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 2019

Philosophy for Life
20204 01 (19971) - No classification restriction
20204 02 (20405) - Must be a Junior
20204 03 (20406) - Must be a Sophomore

Aslan
2:00-3:15 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 philosophical thoughts. We will present, for instance, philosophical themes such as values, society, the idea of absolute, knowledge, being, truth, the nature of philosophical thinking, 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.


Love & Friendship: An Intro
20222 01 (19972) - No classification restriction
20222 02 (20407) - Must be a Junior
20222 03 (20408) - Must be a Sophomore

Lau
12:30-1:45 TR
 

What is love? In the first half of the course, we'll focus on this question. In particular, we'll focus on romantic love. We'll try to answer whether love can be rational, whether it must involve physical attraction, whether it has specific biological underpinnings, and whether we can ethically romantically love multiple people. In the second half of the course, we'll focus on other personal relationships such as parenthood and friendship. What makes a good parent or friend? Can being a good friend require us to violate morality's demands? Readings will range from Plato to Ta-Nehisi Coates and Carrie Jenkins. We'll also watch movies along the way and leave room for students to vote on topics of interest. Students will be assessed using the following: 2-4 page paper (20%), 6-8 page paper (30%), final project (30%), and participation (20%). 


Ethics
20104 01 (19974) - No classification restriction
20401 02 (20410) - Must be a Junior
20401 03 (20411) - Must be a Sophomore

TBA
11:00-12:15 TR
Cross-listed with HESB 20222 01 (20390)


Ethics
20401 04 (19975) - No classification restriction
20401 05 (20412) - Must be a Junior
20401 06 (20413) - Must be a Sophomore

TBA
12:30-1:45 TR


Moral Problems
20402 01 (20387)
- No classification restriction
20402 02 (20388) - Must be a Junior
20402 03 (20389) - Must be a Sophomore

Himelright
11:00-12:15 MW

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 (20414)
- No classification restriction
20402 05 (20416) - Must be a Junior
20402 06 (20417) - Must be a Sophomore

Himelright
12:30-1:45 MW

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 07 (20415)
- No classification restriction
20402 08 (20418) - Must be a Junior
20402 09 (20419) - Must be a Sophomore

Himelright
2:00-3:15 MW

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.


Aesthetics & Philosophy of Art
20411 01 (19976) - No classification restriction
20411 02 (20420) - Must be a Junior
20411 03 (20421) - Must be a Sophomore

Rush
9:30-10:45 TR

This is a hybrid lecture/seminar course in which we consider several of the main topics in aesthetics and the philosophy of art: what beauty might be, what makes something a work of art, the nature of aesthetic representation, the nature of artistic expression, the function of criticism in the reception of art, the relation of art to morality and to politics.  Readings are approximately divided equally from the history of philosophy and art criticism and more contemporary materials.  Both materials from Anglo-American and more European perspectives are considered.  Close attention to and analysis of art works (i.e. painting, poetry, film, music) will be undertaken in order to “test” the theories we consider.  Readings from: Plato, Aristotle, Hume, Kant, Nietzsche, Tolstoy, R.G. Collingwood, Nelson Goodman, Richard Wollheim, Arthur Danto, Michel Foucault, Walter Benjamin and others.


Social Philosophy
20448 01 (19980) - No classification restriction
20448 02 (19981) - Must be a Junior
20448 03 (20424) - Must be a Sophomore

Puestohl
12:30-1:45 TR

Social phenomena raise deep and complex philosophical questions. In this class we will explore several philosophical questions about society from an analytic perspective. The first part of the class will focus on issues in social epistemology: the study of the interaction between social facts and knowledge. We will then move on to social metaphysics: the study of the nature of social kinds and social entities. In the last part of the class we will consider some ethical issues having to do with society. 

Questions we may consider in the class include the following:

  • In what ways does one’s social position or identity affect what one knows about the world? 
  • What should we believe in the face of peer disagreement?
  • What is gender?
  • What is race?
  • What is disability?
  • What is it for something to be socially constructed?
  • Is it morally permissible to produce or consume pornography? 
  • What are our moral obligations to the global poor?

Social Philosophy
20448 04 (20422) - No classification restriction
20448 05 (20423) - Must be a Junior
20448 06 (20425) - Must be a Sophomore

Puestohl
2:00-3:15 TR

Social phenomena raise deep and complex philosophical questions. In this class we will explore several philosophical questions about society from an analytic perspective. The first part of the class will focus on issues in social epistemology: the study of the interaction between social facts and knowledge. We will then move on to social metaphysics: the study of the nature of social kinds and social entities. In the last part of the class we will consider some ethical issues having to do with society. 

