Button Menu

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 2021

(Fall 2020 course descriptions are below.)

PHIL 101A: Intro to Philosophy (Area: AH), Remote Format, Synchronous
Professor Jeremy Anderson, 9:10-10:10 MWF
We will explore topics such as God’s existence, our knowledge of the world outside our minds, 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, take-home exams, participation, and possibly a presentation.

PHIL 101B: Introduction to Philosophy (Area: AH), Mixed format, Synchronous
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: Do we have non-physical minds or souls? 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. Requirements include participation in a series of structured debates that include both written and oral elements, a final paper, a final exam, and several unannounced quizzes.

PHIL 209A: Topics - Philosophy and Climate Change, Mixed format, Synchronous
Professor Andrew Smith, 10:00-11:30 TR
This course explores the interrelations between philosophy and climate change. It provides students philosophical theories and tools to improve their thinking about climate change and to clarify arguments for and against potential solutions to the problems which climate change causes. At the same time, it introduces students to theories in many different areas of philosophy. We will explore philosophical theories of morality and justice as we ask questions such as: do individuals have moral obligations to reduce their carbon footprint? What does justice demand governments do about climate change? We will explore philosophical theories of evidence, probability, scientific confirmation, and the relation between knowledge and its social context as we ask questions such as: what is the nature of the evidence for climate change and its causes? Can we rely on scientific expertise alone to justify our beliefs about climate change and its causes? What kinds of considerations support our degrees of confidence in what climate models project future global warming to be? Course assignments will include at least multiple short papers and weekly assignments.

PHIL 209B: Topics - Philosophy for Children
Professor Jessica Mejía, 12:40-2:10 TR
In this course, students will interact remotely with groups of students from Ridpath Elementary School in Greencastle. First, reading at the collegiate level in philosophy will be assigned. Second, you will be assigned to lead readings of children’s books to young children. You will engage the young children on the philosophical aspects of the children’s book read. Some of the philosophical topics we cover include, but are not limited to: dreams and perception, the environment, personal identity, fictional objects, and honesty. Some of the children’s books we cover include, but are not limited to: The Paper Dolls, Benjamin’s Dreadful Dream, The Honest-to-Goodness Truth, and The Lorax. (If you are interested in learning more about this course, please email me at  jessicamejia@depauw.edu or visit Teaching Children Philosophy.)

PHIL 213A: Medieval Philosophy (Area: AH or GL), Remote format, Asynchronous
Professor Daniel Shannon, 12:30-1:30 MWF
This course examines the main figures and debates in Medieval Philosophy, beginning with St. Augustine of Hippo and concluding with Machiavelli. Some topics covered: the refutation of skepticism, what is truth, how do we obtain knowledge of nature, freedom versus predestination, just war, and what constitutes good government. Christian, Jewish, and Muslim philosophical theories are featured. Course assignments include two term papers and a few take home tests. Students are expected to lead discussions on one or more topics during the semester. 

PHIL 230A: Ethical Theory (Area: AH; PACS), Remote Format, Synchronous
Professor Jeremy Anderson 11:40-12:40 MWF
The question, “What should I do?” is unavoidable for us. Clearly, in many situations, some choices are better than others. Further, various accounts can be given for why some choices are better. In this course we will consider some major types of ethical theory -- that is, accounts why some choices are better -- and examine their features, merits, and weaknesses. We will also discuss whether there is an objective basis for ethical rules and, if time permits, we may also consider various controversial issues such as abortion, euthanasia, and war. Requirements will include take-home exams, papers, a presentation, and participation.

PHIL 230B: Ethical Theory (Area: AH; PACS), ‘W’, Mixed Format, Synchronous
Professor Erik Wielenberg 8:00-9:00 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 Ursula Le Guin’s “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”, plus a smattering of shorter pieces from philosophy and psychology. The requirements include regular short response writing and a final paper.

PHIL 234A: Biomedical Ethics (PACS), Remote format, Synchronous
Professor Marcia McKelligan, 2:20-3:50 TR
This course examines a wide range of moral and social policy questions that arise in the context of medical research, public health, and the practice and business of medicine.  We will examine claims about physician/researcher responsibilities such as truth-telling, confidentiality, respecting patient autonomy, and obtaining informed consent.  We will also explore a wide range of life-and-death decisions that physicians and patients face: abortion, treatment of infants born with serious health problems, euthanasia, and physician-assisted suicide. In addition, we look at the moral challenges presented by advances in biotechnology such as prenatal genetic screening and various techniques of assisted reproduction. We will consider, too, some of the pressing ethical problems related to scarcity and allocation of medical resources, such as increasing the supply of organs for transplant and who gets what in times of crisis such as a pandemic.  While we will focus mainly on American healthcare, we will not neglect global issues.  Given current events, we may spend more time than usual on the ethics of public health.  The readings consist of articles by philosophers, health care providers, social policy experts, and legal scholars.  The class will be discussion-based.  There will be short papers, a take-home test, a term paper and several class presentations. Any student considering a career in healthcare should consider this course.

