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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 2019

(Fall 2018 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 Dan Shannon, 10:20-11:20 MWF
This course is a historical introduction to philosophy. We will cover themes, ideas, and arguments from the ancient Greeks to contemporary existentialism and feminism. The main areas of philosophy (logic, epistemology, ethics, and metaphysics) will be covered.  The course involves a mixture of lectures and class discussions. There will be an emphasis on writing argumentative essays. There will be several small tests. Area: AH

PHIL 101C: 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 101D: 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 102A:   GOD, EVIL, AND THE MEANING OF LIFE
Professor Jessica Mejía, 10:00-11:30 TR
Does God exist? Does the amount and kind of suffering in the world imply that there is no God? Can there be an adequate morality independently of God or religion? What is the meaning and value of human life? In this course, we will explore these and other related fun and engaging questions. Theists, atheists and agnostics alike are welcome. 

PHIL 209A: TPS: WEALTH & HAPPINESS  ‘W’
Professor Richard Cameron, 9:10-10:10 MWF
It is purest common sense that a person needs a certain sufficiency of wealth, perhaps even a large sufficiency, to be successful or happy.  But philosophers (and theologians and other social critics) have from time immemorial called the connection between wealth and happiness into question.  And given another common sense belief, i.e., that the best things in life are free, one begins to wonder why so many are so frantically devoted to accumulating ever more wealth, especially in an age when the continuation of business as usual fossil-fuel driven consumption presents us with the near certainty of anthropogenic climate catastrophe.  Even these initial ideas suggest that our ‘common sense’ ideas about wealth and happiness contain puzzles and tensions that deserve further scrutiny.  The purpose of our course will be to read, discuss, and reflect upon classic and contemporary economists, philosophers, and other thinkers in the hopes of teasing out these sorts of puzzles, and more.

PHIL 209B: TPS: PHILOSOPHY FOR CHILDREN
Professor Jeffrey Dunn, 10:20-11:20 MWF
The highlight of this course will be teaching philosophy to elementary school students in the Greencastle area. We will do this by leading discussions based on popular children’s books once a week at Ridpath Elementary School. In preparing to lead these discussions you'll learn about various areas of philosophy such as ethics, metaphysics, epistemology, and political philosophy. You will also learn how to construct lesson plans that help facilitate good philosophical discussions. Throughout the semester we will also consider whether children are genuinely capable of philosophical inquiry and broader questions about the purpose of education. However, our primary focus will be on facilitating philosophical discussion among the elementary school students themselves.

PHIL 209C: TPS: THE PHILOSOPHY AND ETHICS OF MANAGEMENT
Professor Andrew Cullison, 7:00-9:50PM W
Matthew Stewart argues that the study of management is a "lost art of the humanities" and that we are better poised to understand management if we approach the study of it as a philosopher would approach it. That is what we will do in the course, which will have two main parts. In the first part of the course we will critically examine different theories about the nature of management. What it is to be a manager? What is the difference between being a manager and being a leader, if any? The second part of the course will examine the question what does good management look like? What is it to be a good manager? In examining that question we will also examine some practical ethical questions and challenges that are unique to those in positions of management and leadership.  

PHIL 216A: EARLY MODERN PHILOSOPHY
Professor Marcia McKelligan
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 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 230B: 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 240A:   PHILOSOPHY OF ART
Professor Dan Shannon, 12:30-1:30 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 be quizzes, papers, a final test, and oral or written response pieces. 

PHIL 251A: LOGIC ‘Q’
Professor Jeffrey Dunn, 12:30-1:30 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.  Area: SM

PHIL 251B: LOGIC ‘Q’
Professor Jeffrey Dunn, 1:40-2:40 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.  Area: SM

PHIL 309A: TPS: WAR AND TERRORISM
Professor Jeremy Anderson, 2:20-3:50 MW
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.

PHIL 309B: TPS: SOCIAL REALITY AND FAKE NEWS
Professor Richard Cameron, 10:00-11:30 TR
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 journalists as 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.

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 Dan Shannon, 12:40-3:30 T
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 2018

(Spring 2019 course descriptions are above.)

PHIL 101A: INTRO TO PHILOSOPHY
Professor Jeremy Anderson, 10:20-11:20 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 Daniel Shannon, 10:20-11:20 MWF
This course is a historical introduction to philosophy. We will cover themes, ideas, and arguments from the ancient Greeks to contemporary existentialism and feminism. The main areas of philosophy (logic, epistemology, ethics, and metaphysics) will be covered.  The course involves a mixture of lectures and class discussions. There will be an emphasis on writing argumentative essays. There will be several small tests. Area: AH

PHIL 101C: 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 101D: INTRO TO PHILOSOPHY ‘W’
Professor Marcia McKelligan, 12:30-1:30 MWF
Exploration of philosophical problems and questions about topics such as these: the existence God and the problem of evil, the nature of consciousness, free will and moral responsibility. knowledge and skepticism, the meaning of life.  Class sessions are an informal mixture of lecture and discussion. The readings consist of selections from both classical and contemporary philosophers. There will be a lot of formal and some informal writing and possibly some quizzes and/or exams. Area: AH

