Courses in Philosophy (Division 442)

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 Summer Term, the Department teaches a number of courses that do not carry prerequisites Philosophy 180, 181, and 359. 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 359 is an introduction that focus on philosophical issues that arise in conjunction with the law. In addition, the department offers Philosophy 371, which focuses on existentialist thought about the human condition. Summer 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 to improve critical reasoning skills that could be of use in a wide range of disciplines and careers. It also provides an introduction to formal logic. The course examines some of the elements of formal (symbolic) logic, logical concepts used in the analysis and criticism of arguments, and some of the problems and fallacies which arise in informal reasoning. There will be lectures, some discussions, regular homework assignments, surprise quizzes, one or two tests and a final exam. Textbook: A Practical Study of Argument, by Trudy Govier (most recent edition). WL:4 (Subramanyam)

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. The material covered includes selections from both contemporary and historically important philosophers. After introducing some of the basic tools and methods of philosophy we will consider questions including: Is morality universal or relative? Do moral claims state facts or express feelings? Are we (morally) responsible for what we do? Do we ever have control over our actions (free will), or are they all causally determined by prior conditions? What can we know about the world? What is the relationship between appearance and reality? Is there anything I can be certain is true? What makes me the particular person I am and the same person throughout my life? Are there good reasons to believe in life after death? The class will be a mixture of lecture and discussion; the course requirements will involve a combination of papers and quizzes. Cost:2 WL:4 (Woodbridge)

359. Law and Philosophy. (3). (HU).

Law sits at an interesting intersection between fact and value. This course aims to explore the connections. In particular, we'll look closely at four questions: (1) Are legal decisions judgments about facts or values? (2) Do we have a duty or obligation to obey the law? (3) Are there moral limits on the power of the State to legislate? and (4) Can we justify our system of criminal punishment? Note that this is a philosophy course. We'll be reading a little law, both to keep our feet on the ground and to frame the issues, but even then the questions we'll be asking and methods of inquiry we'll employ are, as you would expect, philosophical rather than legal. There's no prerequisite; we'll develop our tools for philosophical analysis as we go along. Assignments will likely consist of two short papers and a final examination. WL:4 (Devlin)

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

We will come to grips with concepts that have received 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, 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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