Button Menu
PHIL 309


An advanced course in a topics area, such as, metaethics, contemporary European philosophy, or Social-Political Philosophy. Prerequisite: one course in philosophy or permission of instructor. May be repeated for credit with different topics.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
One course in philosophy or permission of instructor 1 course

Fall Semester information

Jennifer Everett

309A: Tps:Ethics and Economics

In this course we will explore questions in metaethics, ethical theory, and/or social and political philosophy that bear on economic theory and analysis. Topics may include the ethical limits of the market; environmental and ecological economics; cost-benefit analysis in public policy; economic justice; and/or concepts such as rationality, happiness, well-being, and efficiency. Since we will focus on philosophical approaches to these topics, no prior background in economics is required. Familiarity with prevailing bodies of ethical theory is advised.

Spring Semester information

Jeremy Anderson

309A: Tps:War and Terrorism

We will look at activities that, despite our protestations of dislike for them, we engage in a lot: war and terrorism. Specifically, we will critically examine (a) realism, i.e., the view that morality is irrelevant to international relations, (b) pacifism, (c) traditional ideas concerning the morality of war and some recent innovations, (d) the nature of terrorism and responses to it. Assignments will include lots of readings, an exam or two, short papers and a long paper, and presentations.

Richard Cameron

309B: Tps:Social Reality and Fake News

Back in 2006, an official in George Bush's White House told the journalist Ron Suskind that the US was "an empire now," and that "when we act, we create our own reality." The official mocked Suskind and other journals as a members of a passé "reality-based community" who would forever lag one step behind the reality-creators, "history's actors," as the journalists struggled to report on the previous 'reality' even as a new one was being 'created' by the Administration, a new 'reality' that would make reports about the old one obsolete. Looking back on this exchange from the perspective of a post-Trump, fake news, Russian hackers, post-truth world where even photographic evidence that Trump's crowds are smaller than Obama's cannot convince die-hard loyalists -- including the President and loyal Administration officials -- of what their lyin' eyes are telling them, it seems truer than ever that some sort of 'reality' seems to be created by social actors, and that these social realities can have powerful impacts on all our lives whether they are 'really real' or not. Our goals in this course are twofold: to understand the process of constructing social reality, and thinking through the implications of the pervasiveness one sort of social reality -- fake news -- for our lives.

Marcia McKelligan

309C: Tps:Choosing Death

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, physicianassisted 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.