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Try Our Courses

 We offer three CORE courses for you to try out Philosophy:

  • PHIL 1301 - Introduction to Philosophy
  • PHIL 2303 - Logic I
  • PHIL 2374 - Ethics

If you'd like to get a minor, take these three and any three additional upper level courses. Our constantly changing assortment of topics courses are often chosen by our minors!

LM Teaching

Fall 2022 Courses

David HartAll courses are online

Logic I, PHIL 2303.71, online

Logic I, PHIL 2303.72, online

Introduction to Philosophy, PHIL 1301.70, online

 

Introduction to Philosophy, PHIL 1301 online, as taught by D. Hart

Philosophy is an activity the primary purpose of which is to clarify the way we think and use language. Philosophy is not a fixed system of belief or a set of doctrines. Philosophical inquiry involves understanding and applying the fundamental principles of logic to a particular subject matter. In this course, we will focus on three main branches of contemporary philosophy: metaphysics, the study of the difference between appearance and reality; epistemology, the study of how to distinguish between opinion and knowledge; and ethics, the study of right and wrong. We will explore these themes by reading and analyzing essays written by philosophers representing a variety of social, historical, and cultural perspectives; by developing a familiarity with philosophical terms and concepts; and by discussing and writing about important philosophical issues.

 

PHIL 2303, Logic I online (as taught by D. Hart)

What is an “argument”? What is a “proof”? How do claims relate to one another so that one or more “support” another? We begin to address these questions by introducing the notation, methods, and principles of symbolic logic, specifically the level known as sentential logic (or propositional calculus). In so doing, we learn to distinguish correct from incorrect deductive reasoning in contexts where complete sentences are the most basic elements.

Text: Understanding Symbolic Logic by Virginia Klenk.

 

 

Laura MuellerAll courses are in-person

Introduction to Philosophy, PHIL 1301.01, M/W 9:30-10:45

Introduction to Philosophy, PHIL 1301.02, M/W 11:00-12:15

Ethics, PHIL 2374.01, T/TH 9:30-10:45

 

 

Introduction to Philosophy, PHIL 1301, as taught by L. Mueller

We are going to take our cue from Immanuel Kant, who famously posed three questions that reason investigates: What can I know? What must I do? What may I hope? We will focus on discussions and texts that help us begin to answer these questions. In What can I know? We will study the Socratic method of dialogue, engaging and practicing in our own Socratic dialogues to attain community knowledge; we will also spend time discussing the Cartesian method and responses to that method. In What must I do? we will spend time reading, discussing, and thinking about moral obligations, particularly in the realm of our social duties to others and how we think of others. In What may I hope? We will discuss themes of hope for social progress, building off of community knowledge from section one, and social responsibilities to others from section two. Together, we will (hopefully) learn basic critical thinking skills, such as: reading comprehension, ability to follow and understand complicated arguments. We will learn basic philosophical arguments and methods. Perhaps most importantly, though, we will learn how to speak and listen to each other as a community, we will excavate hidden concepts at the core of our beings, we will learn more about ourselves and our places in the world. Perhaps we will come out the other side of this better persons with one another.

 

Ethics, PHIL 2374, as taught by L. Mueller

The main goal of this class is to provide students with tools to carefully think through difficult (and sometimes, everyday) ethical issues, allowing them to have meaningful discussions with people who hold different positions, and awaken from their dogmatic slumber. Students will succeed in these endeavors by: comprehending major ethical theories, including Kantian ethics, utilitarianism, and virtue ethics; applying these theories to contemporary issues; and approaching ethical situations with humility and openness for dialogue. Students will also hone their critical thinking skills, including writ-ing, reading, and speaking skills. Assignments and exercises in this class are "stacked," all culminating in a "Make your own Ethical Handbook" final project.

