Undergrad Courses

Some additional information about this semester's courses can be found at the Arts and Sciences course descriptions page.

Spring 2023 (Term 2234) 

PHIL 0010 (24130) Concepts of Human Nature
Shawn Simpson
T H 2:00-2:50 324 CL

What is it to be human? What is it that makes us different from other species? Is there such a thing as "normal" or "crazy"? Are good and evil inherent parts of the human condition? And what is our connection to the environment, animals, other people? This course will look at human nature from a broad point of view. We'll start with a bit of history, paying special attention to ancient and modern scientific views. Then we'll focus on what we know today from contemporary biology and archeology. We'll also look at the nature of the mind and personal identity, free will and destiny, our place in the social contact, and the meaning of life overall.

PHIL 0012 (24134) Concept of Human Nature Writing Practicum
Shawn Simpson
T H 3:00-3:50 319 CL

No course description available.

PHIL 0080 (31821) Introduction to Philosophical Problems
Kefu Zhu
T H 11:00-11:50 232 CL

Introduction to Philosophy” aims to expose students to various philosophical topics through exploring primary philosophy texts and approaches. We will encounter texts from the Western to Eastern world, from the ancient, the Enlightenment, to the modern. We will discuss these texts in relation to our understanding of beauty, art, reality, thinking, soul, knowledge, morality, education, and society. Students will develop their critical thinking, analytical thinking, and writing skills in humanity and walk away with a philosophical lens to approach the world’s problems and appreciate the beauty of our life.

PHIL 0082 (31828) Introduction to Philosophical Problems Writing Practicum
Kefu Zhu
T H 12:00-12:50 313 CL

No course description available. 

PHIL 0200 (31829) History of Ancient Philosophy
Natalie Runkle
M W 6:00-7:15 330 CL

This course introduces students to key figures and ideas within the ancient Greek tradition through the lens of ancient cosmopolitanism. “Cosmopolitanism,” from the Greek cosmopolites or “citizen of the world,” is thought to have roots in Platonic ideas; it is said to have emerged with the ancient Cynics, come to fruition with the Stoics, and extended beyond the Greek and Roman world via early Christianity. This course traces that trajectory. In addition to the origins of ancient cosmopolitanism, this course also covers cosmopolitanism’s reception and modification in contemporary thought. Students are invited to consider not just Cynic, Stoic, and Christian world-citizenship, but also their own. The course considers questions like the following: What is “cosmopolitanism” and are there multiple viable “cosmopolitanisms”? Can we consistently view ourselves as both world-citizens and members of particular communities? What are the implications of world-citizenship for the way we view and treat those living far from us? What are our responsibilities to fellow human beings at the local, national, and global level?

PHIL 0210 (21417) History of Modern Philosophy
Thomas Pendlebury
T H 1:00-1:50 324 CL

No course description available.

PHIL 0212 (24165) History of Modern Philosophy/Writing Practicum
Thomas Pendlebury
T H 10:00-10:50 132 Chevron

No course description available.

PHIL 0212 (22334) History of Modern Philosophy/Writing Practicum
Thomas Pendlebury
T H 11:00-11:50 525 Thackeray

No course description available.

PHIL 0300 (10135) Intro to Ethics
Nandi Theunissen
T H 12:00-12:50 120 Lawrence

No course description available

PHIL 0300 (25576) Intro to Ethics (CGS)
Feliepe Pereira
H 6:00-8:30 221 CL

This course is an introduction to moral philosophy. We will explore questions about moral obligations (e.g., “What do we owe each other?”), moral responsibility (e.g., “When should we be held responsible for our mistakes?”), and forgiveness (e.g., “What, if anything, makes a mistake unforgivable?”). No background in philosophy is required.

PHIL 0302 (10582) Introduction to Ethics Writing Practicum
Nandi Theunissen
T H 9:00-9:50 105 Allen Hall

No course description available.

PHIL 0302 (22335) Introduction to Ethics Writing Practicum
Nandi Theunissen
T H 11:00-11:50 319 CL

No course description available.

PHIL 0500 (28713) Intro to Logic
Mark Wilson
M W 2:00-2:50 324 CL

No course description available.

