Philosophy is about as broad a subject as one can find in a university curriculum. It addresses a wide array of questions, some quite familiar (Does God exist? Why be moral? What is art?), other less so (What is a thing? Is space a substance?). Moreover, it falls within philosophy to examine the methods and practices of virtually all academic disciplines. For this reason, a person can study philosophy in ways involving the styles and techniques of thought of most other disciplines. Philosophy also examines the practices of other activities, such as the fine arts, that are sometimes thought of as different from typical academic disciplines. There are many different views about how philosophy ought to be done, and philosophy includes the examination of its own methods, and its own history.
In the Spring Term, the Department teaches a number of courses that do not carry prerequisites – Philosophy 181, 180, 356, and 365. Philosophy 181 is a general introduction designed to acquaint students with a representative sample of philosophical problems concerning the nature of reality, knowledge, the self, morality, religion, and society. Philosophy 180 is a general introduction to logic and reasoning. Philosophy 356 and 365 are introductions that focus on a particular branch of philosophy, bioethics or medical ethics (356) and philosophy of religion (365). They are designed for students who, having no previous background in philosophy, want to study these areas of human concern in a philosophical way. In addition, the Department offers Philosophy 361, Ethics. This is an intermediate level course that carries a prerequisite of one previous course in philosophy. Spring offerings are generally limited to 50 or 60 students, and sometimes enroll as few as 25.
180. Introductory Logic. Credit is granted for only one of Phil. 180 or 201. (2). (N.Excl).
This course is designed both to improve critical reasoning skills that could be of use in a wide range of disciplines and careers, and to provide an introduction to formal logic. The course examines some of the problems and fallacies which arise in informal reasoning, some of the elements of formal (symbolic) logic, and logical concepts used in the analysis and criticism of arguments. The course gives some attention to issues in branches of philosophy germane to logic, for example, the theory of knowledge, philosophy of language, and metaphysics. There will be lectures, discussions, demonstrations of problem-solving techniques, and a variety of exercises. Texts and methods of evaluation to be determined. WL:4
181. Philosophical Issues: An Introduction. No credit granted to those who have completed or are enrolled in 202, 231, 232, 234, or 297. (2). (HU).
This course examines problems drawn from a number of branches of philosophy. Examples of issues that might be discussed include: How do we know that anything exists, other than ourselves? Are minds immaterial spirits, or are minds brains and hence nothing but complex physical objects? If human actions are causally determined by heredity and environment, is there any free will or moral responsibility? Is abortion, or euthanasia, or suicide, morally permissible? Is the nature and extent of our moral obligations determined by our feelings, self-interest, social convention, Divine commands, or something else? What are the different kinds of social, political, and economic organization, and what reasons are there for preferring one to another? How should one live one's life? What is the meaning of life, and what does this question mean? Are there good reasons for believing that God exists? Students will write papers discussing these topics. WL:4
356. Issues in Bioethics. No prerequisites; one Philosophy Introduction is recommended. (2). (HU).
This course is an introduction to philosophical reasoning about medical ethics in which we will explore several standard ethical theories in the history of philosophy and consider their application to questions arising in the practice of medicine, medical research and technology. We will consider both individual decision-making and public and social policy-making. Issues to be discussed will include some of the following: termination (abortion, impaired infants, euthanasia); rights (AIDS, physician-patient relations, medical experimentation and informed consent); controls (genetics, reproductive control); resources (acquisition and allocation of medical resources, the claim to health care). No previous background in philosophy is expected. The course will emphasize critical discussion, in both oral and written form. There will be both papers and exams, lecture and discussion. WL:4 (Alspector)
361. Ethics. One Philosophy Introduction. (2). (HU).
This is a course in philosophical ethics. We will inquire into questions like these: Is there anything one can say in a principled way about what is valuable, worth wanting for its own sake? Can we say that certain acts are morally required and certain other acts are wrong ? Is there ever a good reason to go against one's own long term self-interest on moral grounds? We shall also be concerned with philosophical questions about ethics – metaethical questions. Here we will ask, not only what is valuable or what is morally wrong, but also what do terms like 'valuable' and 'morally wrong' mean ? What is it for something to be valuable, or for an action to be wrong? How can ethical conclusions be justified ? Readings could include selections from major historical figures, e.g., Aristotle, Kant, and Mill, or more contemporary sources, or both. WL:4
365/Rel. 365. Problems of Religion. (2). (HU).
Philosophy/Religion 365 and Philosophy 480 will principally be devoted to an examination of philosophical issues that arise in connection with the Judeo-Christian religious tradition. As much as half the course will be devoted to traditional arguments for the existence of God. The remainder of the course will be devoted to selected topics. A number of the following will be discussed: Divine foreknowledge and human freedom, survival of death and immortality, mystical and religious experience, the claims of competing religions, the evidential status of religious belief, faith, and religion and morality. First-year students are welcome in 365, which has no prerequisite; 480 has a prerequisite of one previous course in philosophy. Undergraduates are discouraged, however, from enrolling in Philosophy 480 unless they have taken one or more intermediate-level (300-level) undergraduate courses in philosophy. Whereas Philosophy 365 is an intermediate level course that has no prerequisite, Philosophy 480 is an advanced undergraduate/lower-level graduate course, and will therefore be graded by more rigorous standards and involve more substantial writing assignments, that will include a term paper. (Loeb)
480. Philosophy of Religion. One Philosophy Introduction. (2). (Excl).
See Philosophy 365. (Loeb)
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