2nd courses in Philosophy

Second courses in Philosophy are designed for non-majors who would like to pursue philosophical questions beyond their introduction to philosophy. These courses typically focus on a sub-field of philosophy, to enable students to focus in on areas of interest in a way which is not possible in the typically introduction to philosophy.

We offer courses across every major field of philosophy; among the most commonly offered courses have been courses in the philosophy of science, in ethics and political philosophy, and in the philosophy of religion. All of the courses listed below satisfy the University Philosophy Requirement.

 

Philosophy of Human Nature
20201 01 (24052)

Reimers
8:20-9:10 MWF

In our age, the nature of the human person has become increasingly important theme in philosophical anthropology. Is there a difference between being a member of the species homo sapiens and being a person? Or must we say that contemporary sciences have shown that personhood is a kind of subjectivist illusion, that we are basically organic machines? Can we say that life has a meaning? We will consider the nature of the human person in the light of contemporary challenges and the classical writings.

Texts will be drawn from the Vatican Council's Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, Thomas Aquinas, Treatise on Happiness, Karol Wojtyła Love and Responsibility, and Adrian J. Reimers The Soul of the Person.
Course requirements: four or five quizzes, two papers, and a final exam.


Philosophy of Human Nature
20201 02 (24051)
Reimers
9:25-10:15 MWF

In our age, the nature of the human person has become increasingly important theme in philosophical anthropology. Is there a difference between being a member of the species homo sapiens and being a person? Or must we say that contemporary sciences have shown that personhood is a kind of subjectivist illusion, that we are basically organic machines? Can we say that life has a meaning? We will consider the nature of the human person in the light of contemporary challenges and the classical writings.

Texts will be drawn from the Vatican Council's Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, Thomas Aquinas, Treatise on Happiness, Karol Wojtyła Love and Responsibility, and Adrian J. Reimers The Soul of the Person.
Course requirements: four or five quizzes, two papers, and a final exam.


Death and Dying
20203 01 (30615)

Mohammadian
9:30-10:45 TR

The list of those experiences that each and every human being definitely has is not very long. Death and dying, however, are certainly on this list. Doesn’t this suffice to give death and dying some serious thought? If you think it does, this course provides you an excellent venue for thinking seriously and deeply about them. If you think it doesn’t, this course will convince you that death and dying actually are worth deep and serious thinking. Although primarily a philosophy course, we won’t limit our discussions exclusively to philosophical challenges regarding understanding what constitutes death, what happens for ‘I’ after my death, moral issues concerning badness (or goodness!) of death for the deceased, and ethics of killing, abortion, euthanasia, etc. We will also study death and its representation in a broader cultural context by examining some works in religion, literature, cinema, and comedy.


Theories of Sexual Difference
20205 01 (30616)

Kourany
5:05-6:20 MW

What kind of differences separate men and women? Are these differences natural or are they socially produced, and are these differences beneficial to us or are they limiting? Most important, what does equality mean for people characterized by such differences? These are the questions we shall pursue in this course, and we shall pursue them systematically, devoting attention even to the male/female sex difference itself and the current debates over intersexuals, transsexuals, and transgendered persons.

The style of the course will be discussions, and these will be informed by readings drawn from a variety of sources, including natural and social scientists and journalists- as well as philosophers, and both feminists and contributors to men's studies. Requirements will include three papers as well as active participation in discussions.

Crosslisted with: GSC 20102


Minds, Brains, and Persons
20208 01 (27727)

Cutter
9:30-10:45 TR


Paradoxes
20229 01 (27728)

Snapper
9:30-10:45 TR

This course introduces students to a wide variety of philosophical topics by examining paradoxes. A paradox is a collection of sentences each of which seems true, and yet, it seems that they cannot all be true. The paradoxes we will consider involve freedom, fatalism, foreknowledge, space, time, time travel, material objects, knowledge, moral responsibility, trinity, motion, truth, and vagueness. At the outset, there is a heavy emphasis on logic. In addition to gaining a rigorous exposure to these topics, students will also improve their ability to critically analyze arguments. The course will be a mixture of lecture and discussion.


