We strongly encourage majors and minors to familiarize themselves with the all of the Department’s Advising Information.
The Department’s latest downloadable Fall 2021 Advising Newsletter can be found here.
FALL 2021 PHILOSOPHY COURSE DESCRIPTIONS
PHL 100/Introduction to Philosophy
A course that examines the fundamentals of philosophical argument, analysis and reasoning, as applied to a series of issues in logic, epistemology, metaphysics and ethics. Topics covered may include: logical validity, theories of knowledge and belief, the nature of mind, the nature of reality, arguments for the existence of God, and theories of right and wrong.
(LL: World Views & Ways of Knowing)
PHL 120/Introduction to Logic
A course on the basic principles and techniques of correct reasoning in ordinary life, philosophy, the liberal arts, and the law. Study of the formal systems of sentence logic and predicate logic. Translation of natural language statements and arguments and analysis and evaluation of deductive arguments through the construction of proofs. Focus particularly on the power and precision of the natural language with the aim of helping students increase their ability to think and write with creativity, precision and rigor.
(This course is recommended for pre-aw students and satisfies a requirement for the Law and Society Interdisciplinary Concentration and for the Law, Politics, and Philosophy Interdisciplinary minor.) (LL: World Views & Ways of Knowing; Writing Intensive)
PHL 135/Contemporary Moral Issues
This course provides an introduction to ethics, one of the main branches of philosophy. It aims to
familiarize students with basic concepts and theories in ethics, and with how they may be applied to a range of contemporary moral issues. Topics addressed may include racism, sexism, abortion,euthanasia, cloning, capital punishment, our obligations to the disadvantaged, the treatment of nonhuman animals, just war, and the like. Students will be encouraged to learn from great thinkers of the past and of the present, to examine their own moral values and beliefs, and to take reasoned and informed stands on the issues treated. (LL: World Views & Ways of Knowing)
PHL 201/Ancient Philosophy
This is a survey course on Plato and Aristotle. In order to place these two philosophers within their historical context, we shall begin by exploring the thought of the Pre-Socratic Philosophers (Parmenides, Zeno, Anaxagoras and Democritus) and the Sophists (Gorgias and Protagoras). The focus of the course shall be on epistemology, metaphysics and psychology. For Plato, we shall read two or three of the early dialogues (including the Euthyphro), both the Meno and the Phaedo, and parts of the Republic. We shall also look at Plato’s own criticism of the theory of the Forms in the Parmenides. For Aristotle, we shall read some of the organon, including parts of the Categories and the Posterior Analytics. These works provide the basis for Aristotle’s own rejection of the theory of Forms and they also introduce us to his conception of ‘scientific knowledge’. We shall read substantial selections from three of Aristotle’s more prominent works: the Nicomachean Ethics, the Physics, and On the Soul. (LL: World Views & Way of Knowing, Writing Intensive)
HON 265/Environmental Ethics
This course provides a comprehensive overview of the key issues and arguments within the field of environmental ethics. The course includes an examination of some basic issues in metaethics and normative ethical theory, and several kinds of ethical arguments for animal rights and environmental protection. We will also study major environmental movements, such as deep ecology, social ecology, ecofeminism and the environmental justice movement, and will consider selected public policy issues such as habitat preservation, land -use management, or pollution abatement. Special attention will be given to the issue of climate change, in particular, whether the present generations of human beings have a moral responsibility to future generations mitigate the effects of atmospheric pollution believed to be causing global warming. (LL: World Views & Ways of Knowing)
HON 270.01/PHL 370.01 Philosophy and Film
This course examines the philosophical significance of film as a medium, art, and image of reality.Part of this course is historical.We will begin by considering the ingenious experiments of early film-makers and then turn our attention to the aesthetics of silent film in the 1920s and the transition to talkies in the 1930s. Part of this course is conceptual.We will compare cinematic images of reality with perceptual experience and the imaginative capabilities of other art forms, especially painting and literature.We will also explore principles of film interpretation and evaluation. The largest part of this course focuses on the philosophical content of specific films.We will watch and analyze both self-consciously philosophical films, like Woody Allen’s Crimes and Misdemeanorsand Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, and films that lend themselves to philosophical readings like Harold Ramis’ Groundhog Day. There will also be opportunities for students to work on films of their own choice.
