Course Descriptions Spring 2011

PHI 1301.01 Introduction to Logic

Ryan Byerly MH 106 MWF 10:10-11:00

People don't always agree about things especially important things. Often, those who disagree attempt to persuade those whom they disagree with by offering arguments. But, few of us ever stop to ask just what makes an argument a good one. Answering this question is the goal of this course. Students who take this course will learn the methods used to evaluate arguments. Topics will include Aristotelian logic, Venn diagrams, symbolic logic, truth-tables, proofs, inductive logic, and formal and informal fallacies. By the end of this course, students will become better equipped to identify and evaluate the arguments of others as well as more skilled in making arguments of their own. They will thereby acquire intellectual tools which will be helpful in every area of life.

PHI 1306.02 Introduction to Logic

Matt Douglass MH 108 MWF 11:15-12:05

This course introduces logic as a method of thinking carefully in all disciplines. A firm understanding of logic is essential for future philosophers and lawyers, useful for anyone worried about impending admissions tests (the LSAT, GMAT, and so on), edifying for anyone who cares about truth, and fun for puzzle doers and problem solvers. Part of the course will explore informal reasoning, focusing especially on informal fallacies and analysis of arguments in everyday English. The rest of the course covers formal logic systems, including categorical logic and statement logic, which are used to construct proofs and evaluate arguments for soundness and validity.

PHI 1306.03 Introduction to Logic

Tom Tong MH 108 MWF 12:20-1:10

Most people think, yet not many can think well. Those who think well tend to follow certain rules, whereas those who don’t think well tend to break certain rules and make mistakes of reasoning. This introductory course in logic will acquaint you with a number of such rules that are invariably followed by good thinkers and, meanwhile, help you develop skills to avoid mistakes of reasoning. This course will be invaluable for students planning to become philosophy majors or to enter law school.

PHI 1306.04 Introduction to Logic

Emily Glass MH 108 TR 9:30-10:45

The purpose of this course is to strengthen your ability to (1) understand and to clarify language, (2) recognize informal fallacies in reasoning, and (3) determine the validity and invalidity of deductive arguments. Every dimension of the course aims at enhancing your ability to reason, that is, to see and understand connections and relationships among ideas. This should be of inestimable value to you personally and professionally.

PHI 1306.05 Introduction to Logic

Travis Coblentz MH105 TR 11:00-12:15

Course Description: Whether it is in a paper for a class or in a discussion with a roommate, no one wants to be illogical. In this class, we will work to understand not only what logic is and how to use it, but also how we use logic in every part of our lives and how to keep from being illogical. We will consider both formal and informal logic while looking at examples of both kinds of logic in various media. Additionally, we will do work in areas of logic that will help in preparation for various graduate school entrance exams.

PHI 1306.06 Introduction to Logic

Gregory Poore MH 105 MWF 9:05-9:55

This course is designed to help you become a better thinker and reasoner. Whether in personal conversations, term papers, political debates, advertising, movies, or the news, we are constantly making or encountering arguments. Logic is the study of arguments and the ways that the premises of arguments support (or fail to support) their conclusions. Studying logic will help you formulate better arguments, clarify your own beliefs and reasons for holding them, and identify and evaluate the arguments you encounter daily. The concepts and reasoning skills learned in this class will also prove helpful for those planning to take graduate entrance exams (GRE, LSAT, MCAT, GMAT). We will spend most of the semester studying deductive logic, but we will also study inductive logic, informal fallacies, and how to articulate and present good arguments for our own beliefs. My ultimate hope is that the study of logic will help you as you search to know what is true and how you should live.

PHI 1306.07 Introduction to Logic

Nathan Carson MH 108 TR 2:00-3:15

In our everyday lives, we are bombarded with competing truth claims from marketers, parents, film-makers, journalists, politicians, professors, and friends. In this course, we will learn the skills that enable us to think well and reason correctly, helping us navigate and assess the claims and arguments we encounter in life. We will also learn the skills needed for developing the crucially important ability of clearly and forcefully expressing what we believe is true, and our reasons for so believing. The skills learned in this course will also be valuable for anyone planning to take professional graduate school exams (LSAT, GRE, GMAT or MCAT).