PHIL 0610 (24178) Philosophy and Science
Rachael Driver
T H 10:00-10:50 120 Lawrence

This course is an introduction to thinking about science in a philosophical way. The first half of the course will be concerned with ideas about the nature of science and how best to think about the distinction between science and non-science. The second half of the course will focus on objectivity, bias, and trust in science alongside the ongoing replication crisis. 

PHIL 0612 (30916) Philosophy and Science Writing Practicum
Rachael Driver
T H 12:00-12:50 121 CL

No course description available.

PHIL 0840 (29294) Science and Religion
Brock Bahler
T H 9:30-10:45 139 CL

No course description available.

PHIL 1040 (21444) Aristotle
Jennifer Whiting
T H 10:00-12:15 121 CL

Nearly two millennia after Aristotle died, Dante referred to him as “the master of those who know”. In spite of (or was it perhaps because of?) Aristotle’s willingness to identify some of his conclusions as merely provisional. The course is a survey, grounded in close readings of primary texts, of the work of Aristotle’s grounding-breaking work in a wide range of what we now call ‘disciplines’, including biology (where he was one of the first to do extensive empirical research); formal logic (which he more or less invented); ethics and politics (where his views are still championed); and metaphysics and epistemology broadly construed (where his views are undergoing some revival). We’ll survey his account of the cosmos as a whole, from the basic elements of which it is composed to the divine beings on whose activity the operations of everything from heavenly bodies down to plants and animals depend. The focus will be anthropocentric, paying special attention to human beings and their distinctive forms of life (both ethical-political and intellectual).

Short paper; midterm; and final (with term paper option for those with B+ average after midterm).

PHIL 1290 (28693) Topics in the History of Philosophy
Kathleen Cook
M W 4:30-5:45 312 CL

In early modern Europe education frequently had moral as well as practical and intellectual goals. Moral goals were often framed in terms of the ways in which formal and informal education might promote and develop virtue. There was also a wide ranging intellectual debate in this period concerning the kind and amount of education which should be offered to girls and women. Philosophers contributed to both the debate about women’s education and the broader discussion about education and virtue. In this course we will consider some of their contributions. Philosophers we will read include Anna Maria van Schurman, Bathsua Makin, Rene Descartes, Sor Juana de la Cruz, Poulain de la Barre, John Locke, Mary Astell, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Catharine Macaulay, and Mary Wollstonecraft. 

PHIL 1305 (31830) Special Topics in Ethics: The Nature of Evil \
Shawn Simpson
T H 9:30-10:45 129 CL

In this course, we’ll engage in a philosophical investigation into the nature of evil. We'll begin with an exploration of the difference between natural and moral evil and go over a bit of ancient history. We’ll ask whether evil really exists, or whether instead it's a concept we should consign to the dustbin. We’ll look at the views of some key historical and contemporary figures: Leibniz, Kant, and Arendt. And we’ll assess to what extent evil might be a product of something like one’s upbringing or biological endowment. Our investigation will be aided by case studies and research from the sciences. We'll end with a look at evil and its place in less often discussed area such as art and group agency.

PHIL 1317 (31774) Philosophy of Race and Religion
Brock Bahler
T H 2:30-3:45 342 CL

No course description available.

PHIL 1319 (28694) Ethics and Sport
Tom Berry
M 6:00-8:30 129 CL

This course examines ethical and social issues that arise in connection with sport. The course will be divided into two parts: the first concerns issues that arise within sport, such as using performance enhancing drugs and seeking to injure opponents; the second concerns issues related to the integration of sport into society, such as whether there ought to be gender equity in sport (and what gender equity is) and whether sport has a legitimate place at institutions of higher education.

The aim of the course is to familiarize students with the basic ethical problems that arise in connection with sport, the ethical theories that might be used to address these problems, and the normative resources implicit within our conception of sport. Students will gain or refine the skill of identifying arguments and assessing them for validity and soundness. Students will be prepared to analyze novel issues in a reasoned and principled way.

