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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 Spring 2016

(Fall 2015 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 Erik Wielenberg, 2:50-3:50 MWF
This course introduces students to some of the central topics and methods of philosophy. The course will focus on these questions: What is free will, and do we have it? Do we have non-physical minds or souls? What are the legitimate limits of the State’s power over its citizens? Is civil disobedience ever morally permissible and, if so, under what circumstances? Does God exist? The readings for the course are drawn from a bewildering variety of classic and contemporary sources and include works by Plato, Martin Luther King Jr., C.S. Lewis, Patricia Churchland, Martha Nussbaum, Marilyn Adams, and Richard Dawkins. The requirements include tests, a paper, and unannounced reading quizzes.

PHIL 101C: INTRO TO PHILOSOPHY
Professor Daniel Shannon, 12:30-1:30 MWF
This course is a historical introduction to philosophy. We will cover themes, ideas, and arguments from the ancient Greeks to contemporary existentialism and feminism. The main areas of philosophy (logic, epistemology, ethics, and metaphysics) will be covered. The course involves a mixture of lectures and class discussions. There will be an emphasis on writing argumentative essays. There will be several small tests.

PHIL 101D: INTRO TO PHILOSOPHY
Professor Richard Cameron, 10:20-11:20 MWF
Our course begins with critical examination of the conception of philosophy which seems to have inspired Socrates’ outrageous claim that the unexamined life is not worth living. Socratic philosophy involves the critical investigation of life-orienting and inescapable questions, questions which all of us answer and the answers to which send our lives off in dramatically different directions. The idea is illustrated through critical examination of core questions from the three main branches of philosophy: ethics (e.g., what are our obligations to the world’s poorest people?), epistemology (e.g., what can we know?), and metaphysics (e.g., is there a God?).

PHIL 209A: TPS: ANIMAL ETHICS
Professor Jennifer Everett, 8:20-9:50 TR
Are humans the only animals with moral rights? Does the suffering of a pig or a chicken matter more than, less than, or the same, morally speaking, as the suffering of a dog, a chimpanzee, or a human? Is it wrong to eat meat? Should animals be used for research? What should we think about hunting, zoos, or rodeos? This course examines theories concerning the moral status of nonhuman animals, the ethics of certain practices of using animals for human purposes, challenges to the legal status of animals as property, and/or questions of ethical activism.

PHIL 209B: TPS: THE EXAMINED LIFE
‘W’ Professor Richard Cameron, 9:10-10:10 MWF
Socrates famously claimed that the unexamined life is not worth living. But that claim is extremely puzzling -- we all know people who lead unexamined lives that, nevertheless, seem eminently worth living. Was Socrates just wrong, or was he getting at something deeper? If so, what might that deeper meaning be? We'll look at both Platonic texts about Socrates and examples of more contemporary issues calling on us to examine our own lives as we work through this puzzle.

PHIL 209C: TPS: IMMIGRATION POLICY
Professor Claudia Mills, 12:30-1:30 MWF
This course will examine a series of ethical questions involving immigration, citizenship, national identity, and cultural belonging, with special attention to recent controversies raised by U.S. election rhetoric and the refugee crisis in Europe. Isn’t freedom of movement, including movement across often arbitrarily drawn national boundaries, a fundamental human right? But how can a nation-state exercise its right to sovereignty if it can’t control its own borders and regulate access to the privileges of citizenship? Drawing on social science literature regarding the causes and effects of both historical and contemporary migration, as well as normative principles from leading ethical theories, we will assess the case for open borders as well as the case for limits on immigration. If we do open our borders, what do we owe to those who cross them? Is it morally permissible to establish different degrees of political membership: from citizen, to permanent resident, to temporary guest worker? Is there a moral duty to admit refugees fleeing war and persecution? On whom does this duty fall, and why? How can we best address involuntary migration through human trafficking? What role do race and gender play in migration patterns, and what special ethical issues do they pose for immigration policy? These are only some of the timely and challenging questions we will explore together in this discussion-based class. 

