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 2024 Courses


Introduction to Philosophy
20101 01 (20751)
Rodriguez
8:20-9:10 MWF

A general introduction to philosophy, which may cover introductory topics in either topically or historically, with a focus on introducing students to some of the perennial problems and texts of philosophy. Specific course content varies by semester and by instructor. See https://philosophy.nd.edu/courses/1st-courses-in-philosophy/ for further details of specific sections offered this semester.


Introduction to Philosophy 
20101 02 (20752)
Rodriguez
9:25-10:15 MWF

A general introduction to philosophy, which may cover introductory topics in either topically or historically, with a focus on introducing students to some of the perennial problems and texts of philosophy. Specific course content varies by semester and by instructor. See https://philosophy.nd.edu/courses/1st-courses-in-philosophy/ for further details of specific sections offered this semester.


Introduction to Philosophy 
20101 03 (20753)
Rodriguez
12:50-1:40 MWF

A general introduction to philosophy, which may cover introductory topics in either topically or historically, with a focus on introducing students to some of the perennial problems and texts of philosophy. Specific course content varies by semester and by instructor. See https://philosophy.nd.edu/courses/1st-courses-in-philosophy/ for further details of specific sections offered this semester.


Introduction to Philosophy
20101 04 (20972)
MacFarlane
2:00-3:15 MW

A general introduction to philosophy, which may cover introductory topics in either topically or historically, with a focus on introducing students to some of the perennial problems and texts of philosophy. Specific course content varies by semester and by instructor. See https://philosophy.nd.edu/courses/1st-courses-in-philosophy/ for further details of specific sections offered this semester.


Introduction to Philosophy
20101 03 (20973)
MacFarlane
3:30-4:45 MW

A general introduction to philosophy, which may cover introductory topics in either topically or historically, with a focus on introducing students to some of the perennial problems and texts of philosophy. Specific course content varies by semester and by instructor. See https://philosophy.nd.edu/courses/1st-courses-in-philosophy/ for further details of specific sections offered this semester.


God and the Good Life
20111 01  (17610)
Blaschko
12:50-1:40 MW

Must be enrolled in weekly GGL Sustained Dialouge Section

Should you practice a religion? What do you owe other people? What would it take for your life to be meaningful?And how should you decide what to believe when it comes to big questions like these?In God and the Good Life, we're searching for answers. We'll read the best philosophical arguments addressing these questions. We'll share our reactions to the proposals in blogs and social media editorials. We'll come together as a large group to debate real world case studies that bear on these questions, hearing periodically from guest speakers making headlines in current debates about religion, morality and meaning. And we'll meet in small Sustained Dialogue groups to discuss our religious and moral identities and develop virtuous friendships (to borrow Aristotle's terminology). If you are excited about developing philosophical skills in an intense, creative community format---this is the course for you. Learn more about GGL at our course website: godandgoodlife.org. Or watch our course trailer: https://youtu.be/EMKbtSC3-2I This course fulfills the first philosophy requirement. The 20111 sections are restricted to sophomores and higher.


Reality: The Big Questions
20244 01 (20885)
Sullivan
2:00-3:15 MW

This course focuses on the most puzzling questions about the world and our place in it, such as existence, the nature of space and time, the relationship between body and mind, the problem of causation, the nature of possibility, impossibility, and necessity, and the freedom of the will.


Ethics
20401 01 (20888)
Jensen
12:30-1:45 MW

This ethics course is aimed at students with no background in ethics. We will survey three main moral frameworks (utilitarianism, deontology, and virtue ethics) and their approaches to answering the kinds of ethical questions that you are likely to face in your life, e.g., How should I use money? What and how should I eat? Is abortion morally permissible? Is it ever good to be angry? Is life meaningful? We will read some of the best, philosophical answers to these questions while also reading fiction that engages with their ideas and trying out experiments in ethical living that give students a taste of the ethical approaches we are studying. Students will be asked to reflect on these experiences alongside the texts. (Students will be given choices in what experiments to try and will not be required to do anything that violates their conscience.) Although we will study a variety of ethical approaches, the most time and emphasis will be given to Christian virtue ethics. Texts will include the Abolition of Man by C.S. Lewis, Glittering Vices by Rebecca DeYoung, and many short, primary sources. In place of exams, students will be asked to write regular reflection assignments. Feel free to ask me for a syllabus.


Ethics
20401 02 (20889)
Jensen
2:00-3:15 MW

This ethics course is aimed at students with no background in ethics. We will survey three main moral frameworks (utilitarianism, deontology, and virtue ethics) and their approaches to answering the kinds of ethical questions that you are likely to face in your life, e.g., How should I use money? What and how should I eat? Is abortion morally permissible? Is it ever good to be angry? Is life meaningful? We will read some of the best, philosophical answers to these questions while also reading fiction that engages with their ideas and trying out experiments in ethical living that give students a taste of the ethical approaches we are studying. Students will be asked to reflect on these experiences alongside the texts. (Students will be given choices in what experiments to try and will not be required to do anything that violates their conscience.) Although we will study a variety of ethical approaches, the most time and emphasis will be given to Christian virtue ethics. Texts will include the Abolition of Man by C.S. Lewis, Glittering Vices by Rebecca DeYoung, and many short, primary sources. In place of exams, students will be asked to write regular reflection assignments. Feel free to ask me for a syllabus.


