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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 2022

(Fall 2021 course descriptions are below.)

PHIL 101A: Introduction to Philosophy: Big Questions (area: AH)
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 should we do about injustice? How does knowledge work? Do we have non-physical minds or souls? 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: Intro to Philosophy: Get it Girl! (area: AH)
Professor Jen Everett, 9:10-10:10 MWF
This course aims to introduce the field of philosophy in a way that's explicitly attuned to voices that have been missing or marginalized in the Western canon.  The course subtitle is taken from one of our texts, Philosophy for Girls: An Invitation to the Life of Thought - an anthology for college students, where 'girls' in the title is consciously employed in the "Get it, Girl!" sense.  This class is for students of any race, gender, culture, etc. who are curious about philosophy.  You must be willing to study challenging texts  - including but not limited to works considered part of the Western canon - and to think hard, discuss collegially, and write extensively about the difficult questions they raise concerning knowledge, reality, ethics, and society.  The relevance of social identities, structures, and power relations to such questions will be a consistent theme. 

PHIL 101C: Introduction to Philosophy: Big Questions (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: Animal Ethics
Professor Jen Everett, 8:20-9:50 TR
Animal ethics questions the rational basis for and moral justifiability of customary beliefs and practices involving members of other species. Are humans the only beings with moral rights? Ethically speaking, how important is the suffering of a pig or chicken or fish compared to that of a dog, a chimpanzee, or a human? Does virtue require veganism? Further, since controversies about animal ethics intersect with diverse and unequal social, economic, and cultural relations among people, the field of animal ethics raises vexing political questions as well as moral ones. In this course we explore a range of prominent philosophical approaches to these matters, aiming thereby to strengthen our skills of analysis, writing, and civil discourse, as well as to examine our own lives.

PHIL 209B: Topics: Power, Privilege, and Diversity
Professor Rich Cameron, 12:30-1:30 MWF
This course focuses on one main philosophical project: analyzing and understanding important concepts, in this case, the concepts underlying DePauw's Power, Privilege, and Diversity requirements. By the end of the course, we'll hope to have a better understanding of the range of meanings associated with each of these concepts, some understanding of how allies who share broad goals may nonetheless differ with regard to each concept, and a better sense of how 'outsiders' or 'critics' of such concepts and their application at the University understand and critique them. To do our work we'll be looking at historical and contemporary theoretical perspectives on the concepts, applications of them to practical issues, and both friendly inter-theoretical critiques as well as work that is more highly critical of whole approaches.

PHIL 209C: Race and Racism
Mercedes Corredor, 2:20-3:50 TR
What is race? What is it to be racialized? And what accounts for racialized inequality? These three questions will guide our inquiry throughout the semester. We begin the class by thinking about the nature of race and racial classification before looking at various complexities that arise amongst racialized persons (e.g. colorism, mixed race identities, and the complexities surrounding racial passing). The second half of the course has more of an applied approach. Here, we will look at certain problems that arise for racial minorities. We conclude the course by addressing whether we have reason to be optimistic about making progress on the creation of a more just society. At this point, we will explore the case for each of the following: (afro)pessimism, affirmative action, reparations, and social movements.

PHIL 209D: Topics: Philosophy for Children
Professor Jeff 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 216A: Early Modern Philosophy
Professor Marcia McKelligan, 1:40-2:40 MWF
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 220A: Existentialism (area: AH)
Professor Dan Shannon, 10:00-11:30 TR
This is an introductory course in Existentialism. Major writers from both the 19th and 20th centuries, including Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sartre and Camus will be considered. Issues to be discussed: the meaning of life, value of morality, absurdity of life, relation between being and nothingness. There will be student presentations, a few papers, a couple of tests.

PHIL 230A: Ethical Theory (area: AH; PACS; competence: W)
Professor Erik Wielenberg, 1:40-2:40 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 tests, papers, and unannounced quizzes.

PHIL 230B: Ethical Theory (area: AH; PACS)
Professor Jeremy Anderson, 12:30-1:30 MWF
The question, “What should I do?” is unavoidable for us. In many situations, some choices are clearly 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 exams, papers, a presentation, and participation. Area: AH/Interdisciplinary: Peace and Conflict Studies.

PHIL242A: Philosophy of Sex and Gender (area: SS; WGSS)
Professor Dan Shannon, 12:40-2:10 TR
This is 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. We will read a variety of classical and contemporary authors.  There will be student presentations, a few papers, and a couple of tests.

PHIL 251A: Logic (area: SM; competence: Q)
Ash Puzzo, 9:10-10:10 MWF
Logic is the study of inference: What follows from what and why? We shall begin with a treatment of elementary propositional logic. This sets the foundation for the study of quantificational logic. We discuss semantics, syntax, and the relationship between them. No prior courses in philosophy are required. This is a Q course! For questions or sample syllabus, email me: ashleypuzzo@depauw.edu.

PHIL 251B: Logic (area: SM; competence: Q)
Ash Puzzo, 2:50-3:50 MWF
Logic is the study of inference: What follows from what and why? We shall begin with a treatment of elementary propositional logic. This sets the foundation for the study of quantificational logic. We discuss semantics, syntax, and the relationship between them. No prior courses in philosophy are required. This is a Q course! For questions or sample syllabus, email me: ashleypuzzo@depauw.edu.

PHIL 309A: Topics: War and Terrorism (PACS; competence: S)
Professor Jeremy Anderson, 2:50-3:50 MWF
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. Requirements include written responses to readings, discussion instigation, short papers, a research paper you'll discuss with the class, and participation. Interdisciplinary: Peace and Conflict Studies.

PHIL 360A: Philosophy of Science
Professor Jeff Dunn, 10:00-11:30 TR
Science has undeniably had a lot of success. And the scientific institution is influential, too: a 2016 Pew Research Center survey found that the scientific community is the second most trusted institution in the US. 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 institutions like politics or religion? Given the influential role that science has, these questions are 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 the demarcation problem. After that we’ll work through Thomas Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions. We’ll finish off the course by reading most of 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.

PHIL 469A: Topics: Philosophy of Mind
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?
Requirements include exams, some short papers, and a substantial final paper.

Phil 490A: Senior Seminar (competence: S)
Professor Rich Cameron, 8:20-9:50 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 will be covered, and they may be treated historically or systematically. Students will be responsible for presentations and discussions or the material. Several papers will be assigned, and each student selects one which will be the subject of a formal presentation. May not be taken pass-fail. Open only to seniors.

 


philosophy courses for Fall 2021

(Spring 2022 course descriptions are above.)

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.