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Spring 2015 Courses

Philosophy 200-01A: Informal Logic
Professor: Dr. Mulder

In this class, we will look at some basic ideas in informal logic, with an eye to how those principles are applied in our everyday language. We will consider what it means to say of an argument that it is val­id, or sound, or fallacious. Toward the end of the course, we will also consider some philosophical quandaries that have persisted throughout much of our history and consider how logic might aid us in solving them. These may include topics on issues such as the death penalty, abortion, sexual ethics, free will and determinism, or others based on class interest. We will also learn some very basic steps in propositional logic and how to apply them to our real-wordl reasoning.

This half-semester course will satisfy the departmental logic requirement for majors and minors. It also may be of some use to those who plan to take standardized tests such as the LSAT.

Philosophy 230: Ancient Philosophy
Professor: Dr. Bassett

Is Education Good for You?  The fact that we are all at a college indicates that we probably think education gives us something valuable.  But what does it offer? To answer that question adequately, we will probably have to figure out what we mean by “education,” and especially how it relates to what we call “knowledge.”  And we will need to investigate what we mean by “good for you.”  Does the knowledge we gain, whether in school or out of it, make us happier, or perhaps make us better people?  What do we mean by those terms, and how is learning related to them?  Ancient writers like Plato, Aristotle, and Epicurus examined this issue extensively.  In this class, we’ll read some of their work on these questions and relate their ideas to our lives and education today.  

Philosophy 232: Modern Philosophy - A Geography of Evil, Suffering and Hope
Professor: James Allis

The modern period in the West has seen tremendous scientific, technological, and medical progress.  Furthermore, the 19th and 20th centuries saw dramatic developments in the political and social realms with respect to individual freedoms, civil rights, and women’s rights.  Yet even with the very real “progress” that has occurred over the past centuries, the 20th century is also now recognized as the bloodiest century in human history with the rise of totalitarianism and the emergence of ethnic cleansing and genocide.

What might be some of the factors that have contributed both to the very positive changes in modern life as well as the existence of “darker” dimensions in human existence?  How might we begin to consider the presence of evil among us, both at a larger social level and at a more personal level?  How might we start to work with the realities of pain, loss, and suffering, again both for larger communities and for us as individuals?  What, if anything, might suffering have to teach us?  How might we try to live our lives in the midst of such troubing concerns, and where might we begin to consider the presence of evil among us, noth at a larger social level and at a more personal level? How might we start to work with the realities of pain, loss, and suffering. again both for larger communities and for us as individuals? What, if anything, might suffering have to teach us? How mght we try to live our lives in the midst of such troubling concerns, and where we might look to find in the sadness of these realities? All are welcome. No special background for participation in the class.

This course fulfills Cultural Heritage II

Philosophy 237-01: World Philosophies I
Professor: Dr. Dell'Olio

This course is an introduction to philosophy in a global context.  We will consider the classical philosophical traditions of Greece and Rome, India, China, and Japan. We will be mostly concerned with the great texts of these philosophical traditions and what they have to say about humanity’s perennial questions: What is real? Who am I? What can I know? How should I live? What is the nature of the divine?  What is happiness and how can I achieve it?  What is a just society?  We will attempt to understand the answers offered to these questions by the great minds and texts of these traditions with some attention to each tradition’s cultural and historical context.  We will also compare and contrast the answers provided by each tradition with an eye to what each one has to offer us today for our own quest for wisdom.

This course fulfills Cultural Heritage I   

Philosophy 242-01: Philosophies of China and Japan
Professor: Dr. Dell'Olio

This course is an introduction to the philosophical traditions of China and Japan. While these philosophies continue to influence the worldview of contemporary East Asia, we will be mostly concerned with the classical thought of these traditions. The philosophies to be considered include Confucianism, Mohism, Legalism, Daoism, Shinto and Zen Buddhism. Throughout the course, we will consider comparisons to western philosophical and religious thought where appropriate.

Philosophy 295-01: Feminist Ethics
Professor: Dr. Giannini

Feminism calls attention to ways in which women are systematically oppressed. Thus feminism in ethics, among other things, reflects on the appropriate response to such systems of oppression and calls attention to the possibility that our ethical concepts themselves are systematically biased.   In this course, students will be acquainted with the way feminist philosophers have appropriated existing ethical frameworks and developed their own alternatives. The course will focus specifically on how to respond to wrongdoing, with an emphasis on the concept of forgiveness.  Students will be challenged to think about whether and under what conditions forgiveness is an appropriate response to wrongdoing, particularly for women and others in oppressive contexts.  Class sessions will consist primarily in discussion.

This course is flagged for Global Learning (Domestic) and is listed as an elective for Women’s and Gender Studies.

Philosophy 331-01: Philosophy of Religion
Professor: Dr. Mulder

In this course we’ll have a look at some classical views of God and arguments for God’s existence, and some challenges to religious faith.  Under the latter heading, we’ll consider some issues like the problem of divine foreknowledge, the problem of evil, faith and reason, miracles, and some problems associated with religious diversity.  We’ll finish by exploring some themes in philosophical theology on particular Christian doctrines like Trinity, Incarnation, Atonement, petitionary prayer, whether there is a hell, and whether there is a purgatory.  We will focus on what these various docterines are supposed to mean, whether challenges to them can be met, and if so, how. Some of our voices will be from Christians or theists, and others will be from skepticsor atheists. Students from any perspective on these matters are most welcome.

Philosophy 360-01: Philosphy of Science
Professor: Dr. LaPorte

"Philosophy is thinking hard….  Scientists do that too, but there’s a certain kind of question whose difficulty can’t be resolved by getting more empirical evidence. It requires [in part] an untangling of presuppositions: figuring out that our thinking is being driven by ideas we didn’t even realize that we had. And that's what philosophy is." - David Papineau

This course is about science, but it is not a science course, nor does it presuppose that you have taken any science.  You will be doing philosophy, as a (perhaps soon-to-be) scientifically literate intelligent layperson. You will be reflecting, as a philosopher, on what scientists are doing and what significance it has.  For example, you (we) will examine fundamental questions about what the material world is like, in view of the weird deliverances of quantum mechanics. Other topics we will consider, with a view to physics, chemistry, biology, earth sciences, social sciences, etc.

What is biological species? How does evoulutions affect our answer to this and other fundamental questions about ourselves and creation?

What's time? Is it real? If so, is only our present time real-or are past and future times real too, just as other places, besides the place we're in, are real?

Do the sciences raise problems for human freedom? Do the sciences suggest that we are merely material beings? Do the sciences conflict with religious faith?

(This course is flagged as an elective for the Neuroscience minor)