Social and Political Philosophy in a Changing World
20417 01 (20881)
Concha
2:00-3:15 MW

The topic of ethics of AI has received much due attention. However, there is much to be explored on the social and political implications of increasing AI integration. This course will grapple with questions concerning the use of AI in politics and government (domestically and internationally), in achieving collective social goals, and in preparing for future generations. Using tools from social and political philosophy, we will engage in thoughtful discussion of how AI is changing our world. 

 


The Natures of Ethics & Morality: An Introductory Exploration of Major Topics in Metaethics
20418 01 (20880)
Smith
9:30-10:45 MW

Course Description: This course will introduce and explore fundamental questions about ethics, conceived as that part of human thought and discourse specifically concerned with figuring out what what to do, what to value, and how to be. To be clear: We will not be concerned to investigate which particular acts, behaviors, circumstances, persons, or general ways of living are right or wrong, good or bad, virtuous or vicious, and so on. The foregoing are questions one considers when doing ethics. But we will not (primarily) be doing ethics in this course. Rather we will be taking a step back, or going a layer deeper, by considering what it is we are doing when doing ethics, and what the world must be like in order for ethical thought and discourse to make sense. More specifically, we will consider:
 
(i) Whether or not it really is an aim of ethical thought and discourse to apprehend moral facts (i.e., facts about what’s right and wrong, good and bad, virtuous and vicious, and so on) as opposed to merely expressing attitudes, emotions, or desires; and, if so,
(ii) What moral facts would have to be like if there were any; and, with some such understanding(s) in hand,
(iii) Whether there are any moral facts thus conceived; and, if so,
(iv) How we might ever manage to know or even think about moral facts thus conceived; and, having done so,
(v) Whether we should even care about moral facts thus conceived, and why.
 
These are not questions of ethics, but of metaethics: a field of philosophical inquiry concerned to investigate the natures of ethics and its apparent subject matter, namely moral reality (if such there be), and to do so by bringing to bear the resources of other fields of philosophy, including the philosophies of mind and language, metaphysics, epistemology, and, of course, ethics itself. If you have ever wondered whether morality is real or unreal, objective or subjective, relative or absolute, determined by evolution, by humanity, by God, or by the very fabric of reality, this course is for you. (And if you haven’t wondered any of these things but would be interested to give wondering about them and related matters a try, don’t worry: This course is also for you!) Our primary aim in this course will be to become better acquainted with thinking from a metaethical point of view, which will centrally involve familiarizing ourselves with the conceptual tools, distinctions, and problems of contemporary analytic metaethics, as well as with the works of key figures in this area.

Ethics in Society
20419 01 (20884)
Chan
2:00-3:15 MW

This course brings philosophical reflection to bear on some of the most pressing ethical issues facing modern society. Topics include technology ethics, environmental ethics, racial justice, and poverty. How much can you rely on AI before it compromises your autonomy? What, if anything, is lost when caregiving is outsourced to robots? What are the rights of future generations? How does structural racism feed into algorithmic bias? Is it wrong to only have friends of the same race as yourself? What do we owe the global poor? We’ll explore all this and more in this discussion-based seminar.


Philosophy as a Way of Life
20454 01 (20172)
Christy
2:00-3:15 TTH

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 positions on questions like these, with a focus on the philosophical tradition inspired by the works of Plato. We will explore Plato’s own approach to the philosophical life, as well as those developed by his philosophical predecessors (particularly by the Pythagorean movement and by Parmenides of Elea), by later Platonist philosophers like Plotinus and Iamblichus, and by related philosophical and religious movements from antiquity. We will seek to understand all of these not only through in-depth reading and discussion of primary texts, but also by trying out for ourselves the lived practices they recommend.


Medical Ethics
20602 01 (17615)
Warfield
10:30-11:20 MW

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.


Infinity
20607 01 (20173)
Hamkins
9:30-10:45 TTH

This course will be a philosophical and mathematical exploration of infinity, covering a wide selection of topics from this rich, fascinating concept—the mathematics and philosophy of the infinite. Along the way, we shall find paradox and fun, an abundance of conundrums and puzzles, undertaken from a philosophical outlook. Topics will include Zeno's paradox, supertasks, Archimedes' sand reckoner, the paradox of giants, the infinite coastline paradox, the largest tweetable number, potential versus actual infinity, Galileo's paradoxes of equinumerosity, Hilbert's Grand Hotel, Cantor on the uncountable, the continuum hypothesis, the orders of infinity, the transfinite ordinals, the surreal numbers, the infinite Liar paradox, and more. Although no particular mathematical background or training is required for the class, nevertheless any study of infinity is inherently mathematical to a certain degree and it is expected that students will be open to mathematical thinking and ideas. The lectures will be based on the chapters of the instructor's forthcoming book, The Book of Infinity.


