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PHIL 469

Philosophical Problems

A study of one or more problems, such as universals, time, freedom, causation, happiness and necessary truth. Attention mainly to recent papers and books. Prerequisite: two courses in philosophy or permission of instructor. May be repeated for credit with different topics.

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

Spring Semester information

Erik Wielenberg

469A: Philosophical Problems: Humility: Christian, Confucian, and Secular

While identified as a tremendously important virtue in the Christian tradition, humility's status outside of a religious context is controversial. We will first examine humility as a Christian virtue, focusing on how humility is construed within Christianity and why it is viewed as so important in that tradition. We will next turn to some critical discussions of humility outside of Christianity before considering what Confucian thought has to say about humility's nature and importance. Finally, we will examine contemporary work on humility, both by philosophers and psychologists. In addition to understanding and evaluating a number of views and arguments about humility, we will seek an answer to the following questions: (1) what would it mean for us to be humble? (2) should we be humble -- and if so, why? Requirements include two short papers, a final paper, and two exams. Pre-requisites: any two courses in philosophy or permission of instructor.


Fall Semester information

Erik Wielenberg

469A: Tps:Moral Epistemology

Suppose that there are facts about what is good and evil, right and wrong, virtuous and vicious. Call such facts "ethical facts." In this class we explore three views about the nature of ethical facts and how we might acquire knowledge of them. Naturalism has it that ethical facts are natural facts that can be investigated using the scientific method; supernaturalism has it that ethical facts are facts about God or other supernatural entities; and non-naturalism has it that ethical facts are their own kind of thing. We will also examine some recent empirical investigations of human moral beliefs and attitudes and the processes that produce them as part of our exploration of how humans might acquire ethical knowledge. Accordingly, we will not only make forays into various areas of philosophy (metaphysics, epistemology, and meta-ethics) but into psychology (particularly evolutionary psychology), anthropology, and neuroscience as well. The requirements include a few short writing assignments, a term paper, and two exams (mid-term and final). Prerequisites: At least two courses in philosophy, or permission of instructor.


Spring Semester information

Ashley Puzzo

469A: Philosophical Problem