Marx, Nietzsche, Freud: Philosophical and Historical Aspects of Comparison
20243 01 (30120)

Norton
12:30-1:45 MW

This course introduces students to the work and impact of perhaps the three most influential thinkers of post-Hegelian modernity. Karl Marx’ historical materialism, Friedrich Nietzsche’s atheism, perspectivism and genealogical method, and Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalysis have fundamentally challenged our traditional frameworks for understanding the human mind and agency, society, history, culture, morality, and religion. According to each of these three “masters of suspicion,” as the French philosopher Paul Ricoeur famously called them, we typically fall victim to some form of “false consciousness” that systematically distorts our perspective on both the world around us and our own selves. According to Marx, economic structures and processes in capitalist society generate class-bound views that conceal rather than reveal the very nature and historical fate of capitalism as a necessarily collapsing social environment that is fundamentally incompatible with true human flourishing. According to Nietzsche, our most cherished intuitions about truth and knowledge, morality and religion have emerged through historically contingent and ultimately indefensible processes. Their ideological sediments (what Nietzsche called “idols”) misguide us about what form of human life is truly valuable. According to Freud, unconscious mechanisms, which can be elucidated through psychoanalytical techniques with therapeutic benefit, deceive us about the complex structure of our mind and its behavioral manifestations.

Our task in examining these and related contentions will be exegetical as well as philosophical. As exegetes, we will try to thoroughly understand what Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud actually claimed. As students of philosophy, we will attempt to justly assess the merits and demerits of their descriptive and normative claims. Starting with succinct biographical and historical-contextual overviews for each of the three authors, we will investigate and critically compare the thematic contents, methodological commitments and argumentative structures of selected key writings that revolve around the following complementary topics: (1) society and history, (2) the human mind and human agency, (3) religion and morality, (4) culture, literature and the arts.

Crosslisted with: German 20420


Classical Chinese Philosophy
20248 01 (30617)

Longenecker
2:00-3:15 MW

This course examines classical Chinese philosophical texts such as those by Kongzi (Confucius), Mozi, Laozi, Mengzi (Mencius), Zhuangzi and Han Feizi. These thinkers were concerned primarily with questions such as ‘how should we live?’ and ‘what can a state do to create a just society?’ Attempting to answer such questions also led to debates concerning the nature of reality, knowledge and language. We will also look at the reception of Buddhism in China. Students in the course needn't have any prior knowledge of the Chinese language or history.


Classical Chinese Philosophy
20248 02 (30618)

Longenecker
3:30-4:45 MW

This course examines classical Chinese philosophical texts such as those by Kongzi (Confucius), Mozi, Laozi, Mengzi (Mencius), Zhuangzi and Han Feizi. These thinkers were concerned primarily with questions such as ‘how should we live?’ and ‘what can a state do to create a just society?’ Attempting to answer such questions also led to debates concerning the nature of reality, knowledge and language. We will also look at the reception of Buddhism in China. Students in the course needn't have any prior knowledge of the Chinese language or history.


Systematic Thinking: God, Identity, and the Moderns
20249 01 (30619)

Clay
9:30-10:45 TR

This class is dedicated to helping you develop a systematic philosophical worldview. Ethics, metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of mind—you name the domain, and we'll think about a major issue from it. And, crucially, we will think about how positions on these issues relate to one another. We will see that, for instance, what you believe about personal identity affects what you ought to believe about abortion, euthanasia, and the possibility of you (yes, you!) making it into an afterlife. Every philosophical position has consequences.

Yet, as you might have noticed from the title, the so-called "early modern" philosophers—roughly those writing in the period from Descartes to Kant—will also feature prominently in this class. Why? Well, like many fields, philosophy has undergone increasing specialization in recent years. One benefit of this trend is that philosophers are digging deeper into issues of all sorts. However, one cost is that often the big picture is forgotten, or at least shelved for the time being as narrower problems are addressed. An era where this sort of overspecialization did not occur was the early modern period. Most early moderns developed systematic worldviews that contained answers to many of the big questions. In fact, the worldviews that the early moderns developed are among the main options that contemporary philosophers still investigate today. As a consequence, the early moderns can provide us with guidance about how to go about developing a systematic philosophical worldview, and studying the early moderns can help you better understand contemporary philosophy.


