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 2022 Courses


Augustine's Confessions
20206 01 (32222)
D. Cory
2:00-3:15 TR

The Meaning of Life
20235 01 (31362)
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.

Work, Meaning, and Happiness
20255 01 (31361)
2:00-3:15 MW

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?

Philosophy of Law
20408 01 (31360)
11:00-11:50 MW
A Friday discussion section is required.

Philosophy of Law
20408 02 (27062)
11:00-11:50 MW
A Friday discussion section is required.

Philosophy of Religion
20801 ()
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.