Majors & Minors Courses

Fall 2017 


Ancient & Medieval Philosophy
30301 01 (11620)

2:00-3:15 TR
Crosslisted with: PHIL 30301-03

A philosophical examination of religious beliefs. Topics include the existence and nature of God, the problem of evil, immortality, miracles, the meaning of religious language, the basis for religious belief, and the varieties and conflicts of religions. Readings will be taken from both classical and contemporary sources.

Requirements: Term paper, midterm exam, and final exam.

Ancient & Medieval Philosophy
30301 02 (20139)

3:30-4:45 TR

A philosophical examination of religious beliefs. Topics include the existence and nature of God, the problem of evil, immortality, miracles, the meaning of religious language, the basis for religious belief, and the varieties and conflicts of religions. Readings will be taken from both classical and contemporary sources.

Requirements: Term paper, midterm exam, and final exam.

Ancient & Medieval Philosophy (Glynn Honors ONLY)
30301 03 (17550)

2:00-3:15 TR
Crosslisted with: PHIL 30301-01

A philosophical examination of religious beliefs. Topics include the existence and nature of God, the problem of evil, immortality, miracles, the meaning of religious language, the basis for religious belief, and the varieties and conflicts of religions. Readings will be taken from both classical and contemporary sources.

Requirements: Term paper, midterm exam, and final exam.

History of Modern Philosophy
30302 01 (11072)

12:30-1:45 TR

The sweeping scientific revolution of the 17th and 18th centuries paralleled the development of sweeping new approaches to philosophy. Of particular concern to these so-called “modern philosophers” was to understand the relationship between human beings and the natural world, especially in the light of the emerging new scientific picture. In this course, we will explore many facets of this relationship: the relationship between the mind and the body; the nature, role and knowledge of God; skepticism and knowledge of the external world; the possibility of human freedom; the possibility of miracles; causation; and the nature of the fundamentally real. As we will see along the way, many of the new methods, problems and proposed solutions surrounding these topics are the very methods, problems, and solutions still driving contemporary philosophy.

Readings will be drawn mainly from Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, and Kant.

Textbook: Modern Philosophy: An Anthology of Primary Sources, eds. Ariew and Watkins, Hackett Publishing, 2nd edition

Requirements: 2 papers, 2 exams, occasional short writing exercises

Philosophy as a Way of Life
30305 01 (20138)

2:00-3:15 MW

Formal Logic
30313 01 (20139)

11:00-12:15 MW

This course will provide an introduction to first-order formal logic. We'll begin by introducing a nice symbolic language and then learn how to "translate" between this language and ordinary English. Next, we'll study the notions of deduction and entailment as they are defined for this language. Finally, and on a more explicitly philosophical note, we'll discuss the degree to which these formally defined notions manage to capture ordinary language notions like "logical consequence" or "argumentative validity."

Seminars in Philosophy, Science, and Mathematics
30329 01 (17907)

Blanchette, Franks 
12:30-1:45 TR

This is the gateway course for the major in Philosophy, Science and Mathematics. In it, we explore some of the central philosophical issues that arise in the pursuit of mathematics and of science broadly speaking. Some of those topics include: the nature of mathematical truth and its relationship to the empirical world; the relationship between empirical data and scientific knowledge, and several more specialized themes from the history and philosophy of mathematics and the empirical sciences.

Philosophical Issues in Physics
30389 01 (20140)

11:00-12:15 MW

This course is intended for non-science students who desire to begin an examination of the origins of the modern laws of physics and for science students who wish to know the actual route to the discovery and the broader implications of the formal theories with which they are already familiar. The historical background to and philosophical questions associated with major laws of physics will be discussed, in large measure by examining directly relevant excerpts from the writings of some of the creators of seminal concepts and theories in physics. The latter part of the course will concentrate on historical and philosophical issues related to relativity and especially to quantum theory and its interpretation.

43187 01 (20141)

9:30-10:45 TR

A comprehensive survey of Nietzsche's most important writings.  The focus is on his views on ethics, aesthetics, psychology, history, and the nature of the philosophical enterprise.

