PHIL 101 – Introduction to Philosophy

Staff: TuTh 9:30AM–10:50AM

(Humanities Core)

Representative philosophical topics, such as mind and body, the grounds of knowledge, the existence of God, moral obligation, political equality, and human freedom, are discussed in connection with contemporary philosophers and figures in the history of philosophy.


PHIL 105 – Neuroethics and Human Enhancement

Prof. Tiehen: MoWeFr 10:00AM-10:50AM

(Bioethics; Interdisciplinary Humanities; Neuroscience)

This course examines the ethical, political, and philosophical questions raised by some of the new forms of human enhancement made available by breakthroughs in science and technology, from fields like neuroscience and genetic engineering. For example: Should parents be allowed to use genetic screening or modification to create "designer children," either for the purpose of avoiding diseases and other ailments or to select desired traits such as their child's intelligence, athletic ability, or good looks? Should humans pursue immortality or, failing that, radically extended lifespans? Is there any important ethical difference between artificial and natural intelligence, and will the former soon surpass the latter? What justification is there, if any, for regarding the use of steroids in athletics as a form of cheating while regarding the use of weight training regimens as fair game? Is the goal of human enhancement compatible with the pursuit of social equality? What constitutes the self, as opposed to the tools or pieces of technology that a self uses?


PHIL 240 – Formal Logic

Staff: TuTh 2:00PM-3:20PM AND one discussion section either We 12:00PM - 12:50PM OR We 5:00PM - 5:50PM

(Math Core; Math Minor; Business and Leadership)

Formal logic is the science of reasoning and argumentation. It uses mathematical structures to establish a formal language to express thoughts and evaluate the coherence of series of thoughts. Students learn about and work with two logical systems in this course: truth-functional logic and first-order logic.

Students are expected to acquire technical skills in three aspects of logical systems: symbolization (representing thoughts in the formal language); interpretation (using a mathematical structure to interpret the formal language); and deduction (working with sets of rules that govern series of expressions in the formal language). As students explore these two logical systems, they will inevitably consider meta-logical and philosophical questions about logical concepts and the systems themselves, such as ones that concern their expressive power, limitations, and potential alternatives.


PHIL 250 – Moral Philosophy

Prof. Tubert: TuTh 11:00AM-12:20PM

(Bioethics; Neuroscience)

This course examines a number of ethical theories - theories attempting to provide a systematic account of our beliefs about what is right and wrong, good and bad. The course examines a range of answers to questions like the following: What makes for a good life? What, if anything, is of value? What does morality require? Should we care about moral requirements and, if so, why? Is there a connection between morality and freedom? In addition to a careful study of various HISTORICAL views, we will consider recent defenses and critiques of these views.


PHIL 331 – Metaphysics

Prof. Tiehen: TuTh 12:30PM-1:50PM

This is a course on the nature of fundamental reality and everything that exists (and some things that don't). Topics covered will include free will, personal identity, the nature of time, and possible worlds beyond the actual world. In addition to reading philosophy, we will be reading works of fiction by author Ted Chiang, who will visit the seminar.


PHIL 378 – Philosophy of Law

Prof. Tubert: MoWe 2:00PM-3:20PM

(Bioethics; Crime, Law, and Justice)

This course is concerned with the nature of law and the relationship between law and morality. The course is centered on questions like the following: What is the connection between law and morality? Is it morally wrong to break the law? Is breaking the law sometimes morally permissible or even morally required? Should morality be legally enforced? To what extent, if at all, should legal decisions be influenced by moral beliefs? What are the relationships between legal, constitutional, moral, and political rights? How can legal punishment be morally justified? While pursuing answers to these questions through the work of leading legal philosophers, students read a number of actual court cases and discuss specific issues like hate speech and capital punishment, among others. Crosslisted as PHIL 378 / PG 348.


PHIL 450 – Topics in Value Theory

Prof. Protasi: MoWe 3:30PM-4:50PM

Conducted as an advanced seminar, the course addresses topics from value theory, understood to include ethics, political philosophy, aesthetics, and philosophy of religion. Each student writes and presents a substantial seminar paper related to the course. The topic for Spring 2024 is Philosophy of Disability. In this course we are going to start from the history of the disability rights movement, and learn about how the approach to disability has evolved. We are then going to think about questions such as: what disability is; whether having a disability or causing a disability is morally or prudentially bad; whether it is morally permissible to abort disabled fetuses, and what implications selective abortion carries with it; whether disabled people have a privileged epistemic standpoint on disability; what emotional responses to disability are appropriate; in which way disability is analogous to other identities, and if and how ableism differ from other power relations. We are going to think also about particular kinds of disabilities: physical, psychiatric, and invisible. Finally, we will reflect on how thinking about disability can impact the way we do philosophy. 


Other courses taught by Philosophy professors:

SSI2 146 – Philosophy of Disability

Prof. Protasi: MoWeFr 10:00AM–10:50AM OR MoWeFr 11:00AM–11:50AM

(Seminar in Scholarly Inquiry 2)

What is happiness and how can human beings achieve it? Can a bad person be truly happy or is moral virtue required for happiness? Is suffering valuable, and if so, should we pursue suffering? Is it better to be detached and invulnerable from loss, or are love and attachments always worth the risk? Do emotions give us any knowledge? What does it mean when cognitive scientists talk about "the divided mind"? What is implicit bias and how can we fight it? What does it mean that race or gender or disability are a "social construct"? These are questions concerning human flourishing that both philosophers and scientists have contributed to answer, or to attempt to answer. In this course, students are invited to engage in a variety of debates concerning happiness, morality, and identity. Readings range from ancient primary philosophical texts to contemporary cognitive science articles.

Poster with Spring 2024 Philosophy Course Offerings