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 a little from Kant, not only for their historical interest, but also for what they have to say about perennial philosophical problems. Classes are a mixture of lecture and discussion. Graded work consists of exams and papers. This is a challenging course but essential for those who wish to understand the development of Western philosophical thought. This course may count towards the European Studies interdisciplinary minor.

PHIL 220A: EXISTENTIALISM
Professor Daniel Shannon, 2:20-3:50 MW
Introductory course in Existentialism. Major writers from both 19th and 20th centuries including Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sartre and Camus. Issues to be discussed: the meaning of faith, the value of morality, absurdity of life, the relation between being and nothingness.

PHIL 230A: ETHICAL THEORY
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 233A: ETHICS & BUSINESS
Professor Keith Nightenhelser, 12:40-2:10 TR
Ethics and Business will apply the major normative theories of the Western philosophical tradition--virtue ethics, deontology, and utilitarianism--to the special circumstances of business, and mostly to the special circumstances of for-profit corporations, although much of the course also will apply to other business forms such as partnerships and single proprietorships, and to non-profit corporations. These special circumstances will include the obligations of a business to its different stakeholders--owners, customers, employees, and bystanders--the problems posed by the question of who to hold responsible when a corporation causes harm, the problems posed by operating internationally in different legal and social environments, how to address externalities such as the environment and broad social consequences of business operations, whistleblowing situations, the proper use of business power to influence parties such as government officials (via expertise, lobbying, or direct support) or children (via advertising), principal-agent problems, and what individual associates of businesses need to think about in order to find their way in the complex situations in which their employment may place them. Ethics and Business is an introductory applied philosophy course, and has no prerequisites.

PHIL 240A: PHILOSOPHY OF ART
‘W’ Professor Daniel Shannon, 10:20-11:20 MWF
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 be 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. May not be taken pass-fail.

PHIL 251B: LOGIC ‘Q’
Professor Ashley Puzzo, 1:40-2:40 MWF
What follows from what and why? Logic is the formal study of inference and has played a central role in both philosophical and scientific inquiry for over 2,000 years. We begin with an examination of propositional logic from both a syntactic and semantic perspective. We will then transition into a study of quantificational logic including identity. At the end of the semester we will do some readings in both metaphysics and ethics so the student may see how logic is used in philosophy. In addition to homework and exams the student will have the opportunity to write a paper on her choice of the readings at the end of the semester. For questions please do not hesitate to email me: ashleypuzzo@depauw.edu

PHIL 351A: ADVANCED LOGIC
Professor Jeffrey Dunn, 2:50-3:50 MWF
This course extends the study of symbolic logic beyond what is covered in Phil 251 (and other introductory logic courses). We will start with a deeper investigation of sentential logic and predicate logic with a special focus on model theoretic semantics. This will allow us to construct metalogic proofs about these logical systems (for instance, soundness and completeness proofs). We will then investigate extensions of these logical systems. Topics will include identity, function signs, definite descriptions, generalized quantifiers, non-classical logics, modal logics, and counterfactuals. Requirements include regular homework assignments, exams, and a final paper. Prerequisite: successful completion of Phil 251 or permission of instructor.

PHIL 352A: EPISTEMOLOGY
Professor Jeffrey Dunn, 10:00-11:30 TR
We seem to know various things: that the Colts had a good season last year; that there will be a presidential election in 2016; that 5+7=12; that 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 Marcia McKelligan, 1:40-2:40 MWF
An exploration of questions relating to the existence and nature of God, and the relation of God to humans and to the universe as a whole. Particular topics include: arguments for and against the existence of God, the attributes of God, the problem of evil, religious and mystical experience, prayer, faith, the possibility of life after death, and the connections among religion, morality and the meaning of life. Readings are drawn from classic and contemporary sources. Written work will include papers and exams. Classes will emphasize discussion and students will take responsibility for leading some class sessions. Prerequisite: one course in philosophy or permission of instructor.

