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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 Fall 2018

(Spring 2018 course descriptions are below.)

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.

 


philosophy courses for Spring 2018

(Fall 2018 course descriptions are above.)

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 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 101C: 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 209A: TPS: ANIMAL MINDS
Professor Jessica Mejia, 10:00-11:30 TR 
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.

PHIL 209B: TPS: REASONING UNDER OPPRESSION
Professor Emily McWilliams, 12:40-2:10 TR
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.

PHIL 212A: ANCIENT PHILOSOPHY
Professor Richard Cameron, 10:20-11:20 MWF 
We survey the origins of Western philosophy through a close textual and philosophical investigation of core texts. Themes covered include the birth of philosophical method (epistemology), the nature of being and the possibility of change (metaphysics), and how, by our own lights, we think we ought to live our lives (ethics). The survey covers thinkers from the presocratics through the Hellenistic period with special emphasis on Parmenides, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle.

PHIL 230A: 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 230B: 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 233A: ETHICS & BUSINESS 
Professor Keith Nightenhelser, 8:20-9:50 TR 
Ethics and Business will apply the major normative theories of the Western philosophical tradition-- virtue ethics, deontology, and utilitarianism--to the special circumstances of business, and mostly to the special circumstances of for-profit corporations, although much of the course also will apply to other business forms such as partnerships and single proprietorships, and to non-profit corporations. These special circumstances will include the obligations of a business to its different stakeholders--owners, customers, employees, and bystanders--the problems posed by the question of who to hold responsible when a corporation causes harm, the problems posed by operating internationally in different legal and social environments, how to address externalities such as the environment and broad social consequences of business operations, whistleblowing situations, the proper use of business power to influence parties such as government officials (via expertise, lobbying, or direct support) or children (via advertising), principal-agent problems, and what individual associates of businesses need to think about in order to find their way in the complex situations in which their employment may place them. Ethics and Business is an introductory applied philosophy course, and has no prerequisites.

PHIL 234A: BIOMEDICAL ETHICS
Professor Marcia McKelligan, 12:40-2:10 TR 
This course examines a wide range of moral and social policy questions that arise in the context of medical research and the practice and business of medicine. We will examine claims about physician responsibilities such as truth-telling, confidentiality, and respecting patient autonomy. We will look at the concept of informed consent in medical research on human subjects and concerns raised about experimentation on animals. We will look at an array of life-and-death decisions that physicians and patients face: abortion, treatment or termination of defective infants, euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. We will also explore many of the moral challenges generated by such biotechnological capabilities as genetic screening, prenatal genetic diagnosis, and techniques of assisted reproduction. We will consider, too, some of the pressing social issues related to scarcity and allocation of medical resources, such as increasing the supply of organs for transplant and determination of who gets what in times of crisis such as a pandemic. While we will focus most on American health care, we will not neglect global problems. The readings are drawn from an anthology of recent articles by philosophers, physicians and legal scholars. The class will be discussion-based. There will be short papers, possibly a test, a term paper and at least one class presentation.

PHIL 251A: LOGIC ‘Q’
Professor Ashley Puzzo, 12:30-1:30 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. 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

PHIL 251B: LOGIC ‘Q’
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. 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

PHIL 340A: CLASSICAL POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY
Professor Jeremy Anderson, 2:20-3:50 MW
Government often appears 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 469A: THE LIMITS OF PROOF
Professor Ashley Puzzo, 12:40-2:10 TR
The 20th Century bore witness to a host of dramatic intellectual developments: Einstein’s Special and General Theories of Relativity, Watson & Crick’s Double Helix, and the First and Second Theorems of Welfare Economics.  Standing alongside these monuments are Kurt Gödel’s (1931) First and Second Incompleteness Theorems, which formally establish the limits of purely deductive reasoning. In addition to having tremendous philosophical, mathematical, scientific, and humanistic interest, Gödel’s breakthrough represents the culmination of some two millennia’s sustained effort from across the intellectual spectrum.  In this course, we will explore both the historical aspects and deep philosophical aspects of Gödel’s unparalleled results. This is an exceedingly rare opportunity for undergraduates to learn material centered at the intersection of philosophy, mathematics, science, intellectual history, and human nature. Logic 251 is recommended, but not required. Please email me: ashleypuzzo@depauw.edu.

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 Richard Cameron, 10:00-11:30 TR 
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.