PHI 1307.01 Critical Thinking: Logic and the Law

Francis Beckwith MH 108 MWF 10:10-11:00

The purpose of this course is to learn how to properly analyze and criticize the logic of real arguments in natural language, to become better able to argue soundly and fairly for the benefit of all, and to understand something of logical theory, the nature of arguments, and their relation to truth about the world. Although arguments can be found in all disciplines and areas of life, this course will focus on the sorts of arguments that one finds in legal opinions, judicial reasoning, and courtroom disputes. This course is ideal for pre-law students as well as others interested in attending law school.

PHI 1308.01 Introductory Topics in Ethics: Contemporary Moral Issues

Brad Brummeler MH 105 MWF 12:20-1:10

This course will focus on practical moral issues that matter to all of us: for example, abortion, drug legalization, immigration, capital punishment, war, environmental protection, pornography, euthanasia, offensive speech, and affirmative action. In order to discuss these issues intelligently, we will gain some acumen with various ethical theories, specifically deontological, utilitarian, and virtue theories. This will be a course of readings, in that we will grapple with primary texts from authors whose arguments favor differing positions on these issues. We will encounter samples of the best historical and contemporary thinking on these topics. Throughout, we will consider how a Christian or other religious perspective might inform our deliberations.

PHI 1308.02 Introductory Topics in Ethics: Seven Deadly Sins

Adam Pelser MH 106 TR 12:30-1:45

What does moral character have to do with living a flourishing human life? Is it really better to be virtuous than vicious? Is it even possible to improve our moral character? What is the place of God in the moral life? We will seek to answer these and other questions central to the human moral condition by focusing on some of the most common and notorious vices of human persons pride, envy, wrath, sloth, greed, gluttony, and lust. Through classical and contemporary readings in philosophy and literature, as well as engagement with popular music and movies, we will explore the rich moral psychology of the capital vices, sometimes called "the seven deadly sins," and consider possible remedies for these traits.

PHI 1308.03/H3 Introduction to Ethics: Biomedical Ethics

Michael Beaty MH 108 MWF 1:25-2:15

This course surveys three clusters of issues in medical practice that are fraught with moral and legal puzzles: the relation between patients and health care professionals (e.g., confidentiality, truth-telling, informed consent in medical experimentation, etc.); intervention in the beginning and end of human life (e.g., abortion, treatment of seriously ill infants, physician assisted suicide, etc.); and the just distribution of resources (e.g., health care reform, emphasis on primary care vs. specialization, etc.). We will think about the extent to which one’s faith commitments are relevant and appropriate features of such discussions. For example, can we speak meaningfully about Christian bioethics? If not, why not? If so, how does it differ from self-identified secular bioethical perspectives? The student will learn to identify and evaluate arguments, and to advance, by both speaking and writing, arguments of his/her own. This course is of general interest to all students and may be of special interest to students interested in the health care professions or the legal profession.

PHI 1321.01 Introductory Topics in Philosophy: Faith, Truth and Philosophy: Questions for Inquiring Minds

Joel Schwartz MH 108 MWF 9:05-9:55

As Christians, we are called to be seekers of truth. Part of seeking truth is asking questions. The questions we ask are not merely rhetorical and certainly not cynical. They are genuine questions, prompted by our human desire to know and to be wise. Our stance will be "Faith seeking understanding," though views antithetical to Christianity will be considered, and even welcomed. We will explore philosophy through the lens of some great texts written by important thinkers such as Plato, Descartes, Kierkegaard and Nietzsche. We will focus on questions these fellow truth-seekers have posed and take seriously the answers they have given (though they sometimes disagree) with respect to the human condition our aspirations, hopes, and perplexities. And you will learn to address philosophical problems by artful questioning, dialogical conversation, and individual and collective reflection. The art of writing good argumentative essays will be stressed as well.

