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 2021 Courses

Theories of Sexual Difference
20205 01 (20355) - No classification restriction
20205 02 (20730) - Must be a Sophomore
20205 03 (20731) - Must be a Junior

Kourany
5:05-6:20 MW
Cross-listed with STV 20205-01, HHS 20205-01, & GSC 20102-02

What kinds 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?  Finally, how might we go about dealing with these differences, and would this constitute progress (a more egalitarian society with happier, more fulfilled people) or the reverse? 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.  Our goal will be to develop a clear and well-justified philosophical outlook on sex/gender difference, drawing on work within the natural and social sciences as well as philosophy, and within such areas as feminist theory and men’s studies.  In order to meet this goal, the class will have a discussion format, and requirements will include three papers as well as active participation in class discussions.


The Meaning of Life
20235 01 (17433) - No classification restriction
20235 02 (17434) - Must be a Sophomore
20235 03 (17435) - Must be a Junior

Seachris
9:30-10:45 MW

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 divergent 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, poverty) affect the prospects for meaningful life?
  • 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 . . . our parents and grandparents. We will expand our investigation of life’s meaning beyond the written medium to include film as we carefully listen to some of the rich complexity of voices speaking on life’s grandest question.

Most classes will consist of a combination of lecture, discussion, and group activities.


Buddhist Philosophy
20245 01 (21058) - No classification restriction
20245 02 (21060) - Must be a Sophomore
20245 03 (21061) - Must be a Junior

Williams
9:30-10:45 TR

In this course, students will explore several key philosophical issues in the Buddhist tradition. We begin by asking if we can make sense of the term “Buddhist Philosophy” and then turn to Buddhist views of the self, interdependence, the philosophical role of meditation, and ethics. The focus of this course will be on Mahayana Buddhist thought, although we will occasionally examine Therevada and Vajrayana views as well. We will largely draw on the work of Nagarjuna, Dharmakirti, and Dignaga. The goal of this course is to examine questions, and proposed answers, that are critical to the Buddhist philosophical tradition. 


Buddhist Philosophy
20245 04 (21062) - No classification restriction
20245 05 (21063) - Must be a Sophomore
20245 06 (21064) - Must be a Junior

Williams
9:30-10:45 TR

In this course, students will explore several key philosophical issues in the Buddhist tradition. We begin by asking if we can make sense of the term “Buddhist Philosophy” and then turn to Buddhist views of the self, interdependence, the philosophical role of meditation, and ethics. The focus of this course will be on Mahayana Buddhist thought, although we will occasionally examine Therevada and Vajrayana views as well. We will largely draw on the work of Nagarjuna, Dharmakirti, and Dignaga. The goal of this course is to examine questions, and proposed answers, that are critical to the Buddhist philosophical tradition. 


Work, Meaning, and Happiness
20255 01 (20733) - No classification restriction
20255 02 (20734) - Must be a Sophomore
20255 03 (20735) - Must be a Junior

Blaschko
3:30-4:45 TR

Work plays a deeply important role in our lives. Finding good work -- which, for many of us, means getting a meaningful job you’re passionate about -- can seem like the crucial factor in determining whether your life goes well or poorly, and whether you end up happy and fulfilled or miserable and empty. But things aren’t nearly so simple. What kind of work is available to anyone in particular is largely determined by factors outside of our control. And when it comes to work, we’re notoriously bad at predicting what aspects of a job we’ll find meaningful and fulfilling, and which will drain us of life and energy. In this course, we will focus on the most urgent questions facing anyone trying to discern what their life’s work will be, such as:

  • What causes alienation, anxiety, and burnout at work, and are these things that can be avoided with foresight and careful planning?
  • What is “leisure” (as contrasted with “time off”) and what role should it play if we want to be healthy, flourishing persons? Is there such a thing as “work-life balance”?
  • Do we live in a genuine meritocracy? And, if so, is this a good thing or a bad thing? How should we think about equity and equality in the workplace?
  • Is it dangerous (or perhaps wise) to see your work purely as an instrument of financial gain? Does work have the power to nurture (or destroy) your soul?

Ancient Philosophy
20438 01 (20773) - No classification restriction
20438 02 (20774) - Must be a Sophomore
20438 03 (20775) - Must be a Junior

Galbraith
9:30-10:45 TR

In this course, we will examine the foundations of the Western philosophical tradition. Beginning with the pre-Socratic philosophers, we will explore how Greek philosophers initiated debates that continue to occupy philosophers of the present day. Then, we will expand our focus to the Hellenistic philosophers of the Roman Empire. Key texts will include works by Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, and representatives of the various influential schools of ancient thought, including the Stoics, Skeptics, and Neoplatonists. The approach in this course is both historical and philosophical. We will focus, first, on fostering an understanding of what philosophers thought about certain matters and why they had those thoughts, and second, on debating and attempting to solve the philosophical problems raised by these philosophers. We will be examining certain Greek modes of philosophical argumentation. Students will be expected to engage with and develop their own arguments and express them both orally and in writing. 