PHIL 469A: PHILOSOPHICAL PROBLEM: PUNISHMENT
Professor Jeremy Anderson, 12:40-2:10 TR
Our sense that crimes should be punished is so deeply ingrained that to question it may seem nutty. But punishment is also problematic. When we punish we do things that, under other circumstances, are morally wrong and illegal. Further, punishment does not seem to achieve many of its goals very effectively. In this course we will 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 papers, a presentation, regular responses to readings, and exams. Prerequisite: two courses in philosophy or permission of instructor. May be repeated for credit with different topics.

PHIL 470A: INDEPENDENT STUDY
Staff, Time Arranged
Directed studies in a selected field or fields of philosophy. May be repeated for credit with different topics.

PHIL 490A: SENIOR SEMINAR ‘S’
Professor Erik Wielenberg, 2:20-3:50 TR
This class is the capstone course for majors in philosophy. It covers a broad range of advanced topics in philosophy; typically three or four topics are covered during the semester. Topics may be treated historically or systematically. The students are responsible for presentations and discussions of the material. Several papers will be assigned. May not be taken pass/fail. Open only to seniors.

PHIL 491A: SENIOR THESIS
Staff, Time Arranged
This course provides an opportunity for outstanding philosophy majors to produce a substantial (normally 30+ pages in length) research paper on an important topic in philosophy. Students who are planning to do graduate work in philosophy are encouraged to take this course. Students must apply to the department for approval to undertake this project. Accepted students will be assigned a thesis advisor who will set the schedule for the completion of the paper. The course culminates with an oral defense of the completed paper. Prerequisite: Major in philosophy, senior status and departmental approval. May not be taken pass-fail.

 


philosophy courses for Fall 2015

(Spring 2016 course descriptions are above.)

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 Erik Wielenberg, 2:50-3:50 MWF
This course introduces students to some of the central topics and methods of philosophy. The course will focus on these questions: What is free will, and do we have it? Do we have non-physical minds or souls? What are the legitimate limits of the State’s power over its citizens? Is civil disobedience ever morally permissible and, if so, under what circumstances? Does God exist? The readings for the course are drawn from a bewildering variety of classic and contemporary sources and include works by Plato, Martin Luther King Jr., C.S. Lewis, and Richard Dawkins. The requirements include tests, a paper, and unannounced reading quizzes.

PHIL 101C: INTRO TO PHILOSOPHY
Professor Dan Shannon, 12:30-1:30 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 101D: INTRO TO PHILOSOPHY
Professor Andrew Cullison, 2:20-3:50 TR
This course will survey some of the most mind-boggling questions and problems of philosophy. Is there God? What can we know, if anything? Are there any objective moral facts? If so, what makes a right action right? Do we have free-will? What is the relationship between our minds and our bodies? Drawing from contemporary sources, we will examine a variety of answers to these questions. Emphasis will be placed on extracting and evaluating arguments for and against various answers to these questions.

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 213A: HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY – MEDIEVAL ‘W’
Professor Dan Shannon, 10:20-11:20 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 230A: ETHICAL THEORY
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 230B: ETHICAL THEORY
Professor Dan Shannon, 2:20-3:50 MW
This class is an introduction to philosophical moral theories and their applications to problem solving. We will cover many of the most prominent theories, including ethical egoism, virtue theory, duty theories, and consequentialist theories. We will also discuss how moral judgments are made, intuitionism, and the nature of the moral good. The class will be partially lecture and group discussion. There will be a mixture of quizzes, papers, and a final exam.

PHIL 232A: ENVIRONMENTAL ETHICS
Professor Jen Everett, 8:20-9:50 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 234: BIOMEDICAL ETHICS
Professor Marcia McKelligan, 12:40-2:10 TR
This course examines a wide range of moral and social policy questions that arise in the context of medical research and the practice and business of medicine. We will examine claims about physician responsibilities such as truth-telling, confidentiality, and respecting patient autonomy. We will look at the concept of informed consent in medical research on human subjects and concerns raised about experimentation on animals. We will look at an array of life-and-death decisions that physicians and patients face: abortion, treatment or termination of “anomalous” infants, euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. We will also explore many of the moral challenges generated by such biotechnologies as genetic screening, prenatal genetic diagnosis, and techniques of assisted reproduction. We will consider, too, some of the pressing social issues related to scarcity and allocation of medical resources, such as increasing the supply of organs for transplant and determination of who gets what in times of crisis such as a pandemic. While we will focus most on American health care, we will not neglect global problems.  Finally, we will ask whether access to health care is a right. The readings are drawn from an anthology of recent articles by philosophers, physicians and legal scholars. The class will be discussion-based. There will be short papers, possibly a test, a term paper and at least one class presentation.