PHIL 242A: Philosophy of Sex and Gender (Area: SS), Remote format, Asynchronous
Professor Daniel Shannon, 10:20-11:20 MWF 
An introduction to the principal views in the history of philosophy on the issues concerning the status of women, relationship between the sexes, sexual attitudes and orientations. First part of the class: the foundations of the Conservative View and reactions against them. Second part of the class: some problem areas, such as the desire for pleasure, homosexuality in society, pornography and whether there are unconscious libidinal mechanisms directing our lives. Requirements include one short paper and two term papers. There are several take home exams and a final test. Each student is expected to lead a class discussion.

PHIL 251A: Logic (Area S&M, Q) Remote & Asynchronous
Professor Ashley E. Puzzo
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 then transition into a study of quantificational logic including identity. A Computer Science allied course, logic should also be of interest to prospective law students. For questions please email me: ashleypuzzo@depauw.edu

PHIL 340A: Classical Political Philosophy (S), Remote Format, Synchronous
Professor Jeremy Anderson, 1:40-2:40 MWF
Government may appear 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 353A: Metaphysics (Area: A&H) Remote & Synchronous
Professor Ashley E. Puzzo, 12:40 - 2:10 TR
Metaphysics can be defined as the study of ultimate reality and asks the most general questions of the world: What is possible? What is impossible? What is the nature of space? Time? Why is there something rather than nothing? Is it possible to “get” something from nothing? Are we free? This class should be a lot of fun as we explore these fundamental questions (and others) as well as various proposals from historical and contemporary philosophers. For questions please email me: ashleypuzzo@depauw.edu

 


philosophy courses for fall 2020

(Spring 2021 course descriptions are above.)

PHIL 101A: Intro to Philosophy (Area: AH), Remote Format
Professor Jeremy Anderson, 9:10-10:10MWF
We will explore topics such as God’s existence, our knowledge of the world outside our minds, 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, take-home exams, participation, and possibly a presentation.

PHIL 101B: Introduction to Philosophy (Area: AH), Mixed format
Professor Andrew Smith, 1:40-2:40 MWF
My aim in this course is to show how philosophical questions, the works of classical and contemporary philosophers addressing these questions, and the tools philosophers use for identifying, evaluating, and devising answers to them, have application in your lives. To that end, we will consider questions such as: What is justice? How do we address racial injustice? What does it mean to live a good life, and what is the right thing to do? Should you protest, or reduce your carbon emissions? Is our knowledge always based on the five senses, or can we gain knowledge by reason alone? How does scientific knowledge work, and how do we learn about things like the climate or viruses? How do power structures in society impact knowledge and its distribution? Does God exist? Assignments consist of five short papers and weekly online quizzes/assessments. Weekly online participation is expected.

PHIL 197A FYS: Space & Time, Mixed Format
Professor Ashley Puzzo, 9:10 - 10:10 MWF 
What is space? What is time? Suppose nothing ever changes. Does time pass? Can there be perfectly empty spaces? Is time travel possible? If there are three spatial dimensions, could there be more? If there could be more spatial dimensions, why aren't there more? Why is there only a single time dimension? Are space and time something we make up or are they part of the human-independent world? Does the universe have a center or is space infinite in all directions? Are space and time really independent phenomena or are they different aspects of the same phenomenon? In this course we will explore these fun and engaging questions primarily through philosophical texts and multimedia. ashleypuzzo@depauw.edu

PHIL 197B FYS: Introduction to Philosophy through the Works of C.S. Lewis, Face-to-Face Format
Professor Erik Wielenberg, 9:10 - 10:10 MWF
Christianity is, at least in part, a philosophical position that offers a distinctive view about the nature of human beings and their place in the universe. In this course we will seek to understand and critically examine some of the central tenets of that philosophical position. The primary expositor and defender of the Christian philosophical position will be C.S. Lewis (1898-1963).  The three main critics of the Christian view will be David Hume (1711-1776), Bertrand Russell (1872-1970), and A.C. Grayling (living).