During this class, students will develop a broad understanding of how the creation and interchange of philosophical ideas contributed to the development of culture and civilization in classical antiquity. They will learn the crucial contributions of ancient figures to the study of natural philosophy, metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics. They will reflect on and debate important philosophical questions concerning the soul, the nature of justice, the good life for human beings, the nature of physical reality, and the justifiability of knowledge, and they will learn how these questions shape present-day discourses. Finally, students will develop the habits and skills necessary to read ancient philosophy thoughtfully and carefully so that they may continue to explore the rich intellectual insights this foundational period of Western philosophy offers. 


Ancient Philosophy
20438 04 (20776) - No classification restriction
20438 05 (20777) - Must be a Sophomore
20438 06 (20778) - Must be a Junior

Galbraith
11:00-12:15 TR

In this course, we will examine the foundations of the Western philosophical tradition. Beginning with the pre-Socratic philosophers, we will explore how Greek philosophers initiated debates that continue to occupy philosophers of the present day. Then, we will expand our focus to the Hellenistic philosophers of the Roman Empire. Key texts will include works by Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, and representatives of the various influential schools of ancient thought, including the Stoics, Skeptics, and Neoplatonists. The approach in this course is both historical and philosophical. We will focus, first, on fostering an understanding of what philosophers thought about certain matters and why they had those thoughts, and second, on debating and attempting to solve the philosophical problems raised by these philosophers. We will be examining certain Greek modes of philosophical argumentation. Students will be expected to engage with and develop their own arguments and express them both orally and in writing. 

During this class, students will develop a broad understanding of how the creation and interchange of philosophical ideas contributed to the development of culture and civilization in classical antiquity. They will learn the crucial contributions of ancient figures to the study of natural philosophy, metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics. They will reflect on and debate important philosophical questions concerning the soul, the nature of justice, the good life for human beings, the nature of physical reality, and the justifiability of knowledge, and they will learn how these questions shape present-day discourses. Finally, students will develop the habits and skills necessary to read ancient philosophy thoughtfully and carefully so that they may continue to explore the rich intellectual insights this foundational period of Western philosophy offers. 


Foundations of Modern Social Philosophy
20449 01 (20354) - No classification restriction
20449 02 (20746) - Must be a Sophomore
20449 03 (20747) - Must be a Junior

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.


Philosophy & Narrative
20452 01 (20740) - No classification restriction
20452 02 (20745) - Must be a Sophomore
20452 03 (20765) - Must be a Junior

Fischer
12:30-1:45 TR
Cross-listed with GE 20452-01

In this class we will examine the relationship of philosophy and narrative and the impact of narrative on change in ourselves and in the outside world. Although western philosophy is seen as the primary apologist of pure rationality, it had a close relationship to literature throughout times, beginning with Plato and his dialogues. However, there has often been (and still is until today) a fight between philosophers engaging in literary style (think for example of Rousseau) and those who condemned this form of writing as a “pseudo-science” (as did Voltaire, Rousseau’s arch-rival). Our goal is to take a close look at this quarrel, the different ways of philosophizing and the arguments around it, asking ourselves how knowledge comes about and what makes a rational argument different from a literary, especially narrative, form of discovery. During this journey we will discuss the how, what-for, and why of philosophy and of literature. For this we will take on an interdisciplinary perspective, which will include not only philosophical thinking but also psychology and literature itself. Students with a love of literature, prospective philosophers interested in the intersection of literature and narrative, and prospective majors in English, foreign languages and literatures, and psychology might find the course especially attractive. 


Philosophy as a Way of Life
20454 01 (20837) - No classification restriction
20454 02 (20838) - Must be a Sophomore
20454 03 (20839) - Must be a Junior

Christy
12:30-1:45 TR

How does philosophical reasoning interact with lived practice? What is the relationship between a philosopher’s metaphysical views and their ethical commitments? Can philosophy help you live a better life? In this course, we will look at a range of ancient and contemporary positions on questions like these. We will seek to understand a number of historical approaches to the philosophical life not only through in-depth reading and discussion of texts from the philosophical traditions in question, but also by trying out each tradition’s distinctive practices for ourselves.


