Courses in Philosophy (Division 442)

Philosophy is about as broad a subject as one can fine 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 Summer Term, the Department teaches a number of courses that do not carry prerequisites Philosophy 181, 180, 356 and 371. 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 focuses on bioethics or medical ethics (356). Philosophy 371 focuses on Existentialist thought. Summer 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). (BS).

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 (Kelly)

181. Philosophical Issues: An Introduction. No credit granted to those who have completed or are enrolled in 182, 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. Cost:1 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 or required. The course will emphasize critical discussion, in both oral and written form. There will be both papers and exams, lecture and discussion. Cost:2 (Alspector)

371. Existentialism. One Philosophy Introduction. (2). (HU).

We will come to grips with concepts that have received distinctive attention in existentialism: self-deception; dread, anxiety, and despair; death; integrity, authenticity, and individuality; freedom and responsibility; the absurd and the tragic. We will pick a path through the writings of Kierkegaard, Dostoevsky, Nietzsche, Rilke, Kafka, Jasper, Camus, Heidegger, and Sartre. We will take up existentialist worries about the relevance of rationality and traditional philosophy. We will also ask questions about Existentialism: Is there really something that holds these various, and varied, authors and texts together? Should we regard existentialism as primarily a literary or a philosophical movement? To what extent do existentialists succeed in developing a practice of philosophy that has significance for our lives? Written work for the course will be two papers and several short assignments. This course will involve difficult reading and hard thinking. Class discussion will be strongly encouraged. Cost:3 WL:4 (Hussain)


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