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General Bulletin 2006-2008

Courses of Instruction

PHILOSOPHY (PHL-Arts and Science)

Note: Except where specific prerequisites are stated, all 100-, 200-, and 300-level courses are open to any student. 300-level courses without prerequisites require a higher degree of sophistication than lower level courses, but do not presuppose prior course work.

Note: All PHL courses satisfy CAS-B except 273 and 373 (CAS-E).

MPF, MPT 101 Knowledge of World, God, and Morality (3)

Can you know for certain or know at all whether there really is a world or whether God exists? Can you know the difference between good and evil, right and wrong? These and related questions are explored while taking up the skeptical challenges to knowing anything at all. lntroduces fundamental questions of philosophy and basic reasoning skills, methodologies, and concepts used by philosophers. Students are prepared for further work in philosophy and develop skills in critical thinking, reading, and writing for any area of learning. IIB.

MPF 103 Society and the Individual (3)

A study of the relationship between human beings and the societies in which they live and of the implications different perspectives on this relationship have for a view of social justice. We investigate this relation in terms of its political, economic, social, ethical, and epistemological dimensions. Introduces fundamental questions of philosophy and basic reasoning skills, methodologies, and concepts used by philosophers. Students are prepared for further work in philosophy and develop skills in critical thinking, reading, and writing for any area of learning. IIB.

MPF, MPT 104 Purpose or Chance in the Universe (3)

Is the present universe the result of purpose or chance? Positions and arguments on this question by scientists and philosophers at different points in Western history are studied. In this inquiry, special attention is paid to recent developments in scientific cosmology that throws important new light on the question. Whether the results of the inquiry support purpose or chance more strongly is considered. Introduces fundamental questions of philosophy and basic reasoning skills, methodologies, and concepts used by philosophers. Students are prepared for further work in philosophy and develop skills in critical thinking, reading, and writing for any area of learning. IIB, H.

MPF, MPT 105 Theories of Human Nature (3)

There have been various ways that human beings have understood themselves and their place in nature. Every conception of the self embodies a conception of what can be known, of how we ought to live, of what values we ought to hold, and to what extent we are free. We consider various conceptions of the person in light of these questions. Introduces fundamental questions of philosophy and basic reasoning skills, methodologies, and concepts used by philosophers. Students are prepared for further work in philosophy and develop skills in critical thinking, reading, and writing for any area of learning. IIB.

MPF, MPT 106 Thought and Culture of India (4)

Examines India’s history and civilization, philosophies and religions, arts and literature, science and technology as a culture’s self-understanding and self-expression of its ideas, values, and ways of thinking. Comparisons made between Indian and other ways of thought and modes of living. IIIB, H.

MPF, MPT 131 Problems of Moral and Social Values (3)

Introduction to ethical theory and its application to individual moral issues relating to human conduct and social institutions and political systems. As a background for critical evaluation of these issues, major theoretical positions in ethics are investigated (including egoism, deontology, utilitarianism, religious ethics, and often virtue ethics and feminist ethics). Considers a number of issues relating to and often critical of ethical theories (may include relativism, skepticism, moral alienation, and cultural diversity of ethics). Course is historical and thematic with major ethical theories analyzed in relation to concrete situations. Involves students in the creative process of developing skills and arguments necessary to engage in reflective moral reasoning. IIB.

205 Science and Culture (3)

Study of science and scientific method as it relates to its social and cultural contexts. Cultural, aesthetic, ethical, and social dimensions of science. Offered infrequently.

211 Problems of God and Religion (3)

Critical analysis of selected problems such as nature and existence of God, problem of evil, justification of religious belief, and significance of religious experience.

MPT 221 Problems of Metaphysics and Knowledge (3)

Critical examination of the nature of reality and our knowledge of it. Sample topics include relation of mind to body, freedom and determinism, whether the world is fundamentally material or mental, nature and extent of our knowledge of the world.

241 Aesthetics (4)

Introduction to basic notions of aesthetics, such as the definition of art, truth in the arts, characterization of aesthetic experience, etc. through examination of specific philosophies and problem areas. Readings may range from classical to contemporary thinkers. Offered infrequently.

MPT 263 Informal Logic (4)

Informal analysis of discourse, especially argument, with the aim of improving understanding, criticism, evaluation, and construction of arguments in significant contexts.

MPF, MPT 273 Formal Logic (4)

Survey of elementary logical systems: Aristotelian, Boolean, sentenial, quantified. Scientific method and issues in the philosophy of logic may be included. V. CAS-E.

MPT 301 Ancient Philosophy (4)

Survey of ancient philosophical thought covering pre-Socratics, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and Hellenistic philosophy. Problems discussed include the nature of being and becoming, monism and pluralism, knowledge, value, and society. Emphasis given to philosophies of Plato and Aristotle.

