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 2018

(Fall 2017 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, 1:40-2:40 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 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 209A: TPS: ANIMAL MINDS
Professor Jessica Mejia, 10:00-11:30 TR
What makes someone morally considerable? It has been a mainstay that those who possess intelligence, reason, or language are morally considerable. This would seem to exclude a great deal of the animal kingdom. After Bentham, sentience became a mainstay, which would seem to include a great deal of the animal kingdom. Should the interests of nonhuman animals be morally considered? To what extent? Are they the moral equals of humans? Notice that how smart animals are and to what extent they can suffer are empirical questions. In this class we are going to wade into the deep waters of the science and philosophy of animal minds. We will then explore what the consequences may be for the ethical  treatment of animals.

PHIL 209B: TPS: REASONING UNDER OPPRESSION
Professor Emily McWilliams, 12:40-2:10 TR
The transmission of beliefs and knowledge has an irrevocably social dimension. At a very basic level, we routinely rely on other people to help form our beliefs about the world. Since the transmission of beliefs is social, questions of social power and identity can impact the way that we reason and form beliefs. This course will investigate the ways in which social power and identity can impact the ways that we reason, form beliefs, and seek knowledge and understanding. We will seek to understand the ways that individuals and groups might be disadvantaged or oppressed, specifically in their capacity as reasoners. We will also examine what kinds of social and political effects this can have.

PHIL 212A: ANCIENT PHILOSOPHY
Professor Richard Cameron, 10:20-11:20 MWF
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 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 by Plato, Aristotle, Confucius, Immanuel Kant, and John Stuart Mill, some works of fiction, such as Octavia Butler’s “Bloodchild” and Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, plus a smattering of shorter pieces from philosophy and psychology. The requirements include tests, papers, and unannounced reading quizzes.

PHIL 230B: 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, 8:20-9:50 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 234A: 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 defective infants, euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. We will also explore many of the moral challenges generated by such biotechnological capabilities 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. 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 Ashley Puzzo, 12:30-1:30 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 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 340A: CLASSICAL POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY
Professor Jeremy Anderson, 2:20-3:50 MW
Government often appears to us as a demanding power, compelling us to cooperate by threatening to take our property, liberty, or lives. The main point of this course is to examine how, and how far, such demands can be justified, with special attention to the social contract tradition. We will begin by examining justifications of state power from authors such as Plato, Hobbes, Locke, and Rawls. We will then consider challenges to government authority from authors such as Jefferson, Thoreau, Spencer, Marx, Malcolm X, and King. Requirements will include written responses to readings, exams, papers, a presentation, and participation.

PHIL 469A: THE LIMITS OF PROOF
Professor Ashley Puzzo, 12:40-2:10 TR
The 20th Century bore witness to a host of dramatic intellectual developments: Einstein’s Special and General Theories of Relativity, Watson & Crick’s Double Helix, and the First and Second Theorems of Welfare Economics.  Standing alongside these monuments are Kurt Gödel’s (1931) First and Second Incompleteness Theorems, which formally establish the limits of purely deductive reasoning. In addition to having tremendous philosophical, mathematical, scientific, and humanistic interest, Gödel’s breakthrough represents the culmination of some two millennia’s sustained effort from across the intellectual spectrum.  In this course, we will explore both the historical aspects and deep philosophical aspects of Gödel’s unparalleled results. This is an exceedingly rare opportunity for undergraduates to learn material centered at the intersection of philosophy, mathematics, science, intellectual history, and human nature. Logic 251 is recommended, but not required. Please email me: ashleypuzzo@depauw.edu.

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 Richard Cameron, 10:00-11:30 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 2017

(Spring 2018 course descriptions are above.)

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.  Area: AH

PHIL 101B: INTRO TO PHILOSOPHY
Professor Richard Cameron, 9:10-10:10 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?).  Area: AH

PHIL 101C: INTRO TO PHILOSOPHY
Professor Jeffrey Dunn, 10:20-11:20 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.  Area: AH

PHIL 216A: HISTORY OF WESTERN PHILOSOPHY – EARLY MODERN
Professor Marcia McKelligan, 1:40-2:40 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. 

PHIL 230A: ETHICAL THEORY
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 by Plato, Aristotle, Confucius, Immanuel Kant, and John Stuart Mill, some works of fiction, such as Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange, and Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, plus a smattering of shorter pieces from philosophy, psychology, and economics. The requirements include tests, a paper, and unannounced reading quizzes.  Competency: W/Area: AH/Interdisciplinary: Peace and Conflict Studies

PHIL 230B: ETHICAL THEORY
Professor Jeremy Anderson, 10:20-11:20 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.  Area: AH/Interdisciplinary: Peace and Conflict Studies

PHIL 232A: ENVIRONMENTAL ETHICS
Professor Jen Everett, 9:10-10:10 MWF
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.  Area: AH

PHIL 251A: LOGIC
Professor Ash 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  Area: SM/Competency: Q

PHIL 251B: LOGIC
Professor Ash Puzzo, 12:30-1:30 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  Area: SM/Competency: Q

PHIL 342: PHILOSOPHY OF LAW
Professor Jeremy Anderson, 2:50-3:50 MWF
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.  Interdisciplinary: Peace and Conflict Studies

PHIL 469: MORAL EPISTEMOLOGY
Professor Erik Wielenberg, 2:20-3:50 TR
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.

PHIL 470A: INDEPENDENT STUDY: ETHICS BOWL
Professor Marcia McKelligan, Arr
If you are interested in joining the 2017-18 Ethics Bowl team, please see Professor McKelligan for information. May be repeated for credit with different topics.

PHIL 470B: 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.