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.

Spring 2020 Courses

Existentialist Themes
20202 01 (28072) - No classification restriction
20202 02 (31658) - Must be a Junior
20202 03 (31659) - Must be a Sophomore

von Eschenbach
2:00-3:15 TR

Through close readings of major figures closely associated with Existentialism, including Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Camus, and Sartre, this course will examine existential themes such as freedom, responsibility, individuality, and authenticity.


Philosophy for Life
20204 01 (31697) - No classification restriction
20204 02 (31698) - Must be a Junior
20204 03 (31700) - Must be a Sophomore

Aslan
12:30-1:45 TR

In contemporary teaching, philosophy has become “technical” presented through the philosophical concepts and the philosophical systems of the great thinkers in a sophisticated philosophical language. Naturally, it has become quite difficult to relate philosophy to life itself. This course introduces the basic philosophical themes in relation to life, without heavily relying on philosophical concepts as well the history of thoughts. We will present, for instance, themes such as values, society, the idea of absolute knowledge, being, truth, the nature of philosophical thinking, and philosophy and science in relation to the personal existence of an individual. We will examine these philosophical issues under the guidance of two thinkers: A Polish Dominican logician Josef Maria Bochenski and a German existentialist philosopher Karl Theodor Jaspers. Each offers a different perspective on these issues. Emphasis will be placed on attentive reading and discussion of the important points underlined in the class discussion and an in-depth understanding and evaluation of philosophical problems. We will also try to relate these philosophical problems to some current modern issues.


Minds, Brains and Persons
20208 01 (25760) - No classification restriction
20208 02 (28946) - Must be a Junior
20401 03 (28948) - Must be a Sophomore

Flattery
2:00-3:15 TR
Cross-listed with STV 20208 01 (28608)

What's the nature of your mind? Is it a physical thing, or something else? And what's its relationship to your brain? Are they one and the same, or not? What's the nature of consciousness? Could a machine be conscious? What does it take for persons like us to persist, i.e., to survive through time and change? Does it matter? In this course we'll tackle these and other tough philosophical questions about what it is to have a mind, a body, and to be a person.


Minds, Brains and Persons
20208 04 (26882) - No classification restriction
20208 05 (28949) - Must be a Junior
20208 06 (28951) - Must be a Sophomore

Flattery
3:30-4:45 TR

What's the nature of your mind? Is it a physical thing, or something else? And what's its relationship to your brain? Are they one and the same, or not? What's the nature of consciousness? Could a machine be conscious? What does it take for persons like us to persist, i.e., to survive through time and change? Does it matter? In this course we'll tackle these and other tough philosophical questions about what it is to have a mind, a body, and to be a person.


Minds, Brains and Persons
20208 07 (29013) - No classification restriction
20208 08 (29014) - Must be a Junior
20208 09 (29015) - Must be a Sophomore

Lee
12:30-1:45 TR

This course introduces the philosophy of mind and personhood. We will consider questions such as: is the mind fundamentally physical? Is it a different kind of thing altogether? Is it, as one philosopher put it, "a calculating machine"? Can computers have mental states? What is the nature of consciousness? Can facts about consciousness be reduced to physical facts? What about us; are we fundamentally material, or something entirely different?

While surveying these issues, we will consolidate the skills in rational argumentation and discourse you've exercised in the first-level philosophy course. We will practice reconstructing the arguments of others, formulating those of our own, and arguing for or against their validity or soundness.


Reality: The Big Questions
20244 01 (31820) - No classification restriction
20244 02 (31821) - Must be a Junior
20244 03 (31822) - Must be a Sophomore

Peck
9:30-10:45 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 (31841) - No classification restriction
20249 02 (31842) - Must be a Junior
20249 03 (31843) - Must be a Sophomore

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 "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 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.


Productive Disagreement: Gender
20253 01 (32525)

Rupprecht
3:30-4:45 MW

Why are gender and sexuality such contentious moral issues? How ought we navigate disagreement about such issues in an increasingly polarized and pluralistic environment? What obstacles interfere with our ability to do so well, and how might we address them? This philosophy course will equip you to address these complex social realities. You'll hone your analytical skills via careful examination of arguments in films, news articles, and academic essays. By interviewing community leaders with different perspectives on these issues, you will gain insight into what shapes people's moral convictions and how to foster more productive civil and personal conversations among those who disagree. Upon successful completion of this course you will be better equipped to articulate a rationale for your understanding of gender and sexuality.


