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 typical 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.

Fall 2020 Courses

Paradoxes
20229 01 (20913) - No classification restriction
20229 02 (20917) - Must be a Junior
20229 03 (20918) - Must be a Sophomore

Middleton
2:20-3:35 MW

A paradox is a set of sentences such that (1) each sentence in the set is highly plausible and (2) the set is logically inconsistent. As a consequence of (2), we know that at least one sentence in the set is false — the question we need to answer is which! Think of a paradox as a sign that the way we ordinarily conceptualize the world is wrong. In order to solve a paradox, we need to alter our view of reality in a fundamental way. In this class, we will think about some of the most famous paradoxes (e.g. Zeno’s paradoxes, the liar paradox and the sorites paradox) and analyze solutions proposed by different philosophers. Students will leave the class with both a deeper understanding of these paradoxes and an improved ability to formulate and critique logically valid arguments.


The Meaning of Life
20235 01 (20398) - No classification restriction
20235 02 (20399) - Must be a Junior
20235 03 (20400) - Must be a Sophomore

Seachris
8:00-9:15 TR

Have you ever wondered (or worried) about the meaning of life? It may come as a surprise, but many philosophers are suspicious of the topic. And there is no shortage of parodies and jokes in pop culture making fun of it. Yet, the question—What is the meaning of life?—remains of deep and abiding human concern.

In this class, we will give this question the attention it deserves. Over the course of the semester, we will explore answers to questions like the following:

  • What are we asking when we ask, “What is the meaning of life?”
  • Does life have a purpose?
  • What is valuable? More fundamentally, what is value?
  • Are we significant? Do we matter?
  • Does life (or my life) make any sense?
  • Is God necessary for meaning?
  • Is a happy life the same as a meaningful life?
  • Can a profoundly immoral life still be meaningful?
  • What should I do if I experience a quarter- or mid-life crisis?
  • How might experiences “at the margins” (e.g., solitary confinement, nursing homes, and homelessness) threaten meaningful life, and reveal what meaningful life requires?
  • What does it mean to die? Does death threaten meaning? Does death enhance meaning? Is death necessary for meaning?
  • Would immortality be good or bad news for us?

We will not limit ourselves to philosophy. Given that this is humanity’s question, others both from within and outside of the Academy have as much to say—theologians, scientists, novelists, poets. We will expand our investigation of life’s meaning beyond the written medium to include film as we carefully listen to the diversity of voices speaking on life’s grandest question.


Reality: The Big Questions
20244 01 (20761) - No classification restriction
20244 02 (20762) - Must be a Junior
20244 03 (20763) - Must be a Sophomore

Peck
9:35-10:50 MW

This introductory course in metaphysics poses two questions: what exists? What is the nature of the things that exist? Recall the day you earned your driver’s license: no doubt you relished your newfound freedom as a motorist. As you left the MDV in triumph, you didn’t wonder, “Does this Honda Accord exist?” To the uninitiated, such questions are trivial, worthy of ridicule. But then again, we often mock what we don’t understand. Let’s ask the question differently: Did the persons and machines that assembled your parents’ Honda create something new, or did they just re-arrange already-existing things? Phrased generally, “Do artifacts exist, or are ‘artifacts’ only collections of sub-atomic particles arranged, e.g. car-wise?” This is an example of a metaphysical question. “Do artifacts exist?” is a metaphysical question because of its generality. Metaphysicians want to identify the most basic kinds or categories of beings, such that once we have listed them all, we can say in general how the world is. Some metaphysicians claim artifacts belong to the world’s general inventory; others claim positing them unnecessarily complicates our account of the world. Can’t particles arranged car-wise do everything cars do? Of course, artifacts aren’t metaphysicians’ only concern; they also ask if substances, properties, relations, propositions, and possible worlds exist. Moreover, since it doesn’t suffice for a general account of the world to know if some basic category of being exists, metaphysicians also inquire into the nature of the basic kinds of being. For example, supposing time exists, is it succession of moments, with one instant vanishing into nothingness just before a new one appears? Or is time an eternal “block,” such that events we think of as past still exist?  To wrestle with questions like these, students will read relatively short, but dense texts, evaluate the arguments of those texts, formulate their own views about those arguments with classmates’ help, and – at the end of the semester – write a synthesis paper articulating their views about the course’s topics.  