Other Courses We Offer

Introduction to Philosophy, PHIL 1301, as taught by L. Mueller

We are going to take our cue from Immanuel Kant, who famously posed three questions that reason investigates: What can I know? What must I do? What may I hope?  We will focus on discussions and texts that help us begin to answer these questions. In What can I know? We will study the Socratic method of dialogue, engaging and practicing in our own Socratic dialogues to attain community knowledge; we will also spend time discussing the Cartesian method and responses to that method. In What must I do? we will spend time reading, discussing, and thinking about moral obligations, particularly in the realm of our social duties to others and how we think of others. In What may I hope? We will discuss themes of hope for social progress, building off of community knowledge from section one, and social responsibilities to others from section two. Together, we will (hopefully) learn basic critical thinking skills, such as: reading comprehension, ability to follow and understand complicated arguments. We will learn basic philosophical arguments and methods. Perhaps most importantly, though, we will learn how to speak and listen to each other as a community, we will excavate hidden concepts at the core of our beings, we will learn more about ourselves and our places in the world. Perhaps we will come out the other side of this better persons with one another.

 

Introduction to Philosophy, PHIL 1301, as taught by D. Hart

Philosophy is an activity the primary purpose of which is to clarify the way we think and use language. Philosophy is not a fixed system of belief or a set of doctrines. Philosophical inquiry involves understanding and applying the fundamental principles of logic to a particular subject matter. In this course, we will focus on three main branches of contemporary philosophy: metaphysics, the study of the difference between appearance and reality; epistemology, the study of how to distinguish between opinion and knowledge; and ethics, the study of right and wrong. We will explore these themes by reading and analyzing essays written by philosophers representing a variety of social, historical, and cultural perspectives; by developing a familiarity with philosophical terms and concepts; and by discussing and writing about important philosophical issues.

 

Introduction to Philosophy, PHIL 1301, as taught by D. Bloom

There are two fundamentally different ways of thinking about our relationships to each other. The first recognizes that each of us is an instance of the human species. Is it not my humanity that defines me, just as it is your humanity that defines you? If this is the case then it follows that to know myself ends up being the same thing as knowing you. After all, if it’s my belonging to the human species that defines me, and you belong the same species, then it must follow that we are defined in the same way. And yet, clearly we are all also different. I am an individual, just like you are an individual. To define us through our species overlooks the seemingly significant differences between us, and it may well be my differences that really make me who (or what) I am. In one sense it appears obvious that both of these positions are true; we are the same, and we are different. But which of these, our sameness or our difference, really defines us? Is it the case that we are fundamentally the same and trivially different? Or might it be the case that we are fundamentally different and trivially the same? These questions will be the focus of our introductory course this semester. We will see that these questions are intimately connected with other difficult philosophy questions. For example, the issue of whether or not universal and necessary knowledge is attainable is linked to our answers to the previous questions. We will be thinking through these questions with the help of several classic philosophical readings. Our readings range from Aristotle to Wittgenstein. From 2,500 BCE to only few decades ago.

 

Logic I (online), PHIL 2303, as taught by D. Hart — Online

What is an “argument”? What is a “proof”? How do claims relate to one another so that one or more “support” another? We begin to address these questions by introducing the notation, methods, and principles of symbolic logic, specifically the level known as sentential logic (or propositional calculus). In so doing, we learn to distinguish correct from incorrect deductive reasoning in contexts where complete sentences are the most basic elements.

Text: Understanding Symbolic Logic by Virginia Klenk.

 

Ethics, PHIL 2374, as taught by D. Bloom

Course Description: What is the good life? It is a question that has been asked so often that it has become a source of amusement. But what question could be more important? How can any of us make any decisions without knowing what it is that we, as human beings, as re supposed to be doing with our lives? Read some of western thought’s most influential accounts of what it means for you to live a good life.