Ethics
20401 01 (25508)

Madison
9:30-10:45 TR


Moral Problems
20402 01 (24837)

Crummett
2:00-3:15 TR


Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art
20411 01 (30121)
Rush
2:00-3:15 TR

This course is an introduction into certain key concepts and issues involved in thinking philosophically about art. There are five main topic areas covered: (1) the ontology of art, i.e., what differentiates art from what isn’t art; (2) the relation of art to art criticism; (3) art and ethical valuation; (4) debates over public art; and (5) art and technology. Readings are from both classical and contemporary sources.

Crosslisted with: PHIL 43312


Political Philosophy
20441 01 (30620)
Tolly
12:30-1:45 TR

In this course, we will ask how we should understand the social ideals of freedom, equality, and justice, and how these ideals should be realized in society. To help us approach these questions, we will study four influential political theories throughout the course: liberalism, libertarianism, socialism, and anarchism.   We will consider the alleged strengths and weaknesses of each tradition’s distinctive approach to political justice, and explore each tradition’s implications for current political controversies like healthcare reform, immigration, religious liberty, and free speech.


Rationality and Action
20443 01 (25995)
Finocchiaro
3:30-4:45 TR

Sherlock Holmes is considered by many to be a paragon of rationality. He almost always takes the evidence of the case and correctly infers who committed the crime. Yet he often acts unreasonably: he regularly skips breakfast, he occasionally uses cocaine, and he sometimes breaks the law. So someone can be a perfectly rational thinker without being a perfectly rational actor.

In this course we will focus on the sense of rationality associated with action, practical rationality. We will approach the topic in four discrete units. In the first unit we will focus on issues concerning decision theory, the study of how best to satisfy preferences. In the second unit we will consider more robust conceptions of practical rationality. Then, in the third unit, we will consider some cases where it seems like we systematically act deficiently. Finally, in the fourth unit we will discuss particularly hard choices concerning what to do.

Ultimately, students can expect to become better actors. Along the way, students should expect to develop the skill to critically engage with the material, hone their ability to articulate and defend their own beliefs, and apply those beliefs to real-world situations. These three more concrete goals will be measured by students' participation, short weekly writing tasks, four unit quizzes, and one medium-length paper on a topic of their own choice. Students will be guided on each of these tasks.


Ethics and Personhood
20445 01 (30621)

Phillips
12:30-1:45 TR

In this class we will be addressing a host of philosophical questions about ethics and persons. The course will be divided roughly into three overlapping parts. The first covers questions of ethics. We’ll be asking questions such as, what is morally right action? Is morality culture relative? Is genetic selection for certain traits permissible? In the second part of the course we’ll discuss free will and whether neuroscience can tell us anything about whether we are free or not. In the third and last part of the course we will turn to personal identity and other philosophical questions about persons: What does it take for a person to persist over time? Why do these questions matter for ethics? 


Ethics and Personhood
20445 02 (30622)

Phillips
3:30-4:45 TR

In this class we will be addressing a host of philosophical questions about ethics and persons. The course will be divided roughly into three overlapping parts. The first covers questions of ethics. We’ll be asking questions such as, what is morally right action? Is morality culture relative? Is genetic selection for certain traits permissible? In the second part of the course we’ll discuss free will and whether neuroscience can tell us anything about whether we are free or not. In the third and last part of the course we will turn to personal identity and other philosophical questions about persons: What does it take for a person to persist over time? Why do these questions matter for ethics? 