Environmental Justice
43308 01 (20142)

3:30-6:20 T
Crosslist: STV 43396-01, BIOS 50544-01

“Environmental injustice” (EIJ) refers to the fact that children, minorities, and poor people receive higher exposures to environmental toxins that damage their health and kill them. This course is designed to understand and to address EIJ, and it is for people interested in environmental problems and the social injustices that they cause. It will cover flaws in scientific method and in ethics that cause EIJ. Course is hands-on, practical, and dedicated to showing students how to do environment-related social-justice analysis and how to analyze environmental-impact assessments. Students choose individual projects on which to work, and these projects determine most of the course grade. These projects also are designed to help influence environmental policy or to serve the needs of specific pollution-threatened poor or minority communities. For more information, see the syllabus at 

Course Prerequisites: Instructor's permission required if student is not a philosophy, pre-med, science, math, or engineering major (via email to to register for course. 

Course Requirements: There are weekly quizzes; but no tests and no exams, 2 short, analytic papers; participation in classroom analysis, and one student-chosen project. Students each choose an EJ project on which to work, so that they can use techniques (learned in the course) to promote real-world social justice and improved use of scientific methods in specific poor or minority communities who are victimized by pollution. There are no exams. 

Course Texts include Peter Singer, One World; Shrader-Frechette, Environmental Justice; and a variety of articles from scientific and medical journals. 

The Demands of Morality
43323 01 (20143)

2:00-3:15 MW 

This course examines theoretical and practical issues concerning the limits of morality.

Questions to be explored include: Is it ever morally permissible to do less than what is morally best? How much does morality demand in ordinary situations? What about emergency situations? What sense can be made of the claim that some acts are above and beyond the call of duty?

Several papers; regular in class activities; no exams.

Philosophy and Film
43333 01 (20144)

2:00-3:15 TR
Crosslisted with: PHIL 20440-03

Film has drawn the attention of philosophers and cultural theorists almost from its inception and has increasingly become a topic of interest in contemporary academic philosophy. Various directors and movements in film history have likewise been concerned with various philosophical questions and themes. A number of features of the medium make it open to philosophical investigation – its appeal to mass audiences and its social impact, questions of viewer identification, aesthetic questions about features of film like editing techniques and genre conventions, and its relationship to other art forms and new media.

This course will explore these issues and others at the intersection of philosophy and film, drawing on readings from film theory, traditional philosophy, and cultural criticism. Screenings will be drawn from a broad range of genres from the silent era to the present day.

Contemporary Ethics
43336 01 (21016)

11:-12:15 TR
Crosslisted with: PHIL 93602-01

James P. Sterba, Ethics (Blackwell, 2009)
Alasdair MacIntrye, Ethics in the Conflict of Modernity (Oxford, 2016)

Reading Assignments:

              1) A. J. Ayer, The Emotive Theory of Ethics
                   Brand Blanshard, The New Subjectivism in Ethics
              2) John R. Searle, How to Derive 'Ought' from 'Is'
                   Antony Flew, On Not Deriving 'Ought' from 'Is'
              3) Alan Gewirth, The Justificatory Argument for Human Rights
                  Christine Korsgaard, The Sources of Normativity 
              4) James P. Sterba, Justification of Morality & the Behavior of Women 
                   Alan Gewirth, The Rational Justification of Morality Revisited
                   Philippa Foot, Morality as a System of Hypothetical Imperatives

