Show More


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 2015

(Fall 2014 course descriptions are below.)

PHIL 101A: INTRO TO PHILOSOPHY
Professor Jeremy Anderson, 12:30-1:30 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. Seniors admitted only by permission of instructor.

PHIL 101B: INTRO TO PHILOSOPHY
Professor Jeffrey Dunn, 2:50-3:50 MWF
Does God exist? Can you tell whether you are dreaming? Are you obligated to help people who are far away as much as you are obligated to help those closer to home? In this course we will investigate these questions among others. In doing so, you will be introduced to several major themes in philosophy and works by important philosophers. We will be reading works from ancient philosophy through to contemporary philosophy, including philosophers such as Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Descartes, and Hume. By the end of the course you should have a better understanding of what philosophy is, and should have cultivated the ability to think and write clearly. Requirements for this course include active participation, short paper assignments, exams, and an essay. Seniors admitted only by permission of instructor. May not be taken pass-fail.

PHIL 209A: TPS: FEMINIST ETHICS  ‘W’
Professor Richard Lynch, 2:20-3:50 TR
Roughly the first half of the semester will be devoted to an overview of feminist approaches to ethical problems and ethical issues of particular importance for feminists.  Among the topics that we'll address are discrimination, oppression, identity, and violence (including sexual violence).  We'll also consider feminist ethics as both a form of "applied ethics" and a more general framing attitude for ethical deliberations.  On the basis of this introductory overview, we will then turn in the second half to a more focused examination of problems at the intersection between a major tradition of feminist ethics—care ethics—and a contemporary trend impacting ethical deliberation—globalization.  What constitutes care?  To what extent is care or caregiving a practice, and to what extent is it an ethical attitude?  Can it be fairly characterized as "feminist" or "feminine," and what dangers are there in such characterizations?  How do the facts of globalization, and increasing migration of women and caregivers across international borders, challenge or recast our conceptions of care?  May be repeated for credit with different topics. May not be taken pass-fail

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 230A: ETHICAL THEORY
Professor Jennifer Everett, 1:40-2:40 MWF
The purpose of this course is to introduce philosophical approaches to the most fundamental question faced by human beings: how ought we to live? Each of us wants to do the right thing, live a good life, be an honorable person. We also want to live in a good and just society; thus, ethics is also an inextricable part of all of our practical political problems. To approach such matters philosophically is to confront a plethora of theoretical quandaries. We will begin with questions about the status of morality and methods of moral reasoning:  How are race, class, and gender relevant to our moral understanding? Can moral questions have any objectively correct answers, or is it all “a matter of opinion”? For the remainder of the course we will explore the landscape of normative ethical theory, competing efforts to explain at a general level why certain outcomes are good or bad, why particular acts are right or wrong, or why certain ways of living are morally preferable to others.

PHIL 233A: ETHICS & BUSINESS
Professor Richard Lynch, 10:00-11:30 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. May not be taken pass-fail.

PHIL 240A: PHILOSOPHY OF ART
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 quizzes, papers, a final test, and oral or written response pieces. 

PHIL 242A: PHILOSOPHY OF SEX & GENDER
Professor Daniel Shannon, 2:50-3:50 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. This course may count towards the European Studies interdisciplinary minor. May not be taken pass-fail.

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 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. May not be taken pass-fail.

PHIL 309A: TPS: LEGAL PUNISHMENT
Professor Jeremy Anderson, 8:20-9:50 WF
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.  May be repeated for credit with different topics. May not be taken pass-fail.

PHIL 309B: TPS:  NATURAL LAW-PERSONS AND PROPERTY
Professor Daniel Shannon, 12:30-1:30 MWF
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.

PHIL 353A: METAPHYSICS
Professor Richard Cameron, 12:40-2:10 TR
Metaphysics is the philosophical study of what exists. We will “go beyond” physics in that if, e.g., physics employs the notion of a cause then we will ask what a cause is (something physics cannot answer). Our investigation will be critical, focused on arguments and reasons, and the topics will range over some of the most abstract questions ever asked: are there universals? Do we survive our deaths? Why is there something rather than nothing? Etc. We’ll also begin by asking why metaphysics matters, and end by discussing in more detail what it is. Prerequisite: One course in philosophy or permission of instructor.

PHIL 419A: ROUSSEAU
Professor Claudia Mills, 2:20-3:50 TR
Of all the great philosophers, none is more contradictory, infuriating, or exhilarating than the “Citizen of Geneva”: Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Rousseau wrote the first truly modern autobiography, resisted Enlightenment confidence in intellectual and scientific progress, influenced the development of Romanticism, pioneered child-centered theories of education that remain influential today, and served as the patron saint of the French Revolution. We'll be reading widely in Rousseau's political philosophy (the two Discourses, On the Social Contract, and Considerations on the Government of Poland) and his philosophy of education and religion (Emile), as well as his stunningly revelatory Confessions, epistolary novel Julie, or the Nouvelle Heloise (the best-selling novel of the 18th century), and his poignant Reveries of the Solitary Walker.  We will even listen to the opera for which he wrote both libretto and score. This will be organized as a seminar-style class. Students will write two 8-10 page papers, and one longer final paper, revised and expanded from one of the two shorter papers. Requirements also include active class participation in student-led discussions. Prerequisite: Two courses in philosophy or permission of instructor. May be repeated for credit with different topics. May not be taken pass-fail.

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
Professor Jeremy Anderson, 2:20-3:50 MW
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 will be covered, and they may be treated historically or systematically. Students will be responsible for presentations and discussions or the material. Several papers will be assigned, and each student selects one which will be the subject of a formal presentation. 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 2014

(Spring 2015 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 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.