Philosophy

PHIL 110. Introduction to Philosophy (Staff)
Introductory examination of major concepts, themes, and issues in philosophy. Special attention will be paid to traditional problems in metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics. F, S. (Group III)

PHIL 110 A. Introduction to Philosophy (S. Stone-Mediatore)
An introduction to philosophy with special attention to texts from diverse historical and cultural contexts. Readings from Plato to Martin Luther King will help us explore questions such as the following: What does it mean to be wise? What does it mean to have a conscience?  And how might we distinguish moral commitment from zealotry? This section will also study critical race theory and explore how we might distinguish social identities from stereotypes, how our own social identities both enable and constrain our thinking, and how we might view the world from the standpoint of people different than us. F, S. (Group III, Diversity)

PHIL 112. Critical Thinking: Ideology Critique (S. Stone-Mediatore)
A study of what it can mean to think freely and critically, given the multiple social and cultural influences on our thinking. Topics to be addressed include the political significance of critical thinking, the processes by which ideology gains cultural power, the role of emotion and imagination in both ideology and critical thinking, and the ways that popular culture (e.g., music, videos, and comedy) can serve ideology critique. Readings include works by Kant, Marx, Barthes, and theorists of popular culture, such as Aldous Huxley, Arundhati Roy, and Eduardo Galeano. Theories of ideology and ideology critique will be applied to contemporary social problems. S. (Group III)

PHIL 112. Critical Thinking: The Study of Argument (Flynn)
This course will teach students to identify, structure, and assess arguments. Topics will include assessing informal arguments for cogency, identifying formal and informal fallacies, and a brief introduction to elementary formal logic. F. (Group III)

PHIL 113. Rock Music and Philosophy (Calef)
(Summer only)
What can we learn from the lyrics of an artist like Bruce Springsteen? What is the source of Led Zeppelin’s aesthetic appeal? How did eastern gurus like the Maharishi or Meher Baba influence the music of bands like the Beatles and the Who? What can Pink Floyd teach us about the nature of perception, Metallica about the meaning of life, or Radiohead about capitalism? In this lower-level course we will listen to music and read lyrics in conjunction with, and to set the stage for, discussion of essays that explore philosophically interesting aspects of rock artists, their music, and the music industry. We will also discuss the cultural significance and legacy of these extremely powerful performers and their work. (Group III)

PHIL 211. Ethics (S. Stone-Mediatore)
A jointly historical and problem-oriented approach to enduring ethical problems. Beginning with Aristotle and advancing through contemporary Europe and North America, the course examines questions such as: Can education make us more ethical people? How do social and cultural power relations complicate ethical norms, and how might we act ethically in the context of such social hierarchies? How might we resist wide-scale and institutionalized violence such as racism and militarism? And what are the ethical implications of our own knowledge practices? Likely authors include Aristotle, Hobbes, Kant, Arendt, and contemporary feminist theorists. (Group III)

PHIL 250. Environmental Philosophy (S. Stone-Mediatore)
A critical study of human relations with the more-than-human environment. Particular attention will be paid to questions such as: How can more reflective relations with the non-human world
throw new light on human concerns, such as education, militarism, racism, and sexism? What remains of the project of “preserving nature” when we acknowledge the social and technological construction of what we have called “natural?” And why have theorists from Rachel Carson to Sandra Steingraber linked environmentalism to human rights? Readings in American transcendentalism ecology, eco-feminism, postmodern environmentalism, and environmental justice will be supplemented with several field trips and practical environmental activities. (Group III)

PHIL 269. International Business Ethics (Flynn)
Major ethical principles and their application to modern business practices are discussed. The course uses case studies to focus on the modern corporation, with special attention to ethical dilemmas arising in the context of international business. Also listed as BUS 269. (Group III)

PHIL 310. Special Topics in Philosophy (Staff)
A variable-content course devoted to timely and important topics in philosophy not encompassed by other courses. The course might focus on a contemporary ethical issue, a distinct field of philosophy, or the work of a specific philosopher. (Group III)

PHIL 340. Feminist Philosophy (S. Stone-Mediatore)
A study of twentieth-century feminist philosophers from across the globe and the challenges that they have posed to basic frameworks of the Western philosophical tradition. Emphasis on the role of feminist analysis in enabling a critical understanding of basic categories of Western thought, including reason, objectivity, identity, and power. Attention will also be paid to tensions within feminist philosophy as well intersections among feminist, socialist, antimilitarist, and postcolonial analysis. Likely authors include Simone de Beauvoir as well as representative thinkers from feminist epistemology, feminist political theory, and transnational feminism. (Group III)

PHIL 341. Logic (Calef)
A discussion of informal fallacies and propaganda techniques, traditional formal logic, and symbolic logic through elementary quantification theory. Emphasis in the course is on formal symbolic logic and on the development of skills. S. (Group III)

PHIL 343. Philosophy and Science (Flynn)
A study in two parts of the philosophy of science. The first part concerns natural science’s status as knowledge. What distinguishes scientific knowledge? How are we to understand changes in scientific knowledge? What role do values play in scientific knowledge? Is theory choice determined by evidence? What is the nature of scientific explanation? Is science best understood as an empiricist or a realist enterprise? The second part concerns philosophy of biology more specifically. How does Darwinian theory pass traditional tests demarcating science from pseudo-science? How are we to understand the concepts of adaptation, species, and function in light of Darwinian theory? What, if anything, does Darwinian theory have to tell us about human nature or morality? In investigating these questions, we will read articles by leading scholars in the philosophy of science. S. (Group III)