PHIL 251A: LOGIC ‘Q’
Professor Jeff 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. May not be taken pass-fail.

PHIL 251B: LOGIC ‘Q’
Professor Ashley Puzzo, 1:40-1:20 MWF
What follows from what and why?  Logic is the formal study of inference and has played a central role in both philosophical and scientific inquiry for over 2,000 years.  We begin with an examination of propositional logic from both a syntactic and semantic perspective.  We will then transition into a study of quantificational logic including identity.  At the end of the semester we will do some readings in both metaphysics and ethics so the student may see how logic is used in philosophy.  In addition to homework and exams the student will have the opportunity to write a paper on her choice of the readings at the end of the semester.  For questions please do not hesitate to email me: ashleypuzzo@depauw.edu.

PHIL 342A: PHILOSOPHY OF LAW
Professor Jeremy Anderson, 10:00-11:30 TR
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 360A: PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE
Professor Jeffrey Dunn, 2:20-3:50 TR
Science has been extremely successful and holds an important place in our society. But what is science? Perhaps it is a method, a set of theories, or a group of people. And what does science give us? Perhaps it gives us a true picture of the world, perhaps merely a useful set of theories, or maybe it just gives us one way of looking at the world among others. Finally, how does science fit in with other enterprises like politics or religion? Perhaps it should guide these other enterprises, or perhaps it should be subservient to them. Given the important place that science occupies, these questions are critically important. In this course we'll try to address them. We'll start with an overview of some classic topics in philosophy of science, including the problem of induction and Logical Positivism. After that we'll work through Thomas Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions. We'll finish off the course by working through Bas van Fraassen's Image of Science and Philip Kitcher's Science, Truth, and Democracy. This course will focus mainly on primary sources in philosophy of science. As a result, it will be challenging, but also rewarding.

PHIL 469A: PHILOSOPHICAL PROBLEMS - PHILOSOPHY OF MIND
Professor Erik Wielenberg, 12:40-2:10 TR
Philosophical reflection is often provoked by an apparent conflict between our common-sense beliefs and what science tells us. Common-sense suggests that (i) conscious experiences (e.g. the feeling you get from holding a snowball in your bare hand) are real, (ii) many of our mental states represent or are about other things, and (iii) mental states often cause physical behavior. Science seems to point toward a materialist framework according to which (i) there are no non-physical souls and (ii) every physical event that has a cause at all has a physical cause. It turns out, however, that these common-sense beliefs about mental states appear to be difficult to reconcile with the materialist framework. That is where things get interesting. In this course we will examine various contemporary attempts to deal with the apparent conflicts. The requirements include some short writing assignments, a mid-term exam, a final exam, and a term paper. Prerequisites: Two courses in philosophy or permission of instructor.

PHIL 470: INDEPENDENT STUDY
Staff, Arr
Directed studies in a selected field or fields of philosophy. May be repeated for credit with different topics.

PHIL 491A: SENIOR THESIS
Staff, Arr
This course provides an opportunity for outstanding philosophy majors to produce a substantial (normally 30+ pages in length) research paper on an important topic in philosophy. Students who are planning to do graduate work in philosophy are encouraged to take this course. Students must apply to the department for approval to undertake this project. Accepted students will be assigned a thesis advisor who will set the schedule for the completion of the paper. The course culminates with an oral defense of the completed paper. Prerequisites: Major in Philosophy, senior status, and departmental approval. May not be taken pass/fail.