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.
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. firstname.lastname@example.org
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 email@example.com 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
PHIL 101A: INTRO TO PHILOSOPHY (Area: AH)
Professor Daniel Shannon, 10:20-11:20 MWF
A variety of philosophical topics will be discussed, including how to make and evaluate arguments, can we prove that God exists, do we have freedom of will. There will be mixture of papers and tests. Class participation is strongly encouraged.
PHIL 101B: INTRO TO PHILOSOPHY (Area: AH)
Professor Jeremy Anderson, 9:10-10:10MWF
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 101C: INTRO TO PHILOSOPHY (Area: AH)
Professor Richard Cameron, 12:30-1:30 MWF
Our course will introduce philosophy through reflection on diverse applications of Socrates’s famous dictum that “the unexamined life is not worth living for a person.” We’ll ask why examination has been considered so central to a good life, and apply Socratic-style techniques of examination to issues from animal ethics to race and gender, the existence of God, what we should believe about climate change, economic justice, and the meaning of life.
PHIL 101D: INTRO TO PHILOSOPHY (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: 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: Animal Ethics (Area: AH)
Professor Jennifer Everett 9:10-10:10 MWF
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: Wealth and Happiness (‘W’)
Professor Richard Cameron 9:10-10:10 MWF
It is purest common sense that a person needs a certain sufficiency of wealth, perhaps even a large sufficiency, to be successful or happy. But philosophers (and theologians and other social critics) have from time immemorial called the connection between wealth and happiness into question. And given another common sense belief, i.e., that the best things in life are free, one begins to wonder why so many are so frantically devoted to accumulating ever more wealth, especially in an age when the continuation of business as usual fossil-fuel driven consumption presents us with the near certainty of anthropogenic climate catastrophe. Even these initial ideas suggest that our ‘common sense’ ideas about wealth and happiness contain puzzles and tensions that deserve further scrutiny. The purpose of our course will be to read, discuss, and reflect upon classic and contemporary economists, philosophers, and other thinkers in the hopes of teasing out these sorts of puzzles, and more.
PHIL 209C: Philosophy for Children
Professor Jeffrey Dunn 10:20-11:20 MWF
The highlight of this course will be teaching philosophy to elementary school students in the Greencastle area. We will do this by leading discussions based on popular children’s books once a week at Ridpath Elementary School. In preparing to lead these discussions you’ll learn about various areas of philosophy such as ethics, metaphysics, epistemology, and political philosophy. You will also learn how to construct lesson plans that help facilitate good philosophical discussions. Throughout the semester we will also consider whether children are genuinely capable of philosophical inquiry and broader questions about the purpose of education. However, our primary focus will be on facilitating philosophical discussion among the elementary school students themselves.
PHIL 213A: History of Philosophy (Area: AH)
Professor Daniel Shannon 12:30-1:30 MWF
In Medieval Philosophy we will discuss the following topics: what is knowledge and can skepticism be refuted; can God and its attributes be known; if God has foreknowledge do we have freedom; what is the purpose and nature of government? There will tests, papers, and class presentations. Daily participation is strongly encouraged.
PHIL 230A: Ethical Theory (Area: AH; PACS)
Professor Jeremy Anderson 12:30-1:30 MWF
The question, “What should I do?” is ubiquitous for us. Clearly, in most situations, some choices are better than others. Further, various explanations can be given for why some choices are better, and some explanations are better than others. In this course we will consider several major types of ethical theory -- that is, explanations for why some choices are better -- and examine their features, merits, and weaknesses. If time permits we may also consider various controversial issues such as abortion, euthanasia, and war. Requirements will include exams, papers, a presentation, and participation.
PHIL 230B: Ethical Theory (Area: AH; ‘W’; PACS)
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 tests, papers, and unannounced quizzes.
PHIL 251A: Logic (Area: SM; ‘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. A Computer Science allied course. For questions please do not hesitate to email me: email@example.com
PHIL 251B: Logic (Area: SM; ‘Q’)
Professor Jeffrey Dunn 2:50-3:50 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.
PHIL309A: Topics: Metaethics
Professor Jessica Mejia 12:40-2:10 TR
In this course, we will study theories about the most general features of ethics: metaphysics and epistemology of ethics. What is the meaning of ethical terms: good, bad, right, wrong? How do we know what good, bad, right and wrong are? Is it even possible to know such things? What does it mean to hold an ethical view or make an ethical judgment? We will also consider a metaethical divine command theory.
PHIL363A: Philosophy of Religion
Professor Erik Wielenberg 2:20-3:50 TR
This course is devoted to a philosophical examination of the nature and existence of the Judeo-Christian God. Early in the course we will draw on Saint Anselm’s declaration that God is a being “than which none greater can be conceived” to develop a working definition of God. We will then consider some of the most discussed arguments for and against the existence of God. While we will devote some attention to important historical figures (for example, Thomas Aquinas and Immanuel Kant), the majority of the readings will be drawn from contemporary work in the philosophy of religion. We will read and discuss work from prominent contemporary Christian philosophers as well as skeptics and critics. This course is open to believers and non-believers alike; indeed, the course works best when diverse points of view are represented in class discussion. The requirements include some short papers, a final paper, a midterm exam, and a final exam.
PHIL419A: Major Philosophers: Plato and Platonisms
Professor Keith Nightenhelser 10:00-11:30 TR
This course will pursue Plato’s thesis that the Good is beyond being, that is, that intrinsic value somehow is prior to what exists. if correct, this thesis may warrant making ethics more fundamental to philosophy than epistemology, metaphysics, and ontology. We will first look at how this notion appears in works of Plato such as Republic and Phaedrus (we will read both carefully and slowly), then at some ancient and early modern reactions to this and related ideas in Aristotle, Plotinus, and Descartes. About half the semester we will pursue the idea as developed by 20th century thinkers like Iris Murdoch (in her book The Sovereignty of Good) and phenomenologist Emmanuel Levinas. (Levinas counted Plato’s Phaedrus among the five greatest works of Western philosophy.)
PHIL490A: Senior Seminar (‘S’)
Professor Jeremy Anderson 2:20-3:50 MW
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 senior philosophy majors.