Systematic Thinking: God, Identity, and the Moderns
20249 01 (20936) - No classification restriction
20249 02 (20937) - Must be a Junior
20249 03 (20938) - Must be a Sophomore

Clay
2:20-3:35 TR

This class is dedicated to helping you begin to 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. For instance, your position on what kind of thing we essentially are affects what you ought to believe about the permissibility of abortion and that of eating animals, as well as 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 "modern" philosophers—roughly those writing in the period from Descartes to Kant—will also feature prominently in this class. Why? 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 modern period. Most moderns developed systematic worldviews that contained answers to many of the big questions. In fact, the worldviews that the moderns developed are among the main options that contemporary philosophers still investigate today. As a consequence, the moderns can provide us with guidance about how to go about developing a systematic philosophical worldview, and studying the moderns can help you better understand contemporary philosophy.


Systematic Thinking: God, Identity, and the Moderns
20249 04 (20939) - No classification restriction
20249 05 (20940) - Must be a Junior
20249 06 (20941) - Must be a Sophomore

Clay
3:55-5:10 TR

This class is dedicated to helping you begin to 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. For instance, your position on what kind of thing we essentially are affects what you ought to believe about the permissibility of abortion and that of eating animals, as well as 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 "modern" philosophers—roughly those writing in the period from Descartes to Kant—will also feature prominently in this class. Why? 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 modern period. Most moderns developed systematic worldviews that contained answers to many of the big questions. In fact, the worldviews that the moderns developed are among the main options that contemporary philosophers still investigate today. As a consequence, the moderns can provide us with guidance about how to go about developing a systematic philosophical worldview, and studying the moderns can help you better understand contemporary philosophy.


Ethics
20401 01 (20914) - No classification restriction
20401 02 (20915) - Must be a Junior
20401 03 (20916) - Must be a Sophomore

Hall
2:20-3:35 TR 

This course is an introduction to certain core issues in contemporary ethical theory. We will start by looking at competing theories of what it is for an action to be morally wrong. We will then discuss several specific moral issues such as abortion, poverty, animal consumption and our duties to future generations. We’ll end with some more theoretical reflections on the nature of ethical questions themselves.


Political Philosophy
20441 01 (20887)
- No classification restriction
20441 02 (20889) - Must be a Junior
20441 03 (20888) - Must be a Sophomore

Jensen
11:10-12:25 TR
Cross-listed with CNST 20611-01

This course will introduce students to the ethical and political thought of Alasdair MacIntyre, one of the most important philosophers of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Following Kelvin Knight, recent commentators have described MacIntyre’s ethical-political program as “revolutionary Aristotelianism” because of its continuity with both the work of Aristotle and the work of Karl Marx. Our primary goals in this course will be to understand and critically to evaluate such Aristotelianism. To those ends, the course will begin with a survey of the work of Aristotle and Marx and will culminate in an extended inquiry into the work of MacIntyre and his contemporary interlocutors, especially Wendell Berry.


Medical Ethics - This course requires a Friday discussion section - PHIL 22602.
20602 01 (16123) - No classification restriction

20602 02 (20401) - Must be a Junior
20602 03 (20402) - Must be a Sophomore
Warfield
1:00-1:50 MW

This course includes a required Friday discussion section.
We will examine a variety of issues in medical ethics and the intersection of law and medicine. In addition to short units on a large number of individual topics, we will work through larger units on both clinical decision making and assistance in end of life situations.

Requirements: 2 regular exams, several short papers, a final exam scheduled by the University, and Friday section attendance and participation. 


Ethics of Emerging Weapon Tech - ONLINE CLASS
20628 01 (20933) - No classification restriction
20628 02 (20934) - Must be a Junior
20628 03 (29002) - Must be a Sophomore
Ratti and Latiff
9:35-10:50 TR
Cross-listed with STV 20228-01 and IIPS 20912 01

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. From the use of unmanned drones to the employment of computer viruses to damage military equipment, we already see examples of this new kind of warfare. The future promises that ever more remote possibilities will soon become reality. Entirely autonomous robotic weapon systems are already under development, non-lethal electromagnetic- and sound-based weapons are in use, and research continues actively on automated, armed vehicles and biologically or robotically enhanced soldiers. 

