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Upcoming & Current Courses in Philosophy

Here are the courses the department is offering now and next semester, along with their instructors' descriptions. General descriptions of all DePauw courses in philosophy, along with major and minor requirements, may be found under All Courses.

Philosophy courses for Fall 2014

(Spring 2014 course descriptions are below.)

PHIL 101A: INTRO TO PHILOSOPHY
Professor Jeremy Anderson, 9:10-10:10 MWF
We will consider several important topics in philosophy such as our knowledge of the world outside our minds, God’s existence, human freedom, and how we should live. To do so we will read, discuss, and critique philosophical works from ancient times to the present. Requirements will include written responses to readings, short papers, exams, participation, and possibly a presentation.

PHIL 101B: INTRO TO PHILOSOPHY
Professor Marcia McKelligan, 1:40-2:40 MWF
Exploration of philosophical problems and questions about God, consciousness, free will, and ethics. Class sessions are an informal mixture of lecture and discussion. The readings consist of selections from both classical and contemporary philosophers. Grades are determined by a mix of exams and papers.

PHIL 101C: INTRO TO PHILOSOPHY
Professor Dan Shannon, 10:20-11:20 MWF
This Introduction to Philosophy course will cover several important texts in classical western philosophy. We will deal with a number of issues including the nature of reality, the mind-body problem, proving God’s existence, certainty of knowledge, among others. We will be stressing what philosophers do, and this means that we will be discussing in some detail the nature of argumentation, understanding philosophical writing, evaluating arguments and most importantly creating your own good arguments. There will be discussion and a mixture of tests and essays. The featured philosophers in this course will be Plato, Descartes, Hume, Mill, and Schopenhauer. Although some other philosophers and their arguments will also be discussed.

PHIL 212A: HISTORY OF WESTERN PHILOSOPHY - ANCIENT
Professor Rich Cameron, 10:00-11:30 TR
We survey the origins of Western philosophy through a close textual and philosophical investigation of core texts. Themes covered include the birth of philosophical method (epistemology), the nature of being and the possibility of change (metaphysics), and how, by our own lights, we think we ought to live our lives (ethics). The survey covers thinkers from the Presocratics through the Hellenistic period with special emphasis on Parmenides, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle.

PHIL 230A: ETHICAL THEORY ‘W’
Professor Jeremy Anderson, 12:30-1:30 MWF
The question, "What should I do?" is ubiquitous for us. Clearly, in most situations, some choices are better than others. Further, various explanations can be given for why some choices are better, and some explanations are better than others. In this course we will consider several major types of ethical theory -- that is, explanations for why some choices are better -- and examine their features, merits, and weaknesses.  If time permits we may also consider various controversial issues such as abortion, euthanasia, and war. Requirements will include exams, papers, a presentation, and participation.

PHIL 232A: ENVIRONMENTAL ETHICS
Professor Jen Everett, 2:20-3:50 TR
Environmental ethics is a subfield of philosophy which studies the extent of, limits to, and grounds for our moral obligations with respect to the more-than-human world. It is also a practical, interdisciplinary field concerned with identifying and facilitating environmentally ethical behaviors, policies, and social systems. This course aims to do justice to both aspects of the field (and to advance the civic engagement goals of a liberal education) by discussing key works, concepts, and theories in environmental philosophy and by grounding these ideas in real-world environmental problems.

PHIL 233A: ETHICS AND BUSINESS
Professor Richard Lynch, 12:40-2:10 TR
Our examination of Ethics and Business (not simply “business ethics”) will be accomplished through three principal approaches: we'll consider the ethical frames for our business decisions; we'll discuss a number of particular ethical dilemmas that managers and executives face; and we'll try to situate these frames and cases with a broader perspective on markets and human nature. Along the way we will get to discuss examples of "bad business" (think Enron), "good business" (perhaps Johnson & Johnson or Cummins), and some hard cases where a "right answer" isn't necessarily apparent. This course is a part of the Management Fellows Program core curriculum, but is open to all students interested in the ethics of business. 

PHIL 242A: PHILOSOPHY OF SEX AND GENDER
Professor Dan Shannon, 12:30-1:30 MWF
Traditional and contemporary theories on the nature of love, sex, and marriage will be discussed. We will also examine arguments concerning feminism, pornography, and the nature of homosexuality. There will be several writing assignments, including two major papers; class participation will be extensive.

PHIL 251A: LOGIC
Staff, 12:30-1:30 MWF
A systematic study of reasoning with emphasis on questions of meaning and validity. Includes sentential logic, elementary quantification, a survey of fallacies and selected topics in inductive logic.

