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 Fall 2021

(Spring 2021 course descriptions are below.)

PHIL 101A: Introduction to Philosophy (Area: AH)
Professor Erik Wielenberg, 4-5 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 tests, papers, and several unannounced quizzes.

Phil. 101B: Introduction to Philosophy (Area:AH)
Professor Daniel Shannon, 10-11:30 TR
This course deals with five main topics: essentials of critical thinking, specifically addressing how to make and evaluate arguments; the nature of philosophy; classical theories of knowledge, faith and knowledge, and moral philosophy, especially whether moral relativism can be justified. There are tests after each section of the course. There will be three short papers. Class participation is encouraged.

PHIL 101C: Introduction to Philosophy (Area: AH)
Professor Jeremy Anderson, 10:20-11:20 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. 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 209A: Topics: Ethics Bowl
Professor Marcia McKelligan  2:50-3:50 MWF, 7-9:50 PM T
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, 2021.  I hope to have two teams of 5-6 entering 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 15 cases that will be made available in early September.  (It may be that only 9 are chosen to be used in the actual competition.)  While each person will have primary responsibility for 1-3 cases, all cases will be discussed in detail by all members of the class. We will meet as a group for 6 hours a week.  Students will write outlines, then drafts, then polished pieces that will serve as the basis for the competition presentations.  We engage in friendly but energetic critique of everyone’s work, and we stage several mock competitions to become accustomed to the rigors of presenting and responding to other teams. 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 Cincinnati in February, 2022. Other significant goals are to learn in depth about timely and important moral issues, to hone your reasoning and argumentative skills, and to gain experience and confidence in the oral presentation and defense of your ideas. Students consistently report that their Ethics Bowl experience was among the most intellectually significant and academically beneficial of their college years.  There are several ways to sign up for this class: for full credit, for partial credit, or as an auditor.  The workload is the same in each case.  Permission of instructor is needed to enroll, so please see me as soon as possible so I can answer your questions and you can decide if this class is a good option for you. You can reach me at mamck@depauw.edu. You can learn more about Ethics Bowl at https://www.appe-ethics.org/about-ethics-bowl.

PHIL 212A: History of Western Philosophy: Ancient (Area: AH)
Professor Rich Cameron 10:20-11:20 MWF
Major philosophers and philosophical schools of western philosophy. The course covers the Pre-Socratics through Stoicism and Skepticism. Offered only fall semester.

PHIL 230A: Ethical Theory (Area: AH; PACS)
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 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 230B: Ethical Theory (Area: AH; PACS)
Professor Jeremy Anderson 4:00-5:00 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 230C: Ethical Theory (Area: AH; PACS) (W)
Professor Jen Everett 9:10-10:10 MWF
Historical and contemporary answers to some of the main problems of ethics, including the standard of right and wrong, the criteria of goodness, the possibility of ethical knowledge and the place of reason in ethics.

PHIL 232A: Environmental Ethics (Area: AH)
Professor Jen Everett 8:20-9:50 TR
An examination of the extent of, limits to, and grounds for individual and collective moral obligations with respect to the 'more-than-human world.' Discusses anthropocentric, zoocentric, biocentric and ecocentric value theories; ecofeminist, deep ecology, and environmental justice perspectives; and/or such topics as biodiversity, climate change, sustainable agriculture, and/or ethics of consumption. This course may include a community engagement/service learning project and required field trips.

PHIL 251A: Logic, Q (Area: SM)
Professor Jeff Dunn, 9:10-10:10 MWF
Some arguments are good. Other arguments are bad. But what’s the difference? Symbolic logic is the discipline that can help us to figure this out. This is an introduction to that discipline. The main goal is to familiarize you with certain mathematically-inspired methods for representing and evaluating arguments. The course covers both sentential logic and predicate logic, with work divided between translating sentences into formal notation, and constructing formal proofs. We will consider other aspects of logic including inductive logic, non-standard logic, and logical paradoxes.

PHIL 251B: Logic, Q (Area: SM)
Professor Ashley Puzzo, 1:40-2:40 MWF
What follows from what and why? Some inferences are easy: If all mammals are vertebrates and you’re a mammal, then you’re a vertebrate. Other inferences are much more difficult and counterintuitive. Logic is the study of inference. Taught in both mathematics and philosophy departments the world over, Logic is the bridge between the humanities and the sciences, appealing to philosophy, mathematics, computer science, linguistics, and more. We cover both propositional and quantificational logic with identity. For questions email me: ashleypuzzo@depauw.edu

PHIL 342A: Philosophy of Law
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 364 Death: Philosophical Approaches (S)
Professor Marcia McKelligan   2:20-3:50 TR
In this class, we tackle some philosophical questions pertaining to death. The questions we might address include: What is death? Is it rational to fear death?  If death is annihilation, can it be a bad thing for us? If so, then when is it bad? Can the dead be harmed? Would it be good to be immortal?  Is some sort of afterlife possible?  What forms could it take?  Is there any evidence of life after death? What connection, if any, is there between our mortality and the meaning of our lives? Finally, we will look at how death occurs in the medicalized environment of 21st century America.  Readings will be drawn from a variety of sources, primarily recent philosophical work. The course is conducted as a seminar, to which all members contribute actively.  There will be several short papers, a class presentation or two, and a final paper.

PHIL 419A Major Philosophers: Kant and German Idealism (S)
Professor Daniel Shannon, 12:40-2:10 TR
In this class we will cover the moral philosophy of Immanuel Kant, including his Critique of Practical Reason and Metaphysics of Morals: Doctrines of Virtue and Right. We will also consider his political writings as they relate to his moral philosophy. The rest of the class will be devoted to sections from the three leading German idealists: Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel. We will be looking at their criticisms of Kant and also their idealistic system of natural rights. The class will be run as a seminar with students giving presentations (to satisfy the S-requirement). There will be two research papers and a final test.

 


philosophy courses for Spring 2021

(Fall 2021 course descriptions are above.)

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