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?), others less so (What is a thing? Is space a substance?). It also falls within philosophy to examine the methods and practices of virtually all academic disciplines. Because of this breadth, a person can study philosophy in ways involving the styles and techniques of thought of most other fields of inquiry. For example, the work of a philosopher concentrating in logic is much like that of the student of mathematics. A philosopher primarily interested in the philosophy of religion will often be doing much the same things as a theologian or a student of the history of religion. Political philosophy is regarded by some as including political activity itself. Many other such examples exist. In addition, Philosophy examines the practices of other activities, such as the fine arts, that are sometimes thought of as different from typical academic disciplines. However, for the most part the activities characteristic of philosophy are peculiar to the discipline. The only way to know what it's really like is to give it a try.
In the Spring Term, the Department teaches a number of courses that do not carry prerequisites – Philosophy 180, 181, 355, and 365. Philosophy 180 is an introduction to critical thinking and logic. 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 355 focuses on a number of contemporary moral and social issues. Philosophy 365 focuses on philosophical thinking about religion. In addition, the department offers Philosophy 372, which addresses philosophical issues that arise in connection with gender. Spring offerings are limited to 50 students, and sometimes enroll as few as 20.
180. Introductory Logic. Credit is granted for only one of Phil. 180 or 201. (2). (N.Excl). (BS).
This course is designed for people who want to improve their reasoning skills and learn elementary formal logic. We'll cover the essentials of logical theory and apply the theory to actual bits of reasoning in natural, spoken language. At the end of term, students will have a comprehensive view of kinds of reasoning, including moral and counterfactual, and significant experience in analyzing and constructing arguments. This is a lecture course, but there will be time for discussion and in-class group projects. Course requirements include regular homework assignments, two midterm tests and a final examination. Textbook: Deduction: In Introductory Symbolic Logic, by Daniel Bonevac (Mayfield). WL:4 (Lawlor)
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 will explore how our conceptions of the soul or the mind affect what we think about the rest of the world and our relationship to it. We will consider historical and contemporary arguments about the powers, capacities, and other qualities of our souls/minds. Various issues will arise in these discussions: What is knowledge? Why should we care about knowledge? What is the relationship between our beliefs and knowledge? What is free will? Do we have free will? What is the relationship between knowledge and the will? The course will emphasize development of the student's critical thinking and writing skills. WL:4 (Im)
355. Contemporary Moral Problems. No credit granted to those who have completed or are enrolled in 455. (3). (HU).
This course will explore the moral dimensions of several prominent contemporary issues, including race and gender relations, as well as the relation between people and their environment. We will examine competing accounts of the objects of moral concern, as well as alternative conceptions of freedom, equality and justice, applying the alternative views to topics including affirmative action, environmental racism, sexual harassment and conservation of the natural environment. This application will serve to test both our views about the particular topics as well as the competing moral theories. There will be two papers and a final examination. WL:4 (Weber)
365/Rel. 365. Problems of Religion. (3). (HU).
This course will principally be devoted to an examination of philosophical issues arising from Western religious traditions. Topics will include: arguments for the existence of God; arguments against the existence of God (especially the problem of evil); religion and morality; the ethics of belief; faith, reason, and rationality; miracles; and issues concerning divine and human freedom. WL:4 (Kasser)
372. Philosophical Topics in the Study of Gender. One course in philosophy or women's studies, or permission of instructor. (3). (HU).
We will discuss two major issues: What does justice require with respect to gender equality? What does justice require with respect to the status of gays, lesbians, and bisexuals? Topics will include: (1) What is the best way to conceive of the ideal of equality between men and women? (2) How do inequalities between men and women in the domestic sphere translate into inequalities in the public sphere, and vice versa? (3) Does socialization into distinct masculine and feminine gender roles perpetuate sexism and homophobia? Does justice require the reform, or perhaps even the elimination, of gender role norms? (4) Does justice require laws which prohibit discrimination according to sexual orientation? Does it require affirmative action? Legally recognizing same-sex marriages? Requirements: two papers, final exam, class participation. Cost:2 WL:4 (Allen)
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