PHI 1321.H1 Introductory Topics in Philosophy: Faith, Truth and Philosophy: Questions for Inquiring Minds

Joel Schwartz MH 107 MWF 10:10-11:00

As Christians, we are called to be seekers of truth. Part of seeking truth is asking questions. The questions we ask are not merely rhetorical and certainly not cynical. They are genuine questions, prompted by our human desire to know and to be wise. Our stance will be "Faith seeking understanding," though views antithetical to Christianity will be considered, and even welcomed. We will explore philosophy through the lens of some great texts written by important thinkers such as Plato, Descartes, Kierkegaard and Nietzsche. We will focus on questions these fellow truth-seekers have posed and take seriously the answers they have given (though they sometimes disagree) with respect to the human condition our aspirations, hopes, and perplexities. And you will learn to address philosophical problems by artful questioning, dialogical conversation, and individual and collective reflection. The art of writing good argumentative essays will be stressed as well.

PHI 1321.02 Introductory Topics in Philosophy: The Thought of C.S. Lewis

Trent Dougherty MH 105 TR 9:30-10:45

C.S. Lewis was first trained as a philosopher, but after the war there were no positions, so he gained qualifications to teach English and the rest is history. However, he continued to write philosophical works and to write literature philosophically on such a variety of issues that his work can serve as a fitting introduction to philosophy. In this course we will examine issues in Ethics, Epistemology, and Metaphysics through Lewis's works of both fiction and non-fiction.

PHI 1321.03 Introductory Topics in Philosophy: Three Modern Myths

Dan Johnson MH 106 MWF 11:15-12:05

Each culture has its myths: narratives which shape the culture so deeply they are rarely questioned or examined. Philosophers have historically had complex relationships with such culture-defining narratives: sometimes they are trenchant critics of the narratives and sometimes they are among the foremost defenders of the narratives. In this class, we’ll be taking a close, critical look at three deep-seated assumptions of our own culture: first, that morality is relative; second, that science and religion are enemies; and third, that faith is opposed to knowledge.

Our examination of these modern narratives will serve as an introduction to the field of philosophy. Students will become acquainted with the writings of some of the most historically important philosophers such as Plato and Descartes; they will gain an understanding of the three major subfields of philosophy, metaphysics, epistemology and ethics; and they will come to appreciate the complex interplay between philosophy and religion. Most of all, they will begin to learn to read with insight, to think clearly and deeply about important questions, and to articulate those thoughts in conversation and in writing.

PHI 2301.01 Existentialism

Stephen Evans MH 110 TR 9:30-10:45

This class will focus on a number of writers popularly described as "existentialists," who are connected to each other not by agreement in their view of life but by wrestling with a common set of questions and concerns about the meaning of human life, the basis for responsible choice, and, ultimately, the quest for identity. One major divide that will be explored concerns the tension between religious and non-religious forms of existentialism. We will begin by looking at Søren Kierkegaard, Fyodor Dostoevsky, and Friedrich Nietzsche as the major nineteenth century figures who loom large over the movement, and then read some of the most important twentieth century figures: Miguel de Unamuno, Jean Paul Sartre, and Albert Camus. Readings will include philosophical writings, novels, and plays.

PHI 2305.01 Philosophy and Religion

Alexander Pruss MH 106 TR 9:30-10:45

The existence of God is often taken to be something that it is impossible to offer evidence for (or against). Yet arguments for the existence of God have been offered since the early days of philosophy. We will carefully examine new versions of the major classical arguments for the existence of God (the cosmological, design, ontological and religious experience arguments) and some more recent arguments from various facets of human life. We will analyze different versions of the one really important argument against the existence of God, the argument from evil. And we will consider how some other arguments against the existence of God lead the theist to refine the concept of God.

PHI 3301.01 Moral Philosophy

Robert Krushwitz MH 106 TR 11:00-12:15

How can we make sense of morality and its relationship to human happiness and well-being? What kinds of lives should we choose and what sort of character we should we aspire to have?

After we examine the challenges to the institution of morality from Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), we will compare the rich moral psychologies and normative ethical theories of four pivotal thinkers Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, Immanuel Kant, and John Stuart Mill.

In the theories of Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) and John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) we encounter a "modern" conception of human freedom that places God at arm’s length in the moral life and shifts the focus to rules and obligations. If we follow them, how must we reinterpret the roles of happiness, interior goodness (rather than mere rule-following), friendship, and community life within the moral life?

