Spring/Summer Course Guide

Courses in Philosophy (Division 442)

Spring

Summer

Spring/Summer

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 offers a number of courses that do not carry prerequisites Philosophy 181, 303, 340, 344, and 359. 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 303 is an introduction to symbolic logic, and meets a requirement for the concentration. Philosophy 340 addresses the relationship between mind, consciousness, and intelligence to matter and the brain. Philosophy 344 addresses ethical issues that arise in connection with the practice of modern medicine. Philosophy 359 focuses on philosophical issues that arise in the law. Spring offerings are limited to 50 students, and sometimes enroll as few as 20.

In the Summer Term, the Department offers 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. Summer offerings are limited to 50 students, and sometimes enroll as few as 15.

Spring Half-Term, 1998 (May 5-June 23, 1998)

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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. After introducing students to some basic tools and methods of philosophy, the course will consider the following questions: (1) Are there good reasons for believing that God exists or does not exist? (2) If human actions are causally determined by heredity and environment, is there any free will or moral responsibility? (3) In light of the challenges raised by (1) and (2), are we forced to conclude that morality is nothing but a social convention, or is it still possible to ground morality in something more objective? We will examine competing answers to each of these questions, drawing from ideas proposed by both contemporary and historical philosophers. The aim will be for students to think critically about these proposed answers, so that they may come to know first-hand what is required of a well-reasoned response to the course's questions. Class will include both lecture and discussion; requirements will include short papers and a final exam. WL:4 (Duncan)
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303. Introduction to Symbolic Logic. No credit granted to those who have completed or are enrolled in Phil. 203, 296 or 414. (3). (MSA). (BS).

One particularly good form of reasoning is a "valid inference": if an inference is valid, the conclusion is guaranteed to be true if the premises are true. In this course, we shall use formal, mathematical techniques to determine which forms of inference are valid. In particular, we shall use two systems of formal logic: first, the propositional calculus will be employed to assess inferences involving the sentence operators "not", "or", "and", "if ... then ...", and "if and only if"; and, second, the predicate calculus will be used to assess inferences involving the quantifiers "all" and "some." Part of the course will concern "metatheory": it will be proven that the propositional calculus is a good instrument for detecting validity the calculus classifies as "valid" all the valid inferences and only the valid inferences. For this part of the course, students will have to master proofs by mathematical induction. There will be regular homework assignments, assigned weekly, as well as a midterm examination and a final. (P. Gibbard)
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340. Mind, Matter, and Machines. (2). (HU).

The scientific worldview seems to tell us that reality, at the fundamental level, is a realm occupied by an inanimate kind of stuff matter whose antics are governed by the laws of nature. But where do minds fit into this picture? I know I have a mind since I am a conscious being (I'm even self-conscious). If matter is inanimate, then where does consciousness come from? Must we think of minds as composed of something other than matter a non-physical, non-material sort of stuff? Would that place minds "outside" of the physical world, perhaps beyond the reach of science? Are minds supernatural, perhaps what sometimes get called "souls"? Maybe we can fit minds into the scientific view by thinking of them as a kind of software program running on the hardware (or perhaps "wetware") known as the brain. How literally should we take this suggestion? Wouldn't it require us to think of ourselves as nothing but complex (biological) machines/computers? If this were true, then the line between us and other machines would be pretty thin. It might even be possible for us to make a non-biological computer complex enough to run a program that qualified as a genuine mind, an artificial intelligence. Could such a machine achieve genuine consciousness (or self-consciousness?), or would it only be able to mimic consciousness? Does this distinction make any sense, or is there nothing more to being conscious than being an indistinguishable "mimic" of something conscious? (Woodbridge)
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344. Ethics and Health Care. Inteflex 101, 201, or 301, or an introductory philosophy course. (2). (HU).

This course is an introduction to philosophical reasoning about central topics in contemporary medical ethics. We will begin by exploring several standard theories in normative ethics (including utilitarianism and deontology) and then consider their application to questions arising in the practice of medicine, medical research and technology. Topics will include some of the following: termination (abortion, impaired infants, euthanasia); rights (mandatory AIDS testing, medical experimentation and informed consent); controls (genetics, reproductive control); and resources (organ distribution, the claim to health care). Students will be encouraged to supplement lectures with a discussion of their own views on these topics throughout the course. There will be both papers and exams. No previous background in philosophy is required. (Diller)
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359. Law and Philosophy. (2). (HU).

This course aims to explore aspects of law that have, not surprisingly, attracted considerable philosophical attention. We'll look closely at questions such as the following: Do we have an obligation to obey the law? (And might our answer vary depending on the particular law we face?) Is there any necessary connection between law and morality? Can a system of sanctions be justified? We'll be reading some case law to frame the issues, but even then our inquiries will be philosophical rather than legal. Assignments will likely consist of two short papers and a final examination. (Frohock)
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Summer Half-Term, 1998 (June 29-August 18, 1998)

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180. Introductory Logic. Credit is granted for only one of Phil. 180 or 201. (2). (HU). (BS).
This course is an introduction to topics related to the evaluation of arguments. It is intended to perform two functions: to acquaint the students with logic as a topic of study, and to provide them with greater critical tools and improved reasoning abilities for use in any field. The course begins by discussing the difference between "good" and "bad" arguments and goes on to cover methods for telling whether a given argument is a "good" or a "bad" one. These methods include the use of symbolic logic. There will be lectures, discussions, and a variety of exercises. Texts and methods of evaluation to be determined. (Mabrito)
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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 is an introductory class in which we will examine some of the central roles that reason plays in our lives. Issues covered will include evidential vs. pragmatic reasons for belief, scepticism about the external world, the nature of moral reasons (what reasons do we have to be moral), and freedom of the will. We will be concerned with trying to understand how one might be free in belief and action and yet be under the control of reason. This will help us to further understand how freedom of the will is possible in a deterministic universe. (Shah)
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355. Contemporary Moral Problems. No credit granted to those who have completed or are enrolled in 455. (2). (HU).
In contemporary American society, people often disagree about important moral issues. This course will explore the most prominent of these issues gender equality, affirmative action, abortion, euthanasia, and the moral status of the natural environment. We will analyze the contemporary debates on these issues and in doing so get a clearer idea about the nature of moral concepts such as "autonomy," "liberty," "equality," and "justice." There will be two papers and a final exam. (McShane)
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365/Rel. 365. Problems of Religion. (2). (HU).
This course will focus on doctrines common to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam: that there is one God, a personal being who created the universe, who has revealed himself to his creatures, and who requires certain conduct of them. We will explore various questions raised by these doctrines, including: can God's existence be reconciled with the existence of evil? Is there compelling evidence for God's existence? Should we have evidence of God's existence in order to believe in God? What is faith, and does being religious require it? Do we have any evidence for miracles? Is there an afterlife? Though previous background in philosophy is helpful, it is not required. (Ruhmkorff)
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Spring/Summer Term, 1998 (May 5-August 18, 1998)

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