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Fall 2015 Courses

Philosophy 195-01A: Sexual Ethics (first half, 2 credits)
Professor: Dr. Jack Mulder

What is sex and why does it matter? What does it mean to objectify, or use, someone? What is consent and how does it function? What moral position should we take on issues of homosexuality and same-sex marriage? In this class, we'll ask these questions and more in an effort to develop a philosophical vision of sexuality. Our goal will be to develop our views on these matters into coherent and consistent theories (and there are several ways one might do that). All perspectives are invited to join the conversation and will be taken seriously and charitably.

This course helps to fulfill the Global Learning Domestic requirement in the General education curriculum.

Philosophy 195-01B: Philosophy of Race (second half, 2 credits)
Professor: Dr. Jack Mulder

What is "race"? Biologically speaking, there isn't much that corresponds directly to our modern notions of race. But race is a reality of our lives that shapes the way we think about the world and that often contributes deeply to our sense of identity. So what is race really? We will consider several theories about what race is and also ask whether the concept is worth keeping. Some philosophers of race contend that we must eliminate the very concept of race and race-thinking, while others argue that the concept is coherent and should be conserved. We will also examine some theories about what racism is and how it functions. The readings will focus somewhat more on black and African-American philosophy, but we may also consider issues of race and identity from the lenses of Latin American writers, writers of mixed race, feminist writers, and white-writers.

This course helps to fulfill the Global Learning Domestic requirement in the General education curriculum. 

Philosophy 201-01: Logic
Professor: Dr. Jack Mulder

In this class, we are concerned to rigorously evaluate the arguments people employ to arrive at their conclusions. Why is that important? Well, when we're able to evaluate arguments according to independent rules, we have to bracket our prejudices and passions to a large extent. This can help us understand where our opponents are making good formal arguments and where we might be making some missteps in our own arguments. Most of us have a sense of what logics. We sometime say things like, "it's only logical", or, "it's a matter of logic". In logic, we care much less aobut what your view is and much more about how your arrived at it. The fact is that everyone has probably gone wrong somewhere, but truth is good, and more is better.

There is also good data on how the analytical skills in logic, especially those usen in philosophical reasoning, can be useful in prepaing for standardized tests, like the GRE, GMAT, and LSAT.

This course helps to fulfil the Mathematics (MA2) requirement for General Education.  

Philosophy 230-01: Ancient Philosophy
Professor: Dr. Andrew Dell'Olio

Philosophy is traditionally understood as the "love of wisdom" or the quest for meaning.  In this sense, philosophy addresses what might be called the "big questions" of human existence:  Who am I, and what is real?  What is the source of my existence and the existence of the world?  What is my purpose and how ought I to live in order to achieve it?  How can we achieve happiness as individuals and as a society?  What is happiness and what is a just society?  What is the best way to answer these questions in order to acquire knowledge?  Can we acquire knowledge?  What is knowledge?   In this course we will look at the history of philosophy in the West from its inception in ancient Greece to its development in the Europe of the High Middle Ages.  Our general aim will be to engage ideas that were formed in what seems a distant past, yet which still influence the ways we understand ourselves and our reality.  Although we may not always share the views of the philosophers we study, we can always learn from their attempts to discover meaning and to live meaningfully.

Philosophy 232: Modern Philosophy - Ethics and Rise of Modern Science
Professor: James Allis

One of the central characteristics of the modern age in the West has been the rise of science and technology. Developments in science and technology have transformed the material conditions of life and increased the opportunities and possibilities for many. Today science and technology play hugely influential roles in contemporary society and world affairs. In this course, we will explore such questions as: How did modern science begin? What is distinctive about modern scientific knowledge, and how might its approaches to the natural world and human reason contribute to its extraordinary success? How do the efforts of science and technology influence our understanding of ourselves as humans, our relations to the physical world, and our possible relation to God? Yet even as the successes of science and technology continue to amaze us and shape our ways of living, ethical questions about the work of science begin to arise. For example, science and technology give us considerable power over the natural world, but how are we going to use that power (e.g., nuclear energy and genetic engineering)? How might we begin to figure out “good” and “not-so-good” uses of that power? Science and technology may help us realize lives of greater convenience and comfort (e.g., an expanding number of “gadgets), but do science and technology help us to achieve lives that are genuinely “better” and “happier”? Science and technology provide us with opportunities that previous generations did not have, but are we truly “freer” in any meaningful way? While science and technology continue to give us incredible insights into the workings of human beings and our world (e.g., evolutionary theory and the neurosciences), at the same time more questions emerge about our human “place” and “purpose” in the world and how we might try to live our lives in this world.

Philosophy 373-01: Philosophy of Art
Professor: Dr. Greg Bassett

We spend a lot of our time with what we could call “the arts.”  We dance, we sing, we draw, we write.  We watch movies, read poems, listen to music, and go to museums.  And sometimes we discuss those experiences – what we like, what we think is good or bad, beautiful or even sublime.  But what are we talking about when we do that?  Is there such a thing as an artwork to be discussed?  When we say that a song or a painting or a poem is good, what notion of goodness do we have in mind?  Is good art also beneficial to society?  Is beauty in the eye of the beholder (and what does that mean)?  Are artistic judgments more or less objective than, say, scientific or historical judgments?  These are some of the questions that we will discuss in this class, reading classic and contemporary sources.  This class would be a good fit for anyone with some experience either making or appreciating art who would like to think about those experiences and why they matter to us.  

Philosophy 450-01: James and Wittgenstein on Religion (Capstone Seminar)
Professor: Dr. Andrew Dell'Olio

A hundred years ago or so, philosophy in the English-speaking world underwent a radical shift away from religiously inspired metaphysical systems toward a more empirical, scientific outlook.  This new philosophical trend, which reached its apex in Logical Positivism, was largely antagonistic towards metaphysics and spirituality and, instead, recast philosophy as logical and linguistic analysis accompanied by the rational justification of science.  But two of the leading figures in the new philosophy of the early 20th century—William James, the father of Pragmatism, and Ludwig Wittgenstein, the father of linguistic analysis—were, in fact, primarily concerned with preserving a religious perspective against the onslaught of science.  This course will examine the philosophies of James and Wittgenstein with particular attention to their respective treatments of religion and religious belief.