Questions we may consider in the class include the following:

  • In what ways does one’s social position or identity affect what one knows about the world? 
  • What should we believe in the face of peer disagreement?
  • What is gender?
  • What is race?
  • What is disability?
  • What is it for something to be socially constructed?
  • Is it morally permissible to produce or consume pornography? 
  • What are our moral obligations to the global poor?

Citizenship: Voting, Representation, and Parties
20451 01 (19982) - No classification restriction
20451 02 (20426) - Must be a Junior
20451 03 (20427) - Must be a Sophomore

Clay
11:00-12:15 TR

This class is dedicated to helping you develop your views on some of the ethical issues related to citizenship in sovereign/territorial states. Our focus will be on representative democracies like the United States, but many of the issues we will analyze and discuss have broad application. We will have five debates, each focused on one of the following questions:

1. Should citizens vote?
2. Should it be relatively easy to become a citizen?
3. Are political parties good?
4. Which voting procedure should representative democracies deploy in their legislatures?
5. Should only public funds be used for political campaigns?

Much of the class will be dedicated to exploring different answers to these questions. Since many great philosophers of the past give persuasive answers to these questions, and our current thinking is indebted to them in many ways, we will spend some of our time studying their views. For instance, we will consider the views of James Madison on the influence of political parties. Nonetheless, our interest will not be with history for its own sake.


Medical Ethics
20602 01 (17349)
Warfield
12:50-1:40 MW
Cross-listed with: CNST 20400 01 (19983); HESB 20226 01 (20391); STV 20602 02 (20441).

This course includes a required Friday discussion section - PHIL 22602.

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.


Modern Physics & Moral Responsibility
20604 01 (20674) - No classification restriction
20604 02 (20704) - Must be a Junior
20604 03 (20707)- Must be a Sophomore
Howard
11:00-12:15 TR

This course examines the moral choices that scientists sometimes have to make by looking at the history of the development of nuclear weapons and the moral struggles of physicists like J. Robert Oppenheimer, the head of the allied atomic bomb project, and Werner Heisenberg, the head of the German atomic bomb project. We will ask ourselves how such individuals understood the nature and limits of their moral responsibilities as scientists, both to their own consciences and to society at large. We will also compare the moral situation of World War II and the Cold War with the rather different moral situation that the world faces today, as nuclear weapons have been developed by countries like North Korea, and as Russia and the United States are now building new kinds of nuclear weapons for the first time since the end of the Cold War. No background in physics is assumed.


Philosophy of Technology
20608 01 (19984) - No classification restriction
20608 02 (20428) - Must be a Junior
20608 03 (20429) - Must be a Sophomore
Flattery
3:30-4:45 TR

We use a slew of recently developed technologies all the time without thinking much about them. (You’re doing it right now.) And we often watch sci-fi movies that depict future technologies. But there’re deep and difficult philosophical questions that arise in the context of using current technologies, developing new technologies, and imagining future technologies. Some examples: could there be conscious artificial intelligences? And if so, how should we treat them? Is it possible that we’re—right now—actually living in a hyper-realistic computer simulation?  Is it possible to achieve immortality through uploading our minds into computers? And ff so, should we do it? Should we use autonomous weapons? Should we halt development of technologies that can be used for evil? Does our relationship with various technologies impact how we understand what it means to live a good life, and influence how we approach living it? In this course we’ll raise a range of questions like these, and we’ll map out some of the main philosophical options for answering them.


Environmental Ethics & Politics
20609 01 (19985) - No classification restriction
20609 02 (20430) - Must be a Junior
20609 03 (20431) - Must be a Sophomore

Hosle
3:30-4:45 TR
Cross-listed with SUS 20609 01 (20290); STV 20609 01 (20600).

Despite some progress both in the harnessing of energy and in the legal framework of various countries as well as of the international community as a whole, the destruction of the environment by industrialized humanity continues at an accelerated pace. Why is this so? And why is this morally wrong? Aim of the course is to study several books of environmental philosophy and address questions such as: Is there an intrinsic value in non-human entities? What are the principles of intergenerational justice? How can and should the state regulate our impact on the environment? Which legal and economic institutions are conducive to environmental destruction? Which changes in human history unleashed the environmental destruction? And what changes in our mentality are required to avoid an ecological catastrophe?

We will read works by Partha Dasgupta, John Arthur Passmore, Holmes Rolston, Arne Naess, J.B. Callicott, Robin Attfield, Ken Sayre and Vittorio Hosle. 


Philosophy of Science
20617 01 (19986) - No classification restriction
20617 02 (19987) - Must be a Junior
20617 03 (20438) - Must be a Sophomore

Steeger
2:00-3:15 MW
Cross-listed with STV 20617 01 (20443).