MPT 302 Modern Philosophy (4)

Philosophical study of the development of philosophy at the beginning of modern period, Descartes to Kant. Both the interrelationship of points within each philosopher’s thought and the change of thought from earlier philosophers to later ones are emphasized. Specific issues for study include relation of thought and reality, knowledge and opinion, truth and appearance, value.

310 Special Topics (1-4; maximum 8)

Treatment of selected topics or philosophers.

311 Ethical Theory (4)

Topical and historical in-depth study of classical and contemporary ethical theories. Addresses such questions as the following: What are the fundamental principles of moral action? Can such principles be justified? What moral theories are most adequate and why? What constitutes the well-lived life? Are persons moral agents? What is the relationship between morality and happiness? What is the relationship between freedom and morality? Why be moral? Prerequisite: PHL 131.

MPT 312 Contemporary Moral Problems (4)

Moral argument and bases of moral decision. Discussion of such issues as sexuality, career and professional ethics, environmental responsibility, individual conscience and authority, abortion, suicide, and war. Prior completion of PHL 131 is recommended.

322 Contemporary European Philosophy (4)

Introduction to contemporary European philosophy that emphasizes its reliance on the historical development of philosophic concepts. Examines the ways in which contemporary philosophers reconstruct concepts such as rationality, language, value, time, and subjectivity. Special attention given to the processes by which concepts are invested with meaning, analyzed, and/or transformed. Offered infrequently.

331 Political Philosophy (4)

Inquiry into values and principles of government, justice and law, rights and responsibilities, freedom and power, violence and revolution. Prerequisite: PHL 103 or 131.

335 Philosophy of Law (4)

Philosophical study of some problems arising in law. Problems discussed include: concept of law and its relation to morality; logic of legal reasoning; legal rights, duties, responsibility, punishment, fault, voluntariness, etc.

MPT 355 Feminist Theory (4)

Examination of major writing by contemporary feminist thinkers. Traditional philosophical questions, such as justice, freedom, nature of a person, and relationship of an individual to society, are raised in context relevant to both male and female students. Cross-listed with WMS 355.

360 Interdisciplinary Special Topics (1-4; maximum 8)

Course of study on selected topic examined from perspective of two or more disciplines. Offered infrequently.

MPT 360A Confronting Death (4)

Interdisciplinary course offered jointly by three or four departments examining how people regard their deaths and deaths of others. Approaches to death such as denial, acceptance, and rebellion are considered; issues such as immortality, funerals, grief, suicide, and euthanasia are taken up in a variety of literature and films. Cross-listed with ENG, PSY, and REL 360.A. Offered at least every other year.

MPT 373 Symbolic Logic (4)

Study of standard notation, principles of inference, formal systems, methods of proof. Chief attention given to first-order predicate logic. Some focus placed on the philosophy of logic. CAS-E. Offered every other year.

MPT 375 Moral Issues in Health Care (4)

Purpose of course is to think together in an informed and critical manner about selected issues in the field of health care. Attempt made with each issue addressed to consider distinctive interests and perspectives of physicians, nurses, patients, and the public. Issues considered include physician/patient relationships; lying, truth-telling, paternalism, and trust; death and dying, including suicide, euthanasia, and treatment of defective newborns; treatment of mental illness and patient rights; allocating scarce resources; nature of health and purposes of medicine. Prerequisite: Prior completion of one course in philosophy; PHL 131 is recommended.

MPT 376 Environmental Philosophy (4)

Critical study of metaphysical, epistemological, and moral problems associated with questions of ecology and humankind’s relation to natural environment. Considers such issues as conceptions of nature, character and impact of various forms of technology, relations of environment and economics, environmentalism and justice, and environmental ethics. Offered alternate years.

390 Existentialism (4)

Study of major ideas in existential philosophers such as Camus, Heidegger, Jaspers, Kafka, Kierkegaard, Marcel, Merleau- Ponty, Nietzsche, Sartre. Repeatable with different content once. Cross-listed with REL 390.

392 Philosophy of Religion (4)

Study of major philosophical problems relating to religion. Topics are drawn variously from Western and Eastern intellectual traditions or from both. Problems such as the meaning of religious utterances, existence of a divine being, life after death, relationship of faith and reason are treated. Cross-listed with REL 392. Offered alternate years.

Advanced Courses

Note: All of the following require a minimum of two previous courses in philosophy, and sometimes a specific prerequisite is cited. Students may also seek permission of instructor for entrance to a course.