Ethics
20401 01 (31702) - No classification restriction
20401 02 (31703) - Must be a Junior
20401 03 (31704) - Must be a Sophomore
Scott
12:30-1:45 TR

In this course, we shall consider one of the most profound philosophical questions: How does one live a good life? As a first step toward an answer, we will look at the arguments for and against moral realism, the belief that morality is based on objective facts about the world. After this, attention will be given to several of the most prominent theories of the good life, including deontology, utilitarianism, virtue ethics, and natural law theory. Finally, specific attention will be given to ethical questions involving euthanasia, immigration, sexual morality, abortion, and animal welfare.


Ethics
20401 04 (29010) - No classification restriction
20401 05 (29011) - Must be a Junior
20401 06 (29012) - Must be a Sophomore

Scott
2:00-3:15 TR

In this course, we shall consider one of the most profound philosophical questions: How does one live a good life? As a first step toward an answer, we will look at the arguments for and against moral realism, the belief that morality is based on objective facts about the world. After this, attention will be given to several of the most prominent theories of the good life, including deontology, utilitarianism, virtue ethics, and natural law theory. Finally, specific attention will be given to ethical questions involving euthanasia, immigration, sexual morality, abortion, and animal welfare.


Moral Problems
20402 01 (29068)
- No classification restriction
20402 02 (29069) - Must be a Junior
20402 03 (31844) - Must be a Sophomore

Himelright
2:00-3:15 TR

In this course, we will discuss contemporary moral controversies from a philosophical perspective. Topics will include abortion, animal rights, euthanasia, genetic engineering, immigration, obligations to the poor, and more.


Moral Problems
20402 04 (31845)
- No classification restriction
20402 05 (31847) - Must be a Junior
20402 06 (31848) - Must be a Sophomore

Himelright
3:30-4:45 TR

In this course, we will discuss contemporary moral controversies from a philosophical perspective. Topics will include abortion, animal rights, euthanasia, genetic engineering, immigration, obligations to the poor, and more.


Virtues and Vices
20403 01 (31854) - No classification restriction
20403 02 (31855) - Must be a Junior
20403 03 (31856) - Must be a Sophomore
Schultz
3:30-4:45 TR

In this course, we will inquire into virtue and vice. Drawing from both ancient and modern sources, we will read and compare accounts of moral and intellectual virtue and vice, asking along the way various questions about their nature, value, and unity.


Philosophy of Law
20408 01 (31548) - No classification restriction
20403 02 (31705) - Must be a Junior
20403 03 (31706) - Must be a Sophomore
Warfield
12:50-1:40 MW

This course explores theoretical and practical issues arising in law. Topics will include some of the following: laws regulating speech, drug laws, the limits of the criminal sanction, over-criminalization, self-defense, the foundations of criminal procedure. In class mid-term and short paper for each of the 3 class units. Regular attendance and participation in required Friday class discussion section.


Aesthetics & Philosophy of Art
20411 01 (31801) - No classification restriction
20411 02 (31802) - Must be a Junior
20411 03 (31803) - Must be a Sophomore

Zhu
11:00-12:15 TR

This course surveys a range of philosophical questions concerning art and artworks. In particular, we will investigate the definition of art. Is there a distinctive quality that all works of art possess, which makes them what they are? Or are question of art merely a matter of individual taste? What (and who) determines the meaning and value of an artwork?

The first part of the course concerns the history of aesthetics, concentrating on definitions provided by Plato, Aristotle, Kant, and Danto. We will also consider controversies surrounding the definition project itself: is art actually definable? And is the search for a definition philosophically useful? The second part of the course considers auxiliary questions, in particular, how art relates to other aspects of our lives. Possible topics include: can art make us better or worse people? Why do we care about the authenticity and originality of works of art? Is music sampling merely copying? What is the role of interpretation and conservation? Why do issues of diversity and representation matter for art and artists?


Business Ethics – Practice & Norm
20428 01 (31857) - No classification restriction
20448 02 (31859) - Must be a Junior
20448 03 (31860) - Must be a Sophomore

Lau
12:30-1:45 MW

Is it ever okay to lie or withhold information when negotiating a deal? How do we weigh the fiduciary responsibilities of a firm with the responsibilities it has towards society? Can we attribute responsibility to corporations as unified agents? If not, are we forced to only hold certain individuals accountable? How should businesses collect or sell its data? In this course, these are just some of the important questions we'll cover. After going through basic moral theories, we'll discuss ethical issues in business ethics with concrete examples accompanied with philosophical tools. In addition, we'll also consider how businesses are portrayed in the media by using HBO's hit show Succession as a leading example. Course grades are determined by participation, two papers (3-4 page, 6-8 page), and a presentation. 