PHIL 345. Philosophy of Religion (Calef)
This course is designed (a) to introduce the student to some of the central philosophical questions that have been raised by philosophers thinking about religion, especially in the West, and (b) to examine some of the key answers that have been given to those questions. We will examine the basis and justification of a variety of common religious claims and cover such issues as the attempt to prove God’s existence, the nature and attributes of God, the problem of evil, the status and interpretation of religious language, the nature of religious experience, the relation of faith to reason, religious ethics, miracles, the fate of the soul and the meaning of death, and religious pluralism. Also listed as REL 372. (Group III)

PHIL 346. History of Ancient Philosophy (Calef)
Leading philosophers and intellectual currents from the early Greeks to the Roman Period. The major emphasis is on the genesis of western thought among the pre-Socratic philosophers, and its crystallization in the works of Plato and Aristotle. (Group III)

PHIL 348. History of Modern Philosophy (Calef)
A study of select philosophers from the modern period (primarily the 17th and 18th centuries), emphasis falls on continental rationalism and British empiricism. The course covers the principal metaphysical and epistemological doctrines of these approaches up to their attempted reconciliation in Kant’s critical philosophy. (Group III)

PHIL 349. From Hegel to Nietzsche: The Struggle for Self-Determination (Flynn)
A study of major philosophical figures of 19th-century Europe, emphasis falls on the social and moral philosophy of the century. We will pay special attention to the ideals of autonomy and authenticity in modern life, in light of the recession of traditional sources of authority. Figures covered include Hegel, Marx, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche. (Group III)

PHIL 350. Mind, Language, and World in Twentieth Century Philosophy (Flynn)
A study of philosophical figures and movements of the 20th century that have proven to shape general trajectories for the future of philosophy. Figures and movements may include logical positivism, early analytic philosophy, pragmatism and neo-pragmatism, Wittgenstein, ordinary language philosophy, Frankfurt School, critical theory, phenomenology, Heidegger, existentialism, and post-structuralism. (Group III)

PHIL 351. Philosophy of Law (Flynn)
A study in three parts of the philosophy of law. First, what is the nature of law and how are we best to understand the law’s interpretation by judges? Second, how are principles of political morality, such as liberty, equality, rights, and privacy, actualized in law? Third, what is the nature of responsibility and legal punishment? What, if anything, justifies the practice of legal punishment? In investigating these questions, we will read articles by leading scholars in the philosophy of law and legal studies. (Group III)

PHIL 354. Social and Political Philosophy (S. Stone-Mediatore)
A critical study of modern Western political philosophies in historical context. Through a close and historically informed study of the philosophers who first championed freedom and democracy in Western Europe, the course will explore the visions, conflicts, and contradictions that continue to influence modern Western political culture. Likely authors include More, Hobbes, Locke, Marx, and contemporary critical theorists. (Group III)

PHIL 360. Seminar in Bioethics (Calef)
This course construes bioethics broadly to encompass medical ethics, biological research, and health-related public policy. Topics covered typically include abortion, infanticide, euthanasia, medical paternalism, obligations of medical personnel to tell the truth, confidentiality, medical experimentation and informed consent, genetic control, intervention and research, reproductive technology, allocation of medical resources, alternative and complementary therapies, medical capitalism, and the right to health care. (Group III)

PHIL 362. Aesthetics (Staff)
What is beauty? Why does art give us pleasure? How can musical sounds express human emotions? How are the aesthetic, the erotic and the political spheres of human experience interrelated? This course explores these questions and others concerning the production, criticism, and appreciation of the arts. Theorists considered include Plato, Aristotle, Burke, Nietzsche, Langer and Freud. The course also examines many art-works, constantly testing aesthetic theories in light of actual aesthetic experience. Examples considered range from Greek tragedy to Renaissance painting to rock music. (Group III)

PHIL 371. Mathematical Logic (Nunemacher)
A study of the foundations of mathematics and logical reasoning. Topics include propositional calculus, predicate calculus, properties of formal systems, completeness and compactness theorems, Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem, and axiomatic set theory. Some attention will be given to related philosophical issues. Prerequisite: MATH 250. Also listed as MATH 310. (Group III)

PHIL 390. Seminar in Existentialism (Flynn)
Intensive study of the existential themes of freedom, individuality, and the meaning of life from Kierkegaard to Sartre. (Group III)

PHIL 391. Seminar in Plato (Calef)
Intensive analysis of a number of Plato’s dialogues, with special emphasis on the development of Plato’s thought, the problems he faced and how he dealt with them at the different stages of his career. S. (Group III)

PHIL 490. Independent Research (Staff)
Study of a particular issue or philosopher initiated and pursued by the student in consultation with the instructor as to topic, bibliography, evaluation of research. F, S.

PHIL 491. Directed Readings (Staff) F, S.

PHIL 495. Apprenticeship (Staff)
Internships, practicums, and field work that can be linked to philosophical concepts in the form of research papers and reports.

PHIL 499. Senior Research Seminar (Staff)
This capstone course will require students to rework, expand and substantially improve research begun in a previous philosophy course. In the form of an evolving research paper, students will present their work to the class, revising it in light of collective critique. To receive credit, students must pass a competency examination emphasizing basic skills, complete a research paper that satisfies the course’s basic criteria, and make an oral presentation of their research in the following spring semester. This course is required for all philosophy majors. Philosophy minors and others may enroll with the instructor’s consent. F. (Group III, R)