Scientific theories have enjoyed much success. They afford us tremendous power to predict and explain phenomena in the world around us. In light of this power, you might wonder why it is these theories are so successful. This question invariably leads to others. For instance: how much do our chosen theories tell us about the world—must the unseen entities referenced by scientific explanations exist? And just what counts as a “scientific explanation” anyhow? This course will equip you with the tools necessary to begin answering these questions. We will survey classic and contemporary debates in the philosophy of science, including: the reality of unobservable entities posited by theories; the nature of scientific explanation; how we choose between competing theories; and how we confirm existing theories. We will also consider applications to examples from the physical sciences. However, this course is self-contained. No previous familiarity with any particular physical or mathematical theory is required.


Philosophy of Science
20617 04 (20436) - No classification restriction
20617 05 (20437) - Must be a Junior
20617 06 (20439) - Must be a Sophomore

Steeger
3:30-4:45 MW

Scientific theories have enjoyed much success. They afford us tremendous power to predict and explain phenomena in the world around us. In light of this power, you might wonder why it is these theories are so successful. This question invariably leads to others. For instance: how much do our chosen theories tell us about the world—must the unseen entities referenced by scientific explanations exist? And just what counts as a “scientific explanation” anyhow? This course will equip you with the tools necessary to begin answering these questions. We will survey classic and contemporary debates in the philosophy of science, including: the reality of unobservable entities posited by theories; the nature of scientific explanation; how we choose between competing theories; and how we confirm existing theories. We will also consider applications to examples from the physical sciences. However, this course is self-contained. No previous familiarity with any particular physical or mathematical theory is required.


Philosophy and Biology
20638 01 (19988) - No classification restriction
20638 02 (20432) - Must be a Junior
20638 03 (20433) - Must be a Sophomore

Rubin
2:00-3:15
Cross-listed with STV 20638 01 (20505).

In the last few decades, focus in the philosophy of science has shifted from the physical sciences to the biological sciences. This is by no means a coincidence. Recent breakthroughs in evolutionary biology, genetics, conservation science, and medicine play a huge role in society and public policy and have impacted the lives of billions. This course will focus on a few foundational issues in the philosophy of biology. Topics include: conceptual issues in evolutionary theory; the possibility of cooperation, justice, and fairness in a Darwinian world; rivalrous conceptions of health and disease; and the value of biodiversity.


Data & Artificial Intelligence Ethics
20647 01 (20384) - No classification restriction
20647 02 (20434) - Must be a Junior
20647 03 (20435) - Must be a Sophomore
Ratti
9:30-10:45 TR
Cross-listed with STV 20647 01 (20606).
 

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.


Philosophical Questions in Medical Science
20649 01 (20392)

Brecevic
9:30-10:45 TR
Cross-listed with STV 30175 01 (20249)

Loss of health is a part of life. Medicine is one means by which this part of life is addressed, negotiated with, or battled against. In this course, we will explore the questions surrounding the nature and use of medicine in a variety of historical and social contexts. These questions will include, but are not limited to, the following: What is medicine, exactly? Is it a science or an art? How has the answer to this question evolved over the course of certain histories? Are diseases and medical causes, as typically conceived, mind-independent entities or human constructions? How do our worldviews and philosophical commitments affect what we observe and what we count as evidence? What kinds of medical epistemology are possible? Which ways of knowing should be granted authority? If medicine is defined as the practice of alleviating suffering, whose suffering should be alleviated and whose suffering is justified by the acquisition of further medical knowledge? What does it mean, existentially, to lose one’s health? Finally, what should the aims of medical practice be? We will explore these questions in a philosophical manner using a variety of intellectual resources from philosophy, history, sociology, and contemporary medical science.


Thought of Aquinas
20805 02 (19992)
- No classification restriction
20805 03 (20456) - Must be a Junior
20805 04 (20457) - Must be a Sophomore

O'Callaghan
2:00-2:50 MWF


Philosophy and Mysticism in Islamic Tradition
20814 01 (17774) - No classification restriction
20814 02 (20460) - Must be a Junior
20814 03 (20461) - Must be a Sophomore
Aslan
12:30-1:45 MW
Cross-listed with MI 30361 01 (17829)
 

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 IbnArabi 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.


Philosophy and Mysticism in Islamic Tradition
20814 04 (17775) - No classification restriction
20814 05 (20458) - Must be a Junior
20814 06 (20459) - Must be a Sophomore
Aslan
3:30-4:45 MW
Cross-listed with MI 30361 02 (19993)
 

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 IbnArabi 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 (20376) -
No classification restriction
20815 02 (20383) - Must be a Junior
20815 03 (20462) - 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 (20463) -
No classification restriction
20815 05 (20464) - Must be a Junior
20815 06 (20466) - 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.


Death of God: Atheism in Modern European Culture and Thought
20816 01 (20709)

Norton