PHL 270.02/Topics in Philosophy: Islamic Philosophy
This course is intended to be an introduction to some major issues, figures, and texts of Islamic philosophy, theology. All discussions will take place at two different levels: First, we outline the larger religious, historical, and intellectual context in which each philosopher or theologian, perceived and addressed his/her own central questions. Second, we closely examine the logical structure of some major arguments they presented to support their claims, and will critically evaluate the soundness of their arguments. The content of the course can be presented in two different ways: First, the course presents an introduction to main figures in Islamic Theology or kalām; and Islamic Philosophy or falsafih. These figures include al-Juwaini, al-Ghazali, Abd al-Jabbar, al-Razi, al-Farabi, Avicenna, and Averroes. On the other hand, the course can be seen as an exploration of the nature of happiness and immortality through discussions of historical figures in Islamic Theology and Islamic Philosophy. In the first part of the course, we discuss moral philosophy in Islamic Theology. We will examine the Mu’tazilites’ and Ash’arites’ views on ethical theory. The Mu’tazilites formulated the rationalist Islamic ethical system with basic deontological presuppositions, and the Ash’arites formulated a rigorous ‘voluntarist’ and consequentialist system of morality. The second part of the course deals with the nature of happiness and immortality among Islamic philosophers. We can’t understand the nature of happiness in Islamic philosophy unless we have a better understanding of cosmology and philosophy of mind espoused by Islamic philosophers. By investigating the view of Islamic philosophers on the nature of soul and its immortality we strive to have a better understanding of human happiness in Islamic thought. (LL: World Views & Ways of Knowing)
PHL 370.03/Topics in Philosophy: Your Mom Can’t Prove she is Not a Zombie and Other Fun Facts about the Nature of Consciousness
In this course we will examine some foundational problems and issues in philosophy of mind. The main problem starts with the nature of consciousness: what is it? Where does it come from? Is it physical (a brain)? Is it just a brain? or something else? If so, what could it be that would fit in with our theories of physical objects (like brains)? This leads to questions like: what is the human brain and how exactly does it have consciousness? This problem is tightly related to the problem of artificial intelligence (AI). First: what is ‘intelligence’? When is it ‘artificial’? Are animals intelligent? Are they conscious? How? Is intelligence algorithmic? Or not? Are you intelligent? How? Are your friends/mom intelligent? How? To answer that we’ll need to discuss some current models of intelligence. Once we’ve got a handle on what ‘intelligence’ can mean, we can start asking questions about our own intelligence and that of anybody or anything else, and its connection to the nature of consciousness. What’s a robot? Are they zombies? What’s a zombie? Are you a zombie? Is your mom a zombie? Spoiler: Even if she isn’t, she won’t be able to prove it. Sorry mom. We will discuss these and other questions in this course! (LL: World Views & Ways of Knowing)
PHL 375/Law and Ethics
Prerequisite: One course in philosophy or permission of instructor.
A seminar on the moral foundations of the law and the relation between law and ethics. In that connection, we explore utilitarianism and objections to that theory grounded in considerations of equality and in privacy. Readings for the course will come from both traditional and contemporary sources in moral philosophy and from Supreme Court and other court opinions. (LL: World Views & Ways of Knowing)
PHL 493/Senior Project
Prerequisite: Senior status or junior status
A writing project prepared under the advisement of a member of the philosophy faculty. Students must complete a carefully researched and written, in-depth work in philosophy on a topic of significance in philosophy, selected by the student in consultation with faculty and written under the close supervision of a faculty member who serves as advisor.
PHL 495/Senior Thesis Research
Prerequisite: Senior standing as a philosophy major and permission of instructor
Independent research under the guidance of a full-time faculty member on a mutually agreed-on topic. Students will be expected to define a topic suitable for a capstone thesis, conduct a series of appropriate literature reviews, and develop a writing plan.
PHL 496/Senior Thesis
Prerequisite: PHL 495 and permission of instructor
A substantial writing project prepared under the advisement of a member of the philosophy faculty. Students must complete a carefully researched and written, in-depth work in philosophy on a topic of significance in philosophy, selected by the student in consultation with faculty and written under the close supervision of a faculty adviser.
