and the Limits of Justice, and Taylor’s Philosophy and the Human Sciences (communitarianism). At the end of the course, you should not only understand the conceptual underpinnings of these approaches but should also be able to critically assess their strengths and weaknesses.

Instructor: David Sherman | Credits: 3 | Course Time: W 2:00-4:30

Aristotle | PHL 466

This course is a survey of several of Aristotle’s central works, focusing on topics in physics, philosophy of mind, metaphysics, and ethics.

Instructor: Matthew Strohl | Credits: 3 | Course Time: TR 9:30 - 11:00

Philosophy of Technology | PHL 491

This is an upper division course in philosophy and technology, in which we will approach the topic of technology from two vantages: (1) the traditional, humanities-driven normative vantage, and (2) the contemporary exploratory vantage. Students will gain exposure not only to some of the history of philosophical thinking about how to define and understand technology and its role in human life, but also will gain access to contemporary views re: the same from authors and thinkers in a variety of disciplines, and even some speculative ideas as to what our futures might look like given the trajectories of various technologies today.

Instructor: Jeffrey Stephenson | Credits: 3 | Course Time: MWF 11:00-11:50

Philosophy Colloquium | PHL 510

The purpose of the Colloquium is to give graduate students a wider understanding of the professional side of philosophy, of the current issues, the different schools of thought, the leading figures, the conceptions the profession has of itself, and of the profession’s relations to contemporary society and culture.

Instructor: Soazig Le Bihan| Credits: 1 | Course Time: R 5:00 - 5:50