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PHIL 209


An introductory course to a systematic field of philosophy, history, philosophical movement, or set of philosophical problems. May be repeated for credit with different topics.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1 course

Fall Semester information

Emily McWilliams

209A: Tps:Moral Issues in Public and Private

This course will give students the opportunity to think carefully and critically about the moral issues that shape our lives in public and private. We will begin by studying some of the most influential philosophical theories of what morality consists in, and how we should make moral decisions. Then, we will use these theoretical tools to consider a number of difficult moral and social issues, including wealth and poverty, climate justice, duties to aid refugees, the ethics of intimate relationships, and matters of diversity and equality. We will use each of these topics as a means of exploring both how philosophical theories can help us answer moral questions on the ground, and what reflection on particular topics can teach us about the philosophical theories themselves.

Spring Semester information

Jessica Mejia

209A: Tps:Animal Minds

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.

Emily McWilliams

209B: Tps:Reasoning Under Oppression

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.

Fall Semester information

Marcia McKelligan

209A: Tps:Ethics Bowl

In this class, we will engage in a variety of activities to prepare for the regional Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl competition at Marian University, which will take place in November, 2018. (The exact date has not been announced.) I hope to have two teams of 5 enter the competition. To prepare we will cover the basics of ethical theory and then explore the particular moral and social policy questions raised in the 9-15 cases that will be made available in early September. We can be flexible about how we distribute the case preparation and presentation duties: each case might be assigned to just one student, or all cases might be shared among all or some members of a team. Either way, all cases will be discussed in detail by all members of the class. We will meet as a group for 3 to 6 hours a week (perhaps more once in a while). Students will write several drafts of papers that will form the basis of their case presentations. Those drafts will be energetically (but charitably and in a friendly way) critiqued by other members of the class. One goal will be for a DePauw team to win or place highly enough in the regional competition to earn a bid to the national competition in Baltimore in early 2019. The more significant goals will be to learn in depth about timely and important moral issues, hone your argumentative skills, and gain experience and confidence in the oral presentation and defense of your ideas. Some of you may already be familiar with the Ethics Bowl competition. This is the just the second time that participation is being offered as a full-credit course. It is possible to enroll in the class as an auditor rather than for credit. Whether you sign up for credit or as an auditor, the instructor's permission is required to enroll in the course. Please see me as soon as possible so that I can answer your questions and we can determine if this class is a good option for you. You can learn more about Ethics Bowl at http://appe-ethics.org/ethics-bowl/.

Spring Semester information

Richard Cameron

209A: Tps: Wealth and Happiness

Jeffrey Dunn

209B: Tps: Philosophy for Children