Ancient Philosophy
20438 01 (31667) - No classification restriction
20438 02 (31668) - Must be a Junior
20438 03 (31669) - Must be a Sophomore

Comstock
2:00-3:15 MW

One of the main questions that concerned ancient philosophers was how we ought to live our lives. This was a question about human happiness or flourishing, something the ancients called eudaimonia. Different schools of thought had different answers to this question: some thought that living a happy life was a matter of maximizing pleasure; others thought that living a happy live meant doing the right thing. In addition, ancient philosophers thought philosophy, which they understood as the persistent search for the truth, was in one way or another a crucial component of a happy life. Some thought happiness just was a life of philosophy, others thought that philosophy was an instrument or tool with which one could achieve the state of human happiness. In this course, we will read some of what the main thinkers in ancient philosophy had to say about these issues. In doing so, we will focus on two main questions: (i) what were the theories of happiness that these thinkers propounded? In other words, what did they think happiness consisted in? And, (ii) how did they understand the role of philosophy in making one’s life a happy one? 


Political Philosophy
20441 01 (31861) - No classification restriction
20441 02 (31862) - Must be a Junior
20441 03 (31863) - Must be a Sophomore

Jensen
11:00-12:15 MW

This course will culminate in an extended survey of localist thought, which emphasizes the importance of the near at hand, “the virtues, political and economic decentralization, . . . liberty, respect for natural limits, tradition . . . and living arrangements built to human scale,” as Jason Peters puts it ("Local Culture," Front Porch Republic. Available at www.frontporchrepublic.com/local-culture/). Because of localism’s deep association with the work of the Kentucky farmer and writer Wendell Berry, we will spend the second half of the semester reading several of Berry’s essays (as well as work by other contemporary localists) with the aim of taking localism seriously as political philosophy. In accordance with the richness of localism as an approach to understanding the good life, we will also survey work on adjacent topics in ethics, political philosophy, and ecology. Consequently, the course will have the following unit structure: (1) Historical Foundations, (2) Virtue Ethics, (3) Love, (4) Place, and (5) Localism. Though we will cover diverse philosophical ground in this course, we will primarily address ourselves to perennial themes in ethics and political philosophy.


Foundations of Modern Social Philosophy
20449 01 (31549) - No classification restriction
20449 02 (31805) - Must be a Junior
20449 03 (31806) - Must be a Sophomore

Rush
9:30-10:45 TR

This is an advanced introductory survey of foundational texts in the history of modern European social philosophy. Readings from: Smith, Rousseau, Hegel, Marx, Freud, Durkheim, and Weber. Among the topics for discussion: conceptions of freedom, the phenomena of alienation and anomie, the relation of civil society to the State, the relation of capitalism to social wellbeing, the social effects of bureaucracy, and utopian and dystopian thought.


Medical Ethics
20602 01 (31550) - No classification restriction
20602 02 (31807) - Must be a Junior
20602 03 (31883) - Must be a Sophomore

Cory
11:00-12:15 MW

Medical Ethics combines a broad exploration of the principles of ethical reasoning with a practical application of these principles to dilemmas in medicine.  The course begins with a study of major ethical theories and how they can be applied to problems in medicine.  We will then examine specific ethical challenges facing medical professionals today, including beginning-and-end-of-life issues, ethics of medical experimentation, autonomy and informed consent, and conscience protections.  A main goal of the course is to use philosophical reasoning to think more clearly and reflectively about the main concepts that practitioners of medicine rely on every day, such as health, quality of life, autonomy, care, and consent.


Theory of Knowledge
20635 01 (26899) - No classification restriction
20635 02 (31913) - Must be a Junior
20604 03 (31914) - Must be a Sophomore
Anderson
9:30-10:45 TR

The aim of this class is to provide an understanding of fundamental issues and positions on the question of what it means to know.


