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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

Spring Semester information

Jeremy Anderson

309A: Tps:Legal Punishment

Tps:Legal Punishment

The belief that crimes should be punished is so deeply ingrained in many of us that to question it may seem nutty. But it is ripe for philosophical examination. When we punish we do things that, under other circumstances, are morally wrong and illegal: lock people up against their will, take away their property, deprive them of various rights such as the rights to vote and free association, and sometimes we kill them. The purpose of this course is to critically examine justifications offered for legal punishment and alternatives to it. We will delve into the long-standing and complex debate over whether and how punishment may be justified, and consider relevant empirical data. Assignments will include weekly responses to readings, short papers, a research paper, exams, and a presentation. Having taken Phil 230 (Ethical Theory) or Phil 342 (Philosophy of Law) is recommended but not required; Pre-Law background will be helpful but is not required. Prerequisite: one course in Philosophy or permission of instructor.

Daniel Shannon

309B: Tps:Natural Law--Persons and Property

Tps: Natural Law--Persons and Property

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.