PHIL 209A: TPS: Ethics Bowl,  Face-to-Face Format
Professor Marcia McKelligan, 2:50-3:50 MWF and 7:00-9:50 T
In this class, we will engage in a variety of activities to prepare for the regional Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl competition hosted by Marian University on November 14.  The competition will be virtual this year.  We may enter other regional competitions as well.  An Ethics Bowl team has 3-5 members and I hope to have 1-2 teams.  To prepare we will cover the basics of ethical theory and then explore the particular moral and social policy questions raised in the 15 cases that will be made available in early September. (It may be that fewer are chosen to be used in the actual competition.) 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 6 hours a week (perhaps more once in a while, especially as the competition grows closer). These meetings will probably be a mix of face-to-face and virtual. Students will write several drafts of outlines that will form the basis of their case presentations.  Those drafts will be energetically (but charitably and in a friendly way) critiqued by me and 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 Cincinnati in February, 2021.  Other 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. It is possible to enroll in the class as an auditor rather than for credit. You can also enroll for partial credit (as PHIL 470A) if that fits better with the rest of your schedule.  Whether you sign up for credit or as an auditor, my permission is required to enroll in the course.  Please contact me at mamck@depauw.edu as soon as possible so that I can answer your questions and we can determine if this class is a good option for you.  Quick anecdotal brag: a former team member who is now a third-year law student was asked about her undergraduate Ethics Bowl experience in a recent interview for a clerkship with a federal judge!  You can learn more about Ethics Bowl at https://www.appe-ethics.org/appe-ieb-

PHIL 209B Topics: Global Ethics, Remote Format
Professor Jessica Mejía, 12:40-2:10 TR
People around the world have always encountered different cultural, national, religious groups with whom they engaged. With technological advances, connections with people all over the world seem to have become more common, more frequent, more broad, and more vivid. Over time, the fortunes of people around the world seem to have become more interdependent as well. These conditions raise a host of questions regarding the moral status of: globalization itself, foreign aid, nationalism and patriotism, immigration, war, human rights, and religion.

The aims for this course are: to equip students with the skills to evaluate ethical arguments, to equip students with basic skills for developing their own arguments, to familiarize students with a variety of views on these topics (including positions from several religious traditions), and to familiarize students with the common challenges of global ethics in practice.

Global Ethics is a philosophy course. As such we will focus on the quality of the arguments for various positions. We will evaluate the reasons offered and whether and to what extent they support their intended conclusion. We will also consider consequences of ethical principles across topics.

PHIL 216A: Early Modern Philosophy, Face-to-Face Format
Professor Marcia McKelligan, 10:20-11:20 MWF
In this course we study some major figures in European and British philosophy in  the 17th and 18th centuries, with particular attention to problems in metaphysics (what is the nature of reality) and epistemology (what can we know, if anything, and how, if at all, do we know it). We read selections from Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, Hume and Kant, not only for their historical interest, but also for what they have to say about perennial philosophical problems. Some of the sessions will be face-to-face and some may be virtual.  Tbh, I am still thinking about the best way to do things, and I am likely to be guided by you once the semester starts. Grades will be based on exams, short papers, and your contributions to our class discussions. This is a challenging course  but the ideas you will encounter in it are amazing and it is essential for those who wish to understand the development of Western philosophical thought

PHIL 220A: Existentialism, Remote Format
Professor Daniel Shannon, 12:30-1:30 MWF
This is an introductory course to the major existential philosophers.  Existentialism is the philosophical/literary movement of the 19th and 20th centuries that deals with the fundamental question of human existence. To be more precise, this philosophy deals with the issues of what makes human existence worth living; what is the ultimate meaning in life?; what is the ultimate purpose of our lives? The Existentialists belong to two divergent traditions. The first is called Religious Existentialism, which says that the ultimate meaning of life in one's relationship to the Absolute. Søren Kierkegaard and Gabriel Marcel represent this tradition. Human meaning is discovered in life choices.  The second is called Secular, or Humanistic, Existentialism, which says that the ultimate meaning resides in the manner in which we achieve our potential; the meaning of life is defined by us.  Nietzsche, Sartre, Camus, and Simone de Beauvoir represent this tradition. We will explore the presumptions, conflicts, and objections to these views. There are a couple short papers, two longer papers, a student presentation, quizzes, and a final take home test.