Medical Ethics
20602 01 (15412) - No classification restriction

20602 02 (17436) - Must be a Sophomore
20602 03 (17437) - Must be a Junior
Warfield
11:10-12:00 MW
A Friday discussion section is required.

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.


Science & Catholicism
20627 01 (20353) - No classification restriction
20627 02 (20739) - Must be a Sophomore
20627 03 (20741) - Must be a Junior

O'Callaghan
11:00-12:15 MW


Science & Catholicism
20627 04 (20352) - No classification restriction
20627 05 (20743) - Must be a Sophomore
20627 06 (20744) - Must be a Junior

O'Callaghan
3:30-4:45 MW


Ethics of Emerging Weapon Tech
20628 01 (20941) - No classification restriction
20628 02 (20943) - Must be a Sophomore
20628 03 (20944) - Must be a Junior

Latiff and Galbraith
2:00-3:15 TR
Cross-listed with STV 20228-02, IIPS 20912 01, & HESB 20223 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).


Game Theory
20652 01 (17862) - No classification restriction
20652 02 (17863) - Must be a Sophomore
20652 03 (17864) - Must be a Junior

Rubin
10:30-11:20 MW
A Friday discussion section is required - PHIL 22652.

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
20653 01 (20702) - No classification restriction
20653 02 (20748) - Must be a Sophomore
20654 03 (20749) - Must be a Junior

Traldi
9:30-10:45 MW

Are you stuck in an "information bubble" because of what news you watch and who you follow on social media? Are you stuck in an “ideology” because of the history of the society you live in? What responsibilities do you have when it comes to the information you take in and the beliefs you form about politics? What should you do when you encounter political disagreement? Are people who believe conspiracy theories or "fake news" always acting irrationally, and is it always rational to trust expert testimony and "real news"? Does democracy do a good job of figuring out what's true, and does polarization make this job harder? Are there moral and immoral beliefs about certain topics? Epistemology is the branch of philosophy concerned with beliefs and the reasons we have or ought to have for holding them. This course is about the reasons we have or might have for our political beliefs. As we investigate these and other questions, we will delve into technical philosophical topics like epistemic normativity, the connection between belief and action, pragmatic encroachment, debunking arguments, and ideology critique.


Topics in the Philosophy of Relativity Theory and Quantum Mechanics
20654 01 (21120) - Reserved for Glynn Honors Program

Brown
3:30-4:45 MW

This course is designed for students with little prior familiarity with modern physics; formal mathematics will be kept to a minimum. The lectures start with an outline of Newton’s laws of classical mechanics, and the problem Newton faced in distinguishing between absolute and relative motion of bodies. The question arises whether space and time are substances in their own right (Newton) or merely kinds of relations between bodies (Leibniz). The key concept that emerges is that of inertial frames of reference and how different such frames are related to each other. We discuss the fable of Albert Keinstein, who in 1705 anticipated part of Albert Einstein’s discussion of this relation two hundred years later.

This leads to a discussion of how Einstein came up with his theory of special relativity, which predicts the subtle phenomena of length contraction of ‘fast’ moving rigid bodies and time dilation of ‘fast’ moving clocks, as well as the relativity of simultaneity. Emphasis will be put on the debt Einstein owed to the so-called ether theorists of the 19th century, who were grappling with conceptual issues related to electromagnetism and in particular the behaviour of light.

A philosophical debate has arisen in recent years as to how to understand the mentioned relativistic effects: are they the result of novel geometric properties of space-time, or special properties of the forces of cohesion that hold in rigid bodies and clocks? We will look at the arguments on both sides of the debate.

Some simple physical arguments due to Einstein will then be examined which led him to his general theory of relativity of 1915: his revolutionary theory of gravity. An intuitive way of understanding the role ’space-time curvature’ plays in the theory will be discussed, as well as the way in which special relativity emerges from general relativity in the appropriate conditions.

The final quarter of the course will concern the role of probability in quantum mechanics. Does this theory require us to change our notion of what probability means? A sketch of the different interpretations of quantum mechanics will be given, and the role of probability in each of them will be examined.


Thought of Aquinas
20805 01 (20699) - No classification restriction
20805 02 (20751) - Must be a Sophomore
20805 03 (20752) - Must be a Junior

Cross-listed with MI 20348 02
Qiu
2:00-3:15 TR

“But it is good for me to adhere to my God” (Ps 72:28, Douay-Rheims). What does “adhere to God” mean? What is the relation between God and my own goodness? Do we love God for the sake of Himself, or for the sake of ourselves? In this course we will study and analyze Aquinas’s answers to these questions, and we will touch some central issues of Thomistic ethics, such as Aquinas’s theory of love, happiness, and moral goodness.  


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