Like Aristotle (384-322 BC) many centuries before, Aquinas (1225-1274) emphasizes the roles of happiness, virtues and vices, and character formation in the moral life, but with new twists that derive from the biblical view of morality. How does the Christian idea of God’s gracious activity change the way we understand human happiness, virtue, and true community? Class sessions feature small group discussions and presentations as well as mini-lectures.

PHI 3310.01 History of Philosophy: Enter the World of Classical Philosophy

Anne Marie Bowery MH 105 TR 12:30-1:45

Over two thousand years ago, ancient thinkers like Thales, Anaximander, Anaximenes, and Xenophanes began to wonder about the nature of the world around them. They searched for answers about the structure of the cosmos and the meaning of existence. In many ways, they were no different than the average person who has such thoughts today. One thing was different, however. They began to share their thoughts and ideas with others. Heraclitus, Parmenides, and Pythagoras added their insights to this burgeoning philosophical conversation. Socrates and the sophists debated the nature of the human soul and the existence of the good. Plato continued these conversations by writing great philosophical masterpieces like the Symposium, the Republic, and the Apology. Aristotle carried these inquires further with his Nicomachean Ethics, Politics, and Metaphysics. In this course, we will explore these texts that became the foundation of western philosophical, social, and political thought.

PHI 3312.01 History of Modern European Philosophy

Robert Baird MH 105 MWF 10:10-11:00

The history of philosophy is the story of one stream of the human effort to discover the truth about reality and to discover how best to live in light of that truth. This particular history course ranges from Descartes’ quest for certainty about such truth to the existential ideas of Kierkegaard and Nietzsche. Along the way we will encounter the "grand" world views of Spinoza and Leibniz and the social thought of Hobbes and Locke. Among the greatest figures in the modern period is Immanuel Kant who was reacting, in part, to the views of the influential Scottish philosopher David Hume. We will examine these thinkers by trying to understand their historical context and the issues that gave rise to their philosophizing.

PHI 3320.01 Philosophical Issues in Feminism

Lenore Wright MH 107 MWF 11:15-12:05

Feminist theorists have challenged the negative assessment of the body within philosophical discourse. This course will survey recent developments in feminist philosophy, focusing on the contested nature of embodiment in feminist thought and the intersections between feminist philosophy as it is historically understood and developing debates within body studies, one area of feminist theory. Topics will include theories and definitions of gender, cultural inscriptions and evaluations of the body, theories of power and politics of the body, evaluations of the body in science and biomedicine, and assessments of the position of women in the history and discipline of philosophy. No philosophy background is necessary, but readings will approach feminism from a philosophical point of view.

PHI 4310.01 Philosophy of Science

James Marcum MH 108 TR 11:00-12:15

Philosophy of science underwent dramatic changes during the twentieth century, especially a historiographic revolution facilitated by Thomas Kuhn. In the first half of the course, we begin with a short introduction to the history of the philosophy of science. To that end, we explore the development of the philosophy of science beginning with the logical positivists, especially their scientific conception of the world. We then turn to the critics of positivism, including Popper and Quine. Next, we examine the changes instigated with the introduction of Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions. In the next half of the course, we examine current issues and debates in the philosophy of science, especially in terms of scientific practice, using a case study from the biomedical sciences.

PHI 4311.01 Epistemology

Jonathan Kvanvig MH 107 TR 9:30-10:45

This course begins with two central questions from Plato about knowledge: what is its nature and why is it valuable? The tension between these two questions leads directly to some of the central topics in the history of epistemology: skepticism, the nature of truth, the nature of justification, including the debates between foundationalists and coherentists and between externalists and internalists, and the Gettier problem. Each topic will be discussed from the point of view of whether it is possible to construct a theory of knowledge that can answer both of Plato's questions.

PHI 4318.01 Philosophy of Law

Francis Beckwith MH 106 MW 2:30-3:45

The philosophy of law concerns questions and issues having to do with the nature of law, legal reasoning, the meaning and application of legal concepts, and the relationship between law and morality. In this course we will address these areas of study by focusing on four topics in which the work and interests of philosophers and legal theorists intersect and overlap: (I) the law of tort, (2) criminal law, (3) law and morals legislation, and (4) the nature of law and moral reasoning. This course will cover some of the most important debates in contemporary Anglo-American jurisprudence. As part of that study we will not only read the works of legal theorists and philosophers, but we will also carefully examine some fascinating legal cases that have reached a variety of courts.