Readings: Plato’s Apology, Kant’s Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals, Mill’s Utilitarianism, Nietzsche’s Twilight of the Idols

 

Ethics, PHIL 2374, as taught by L. Mueller

The main goal of this class is to provide students with tools to carefully think through difficult (and sometimes, everyday) ethical issues, allowing them to have meaningful discussions with people who hold different positions, and awaken from their dogmatic slumber. Students will succeed in these endeavors by: comprehending major ethical theories, including Kantian ethics, utilitarianism, and virtue ethics; applying these theories to contemporary issues; and approaching ethical situations with humility and openness for dialogue. Students will also hone their critical thinking skills, including writing, reading, and speaking skills. Assignments and exercises in this class are "stacked," all culminating in a "Make your own Ethical Handbook" final project.

 

Ancient Philosophy, PHIL 3301, as taught by D. Bloom

How is a student supposed to tell the difference between an expert and a person that is merely pretending to be an expert, which is to ask, how is a student supposed to distinguish between someone with genuine knowledge and someone that only appears to have genuine knowledge. The simplest answer to this question seems to be that a person would need knowledge of the subject matter in order to distinguish the knower from the impostor. This, however, is clearly not an option for the student; if the student already had the knowledge that would allow her to distinguish between the knower and the impostor then the student wouldn’t need a teacher, and, hence, wouldn’t be a student at all! This means that the very person that needs knowledge is the very same person that would not know where to turn in order to try to acquire that knowledge.

This was a central problem for the Ancient Greeks. Sophists (literally the “wise ones”) were traveling teachers that were highly regarded (and highly paid), who nonetheless had dubious claims to knowledge. These sophists were often opposed to philosophers (literally the “lovers of wisdom”). This course will be an investigation into how we are supposed to distinguish between the sophist and the philosopher — which is an investigation into how we are supposed to distinguish between the pretender to knowledge and the one that actually knows.

Readings: Plato’s Protagoras and Sophist, Aristotle’s Sophistical Refutations, fragments from Gorgias and Protagoras.

 

Ancient Philosophy, PHIL 3301, as taught by D. Bloom

Few works in the history of the written word have had as much, and as enduring, an effect as Plato’s Republic. It is one of the landmark achievements in philosophy, and an essential text for the truly well read. Do not miss the opportunity to spend an entire semester dedicated entirely to this masterpiece!

 

Modern Philosophy, PHIL 3302, as taught by L. Mueller

The era of Modern philosophy was one of the most creative times in our philosophical history; new ways of understanding knowledge and the nature of reality blossomed into being. In particular, Modern philosophy in the Western world is broadly construed as the tension between rationalism and empiricism: is the basis of knowledge reason, or experience? Significant questions included in Modern philosophy are: What is the relationship between mind and body? What is the nature of substance? Where do ideas come from? Can anything--even our own existence--be known with certainty? What, exactly, is the principle of cause and effect? To investigate these questions--and perhaps find some answers--we will look at the works of Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Astell, Hume, and end with a revolution in thought in the work of Kant. We will also spend time critically investigating the social implications of Modern thought, particularly in terms of feminist philosophy and intercultural consequences.

 

Modern Philosophy, PHIL 3302, as taught by D. Bloom

What is the relation between thought and reality? One way of defining knowledge is that it is the lining up of our ideas with reality. But there is a real problem here — ideas seem to be a fundamentally different kind of entity than “real” things. If that is the case how can any idea ever match up with reality? And if no idea can ever match up with reality then it would seem like knowledge is impossible. Readings: Descartes’ Meditations, Spinoza’s Ethics, Leibniz’s Monadology, Wittgenstein’s On Certainty.

 

Logic II, PHIL 3304, as taught by D. Hart

What is an “argument”? What is a “proof”? How do claims relate to one another so that one or more “support” another? We further address these questions by developing the notation, methods, and principles of symbolic logic, specifically the level known as predicate logic (or predicate calculus). In so doing, we enhance our ability to distinguish correct from incorrect deductive reasoning in contexts where singular sentences and propositional functions are the most fundamental elements. Prerequisite: PHIL2303 Logic I.