PHIL 251B: LOGIC
Staff, 2:50-3:50 MWF
A systematic study of reasoning with emphasis on questions of meaning and validity. Includes sentential logic, elementary quantification, a survey of fallacies and selected topics in inductive logic.

PHIL 309A: TPS: CHOOSING DEATH
Professor Marcia McKelligan, 2:20-3:50 TR
This course deals with some ethical, legal, epistemological and metaphysical questions connected with decisions to end life in both medical and non-medical settings.  To get a good grasp on the moral dimensions of these decisions, it will be important to understand some of the main concepts entangled in them.  So we will examine ideas that play a central role in life-and-death decision-making, ideas such as personhood, autonomy, paternalism, human dignity, and medical futility.  We will also tackle fundamental questions such as what is it to be alive, what is death, what are the criteria for determining when death has come, and what can be known about the state of consciousness of non-communicative patients. Study of these basic issues will inform our examination of the ethics of a wide array of deathly decisions, including abortion, physician-assisted suicide, euthanasia, withholding and withdrawal of treatment, and declaring death for the purpose of organ harvesting.  Most of the articles assigned are written by philosophers, but some are by medical professionals, scientific researchers, religious thinkers, and social observers and critics.   Students will sometimes be responsible for presenting material and leading class discussion.  In addition there will be short papers and a longer final paper and presentation. There is a prerequisite of at least one other course in philosophy. Coursework in ethics is useful but not required. 

PHIL 342A: PHILOSOPHY OF LAW
Professor Jeremy Anderson, 2:20-3:50 MW
How should we interpret the law? What is the law’s basis? Can you attempt to murder someone who is already dead? How can punishment be justified? What duty do we have to rescue those in danger? Is it the business of law to enforce morality? We will examine legal rulings and read essays on such topics by lawyers, judges, philosophers, and others. Requirements will include written responses to readings, participation, at least one exam, some papers, and (depending on class size) presentations on topics of your choice. 

PHIL 419A: KIERKEGAARD AND FRIENDS     
Professor Dan Shannon, 2:20-3:50 MW
This class focuses primarily on Søren Kierkegaard’s religious existentialism. We will consider some of his major works including Stages of Life’s Way and Philosophical Fragments. In these works he contends that the religious choice is viable and only this choice enters into a dimension of human existence that no other life choice offers. Only it supplies hope, reconciliation, forgiveness, and the possibility of unity with the Absolute. Other philosophers from the same period offer contrasting views. We will examine a few of them. Arthur Schopenhauer contends that religion in “its proper sense” is meaningless and delusional; that there is no hope and no salvation. The best that we can achieve is an ethics of sympathy for others. This should become the new religion replacing Christianity. Ludwig Feuerbach contends that religion, especially Christianity, needs to be demystified, and that only religion as universal humanism could truly address our worldly condition. The value of religion lies only in the amelioration of the society. Finally, Karl Marx contends that all religion is the “opium for the masses,” and the only reality is social materiality as practical action (praxis). There is no higher understanding than the history of our materialism. Religion, since it presumes eternality and is indifferent to social reality, has no value. Its ideology has only prompted social alienation and political oppressions.  The class is discussion based, consisting mainly of seminar presentations. There will be also a combination of tests and papers.

 


philosophy courses for Spring 2014

(Fall 2014 course descriptions are above.)

PHIL 101A: INTRO TO PHILOSOPHY
Professor Daniel Shannon, 9:10-10:10 MWF
This Introduction to Philosophy course will cover several important texts in classical western philosophy. We will deal with a number of issues including the nature of reality, the mind-body problem, proving God’s existence, certainty of knowledge, among others. We will be stressing what philosophers do, and this means that we will be discussing in some detail the nature of argumentation, understanding philosophical writing, evaluating arguments and most importantly creating your own good arguments. There will be discussion and a mixture of tests and essays.

PHIL 101B: INTRO TO PHILOSOPHY
Professor Richard Lynch, 12:40-2:10 TR
What can we know with certainty?  Or can we even be certain about anything at all?  What are the consequences—for science, religion, ethics and society—of our attitudes toward certainty?  An examination of "the quest for certainty" (to take a phrase from John Dewey) will frame our reading, thinking and discussion of a variety of philosophical problems.  We'll wrestle with metaphysical, epistemological and ethical questions as presented by classic and contemporary philosophers in the Western tradition, from Socrates and Plato through Descartes and Hume to Simone de Beauvoir and Cornel West.  Assessed assignments may include active participation, oral discussion leadership, informal writing, exams and papers.