402/502  19th Century Philosophy (4)

Detailed study of advances in philosophy attempted by major philosophers of the 19th century. Emphasis on solutions they offered to problems of early modern thought and to foundations laid for important developments in 20th century thinking. Course may follow philosophical systems of leading philosophers (e.g., Hegel, Feuerbach, Marx) or it may proceed topically (e.g., dialectics, alienation in Hegel, Marx, Kierkegaard). Offered alternate years. Prerequisite: PHL 302.

MPC 405 Philosophy for Children (4)

Focuses on humanistic thinking in K-8 education. Investigates the implications of and justification for the claim that it is the humanities that initiate us into a culture, into a historical community with its traditions and meanings. Considers how the humanities can lay foundations that will prepare children to assume the responsibility of critically assessing their culture in order to advance it.

410/510 Special Topics (1-4)

Seminar treatment of selected topics or philosophers. New topics at student initiative. Offered infrequently.

411/511 Advanced Ethical Theories (4)

Critical discussion of recent works in ethics. Prerequisite: PHL 131.

430/530 Seminar in Ancient or Medieval Philosophy (4)

Intensive study of a major topic (e.g., universals, knowledge and perception, the human soul, God, morality, language and reality) or work of a major philosopher (e.g., Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Plotinus, Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas) of ancient or medieval period. Repeatable with different content up to three times.

440/540 Seminar in Modern Philosophy (4)

Intensive study of philosophy of one major philosopher of early modern period, e.g., Spinoza, Descartes, Leibniz, Berkeley, Hume, Kant, or a topical study in the philosophy of the period. Repeatable with different content up to three times.

450/550 Seminar in Contemporary Philosophy (4)

Examination of one or more 20th century philosophers such as Russell, Wittgenstein, Heidegger, Quine, or a study of contemporary treatments of selected philosophical issues such as self, consciousness, knowledge, reality. Repeatable with different content up to three times.

460/470 Seminar in Marxism (4)

Intensive study in Marxist philosophy. Deals with multifaceted shape of consciousness of a single philosopher (such as Marx), or survey thematically issues (such as a value or knowledge or the nature of human beings) dealt with by many Marxists, or be problem oriented using the Marxist shape of consciousness to illuminate the issue. Repeatable with different content up to three times. Offered alternate years.

470/570 Advanced Aesthetics (4)

Selected topics in advanced study of philosophy of art. Topics may include film aesthetics, philosophy of tragedy, metaphysics of the novel, aesthetic formalism. Repeatable with different content up to three times. Prior completion of PHL 241 recommended. Offered infrequently.

471/571 Philosophy of Science (4)

Philosophical foundations of science both natural and social. Such issues as the role of observation, laws, theories, and paradigms in science; ethical implications of science; objectivity of science are investigated. Offered infrequently.

475/575 Justice in Health Care (4)

This seminar considers what is required of a health care system in the U.S. by considerations of justice. Such questions as the following are taken up: Do people have a right to a basic level of health care? What financing and delivery system is most fair? Should doctors (or legislators?) ration scarce medical resources, especially to the elderly, the poor, or persons with AIDS? Prerequisite: PHL 131 and either 312 or 375 or permission of instructor.

480 Independent Reading for Departmental Honors (3, 3)

To earn departmental honors, a student must complete two semesters of independent reading courses.

493/593 Phenomenological Method (4)

Theoretical study of method in phenomenology as exemplified in the works of the major figures of the movement.

494/594 Philosophy of Mind (4)

Selected topics or authors, historical or contemporary. Topics include such problems as personal identity and individuation, the self, mind/body problems, the will, thought and cognition, perception, philosophy and psychology. Prior completion of PHL 221 is recommended. Offered infrequently.

495/595 Metaphysics (4)

Selected topics or authors in metaphysics, historical or contemporary. Topics include such problems as universals and particulars, causality, space and time, freedom and determinism, God, existence. Prerequisite: PHL 221 is recommended. Offered alternate years.

496/596 Epistemology (4)

Analysis of such concepts as knowledge, belief, certainty, evidence, truth, perception. Prior completion of PHL 221 recommended. Offered alternate years.

600 Independent Reading Philosophy (1 to 6)

Intensive study of a group of problems in a limited field or of particular philosophers or of particular schools of philosophy.

610 Research Seminar (3-4)

Each student will take one paper written for a philosophy course and develop it into a length and quality suitable for publication in a scholarly journal. Members of the seminar will read each of these papers and suitable parts of its bibliography in order to critique the paper and assist its progress toward publication.

631 Advanced Political Philosophy (4)

Intensive inquiry into values, principles, essence, and varieties of government; exploration of relation between justice and law; nature of freedom, power, rights, responsibilities, coercion, and revolution; contract, parliamentarianism, and their alternatives. Offered infrequently.

673 Symbolic Logic (4)

Study of propositional calculus and monadic and polyadic quantification, with some focus on propositional calculus as an axiomatic system. Offered infrequently.


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