Philosophical Issues in AI
20616 01 (20882)
Jia
3:30-4:45 TTH

You have a rich conscious mental life, but what is a mind? You have played with artificial intelligence (AI) like ChatGPT, but what is AI? You have perhaps also tried virtual reality (VR) devices like Vision Pro, or at least understand how they work, but what is VR? More curiously, could AI ever have minds and be conscious, and with what moral consequences? Could VR devices ever be part of our conscious minds, and with what implications on our conception of reality, virtual or non-virtual? Living in today's world of technology, these are some of the pressing philosophical questions we face and will discuss in this course.

Philosophical Issues in AI
20616 02 (20883)
Li
9:30-10:45 MW

This course introduces some epistemological and ethical issues broadly related to artificial intelligence and machine learning. The course begins with an introduction to the historical development and the technical basis of some contemporary AI technology. Topics may include: basics of linear algebra; machine learning; neural network; examples of contemporary AI systems. The second part of the course discusses some epistemological issues related to AI. Topics may include: the problem of induction, AI assisted scientific research; transparency and interpretability. The final part of the course discusses the interaction between AI and the human society. Topics may include: the meaningfulness of various human activities when AI's ability on them supersedes human; algorithmic fairness; predictive policing; digital labor.


Technology Ethics
20618 01 (20887)
Hibshman
3:30-4:45 MW

This course will explore ethical issues surrounding emerging technology, including artificial intelligence. Students will be expected to complete readings on a weekly basis, discuss them in class, write two papers, and take a midterm and a final.


Mind and Machine
20619 01 (20878)
Wu
3:30-4:45 MW

Description: In this course, we will ask a series of questions about the human mind. Is the mind just the brain? Or is it more than the brain? In what way? How do we come to have minds? Can other animals have minds? Can computers have minds? We will look for answers to these questions from a wide range of philosophical and empirical studies.
 
 

Ethics of Emerging Weapon Tech
20628 01 (20974)
Gamez, Latiff
11:00-12:15 TTH

This course explores the ethical challenges posed by the ongoing revolution in the technology of war. After learning about some general, philosophical approaches to ethical decision making, we will examine a wide range of new weapons technologies, from "smart" bombs, drones, and robots to em (electromagnetic) weapons, cyberwar, and bio-enhancement, asking the question whether the existing framework of Just War Theory and the Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC) are adequate for war as it will be fought in the 21st century.

Ethics of Emerging Weapon Tech
20628 02 (20978)
Gamez, Latiff
9:30-10:45 TTH

This course explores the ethical challenges posed by the ongoing revolution in the technology of war. After learning about some general, philosophical approaches to ethical decision making, we will examine a wide range of new weapons technologies, from "smart" bombs, drones, and robots to em (electromagnetic) weapons, cyberwar, and bio-enhancement, asking the question whether the existing framework of Just War Theory and the Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC) are adequate for war as it will be fought in the 21st century.


Philosophy and Biology
20638 01 (20644)
Elliott
2:00-3:15 MW

The philosophy of biology deals with philosophical topics arising in connection to the biological sciences. This course focuses on evolutionary biology, and its connections to how we understand ourselves, our culture, and our morality. Major questions to be dealt with include: To what extent does natural selection explain the traits of organisms? How can we understand the interplay between different levels of selection? How can we make sense of concepts such as ‘human nature’, ‘altruism’, ‘function’, ‘disease’, and ‘genetic information’? To what extent has evolution played a role in shaping our social and moral cognition, and what philosophical implications does this have—e.g., for our knowledge of moral truths, or whether there even are such truths?


Philosophy and Biology
20638 02 (20896)
M. Brown
9:30-10:45 MW

Biology is often defined as the scientific study of life. Yet it’s somewhat scandalous that it remains unclear what exactly life is, and whether there even is such a thing as life. This class will therefore focus on the question: “What is life?”, approaching it through the lens of the philosophy of biology. We will examine the importance of natural selection, genetics, ecology, and self-organization for explaining life. We will consider the challenges of defining life and look at challenge cases such as symbiosis, origins of life, and debates over the unit of selection. Finally, we will consider the ethical implications of the life concept, including the beginning and end of life, and the dignity of (non-human) animal life. This will bring us, by the end, to consider a grander question, of what role biology can or should play in helping us reflect on our own meaning as living things.


Feminist Philosophy and Science Fiction
20644 01 (20174)
Rea
11:00-12:15 MW

Crosslisted with GSC 20644-01

The science fiction genre is rich with stories that explore classic philosophical questions or thematically engage large-scale philosophical movements and worldviews; and many works in this genre--especially since the late 1960s, but some earlier works as well--have substantially engaged with feminist themes. In this class, we will discuss several science fiction novels, short stories, and films whose central themes or plot elements make significant connections with important ideas or topics in contemporary feminist philosophy.

 


Epistemology in Practice
20653 01 (20643)
Callahan
9:30-10:45 MW

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?

 

 

 


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