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PHIL 309


An advanced course in a topics area, such as, metaethics, contemporary European philosophy, or Social-Political Philosophy. Prerequisite: one course in philosophy or permission of instructor. May be repeated for credit with different topics.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
One course in philosophy or permission of instructor 1 course

Fall Semester information

Daniel Shannon

309A: Tps: Natural Law, Property and Person

This course will examine both classical and modern versions of natural law theory with an emphasis on the issue of whether there are natural rights to property and inalienable rights of a person. For the classical formulation we will look at Plato and Saint Thomas Aquinas; for the modern versions will look at Pufendorf, Locke, Hume, Kant, and Hegel. Some of the questions concerning "persons" will include the distinction between a natural and artificial person. May an innocent person be killed morally? Is there a distinction between formal and material innocence? Some questions concerning "property" will include: how does one acquire a property right? How may property rights be alienated? Is there a moral obligation to protect and care for one's own and another's property? May you retain a property right after you cease to exist? There will also be some discussion of the relationship between natural rights and divine rights, and how natural rights may be used to lay down principles, or postulates, of universal human rights. This course may count towards the European Studies interdisciplinary minor. Prerequisite: one course in Philosophy or permission of instructor. May be repeated for credit with different topics.

Erik Wielenberg

309B: Tps: Godless Universe

Suppose that we are living in a Godless universe; what are the implications of this? In this course we will carefully examine this question, paying particular attention to the implications of a godless universe for morality. Among the topics to be considered are theistic attempts to ground morality in God, atheistic moral realism, and the nature of contemporary societies with very small proportions of religious believers. We will read part or all of God: A Debate between a Christian and an Atheist, by William Lane Craig and Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Robert Adams' Finite and Infinite Goods, Phil Zuckerman's Society without God, Erik Wielenberg's Value and Virtue in a Godless Universe, and others. The requirements include some short writing assignments, a term paper, a mid-term exam, and a final exam. Both theistic and atheistic points of view will be taken seriously and treated with respect. Pre-requisite: One class in philosophy or permission of instructor.

Spring Semester information

Andrea Sullivan-Clarke

309A: Tps:Feminism and Science

Feminist historians, sociologists, and philosophers have charged that "modern, Western science is a distinctly masculine enterprise" (Kourany, 1). How did this come to be? Why are women still the minority in the STEM fields today? What does a feminist science look like? In this course, we will answer these questions through the examination of the rich and heterogeneous research tradition of feminist philosophy. We will study the omission of women from the historical philosophical discourse on rationality and trace the trajectory of philosophical theories about science as advanced by feminist philosophers and feminist scientists when they emerged in the 1980's. We will continue our investigation through current approaches, ultimately considering what are the features of a socially responsible science. Central themes include focusing on who is conducting scientific research and the "situatedness" of knowers; delineating what kind of enterprise is science (what are its aims, methods, and subject matter) and detailing the social implications of a feminist science.

Jeremy Anderson

309B: Tps:War & Terrorism

We will look at activities that, despite our protestations of dislike for them, we engage in a lot: war and terrorism. Specifically, we will critically examine (a) realism, i.e., the view that morality is irrelevant to international relations, (b) pacifism, (c) traditional ideas concerning the morality of war and some recent innovations, (d) the nature of terrorism and responses to it. Assignments will include lots of readings, an exam or two, short papers and a long paper, and presentations.

Jennifer Everett

309C: Tps:Ethics and Economics

In this course we will explore questions in metaethics, ethical theory, and/or social and political philosophy that bear on economic theory and analysis. Topics may include the ethical limits of the market; environmental and ecological economics; cost-benefit analysis in public policy; economic justice; and/or concepts such as rationality, happiness, well-being, and efficiency. Since we will focus on philosophical approaches to these topics, no prior background in economics is required. Familiarity with prevailing bodies of ethical theory is advised.

Spring Semester information

Marcia McKelligan

309A: Tps: