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PHIL 209


An introductory course to a systematic field of philosophy, history, philosophical movement, or set of philosophical problems. May be repeated for credit with different topics.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1 course

Fall Semester information

Jeffrey Dunn

209A: Tps: Darwin

In The Origin of Species, Darwin presents a compelling argument for the the theory of evolution by natural selection, a theory with tremendous explanatory power. This theory is critically important to understanding the biological sciences. But Darwin's ideas have been influential in other areas, including politics, ethics, computer science, psychology, and religion. In this course we will consider Darwin's arguments, his theory, and the controversies and impact of Darwininan ideas both inside and outside of biology. Requirements for this course include active participation, writing assignments, and exams.

Marcia McKelligan

209B: Tps: Ethics Bowl

In this class, we will prepare for the regional Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl competition at Marian University on November 12, 2016. I hope to have two teams of 5-6 enter the competition. To prepare we will cover the basics of ethical theory and then explore the particular moral and social policy questions raised in the 15 cases that will be made available in early September. Each student will take the lead on three cases, doing appropriate research, formulating a position and constructing a solid argument for that position. All cases will be discussed in detail by all members of the class. We will meet as a group for 3 to 6 hours a week (perhaps more once in a while). Students will write several drafts of papers that will form the basis of their case presentations. Those drafts will be energetically (but charitably and in a friendly way) critiqued by other members of the class. One goal will be for a DePauw team to win or place highly enough in the regional competition to earn a bid to the national competition in Dallas in February. The more significant goals will be to learn in depth about timely and important moral issues, hone your argumentative skills, and gain experience and confidence in the oral presentation and defense of your ideas. Some of you may already be familiar with the Ethics Bowl competition. This is the first time that participation is being offered as a full-credit course. Please see me as soon as possible so that I can answer your questions and we can determine if this class is a good option for you. You can learn more about Ethics Bowl at

Spring Semester information

Richard Cameron

209A: Tps:Examined Life: Climate Change

Socrates famously declared that the unexamined life wasn't even worth living. And one major tradition in philosophy ever since has conceived of philosophy's primary task as helping people live the sorts of lives they would choose upon examination, guided not just by the values and ideals they were socialized to accept but by those which -- on critical reflection -- seem best to them. Our course looks into the Socratic origins of this way of doing philosophy and then turns to contemporary issues, like climate change, asking, for example, how should we lead our lives in a climate changed world? What sorts of lives are good lives given the climate crisis, and what sort of legacy do we want to leave our children and grandchildren?

Andrea Sullivan-Clarke

209B: Tps:Native American Philosophy

This course is an introduction to the basic issues, arguments, and methods of traditional and contemporary Native American Philosophy. As we examine different areas in philosophy, we will learn about the similarities and differences between the Western and Native American traditions. The areas to be covered in class include (but are not limited to): logic, metaphysics, epistemology, aesthetics, and ethics. While covering these areas, we will actively engage issues affecting Indian Country today. Course objectives include:
1. Demonstrating a general knowledge and comprehension of how the experience of the Indigenous people of North America differs from those of the colonizing and immigrant peoples.
2. Developing critical reasoning skills through the study of Western and Native American philosophical frameworks.
3. Improving formal expression of philosophical positions through writing and speaking assignments.

Fall Semester information

Emily McWilliams

209A: Tps:Moral Issues in Public and Private

This course will give students the opportunity to think carefully and critically about the moral issues that shape our lives in public and private. We will begin by studying some of the most influential philosophical theories of what morality consists in, and how we should make moral decisions. Then, we will use these theoretical tools to consider a number of difficult moral and social issues, including wealth and poverty, climate justice, duties to aid refugees, the ethics of intimate relationships, and matters of diversity and equality. We will use each of these topics as a means of exploring both how philosophical theories can help us answer moral questions on the ground, and what reflection on particular topics can teach us about the philosophical theories themselves.

Spring Semester information

Jennifer Everett

209A: Tps: Animal Ethics