Medical Ethics
20602 01 (30623)
Lau
12:30-1:45 TR

Should athletes be allowed to dope? What is the just way to distribute limited medical resources? How do we make sense of debates over abortion and euthanasia? This seminar course explores these questions and others in a discussion-based setting over the course of four units. The first unit covers the basics. We start with how philosophical arguments work, go over prominent theories in ethics, and consider the relationship between healthcare providers and patients. The second unit covers issues concerning life and death: abortion and euthanasia. The third unit considers justice in medicine. In particular, we consider what justice demands in terms of the distribution of healthcare. The fourth unit considers the relationship between medicine and human nature. Students will get to vote on topics they would like to cover. Topics include, but are not limited to: human sexuality, genetic modification, addiction, performance enhancement, and disability. Students will be assessed using in-class participation, two 5-7 page papers, and a final exam.


Philosophy of Technology
20608 01 (30624)
Apostolopoulos
2:00-3:15 MW

While human life has relied on tools and elementary technologies since the Paleolithic period, their importance has become especially pronounced in the last few hundred years. Despite its ubiquity, the nature of technology eludes easy definition. By studying some of the most important philosophical theories of technology, this class will attempt to sharpen our understanding of technology and technical phenomena. We will also consider how these theories, together with recent normative proposals, can help us navigate challenges associated with surveillance, automation, advanced weapons technologies, and other pressing contemporary issues


Philosophy of Science
20617 01 (24413)
Nguyen
12:30-1:45 MW

Science is full of surprising predictions, shocking revolutions, and stupendous results that few science fiction writers have ever dreamed of. What makes science so special? This survey course is an introduction to the philosophical underpinnings of modern science. We will cover the central issues in the philosophy of science from logical empiricism to the present day. The topics include: the nature of scientific knowledge; the structure of scientific theories; progress in science; realism and antirealism; reductionism; laws of nature; explanation and confirmation; probability; the applicability of mathematics; causation; conceptual issues that arise in specific sciences (physics, biology); and the role of values and sociological factors in scientific research. The readings will be a mixture of the surveys, old classics, and contemporary research in the field. The teaching will be a mixture of short lectures and structured discussions.


Philosophy of Science
20617 02 (27737)
Mohammadian
11:00-12:15 TR

Science is taken to be the source of the most reliable knowledge that we have about the world and about ourselves. “Because it is what science says” usually settles (or is supposed to settle) arguments in our society and in societies alike. But what is this thing called science? Why is it so reliable? How do scientists produce such reliable knowledge? Science studies the world and us, and philosophy of science studies science in order to find satisfactory answers for these (and many other) questions. For instance, while scientists talk about Newton’s laws and Mendel’s laws or whether a theory can explain a particular phenomenon, philosophers of science ask ‘What is a law of nature?’ and ‘What does constitute scientific explanation?’ Do scientific theories describe reality as it is? If they do, why scientific theories have changes dramatically in the history of science or even in the past 100 years? Do social, ethical, political, or economic values play a role in science? Should they? Why are most scientists men? Who should decide what projects scientists should work on? Scientists themselves? The government? Or taxpayers? Through careful examination of selected works of some of the most influential philosophers of science in the past century and, of course, critical thinking and open-minded discussions, these are the questions that we are going to address in this seminar.


The Ethics of Emerging Weapons Technology
20628 01 (25226)
Latiff and Murgueitio Ramirez
11:00-12:15 TR

The landscape of the twenty-first century battlefield is rapidly changing. Contemporary warfare is often far removed from the clash of large, standing armies on the open battlefield. In the United States' use of targeted killings via unmanned drone in Pakistan and Yemen (which are not, otherwise, theaters of war) to the deployment of the Stuxnet computer virus (most likely by Israel and the United States) designed to target the computers that operate industrial equipment in Iran's nuclear weapons program, we already see examples of this new kind of warfare. The future promises that ever more remote possibilities will become reality entirely autonomous robotic weapon systems are already under deployment in Iraq and Korea, non-lethal electromagnetic- and sound-based weapons are under development, and research continues actively on automated, armed vehicles and biologically or robotically enhanced soldiers. The increasing pace of weapons research, however, has been matched by a large number of ethical worries, raised by military leaders, scholars, legislators, journalists, and non-profit and humanitarian groups.