PHIL 197A: FYS: CLIMATE CHANGE AND PHILOSOPHY
Professor Richard Cameron, 10:20-11:20 MWF
The guiding idea behind our course is that climate change isn’t (at this stage in history) primarily a scientific or technical problem.  There’s an overwhelming scientific consensus that climate change is both happening and is human caused, and economists policy makers know, more or less, what kinds of policies would stabilize and even eliminate human emissions altogether.  But if we currently know what is happening and what to do about climate change, why isn’t more happening to avert climate catastrophe?  The course’s premise, in common with the premise of significant work in multiple fields, is that the key stumbling blocks when it comes to progress on climate change are, for example, questions of values, with questions about social knowledge (not what is known abstractly, but what is known as influenced by social institutions and their inertia, their agendas, and their embedded values), and about the social psychology of denial, apathy, and indifference.  This makes climate change ripe for philosophical discussion; reflection on climate change inspires examination of core philosophical questions about how we know what we know, what it means to be a social animal, who we are as persons, and the kind of world we have a duty to leave to our descendants.

PHIL 209A: TPS: ETHICS BOWL ‘S’
Professor Marcia McKelligan, 2:50-3:50 MWF and 7:00-9:50 R
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 high 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/

PHIL 213A: MEDIEVAL PHILOSOPHY
Professor Daniel Shannon, 12:30-1:30 MWF
This course covers  topics and significant philosophers from the Middle Ages. Some topics include, what is truth?, are we genuinely free or determined beings?, can we know God's existence and attributes?, does the world have a beginning?, and whether life in this world has much meaning?  Various traditions will be featured, including Christian, Jewish, and Muslim thinkers. There will be class presentations, papers, and tests.

PHIL 220A: EXISTENTIALISM
Professor Daniel Shannon, 2:50-3:50 MWF
Introductory course in Existentialism. Major writers from both 19th and 20th centuries including Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sartre and Camus. Issues to be discussed: the meaning of faith, the value of morality, absurdity of life, the relation between being and nothingness.

PHIL 230A: 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.  Area: AH/Interdisciplinary: Peace and Conflict Studies

PHIL 230B: ETHICAL THEORY
Professor Erik Wielenberg, 2:50-3:50 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.  Area: AH/Interdisciplinary: Peace and Conflict Studies

PHIL 232A: ENVIRONMENTAL ETHICS
Professor Jennifer 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 ‘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.  Area: SM

PHIL 251B: LOGIC ‘Q’
Professor Ashley Puzzo, 10:00-11:30 TR
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

PHIL 309A: TPS: ETHICS & ECONOMICS
Professor Jennifer Everett, 10:00-11:30 TR
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. Prerequisite: one course in philosophy or permission of instructor.

PHIL 342: 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.  Interdisciplinary: Peace and Conflict Studies

PHIL 360A: PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE
Professor Jeffrey Dunn, 12:40-2:10 TR
Science has been extremely successful and holds an important place in our society. But what is science? Perhaps it is a method, a set of theories, or a group of people. And what does science give us? Perhaps it gives us a true picture of the world, perhaps merely a useful set of theories, or maybe it just gives us one way of looking at the world among others. Finally, how does science fit in with other enterprises like politics or religion? Perhaps it should guide these other enterprises, or perhaps it should be subservient to them. Given the important place that science occupies, these questions are critically important. In this course we'll try to address them. We'll start with an overview of some classic topics in philosophy of science, including the problem of induction and Logical Positivism. After that we'll work through Thomas Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions. We'll finish off the course by working through Philip Kitcher's Science, Truth, and Democracy. This course will focus mainly on primary sources in philosophy of science. As a result, it will be challenging, but also rewarding. Prerequisite: one course in philosophy or permission of instructor.

PHIL 469A: PHILOSOPHICAL PROBLEM: MIND
Professor Erik Wielenberg, 2:20-3:50 TR
Philosophical reflection is often provoked by an apparent conflict between our common-sense beliefs and what science tells us. Common-sense suggests that (i) conscious experiences (e.g. the feeling you get from holding a snowball in your bare hand) are real, (ii) many of our mental states represent or are about other things, and (iii) mental states often cause physical behavior. Science seems to point toward a materialist framework according to which (i) there are no non-physical souls and (ii) every physical event that has a cause at all has a physical cause. It turns out, however, that these common-sense beliefs about mental states appear to be difficult to reconcile with the materialist framework. That is where things get interesting. In this course we will examine various contemporary attempts to deal with the apparent conflicts. The requirements include some short writing assignments, a mid-term exam, a final exam, and a term paper. Prerequisites: Two courses in philosophy or permission of instructor.

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.