PHIL 101C: INTRO TO PHILOSOPHY
Professor Alain Ducharme, 2:50-3:50 MWF
This course is an introduction to major themes, figures questions, debates in the western philosophical tradition. This course is also an introduction to the philosophical method of critical thinking and argumentation. We shall engage classic and contemporary texts on foundational and perennial philosophical questions such as: Does God exist? What is knowledge and how do we come to know things? What is the nature of reality? Are minds the same as brains? Can machines think? We shall also be doing philosophy: developing the critical thinking, reading and writing skills constitutive of the discipline.  

PHIL 101D: INTRO TO PHILOSOPHY
Professor Alain Ducharme, 10:20-11:20 MWF
This course is an introduction to major themes, figures questions, debates in the western philosophical tradition. This course is also an introduction to the philosophical method of critical thinking and argumentation. We shall engage classic and contemporary texts on foundational and perennial philosophical questions such as: Does God exist? What is knowledge and how do we come to know things? What is the nature of reality? Are minds the same as brains? Can machines think? We shall also be doing philosophy: developing the critical thinking, reading and writing skills constitutive of the discipline.  

PHIL 102A: GOD, EVIL, AND THE MEANING OF LIFE    ‘W’
Professor Marcia McKelligan, 1:40-2:40 MWF
In this writing-intensive class, we will explore classic questions about the existence of God, the nature of human beings, and the meaning of our lives. We will ponder questions such as these: What are we? Are we just human bodies? Conscious minds or souls? What is consciousness anyway, and how is it connected to our brains? Is there a God who loves us and gives us a role to play in a cosmic plan? If so, why is human life so full of pain and suffering? Why do animals suffer? If there is no God, are we then at the mercy of a hostile and indifferent universe? In that case, does what we do even matter? We will read both classic and contemporary writings, selections from great thinkers such as Aquinas, Descartes, Darwin, C.S. Lewis and Tolstoy, as well as by current philosophers whose names are less well known but whose insights are no less valuable. Class sessions will be a mix of lecture and discussion. There will be frequent writing assignments, peer review, discussion of papers, and re-writing. There will be an exam or two as well.

PHIL 213A: MEDIEVAL PHILOSOPHY
Professor Dan Shannon, 12:30-1:30 MWF
This course covers topics and significant philosophers from the Middle Ages. Some topics include, what is truth?, are we genuinely free or determined beings?, can we know God's existence and attributes?, does the world have a beginning?, and whether life in this world has much meaning?  Various traditions will be featured, including Christian, Jewish, and Muslim thinkers. There will be class presentations, papers, and tests.  

PHIL 216A: EARLY MODERN PHILOSOPHY
Professor Marcia McKelligan, 10:20-11:20 MWF
A survey of major figures in Continental and British philosophy in the 17th and 18th centuries, with particular attention to problems in metaphysics and epistemology. We read selections from Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, Hume and Kant, not only for their historical interest, but also for what they have to say about perennial philosophical problems. Class discussion is encouraged.

PHIL 230A: ETHICAL THEORY    ‘W’
Professor Erik Wielenberg, 9:10-10:10 MWF
This course is devoted to an examination of some of the central questions in theoretical ethics. Specifically, we will consider each of the following questions: What makes a human life good for the one who lives it? What is the nature of good (and evil) character? What makes morally right acts right? What is the relationship, if any, between living a moral life and living a life that is good for you? We will critically examine both historical and contemporary attempts to answer each of these questions. The readings include some classics of ethical philosophy, such as Plato’s Laches, Aristotle’s Nicomachean EthicsThe Analects of Confucius, Immanuel Kant’s Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals, and John Stuart Mill’s Utilitarianism, some works of fiction, such as Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange, and Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, plus a smattering of shorter philosophical writings, including some contemporary articles. The requirements include three tests, three short papers, one longer paper, and several unannounced reading quizzes.

PHIL 230B: ETHICAL THEORY    ‘W’
Professor Richard Lynch, 10:00-11:30 TR
We all make ethical decisions virtually every day of our lives, and when we do so, we implicitly draw upon notions of right and wrong, of good and bad.  But what are the bases for these notions?  What deeper, if not fundamental, justifications can we give for our conceptions of right and wrong, good and bad?  This course will confront this theoretical question of justification, through an examination of several of the most influential attempts in Western philosophy to ground ethical judgments and actions, as well as critiques of these attempts.  I hope that, through this process, we will each become more aware of and articulate about our own ethical views, and their sources, limitations, and strengths. As a ‘W’ course, there will be an emphasis on improving our writing through multiple drafts of papers.

