Spring 2022

Introduction to Existentialism | PHL 102

Against the backdrop of the rise of science, the industrialization of modern society and the Enlightenment's celebration of reason, a number of 19th and 20th century thinkers became increasingly dissatisfied with the manner in which philosophy had come to be practiced and the way that it was written. Philosophy seemed too impersonal, too rationalistic, and too much in awe of science. To attend to the human situation and to address the challenges of living an authentic human life in a world seemingly stripped of all external sources of meaning and value (a world in which Nietzsche famously declared that "God is dead"), something else was needed: new ways of writing philosophy, a rethinking of the significance of reason and its relation to the emotions, and a new emphasis on the concrete individual human being and the different modes in which the individual exists in the world.

Instructor: Paul Muench | Credits: 3 | Gen Ed Attributes: Literary and Artistic Studies (L), Democracy and Citizenship (Y) | Course Time: TR 9:30 -10:50 | CRN: 33336

Introduction to Ethics | PHL 110E

This course is an introduction to the major approaches to the study of ethics in the western tradition. Our objectives are to get a sense of the major approaches to ethics, but most importantly learn how to critically evaluate the quality of moral arguments, even those whose conclusions we might agree with. Applied topics include physician assisted suicide, euthanasia, animal ethics, death penalty, and abortion.

Instructor: David Sherman | Credits: 3 | Gen Ed Attributes: Ethics & Human Values (E) | Course Time: TR 3:30 - 4:50 | CRN: 31348

Additional Sections:

Section 02 Instructor: Matthew Strohl | Course Time: MW 9:30 - 10:50 | CRN: 32065 

Section 50 Instructor: Armond Duwell | www | CRN: 32985

Introduction to Ethics & Environment | PHL 112

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 11:00 - 12:20 | CRN: 31840

Moral Philosophy | PHL 210

The aim of the course is to acquaint you with the principal traditions of moral philosophy in the West and to help you write successful philosophy papers. To this end we'll be reading classical texts together with more recent ones, and you'll be writing and re-writing highly focused papers on the material. Our investigation of each tradition will center around three questions: how am I supposed to tell if an action (or norm or practice) is morally good; what is supposed to make an action (or norm or practice) morally good; what is supposed to motivate me, or anyone else, to care about whether it's morally good? We begin, however, with some popular ways of thinking that can generate resistance to the very idea of reflecting on such questions.

Instructor: Bridget Clarke | Credits: 3 | Gen Ed Attributes: Ethics & Human Values (E), Writing | Course Time: MW 1:00 - 2:20 | CRN: 32320

History of Modern Philosophy | PHL 262

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 | CRN: 31174

Historical Figures in Philosophy: Marx | PHL 316

This course will do an end run on the orthodox Marxist tradition to return to the works of Marx himself. At issue is the continued relevance of his most basic theses. From a topical standpoint, the course will be broken down into three parts. The first part will deal with Marx's early politico-philosophical writings. Special emphasis will be placed on Marx's relationship to the German philosophical tradition, Hegel most of all. The second part will deal with Marx's economic writings, especially the first volume of Capital. Among other things, we will consider "the labor theory of value," "commodity fetishism" (and the problem of reification, more generally), and "the tendency of the rate of profit to fall." The third, lesser part will deal with revisions to Marxist theory that enable us to make better sense of Marxism at this historical juncture.

Instructor: David Sherman | Credits: 3 | Course Time: MW 2:00 - 3:20 | CRN: 34122 

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 9:30 - 10:50 | CRN: 32934

Special Topics: Perspectives on Race | PHL 391

The goal of this course is to help students gain a thorough understanding of the issues raised by races and racism. Such understanding can only be gained by bringing together several disciplines in an interdisciplinary manner. Thus, we will examine issues about race and racism that arise from biology, history, philosophy, and psychology. In particular, we will examine the following questions: Does genetics show that races are real? Why are racial categories used in medicine? Where does the concept of race come from? Is it a recent historical invention? How has it influenced the sciences? What are races? What is racism? Should we be color-blind? How does race contribute to one's identity? Why do we think about races? Are there differences in intelligence between races? What are racial prejudices? The course will involve reading original articles and book extracts from a range of disciplines, including history, philosophy, and several sciences. These articles will be explained and discussed in class.

