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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.