              5)  Bernard Williams, Against Utilitarianism
                    Kai Nielson, Traditional Morality and Utilitarianism 
              6)  Michael  Stocker, The Schozophenia of Modern Ethical Theories
                    Peter Railton, Alienation, Consequentialism and the Demands of Morality 
              7) Fred Feldman, Kantian Ethics
                   Christine Korsgaard, Kant on Dealing with Evil
              8) John  Rawls, Welfare Liberalism
                   Charles W. Mills, Race and the Social Contract Tradition
              9) Jan Narveson, Liberty and Equality – A Question of Balance? 
                   James P. Sterba, Our Basic Human Right is a Right to Liberty and it leads to Equality
            10) Martha Nussbaum, Non-Relative Virtues: An Aristotelian Approach
                   Alasdair Macintyre, The Nature of Virtues
            11) Rosalind Hursthouse, Normative Virtue Ethics 
                   Robert N. Johnson, Virtue and Right 
            12) Sean Drysdale Walsh, Teleology, Aristotelian Virtue and Right 
                   Julia Annas, Ancient Ethics and Modern Morality

            Feminism: How is Gender Relevant to Morality?
            13) Carol Gilligan, Moral Orientation and Moral Development 
                   Virginia Held, Caring Relations and Principles of Justice 
            14) Claudia Card, Particular Justice and General Care
.                  James P. Sterba, The Masculine Bias in Traditional Ethics and How to Correct it
            Environmentalism: Who is to Count in Morality?
            15) Peter Singer, All Animals are Equal 
                   Paul Taylor, The Ethics of Respect for Nature 
            16) James P. Sterba, Kantians and Utilitarians and the Moral Status of Nonhuman Life 
                   Karen Warren, The Power and Promise of Ecological Feminism
            Multiculturalism:  Morality From Whose Cultural Perspective?
            17) Ayaan Hirsi Ali, A Modern Clash of Cultures 
                   Madeleine Bunting, Can Islam Liberate Women? 

            18) Alasdair MacIntyre, Ethics in the Conflicts of Modernity, Chapter 1
            19) Alasdair MacIntyre, Ethics in the Conflicts of Modernity, Chapter 2
            20) Alasdair MacIntyre, Ethics in the Conflicts of Modernity, Chapter 3
            21) Alasdair MacIntyre, Ethics in the Conflicts of Modernity, Chapter 4 to 201 
            22) Alasdair MacIntyre, Ethics in the Conflicts of Modernity, Chapter 4 from 202
            23) Alasdair MacIntyre, Ethics in the Conflicts of Modernity, Chapter 5

Paper Topics Assigned After Readings 12, 17 and 23

Justice Seminar
43404 01 (11667)

3:30-4:45 TR
Crosslist:  POLS 43640, ECON 33250

The Justice Seminar undertakes a critical examination of major theories of justice, using both contemporary works (e.g., John Rawls' A Theory of Justice and Kenneth Arrow's seminal papers on voting theory) and historical classics (e.g., Aristotle's Politics and the Lincoln-Douglas debates). The seminar requires substantial written work and discussion. This is the core course for the minor in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (P.P.E.).

Classical Political 
43441 01 (20145)

9:30-10:45 MW

According to Aristotle, every community is for the sake of some good, and so the political community is the most authoritative, as it exists for the sake of the most complete good—living well. We will read Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics and Politics closely in an endeavor to understand what this claim means, what the good life is, why Aristotle thinks virtue is so important to this life, why he links the political and ethical realms so closely to each other, and why he identifies the philosophical life and the political life as the best lives. 

43501 01 (20146)

3:30-4:45 MW

Metaphysics is the area of philosophy that explores the underlying reality of the world, which can create the impression that metaphysics is dry, uninteresting, and irrelevant to our lives. This, however, is not the case, and in this course we will explore metaphysical topics that matter. Some questions along these lines are: How do I freely choose my actions, or is the future fixed? What sort of thing are we, and what happens to us when we die? What is the nature of race and gender? Along the way we will learn key metaphysical concepts, including essence, possible world, existence, naturalness, personhood, and causation. The course is primarily discussion-based and will emphasize philosophy as a collaborative activity.

Biomedical Ethics, Scientific Evidence, and Public Health Risk
43708 01 (20147)

3:30-6:15 W
Crosslist: STV 40216-01

This course is designed for those interested in social-justice, medical, and health problems, especially premedical students and those studying the environment, science, and engineering. It will survey ethical and scientific issues associated with current public-health problems such as pollution-induced cancers, occupational injury and death, threats to children’s health, and inadequate emphasis on disease prevention, nutrition, and environmental health. For more information, see the syllabus at 

Course Requirements: Weekly quizzes but no tests and no exams, 3 short papers, readings for every class, participation in classroom analysis. 