In this course, students will gain familiarity with the main forms of emerging weapons technologies and reflect on the ethical and legal considerations that bear on whether and how these weapons should be used. Topics to be covered fall into four categories: (1) types of emerging weapons technologies (drones, robotic systems, non-lethal weapons, cyberwarfare, bioenhancement, and data mining), (2) positions on the ethics of peace and war (pacifism, political realism, and just war theory), (3) the Law of Armed Conflict (including the Geneva Conventions), and (4) normative ethical theories (consequentialism, deontology, and virtue ethics). Course grades will be determined by two papers, two exams (midterm and final), and one group presentation.

Crosslisted with: STV 20228, IIPS 20912, and HPPS 20223


The Ethics of Emerging Weapons Technology
20628 02 (25225)
Latiff and Murgueitio Ramirez
11:00-12:15 TR

The landscape of the twenty-first century battlefield is rapidly changing. Contemporary warfare is often far removed from the clash of large, standing armies on the open battlefield. In the United States' use of targeted killings via unmanned drone in Pakistan and Yemen (which are not, otherwise, theaters of war) to the deployment of the Stuxnet computer virus (most likely by Israel and the United States) designed to target the computers that operate industrial equipment in Iran's nuclear weapons program, we already see examples of this new kind of warfare. The future promises that ever more remote possibilities will become reality entirely autonomous robotic weapon systems are already under deployment in Iraq and Korea, non-lethal electromagnetic- and sound-based weapons are under development, and research continues actively on automated, armed vehicles and biologically or robotically enhanced soldiers. The increasing pace of weapons research, however, has been matched by a large number of ethical worries, raised by military leaders, scholars, legislators, journalists, and non-profit and humanitarian groups.

In this course, students will gain familiarity with the main forms of emerging weapons technologies and reflect on the ethical and legal considerations that bear on whether and how these weapons should be used. Topics to be covered fall into four categories: (1) types of emerging weapons technologies (drones, robotic systems, non-lethal weapons, cyberwarfare, bioenhancement, and data mining), (2) positions on the ethics of peace and war (pacifism, political realism, and just war theory), (3) the Law of Armed Conflict (including the Geneva Conventions), and (4) normative ethical theories (consequentialism, deontology, and virtue ethics). Course grades will be determined by two papers, two exams (midterm and final), and one group presentation.

Crosslisted with: STV 20228, IIPS 20912, and HPPS 20223


Robot Ethics
20632 01 (27738)
Galbraith
11:00-12:15 TR

Robots play a growing role in modern life. Transportation systems, weapons technology, healthcare, and consumer services all incorporate autonomous systems in increasingly important capacities, systems that sometimes replace human beings as key decision makers in ethically significant behaviors. These developments raise a host of questions: can we speak of these new systems as behaving ethically? How can we build what some call “ethics modules” into their programming? Who do we hold responsible for ethical failures on the part of autonomous systems? After a brief technical introduction to the field, this course will approach these questions through contemporary philosophical literature on robot ethics and through popular media, including science fiction text and video.

Crosslisted with: STV 20233


Philosophy of Mental Illness
20640 01 (30625)
Pattillo
12:30-1:45 MW

Mental illness is an increasingly important yet sadly misunderstood topic in our society. This course is designed to help students analyze the phenomenon of mental illness in a philosophical way. The two main questions driving the course are: how should we think about mental illness, and what obligations do we have regarding mental illness. Students will be expected to read, discuss, and develop their thoughts regarding these topics. Grades will include one major research paper, as well as minor presentations leading up to that paper.


Philosophy of Mental Illness
20640 02 (30626)
Pattillo
2:00-3:15 MW

Mental illness is an increasingly important yet sadly misunderstood topic in our society. This course is designed to help students analyze the phenomenon of mental illness in a philosophical way. The two main questions driving the course are: how should we think about mental illness, and what obligations do we have regarding mental illness. Students will be expected to read, discuss, and develop their thoughts regarding these topics. Grades will include one major research paper, as well as minor presentations leading up to that paper.