The increasing pace of weapons research, however, has brought a whole set of new ethical dilemmas. In this course, students will be given the philosophical tools to engage with questions such as the following: how should military leaders, scholars, and legislators react to the ethical dilemmas that come with technological advance? Have new weapons technologies left traditional frameworks for thinking about the ethics of war and peace obsolete? Or can those be deployed in new ways, so as to meet the challenges of 21st century warfare? Topics to be covered fall into four categories: (1) types of emerging weapons technologies (to include drones, robotic systems, hypersonic and laser weapons, cyberwarfare, bio-enhancement, and data mining, and others), (2) positions on the ethics of war and peace (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). 


Philosophy of Mental Illness 
20640 01 (20970) - No classification restriction
20640 02 (20971) - Must be a Junior
20640 03 (20972) - Must be a Sophomore

Lehet
9:35-10:50 MW
Cross-listed with STV 20640-01

This course will introduce students to ethics with particular focus on ethical issues related to mental health and psychiatry. The course will begin by introducing some prominent views in ethics and the discussion of ethical theory will continue throughout the semester as we cover some of the major ethical issues related to mental health. These topics include how we characterize mental illness, the values that influence psychiatric practice, the legal responsibilities related to mental health, issues relating to diagnosis and treatment, and the connection between feminism and psychiatry.


(Un)Sustainable Philosophies
20650 01 (20758) - No classification restriction
20650 02 (20777) - Must be a Junior
20640 03 (20778) - Must be a Sophomore
Brecevic
9:35-10:50 TR
Cross-listed with GSC 20535-01, SUS 20650-01, and STV 20650-01

The aim of this course is to ask how our ways of thinking about nature, material things, and ourselves supports and/or obstructs our ability to engage in more sustainable environmental practices. Our questions will include, but are not limited to: What is nature and how are humans connected to, distinct from, or part of this nature? What does it mean to be sustainable? If our aim is to exist more sustainably, how should we think about nature to help achieve this end? What is waste, exactly? Whose way of life is being preserved by our present sustainability efforts in the West? How does gender, race, and culture shape how one is affected by (un)sustainable practices? To what extent are the formal structures of oppression conserved across sexism, racism, and environmental destruction? This course will draw heavily on ecofeminist philosophy to help answer these important questions.


Game Theory
20652 01 (20922) - No classification restriction
20652 02 (20923) - Must be a Junior
20652 03 (20924) - Must be a Sophomore

Rubin
2:20-3:35 MW
Cross-listed with STV 43926-01

Game theory is the study of strategic decision making, used to analyze decisions in situations where the outcome of your choice depends on the choices of others. Studying game theory can aid in your understanding of how to make rational decisions in various situations during your everyday life. Game theory is also used to study decision making in a variety of academic fields including economics, politics, biology, and philosophy.


Epistemology in Practice - ONLINE CLASS
20653 01 (20930) - No classification restriction
20653 02 (20931) - Must be a Junior
20653 03 (20932) - Must be a Sophomore

Callahan
2:20-3:35 MW
Cross-listed with STV 20653-01

Epistemology is often defined as the theory or philosophy of knowledge. This course takes a broad view of epistemology, thinking of it as concerned with good ways of thinking and believing - including thinking about important stuff like politics, religion, science, and morality. This course also takes practical approach. You will be asked to reflect deeply and critically on the ways in which you are committed to forming and revising your opinions, as well as participating more generally in the flow of ideas as informants and bystanders. By the end of the course, you will be expected to write your own epistemic manifesto, outlining the kind of epistemic agent you want to be. The course will involve both traditional reading assignments as well as “immersive” assignments. These are assignments that will ask you to do something – engage in a certain conversation, reflect in a certain way, pay attention to something in a new space – and then also write about it.

We'll address five main questions:

  • How skeptical should I be, and what kinds of things might I hope to know?
  • How, if at all, should disagreement matter in my forming/revising opinions?
  • How, if at all, should I get the news?
  • What “knowing” should I outsource to my phone or other technologies, and what (if anything) should I try to appreciate for myself?
  • What do I owe to others, as a participant in the flow of information?