Instructor: Armond Duwell | Credits: 3 | Course Time: MWF 1:00 - 1:50 | CRN: 33367

Advanced Writing in Philosophy | PHL 400

Instructor: Christopher Preston | Credits: 1 | Course Time: TBA | CRN: 34125 | Coreq., PHL 491/415

Instructor: Paul Muench | Credits: 1 | Course Time: TBA | CRN: 34126 | Coreq., PHL 427

Instructor: Matthew Strohl | Credits: 1 | Course Time: TBA | CRN: 34127 | Coreq., PHL 465

Instructor: Soazig Le Bihan | Credits: 1 | Course Time: TBA | CRN: 34128 | Coreq., PHL 506

Issues in the Anthropocene | PHL 491/505

This class looks at how an Anthropocene designation has consequences stretching far beyond geology. We will look in particular at how the Anthropocene challenges some of the key concepts that shape environmental thinking, focusing on what it might mean to say earth has entered a ‘post-natural,’ ‘post-wild’ epoch. We will investigate challenges to the concept of nature. At key points, we will also consider worldviews in which the ideas of ‘post-wild,’ and ‘post-natural’ may be much less earth-shattering.

Instructor: Christopher Preston | Credits: 3 | Course Time: TR 2:00 - 3:20 | CRN: 34133

Topics in Philosophy of Art: Film | PHL 427

This course examines both aesthetic and ethical questions related to film. We will consider what a film is (and what relationship film has to photography), and what distinguishes film from some of the other arts. We will also consider what must be true of us as watchers of films if we are to be in a position to make good judgments about the films we watch. We will view a number of films which represent human beings in the midst of their lives, engaged in conversations about how to live, and consider how films may help us to understand better our own lives. Several of the films we watch are from the 1930s and 1940s, in particular two genres of Hollywood films that the philosopher Stanley Cavell discusses—the remarriage comedy and the melodrama of the unknown woman. Our overall goal in the course will be to think about what film discloses to us about the human condition and our common desire to escape from the everyday into the melodramatic and the comic.

Instructor: Paul Muench | Credits: 4 | Course Time: TR 12:30 - 1:50, Film Showings: W 5:30 - 8:00, R 6:30 - 9 | CRN: 34131

Plato | PHL 465

This course will focus on  some of Plato's middle and late dialogues, including the Protagoras, Gorgias, Theaetetus, and Philebus. We will divide our time between issues in ethics and politics on the one hand and metaphysics and epistemology on the other. We will read a considerable amount of secondary literature.

Instructor: Matthew Strohl | Credits: 3 | Course Time: MW 11:00 - 12:20 | CRN: 34132

Philosophy of Law | PHL 506

In the practice of law, according to Karl Llewellyn, "Ideals without technique are a mess. But technique without ideals is a menace." This course provides a vocabulary of ideals to help answer questions that arise throughout the practice of legal technique: what is "law," and how does it relate to "justice?" The American legal system incorporates multiple conceptions of law and justice in conversation with each other. The course reflects these conversations, enabling students to understand and apply diverse meaning of "law" and "justice" in practice. It begins with classical theories of natural law, legal positivism, an legal realism, then proceeds to the emergence of critical legal studies (and related developments of critical race theory, legal feminism, and other critical perspectives), before turning to pragmatism (including economic and literary perspectives) and the lawyer's role in social change. In addition to seminar discussion, students will comment on current issues and produce a research paper or project.

Instructor: Soazig Le Bihan | Credits: 3 | Course Time: M 3:00 - 5:40 | CRN: 34135

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 | CRN: 34136