Text: Understanding Symbolic Logic by Virginia Klenk.

 

Philosophy of Religion, PHIL 3360, as taught by D. Bloom

This course will be an examination of a core issue in monotheistic religion: in what way is one supposed to strive to be like the divine. In one sense the answer seems obvious — we should strive to be as much like the divine as possible. In another sense, however, how can one possibly assume that what is appropriate for the divine is appropriate for a being of such limitation as a human? We should strive to be like the divine, but only up to a point. How are we supposed to identify this point? In order to do so we must form some notion of the divine, then we must figure out our proper relation to this conception. In this course we will examine two or three famous attempts to answer these questions. Our attempt to do this will involve the following basic outline.

Excerpts from Plato’s Euthyphro will set up the issue for us. We will then go through 3-4 famous arguments for and against God’s existence. The function of these arguments, counter to what might be thought, is not to prove or disprove God’s existence. Rather, the function is to identify the pre-suppositions required to believe in these positions. We will then read two or three primary texts that elaborate on these presuppositions. We will read Augustine’s On Free Choice of the Will, sections of Spinoza’s Ethics and Theological-Political Treatise, and, perhaps, Kant’s Religion and Rational Theology. We will conclude the semester by reading one or two books of the prophets (probably Job and Jonah), paying particular attention to how the different accounts of the divine alter the interpretations of the scripture.

 

PHIL 3360, Philosophy of Religion (as taught by D. Bloom)

Many people argue both for and against the value of religion. To do either of these things requires making a questionable assumption: that religion, if it is to be worthwhile, must be rational. If we didn’t think religion was rational then we would not expect to be able to argue for it, and, similarly, would not think it a problem when someone argued against it. And yet faith is often considered to be an essential element in the religious life, and faith, at least on the surface, appears to be at odds with reason. After all, if we could argue for all the elements of religion with reason what need would there be for faith? This will be the theme of this Philosophy of Religion course. Many, many questions arise along with this theme. For example,  what is the relation between reason and faith?, what is the role of reason in a religion that appeals to faith?, what is the role of faith in a religion that claims to be rational?

Readings: Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling, Spinoza’s Theological Political Treatise, Nietzsche’s Antichrist

 

Medical Ethics, PHIL 3375, as taught by D Hart

This course has three objectives. Most generally, we want to 1) evaluate competing answers to the question: what is health? We will approach this philosophical question historically by looking at the emergence of Western medicine in the Hippocratic tradition, with its competing schools of Dogmatists, Empiricists, and the Methodists. We will discover that the basic answers to this question are embryonic in their debate. More specifically, we next want to 2) understand the (historically) most important theoretical

approaches to ethics, the Aristotelian and Skeptical approaches, and briefly explore their relationship to each other and to our concern for health. Finally, moving closer to everyday experience, we want to 3) practice the ethical exercises recommended by Stephen Toulmin, directed at actual, real-world scenarios in health practices (e.g. patient/doctor mediation).


Special Topics – Aesthetics, PHIL 3392, as taught by D. Bloom

The central question of this course will be “what is art?” This seemingly simple question is actually very difficult to answer with anything approaching clarity. In some cases when we seek to define a term we simply look to examples of the thing we are trying to define and see what the examples have in common. For example, if I wanted to know the definition of a chair I would look at the many types of chairs and find the attributes they all share. In art, however, the very things that qualify as “works of art” are themselves still in question. When it comes to art, not only is the definition uncertain, the very things that the definition is supposed to illustrate are also uncertain. How, then, can we go about finding a definition of art if we don’t even know what it is that we are defining?

Readings: On Beauty (Ennead I.6), Plotinus; The Standard of Taste, David Hume; Letters Upon the Aesthetic Education of Man, J.C. Friedrich Von Schiller; The Origin of the Work of Art, Martin Heidegger; Art as Experience, John Dewey.