Philosophy of Religion - ONLINE CLASS
20801 01 (20403) - No classification restriction
20801 02 (20404) - Must be a Junior
20801 03 (20405) - Must be a Sophomore
Dumont
3:55-5:10 TR


Philosophy of Religion
20801 04 (21432) - No classification restriction
20801 05 (21433) - Must be a Junior
20801 06 (21434) - Must be a Sophomore
Barthuly
9:35-10:50 TR

This course surveys various topics in the philosophy of religion. Topics to be discussed may include the nature and existence of God, religious experience, divine hiddenness, religious pluralism, life after death, and others. Through examining these topics, students will begin to engage with other central areas of philosophy (e.g. metaphysics, epistemology, and the philosophy of mind). Students should expect to improve their ability to identify and critically evaluate arguments of various types through writing and discussion.


Thought of Aquinas
20805 01 (17275) - No classification restriction
20805 02 (17664) - Must be a Junior
20805 03 (17663) - Must be a Sophomore
O'Callaghan
2:30-3:20 MWF
Cross-listed with MI 20348-01

This course provides an overview of certain central teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas with attention particularly to philosophical topics touching upon theological questions. 1) Faith and reason and the ways to God; 2) Human nature, particularly soul, body, and the image of God; 3) Ethics, Law, and Virtue.


Thought of Aquinas
20805 04 (21307) - No classification restriction
20805 05 (21308) - Must be a Junior
20805 06 (21309) - Must be a Sophomore
Reese
9:35-10:50 TR

"G.K. Chesterton once said of St. Thomas Aquinas that “his philosophy, like his theology, is that of common sense.” Chesterton is right about that. But it’s one thing for a philosophy to be common-sensical; it’s another thing entirely for it to be easy. The goal of this course is to make reading Aquinas as easy as possible. To that end, it has three main objectives: (1) to show students Aquinas’s big-picture vision of philosophy and the world, (2) to introduce students to the starting-points of Aquinas’s natural, ethical, and metaphysical thinking, and (3) to give students plenty of experience reading Aquinas’s texts."


Philosophical History of God
20815 01 (17595) - No classification restriction
20815 02 (17601) - Must be a Junior
20815 03 (17669) - Must be a Sophomore

D. Cory
12:45-2:00 MW

Many people believe in God, but just what is it that they are believing in? Just what do we mean when we talk about God? In this course, students will be introduced to various philosophical conceptions of God, and will consider what we can know about God given only the light of reason. Are there good reasons to assign to God the typical attributes we do, such as are omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence? Some additional recurring questions will be: Is God’s creation of the world free or necessary? Does God know particulars, including us humans? Is God changeless, and if so, what is the point of prayer? Is there will in God? The course will take a broadly historical approach, moving forward from pre-Socratic ways of talking about the first principle into discussions about how we name God, debates about divine transcendence, as well as the question of whether we can consider God at all in philosophy. Goals for the class include developing a rigorous and coherent notion of God; to appreciate the difficulties of forming such a conception; and of understanding why certain ways of talking about God developed historically. Finally, although we will not be considering God in the context of religion, it will become evident that at least some conceptions of God are common to a wide swath of religious traditions, and that these philosophical ideas can spread from one cultural tradition to another.


Philosophical History of God
20815 04 (17670) - No classification restriction
20815 05 (17671) - Must be a Junior
20815 06 (17673) - Must be a Sophomore

D. Cory
2:20-3:35 MW

Many people believe in God, but just what is it that they are believing in? Just what do we mean when we talk about God? In this course, students will be introduced to various philosophical conceptions of God, and will consider what we can know about God given only the light of reason. Are there good reasons to assign to God the typical attributes we do, such as are omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence? Some additional recurring questions will be: Is God’s creation of the world free or necessary? Does God know particulars, including us humans? Is God changeless, and if so, what is the point of prayer? Is there will in God? The course will take a broadly historical approach, moving forward from pre-Socratic ways of talking about the first principle into discussions about how we name God, debates about divine transcendence, as well as the question of whether we can consider God at all in philosophy. Goals for the class include developing a rigorous and coherent notion of God; to appreciate the difficulties of forming such a conception; and of understanding why certain ways of talking about God developed historically. Finally, although we will not be considering God in the context of religion, it will become evident that at least some conceptions of God are common to a wide swath of religious traditions, and that these philosophical ideas can spread from one cultural tradition to another


 

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