PHIL 240A: PHILOSOPHY OF ART
Professor Daniel Shannon, 2:20-3:50 MW
The Philosophy of Art deals with two main questions. What is art?  Whether art is "good"? The first question will be addressed by looking at various theories of art, such as, the Craft Theory, Expressionism, Significant Form, Instrumentalism, and the Institutional Theory. The second question deals with aesthetics (standards of taste) and evaluation through judgment. We will consider theories concerning beauty, emotion, connoisseurship, embodied meaning, and values of belonging to the art world. We will read both those who advance the idea that art has value and is good, and those who contend it does not and has no value. Various arts will be considered, including literature, painting, dance, and architecture. Class discussion is emphasized. There will quizzes, papers, a final test, and oral or written response pieces. 

PHIL 251A: LOGIC    ‘Q’
Professor Jeffrey Dunn, 8:00-9:00 MWF
This course is an introduction to symbolic logic. The main goal is to familiarize you with certain formal methods for representing and evaluating deductive arguments. The course covers both sentential logic and predicate logic, with work equally divided between translating sentences into formal notation, and constructing formal proofs. Time permitting, we will consider the limits of deductive logic and consider some basic inductive logic. Requirements for this class include regular homework assignments, exams, and a final project.

PHIL 251B: LOGIC    ‘Q’
Professor Jeffrey Dunn, 9:10-10:10 MWF
This course is an introduction to symbolic logic. The main goal is to familiarize you with certain formal methods for representing and evaluating deductive arguments. The course covers both sentential logic and predicate logic, with work equally divided between translating sentences into formal notation, and constructing formal proofs. Time permitting, we will consider the limits of deductive logic and consider some basic inductive logic. Requirements for this class include regular homework assignments, exams, and a final project. 

PHIL 309A: TOPICS: MARKETS, MORALITY & PUBLIC POLICY
Professor Jeffery Smith, 2:20-3:50 TR
This course explores why, and to what extent, markets and capitalist institutions are a preferable means to produce goods and services within modern society and how our answer to these questions should shape the development of public policy. Students will critically examine a range of related topics: libertarian- and welfare-based arguments for markets; how the use of markets can positively or negatively impact social values such as liberty, equality and justice; whether certain goods and services should not be traded in the marketplace; philosophical accounts of profit and for-profit corporations within a market economy; the use and limits of cost benefit analysis as a public accounting of markets; and the use of market mechanisms in the assessment of health, education and environmental policy. This course will be discussion-based, often led by students and the assessment methods will include two essay exams and a term paper.

PHIL 352A: EPISTEMOLOGY
Professor Jeffrey Dunn, 12:40-2:10 TR
We seem to know various things: that the Colts had a good season last yearthat there will be a presidential election in 2016that 5+7=12that DNA has a double helical structure. Maybe we don't actually know these things. Even so, we at least seem to have very good reason to believe them. But what is it to know or have a reason to believe something? Since we're often interested in evaluating the beliefs that we (or others) hold, this question seems to be important. Epistemology is the discipline that attempts to answer it. In this course we will cover the central topics within epistemology. We will read some classic work in philosophy by authors such as Plato, Descartes, and Hume, but the majority of reading will be recent work by contemporary philosophers. We will spend most of our time on three books: (1) Epistemology, by Laurence BonJour, (2) Knowledge and Its Place in Nature, by Hilary Kornblith, and (3) Putting Logic in Its Place, by David Christensen.

PHIL 363A: PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION
Professor Erik Wielenberg, 10:00-11:30 TR
This course focuses on a variety of philosophical questions related to the Judeo-Christian religious tradition. We will concentrate on understanding these questions and on clearly formulating and critically evaluating various attempts to answer them. Among the questions to be considered are these: What is omnipotence? Is God’s omniscience consistent with human freedom? Does God’s moral perfection require that He create the best world He can? Is the existence of evil consistent with the existence of God? Why might God permit so much evil? Can an atheist really know anything at all? The readings will include both classic philosophical texts and contemporary writing with the emphasis on the latter. Among the authors whose work we will read are Boethius, St. Anselm, David Hume, Robert Adams, Alvin Plantinga, Peter van Inwagen, and Richard Swinburne. The requirements include some short writing assignments, a final paper, and two exams (mid-term and final). Prerequisite: one course in philosophy or permission of instructor.

PHIL 469A: ENVIRONMENTALISM: ANCIENT - MODERN
Professor Alain Ducharme, 7:00-8:30 PM TR
It is widely thought that the history of philosophy, particularly the classical period, is responsible for the intellectual justification of the degradation of nature. We will challenge this widespread assumption. We will explore classic and contemporary philosophical thought on issues pertaining to the environment and our relation to it. We will examine various views of nature and we shall try to determine what attitudes the ancients may have had given their philosophies of nature. We shall engage specific environmental concerns and conceptual problems from the perspective of ancient thinkers.