PHIL 230A: Ethical Theory (Area: AH; ‘W’; PACS), Remote Format
Professor Jeremy Anderson 12:30-1:30 MWF
The question, “What should I do?” is ubiquitous for us. Clearly, in many situations, some choices are better than others. Further, various accounts can be given for why some choices are better. In this course we will consider some major types of ethical theory -- that is, accounts why some choices are better -- and examine their features, merits, and weaknesses. We will also discuss whether there is an objective basis for ethical rules and, if time permits, we may also consider various controversial issues such as abortion, euthanasia, and war. Requirements will include take-home exams, papers, a presentation, and participation.

PHIL 230B: Ethical Theory (Area: AH; PACS), Mixed Format
Professor Erik Wielenberg 8:00-9:00 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 Ursula Le Guin’s “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”, plus a smattering of shorter pieces from philosophy and psychology. The requirements include regular short response writing and a final paper.

PHIL 233A: Ethics and Business (Area: PACS), Mixed Format
Professor Andrew Smith, 9:10-10:10 MWF
My aim in this course is to provide tools for addressing ethical problems arising in business, to show how to apply these tools to prominent ethical problems arising in business, and to explore ideas about how to improve business practices in light of such problems. Prominent ethical problems we will consider include the ethics of investing and consuming products from morally suspect businesses, deceptive and manipulative sales and advertising tactics, businesses’ role in social justice and reducing climate change, and the ethics of whistleblowing. In addressing these problems, we will often ask: do individuals within businesses have ethical duties to respond to these problems; if so, which individuals and what duties? Or do any duties that exist instead lie with the government or society? We will consider how to improve business practices by discussing ethical models for structuring businesses and the ethics and justice of capitalism. Assignments consist of five short papers and weekly online quizzes/assessments. Weekly online participation is expected.

PHIL 240A: Philosophy of Art (W class), Remote Format 
Professor Daniel Shannon, 10:20-11:20 MWF
Philosophy of art deals with both theories of art and aesthetics. We will be looking first at the general theories of art, which will include the following (among others): craft theory, expressionism, significant form, and institutional art theories. We will also consider objections and criticism of these theories. The second issue concerns normative claims, what makes art good or bad, liked or disliked, and what do these claims tell us about art itself. Does art have value; if so what kind? There will be a number of papers, both short and medium sized. There will be several quizzes and a final take home test.

PHIL 251A: Logic (Area: SM; ‘Q’), Remote Format
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. 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. A Computer Science allied course. For questions please email me: ashleypuzzo@depauw.edu

PHIL 309A: Topics: Science, Proof, and Paradox, Mixed Format
Professor Andrew Smith 10:00-11:30 TR
This course is an introduction to the philosophy of science and mathematics. It takes as its entry point the paradoxes and surprising results of late 19th and early 20th century science and mathematics from Albert Einstein, Bertrand Russell, Kurt Gödel, and Georg Cantor which challenged widely held ideas about the nature of scientific and mathematical knowledge. We will enter into the philosophical conversations generated by these results and ask questions such as: how do we justify our mathematical beliefs? Can we appeal to the rules of a mathematical language or our intuitions to do so? Do sets with infinitely many members really exist; if so, how could we know that? How do our observations justify accepting or rejecting scientific theories, if at all? Does observational evidence have any role in justifying mathematical truths? How do society, gender, and our ethical values interact with scientific knowledge and methods, if at all? The course will be taught so that no science or mathematics courses are prerequisites. Course assignments include a term paper project and multiple short writing assignments and quizzes. Pre-requisites: At least one prior course in philosophy or permission of instructor.

PHIL 342: Philosophy of Law, Remote Format
Professor Jeremy Anderson, 1:40-2:40 MWF
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? How should we interpret the law? What is the law’s basis? 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 take-home exam, some papers, and a presentation.  Interdisciplinary: Peace and Conflict Studies

PHIL 469A: Topics: Philosophy of Mind, Mixed Format
Professor Erik Wielenberg 2:20-3:50 TR
In this course we will consider some central questions in contemporary philosophy of mind.  We will begin with an examination of Cartesian substance dualism, but much of the semester will be devoted to examining the works of thinkers who assume a physicalist framework according to which (i) there are no non-physical souls and (ii) every physical event that has a cause at all has a complete physical cause. We will consider three main questions that are particularly pressing within this physicalist framework: 1. What is consciousness, and how is it related to the physical world? 2. Can mental phenomena causally impact the physical world, and, if so, how? 3. Some mental states possess intentionality or “aboutness” in that they seem to represent or be about other things.  How does this occur?  The requirements include two short papers, midterm and final exams, and a final paper. Pre-requisites: At least two prior courses in philosophy or permission of instructor.