Philosophy of Mental Illness
20640 03 (30627)
Pattillo
3:30-4:45 MW

Mental illness is an increasingly important yet sadly misunderstood topic in our society. This course is designed to help students analyze the phenomenon of mental illness in a philosophical way. The two main questions driving the course are: how should we think about mental illness, and what obligations do we have regarding mental illness. Students will be expected to read, discuss, and develop their thoughts regarding these topics. Grades will include one major research paper, as well as minor presentations leading up to that paper.


God, Minds, and Machines
20642 01 (30122)
Hanson
2:00-3:15 MW

The period beginning in 1500 and ending 1800 was among the most fertile eras in the history of European ideas. Thinkers during this period made a number of fundamental advances in our understanding of philosophy, science, mathematics, and theology which have since become commonplaces for most educated people. In this course, we’re going to attempt to make those commonplaces a little less obvious for ourselves by asking such questions as: What is the nature of science? What is the nature of body, and how do we know about it? What is the nature of mind, and how do we know about it? What are space and time? What is the nature of God? How do we know about God?

As we’ll find out, the philosophers of the early modern era happen to have exceptionally deep, interesting, and (often) vexing insights into these questions. Beginning with Galileo, and extending through Descartes, Locke, Newton, Du Châtelet and Hume, we’ll see how thoughtful people tried to answer these questions, and how their answers became our common sense.

Since this period didn’t really distinguish between different forms of intellectual endeavor, this course will feature a bit more actual science than the typical history of early modern philosophy course. But be not afraid! No special background will be required for students beyond being curious and thoughtful. Nonetheless, students of the sciences, as well as those interested in philosophy, may find this course to be of interest and benefit.


Ethics & Ecology
20643 01 (30629)
Wells
9:30-10:45 TR

Climate change and other environmental crises have prompted calls to expand justice beyond the spheres of duties to individuals and political communities. Not only animals but ecosystems could then be seen as objects of ethical and political concern. This course investigates these controversial claims and their conceptual foundations. We begin by investigating what ecosystems are, and then turn to how they might be said to have inherent value. Finally, drawing on recent work in the social sciences as well as philosophy, we will consider how individual agents could fit into such accounts of the world.


Ethics & Ecology
20643 02 (30628)
Wells
11:00-12:15 TR

Climate change and other environmental crises have prompted calls to expand justice beyond the spheres of duties to individuals and political communities. Not only animals but ecosystems could then be seen as objects of ethical and political concern. This course investigates these controversial claims and their conceptual foundations. We begin by investigating what ecosystems are, and then turn to how they might be said to have inherent value. Finally, drawing on recent work in the social sciences as well as philosophy, we will consider how individual agents could fit into such accounts of the world.


Religion, Identity, and Social Justice
20813 01 (30766)
Finley
5:05-6:20 TR

Far too often we examine important questions in philosophy of religion in isolation from the lived experiences of ourselves and others. In this community-engaged course, students will investigate topics in philosophy of religion including: social justice, free will, religious experience, the problem of evil, and the role of art and liturgy – particularly as they intersect with, and are informed by, various facets of identity (particularly those related to race, gender, class, and ability). In addition to engaging with classic and contemporary philosophical work and other media (e.g. movies, speculative fiction), students are required to regularly (weekly) attend either an off-campus worship service and/or regularly (weekly) participate in the work of an off-campus faith-based service organization of their choosing (although students themselves need not be religious, nor participate in a service or organization of any particular religious tradition). The class will also regularly visit off-campus, faith-based community organizations in South Bend and engage with community partners through roundtable discussions, and more informally over meals. Students will be challenged both to address ways in which their own identities inform (and in some cases limit) their understanding of the topics discussed, and to actively seek out members of their communities in order to expand their understanding of these issues. (This is a Community-Engaged Learning course done in conjunction with the Center for Social Concerns, and is ideal for students already regularly involved in the kind of community described, however it is also open to those not yet involved).