Data & Artificial Intelligence Ethics
20647 01 (28727) - No classification restriction
20647 02 (29000) - Must be a Junior
20647 03 (29002) - Must be a Sophomore
Ratti
9:30-10:45 MW

In the last decade, the Big Data revolution and developments in Artificial Intelligence (AI) have both created promises and raised several ethical issues. Computational emerging technologies have fostered the achievement of apparent benefits, while at the same they seem to exacerbate social inequalities and threaten even our own existence as a species. In this course, we will discuss those ethical and societal issues related to the development of AI and Big Data that have direct and concrete consequences on the way we perceive ourselves as persons, as members of society, and the way we conceive our place as a species on this planet. These issues will be analyzed in light of major ethical theories, but a special emphasis will be placed on virtue ethics. Recent works in virtue ethics are well positioned to make sense of the importance of our place as human beings on this planet, but at the same time they can account for the indispensable roles that machines play in our environment.


Philosophy of Religion
20801 01 (28341) - No classification restriction
20801 02 (29037) - Must be a Junior
20801 03 (29038) - Must be a Sophomore

Dumont
3:30-4:45 TR

An examination of the rational basis of religious beliefs. Topics include whether the existence of a God can be demonstrated and whether such a concept of God can be reconciled with the fact of evil in the world and human freedom. Other topics include the concept of soul and immortality, whether religious language is meaningful, the historical conflict between religion and science, and whether religion can provide the basis of morality. Readings will be taken from both classical and contemporary sources.
Requirements:  Three term tests.


Philosophy of Religion
20801 04 (32004) - No classification restriction
20801 05 (32005) - Must be a Junior
20801 06 (32008) - Must be a Sophomore

Scott
3:30-4:45 TR

Religion is a human universal, appearing in every culture and influencing every area of human life. At the same time, many suspect that religious belief in general is incompatible with a worldview informed by modern science and philosophy. This course will investigate this situation, exploring what disciplined human reason has to say regarding religious beliefs and concepts. We will begin by considering religion as a general phenomenon: what it is, how it relates to the natural sciences and other forms of inquiry, and whether religion is harmful or beneficial. Next, we will consider the main philosophical arguments for the existence of God, such as arguments from the order of the cosmos, from the appearance of design in the world, from morality, and even from the concept of "God" itself. We shall then ask what we might know through reason about the nature and character of a "first cause" or "supreme being." Finally, we will consider whether belief in God is compatible with the evil observed in the world, and whether belief in the divine makes a difference to the lives we live.


Philosophy and Mysticism in Islamic Tradition
20814 01 (31812) - No classification restriction
20814 02 (31813) - Must be a Junior
20814 03 (31814) - Must be a Sophomore
Aslan
3:30-4:45 MW

This course introduces philosophical and mystical thought and practices in Islamic tradition throughout history. We will examine the thoughts of the prominent philosophers such as Ibn Sina and Ibn Rushd, as well as ideas of the outstanding theologians such as Ghazzali and al-Razi and the insights of exceptional Sufis such as Ibn ‘Arabi and Rumi. We will also focus on themes such as wisdom, virtues, love, the relationship between faith and reason, and the history of ideas, morality, and religion in Muslim society. Emphasis will be placed on attentive reading and discussion of the important points underlined in the class discussion and an in-depth understanding and evaluation of philosophical problems. We will also try to relate these historical philosophical problems to some current modern issues and daily life.


Philosophical History of God
20815 01 (31551) - No classification restriction
20815 02 (31815) - Must be a Junior
20815 03 (31816) - Must be a Sophomore

D. Cory
2:00-3:15 TR

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 (31552) - No classification restriction
20815 05 (31817) - Must be a Junior
20815 06 (31818) - Must be a Sophomore

D. Cory
3:30-4:45 TR

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


American Political Thought
30409 01 (31916)
- No classification restriction
30409 02 (31917) – Reserved for Glynn Honors Program
30409-03 (31921) – Must be a Freshman

Weithman and McGreevy

Coming to grips with American political thought is at once an historical and a philosophical task. Students in this course will take on that task under the guidance of one faculty member from the Department of History and one from the Department of Philosophy. The guiding questions of the course are: How have ideas about freedom, equality and the social contract played out in the history of American political thought? When have we realized those ideas and when have we failed? Do those ideas provide us adequate guidance?  The exploration of American political thought will be divided into six periods: The Founding, the Civil War era, the late 19th-century, the New Deal to the 1960s, the 1960s to the 1990s, and the 1990s to the present. The course has no prerequisites, though students wishing to count it toward the Philosophy requirement must previously have taken "Introduction to Philosophy."

 

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