PHIL 1370 (31831) Philosophy of Art
Kefu Zhu
T H 4:00-5:15 121 CL

Philosophy of Art’ is an upper-level undergraduate course revolving around the philosophical issues raised by art and artworks. We will read historical and contemporary works on the philosophy of art to understand how art relates to a range of human activities and how discussions about art have changed over time. We will discuss art’s relation to thinking, reality, body, perception, creativity, emotions, imagination, and politics. We will investigate how different art forms (painting, film, dance, poetry, etc.) addresses these areas. We will also look at some of these relations from a comparative perspective with readings about Chinese philosophy of art.

Through this course, students will learn how to discuss art from various perspectives. Students will sharpen their critical thinking and analytical writing skills, and walk away with a fresh understanding of art and humanity.

PHIL 1410 (31833) Philosophy of Action
Seth Goldwasser
T 6:00-8:30 339 CL

“Think about it,” “Imagine, if you will...” “Look at it this way,” “Believe me,” “Make up your mind,” “Try to remember.” There are many ways of getting people to do things with their minds. And your time in university will feature the most frequent and stringent demands to engage in mental acts of your own. This course will introduce you to questions concerning mental action and the agency (or lack thereof) we have over our own minds. What is mental action? How does mental action differ from and how does it resemble non-mental or bodily action? Can we control what goes on in our minds and, if so, how? Can we perceive, believe, remember, deliberate, reason, decide, or imagine at will? What does psychology, cognitive science, or neuroscience tell us about mental action? 

PHIL 1422 (31295) Introduction to Semantic Theory
Kate Stanton
M W 4:30-5:45 230 Victoria Building

No course description available.

PHIL 1440 (30912) Philosophy of Mind
Tom Rosenhagen
T H 9:30-10:45 302 CL 
No course description available.
PHIL 1460 (32024) Social Epistemology 
William Conner
W 6:00-8:30 121 CL

Aristotle says that human beings by nature desire to know. Epistemology is the subfield of philosophy concerned with the questions “What does it mean to know something, and how can we do it?” and “What makes beliefs justified?” In addition to having an innate desire to know, however, Aristotle also tells us that human beings are social animals. In this course, we will take this second thought of Aristotle’s seriously and examine its epistemological consequences, investigating how our sociality and animality impact our abilities to form justified beliefs and to know things about the world.

As social creatures, we learn from each other, and our ways of believing affect each other. As animals, we have imperfect cognitive systems, facts about which may help answer what we can and should believe in certain contexts. With these facts in mind, the guiding questions of the course will be these: (1) Can we arrive at knowledge, given that we are imperfect animals acting in complicated social and environmental contexts? (2) How should facts about our social identities and our cognitive systems determine what we should or should not believe? (3) How do our ways of believing affect each other, and how can we mitigate potential harms that may arise on account of our ways of believing? Because social epistemology is the branch of philosophy that addresses these and related questions, we may think of this course as an introduction to social epistemology.

PHIL 1480 (30911) Metaphysics
Rachael Driver
T H 2:30-3:45 330 CL

This advanced undergraduate course considers a selection of central problems in metaphysics, such as the problems of ontology (what there is), free will, the nature of time, causation, persistence through time (including personal identity), and so on.

PHIL 1610 (30885) Philosophy of Science
Colin Allen
M W 1:00-1:50 144CL

The aim of this course is to provide a broad survey of some the most fundamental and general questions in philosophy of science, and to cultivate your ability to think through these difficult questions in a clear and critical way. The course is divided in two main parts. In the first part, we follow a text-book presentation of key questions such as: "What is science?", "Is there a unique scientific method?", and "Is science aiming at true theories, or does it only aim at theories that are consistent with observable phenomena?" We tackle these questions by looking at issues such as the problem of induction and the nature of scientific explanation. We critically assess the main philosophical views surrounding these questions and issues, and we consider the relevance of historical and sociological approaches to the philosophy of science. After the midterm we will revisit these issues by reading some of the primary literature, including some older classics and some more recent articles that showcase current approaches to these issues. Throughout the course we will be concerned with applications of these general concerns to particular issues in the physical sciences, the life sciences, and the cognitive sciences.