Course Prerequisites: Instructor’s permission required if not premed, biology, or philosophy major 

(obtained via email to 

Forbidden Knowledge
43717 01 (20978)

5:05-6:20 MW
Crosslisted with: PHIL 93826, HPS 93826, STV 43717

Science has traditionally been billed as our foremost producer of knowledge.  For more than a decade now, however, science has also been billed as an important producer of ignorance.  Indeed, historian of science Robert Proctor has coined a new term, agnotology, to refer to the study of ignorance, a new area of enquiry, and it turns out that much of the ignorance studied in this new area is produced by science. According to Proctor and other agnotologists, ignorance is far more complex than previously thought.  Ignorance is not just the void that precedes knowledge or the privation that results when attention focuses elsewhere.  It is also—in fact, it is especially--something socially constructed: the confusion produced, for example, when an increasingly politicized and commercialized science blocks access to information or even creates misinformation. 

But ignorance as “active construct” is only one type of ignorance on the research agenda of agnotology.  Proctor has distinguished two other types of ignorance also produced by science:  ignorance as “passive construct,” the kind of ignorance that is the unintended by-product of choices made in the research process; and ignorance as “virtuous”—when “not knowing” is accepted in research as a consequence of adopting certain values.  

In this course we shall explore this new interdisciplinary area of ignorance studies and its relation to the knowledge studies of philosophy—epistemology and philosophy of science.  Accordingly, readings will be drawn from the work of a broad array of scholars—scientists, historians, journalists, and social critics as well as philosophers.  The course will be run as a seminar.  Students will lead class discussions, present the results of individual research projects to the group, and have the opportunity to further develop those projects using feedback from the group. The aim in all this will be for each student to develop a fully informed and defensible response to the new terrain we shall be exploring.  

Contemporary Christian Philosophy
43820 01 (20148)

11:00-12:15 TR

Intermediate Logic
43907 01 (20149)

9:30-10:45 TR

Topics in Mathematical Logic
43922 01 (20150)

10:30-11:30 MWF

This is a rst course in mathematical logic aimed at senior level mathe-matics students but also suitable for students from philosophy and computerscience.  The course is about what it means for a statement, in a suitable for-malism (propositional or predicate logic) to be true, false, tautological, etc.and what methods there are for checking or proving this.  More precisely thecourse will include the syntax and semantics of propositional and predicatelogic, as well as proof systems and completeness theorems.  Included amongtexts that may be used for the course are(i) A mathematical introduction to logic, by Herbert Enderton.(ii) Logic for Computer Scientists, by Uwe Schoning.(iii) Logic for mathematics and computer science, by Stanley Burris.The book (i) is a traditional treatment of the subject.  Books (ii) and (iii)include the resolution method or calculus for checking unsatis ability, whichis related to logic programming and automated reasoning.

Infinity in Philosophy
43923 01 (20151)

2:00-3:15 TR

Thinking about infinity has been part of philosophy since its earliest days, and mathematical advances in the theory of infinity mean it remains an important area for philosophy today. This course will examine some ancient and early modern puzzles about infinity as well as contemporary philosophical issues. Issues to be discussed will include puzzles about infinite divisibility of space and time; paradoxes of infinite decision theory; infinite regress arguments; and paradoxes associated with the "absolute infinite" in mathematics.

Directed Readings   
46497 01 (11259)


Directed Readings
46497 02 (10075)


Senior Thesis
48499 01 (10765)

5:05-5:55 F


The 3xxxx and 4xxxx level courses are typically for majors only and carry the major core courses as prerequisites. They are more difficult than 20000 level courses which should be used for completing university requirements. If you are a non-major interested in taking one of these courses, you must sign up for an appointment with Professor Jech, the Director of Undergraduate Studies