RELIGION COURSE DESCRIPTIONS
REL 110/World Religions
This course focuses on the exploration of the world’s major religious traditions. Students will examine and compare the essential teachings, and the historical and cultural context, of most or all of the following: Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and one or more additional non-western traditions.
(LL: World Views & Ways of Knowing; Global)
REL 111/Buddhism & Buddhist Thought
This course will study the historical and philosophical development of Buddhism from its origin in India to its modern day practice in Japan and Tibet. It will explore the essential teachings and practice of Buddhism both in its early and modern form found in India, Sri Lanka, China, Japan and Tibet. It will examine both primary texts from various Buddhist traditions and secondary materials in order to gain a better appreciation for this religious tradition which has survived in Asia for centuries and is gaining popularity in the West in recent times.
(LL: World Views & Ways of Knowing; Global)
REL 112/Hinduism and Hindu Thought
Course examining Hinduism and some of the intellectual traditions that have flourished in conjunction with it. Students will study the historical origins and essential teachings of this religion and explore some of the literary and philosophical traditions that developed from or in close connection with Hinduism.(LL: World Views & Ways of Knowing; Global)
REL 120/Early Judaism
Course examining the fundamentals, history and development of the Jewish faith and way of life. Students will study the Jewish historical experience and the evolving theological responses to that experience from the beginnings of Judaism until the French Revolution.
(LL: World Views & Ways of Knowing)
HGS 320/Holocaust: Historical and Religious Perspectives
This course will provide a background to the actual events and an introduction to the historiographic, philosophical and religious dimensions of the Holocaust. The main focus of the course will be interpreting the causes, events, and lessons in light of the historical, philosophical, and religious perspectives. This course will lead students to a fullerunderstanding of the Holocaust and its effect on contemporary religious and philosophical life.
(LL: World Views & Ways of Knowing)
CLASSICAL STUDIES COURSE DESCRIPTIONS
CLS 250/Introduction to Greek Mythology
This course is an introduction to ancient Greek mythology through primary texts such as Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, Aeschylus’ Agamemnon, Sophocles’ Ajax, et al. We shall focus on the Trojan War cycle of myths and its greatest heroes in order to understand how the ancient Greeks explored important aspects of their society through literature that ostensibly presents mythological events and characters. Attention is also given to visual representations of myth in sculpture and on vases and to differentiating the ancient Greek concept of “myth” from our own. (LL: Literary, Visual & Performing Arts)
CLS 303 & HIS 303 History of the Roman Empire
The Roman imperial system at its height and its ultimate decline and/or transformation after the third century CE. (LL: Social Change in Historical Perspective)
CLS 305 & HIS 305 & REL 305 Ancient Christianity
A course focusing on the emergence of early Christianities during the first four centuries of the Common Era, in the Roman Empire and surrounding areas. The course will take into account the philosophical, political, cultural, and religious interactions (conflicts and differences within emerging communities) which challenged Christian groups and gradually shaped the Catholic Orthodox faith. Beliefs, ritual practices, scriptures, and structures of authority will be examined. We will also address issues of anti-Jewish sentiment, issues involving the theological understanding and role of women, and the role of violence in these developments. (LL: Social Change in Historical Perspective)
LATIN COURSE DESCRIPTIONS
This course is the first part of a two-semester introduction to the elements of classical Latin, and aims at allowing students to read classical Latin texts as quickly as possible.The focus of the course is the vocabulary, grammar, and syntax of classical Latin, but linguistic and cultural history will also be treated.
(LL: Language-Modern & Classical)
Prerequisite: LAT 102
Concentration on translation, appreciation, and interpretation of great authors of the Roman world.
(LL: Language-Modern & Classical)
HONORS COURSE DESCRIPTIONS
HON 265.01/Environmental Ethics
This course provides a comprehensive overview of the key issues and arguments within the field of environmental ethics. The course includes an examination of some basic issues in metaethics and normative ethical theory, and several kinds of ethical arguments for animal rights and environmental protection. We will also study major environmental movements, such as deep ecology, social ecology, ecofeminism and the environmental justice movement, and will consider selected public policy issues such as habitat preservation, land -use management, or pollution abatement. Special attention will be given to the issue of climate change, in particular, whether the present generations of human beings have a moral responsibility to future generations mitigate the effects of atmospheric pollution believed to be causing global warming.