PHI/MH 4325.01 Literary and Philosophical Perspectives on Medicine

James Marcum MH 108 TR 12:30-1:45

The course is designed to introduce students entering the healthcare vocations to the richness of literary and philosophical perspectives on those vocations. The course begins with equipping students in terms of narrative analysis. The course then turns to the analysis of several short essays by physicians and patients, as well as major works by Fran Kafka, Leo Tolstoy, and Margaret Edson. The course concludes with exploring the healing power of poetry, in which you personally engage that power.

PHI 4340.01 East Asian Philosophy: Hinduism and Buddhism

William Cooper MH 110 TR 3:30-4:45

The Asian philosophical tradition extends back some 3700 years. So we will begin the semester with a careful reading of the earliest texts. However, primary attention will be given to the classical Hindu and Buddhist texts. Class time will be given to interpretation of the texts based on careful reading completed before each class period. This approach has been effective in providing students with a reasonably thorough grounding in these traditions.

PHI 4360.01 Contemporary Ethical Theory: The Nature of Moral Theory

Robert Roberts MH 107 TR 11:00-12:15

The course will concentrate on the nature of moral theory and how we get in touch with moral truths, especially how such contact is related to the possession of moral virtues.

PHI 4361.01 Social Philosophy

Robert Baird MH 105 MWF 1:25-2:15

This course will serve as an introduction to social and political philosophy by examining the thought of John Rawls, widely considered the greatest social, political thinker of the last century. We will also read critical responses to Rawls, particularly the writings of Robert Nozick and Michael Sandel. Texts for the course: Rawls, Political Liberalism, Nozick, Anarchy, State, and Utopia, and Sandel, Liberalism and the Limits of Justice.

PHI 5311.01 Readings from the Philosophers: Kierkegaard

Stephen Evans MH 107 T 2:00-5:00

This course will be a philosophical examination of one of the greatest Christian philosophers, So/ren Kierkegaard. It will consist of an intensive reading and discussion of some of Kierkegaard's most important pseudonymous works, including Philosophical Fragments, most of Concluding Unscientific Postscript, Fear and Trembling, Sickness Unto Death, and large portions of Either/Or.

PHI 5320.01 Special Topics in Philosophy: Advanced Logic

Alexander Pruss MH 107 TR 12:30-1:45

The purpose of this course is to provide the graduate student with basic logical/mathematical tools needed to follow many contemporary discussions in analytic philosophy. Topics guaranteed to be covered will include: first order logic with some meta theory, modal logic, and basic set theory. Time permitting we will discuss topics such as vagueness, some probability theory with Bayes' Theorem, non-bivalent logics, and, without undue technical detail, the Goedel Theorems. This is meant to be a practical course for philosophers who are expecting to work outside of logic proper, but who need to be conversant with widely deployed tools and important results.

PHI 5360.01 Topics in Contemporary Ethical Theory: Rules and Vision in Contemporary Ethics

Darin Davis MH 107 R 2:00-5:00

Moral philosophers long have sought to establish the proper relationship between moral rules and the particular features of moral situations. On one hand, a venerable tradition in ethics holds that moral theory and practice center on the formulation and application of general moral principles to specific circumstances. On the other hand, some philosophers have recognized the limited efficacy of moral rules: in some cases, general rules fail to adequately capture the complexity and uniqueness of particular circumstance and, as such, do not guide action well. Instead of rules, such critiques frequently emphasize the role of moral perception or vision directed at the particular.

These questions have been considered in a number of important papers in and around the contemporary debate between moral particularists and their critics. In this seminar we will consider some of these essays (including McDowell, Nussbaum, Blum, Herman, and Dancy) but not before paying attention to some figures in the history of ethics that speak to these questions (Aristotle, Aquinas, Kant, and Wittgenstein.)

PHI 5361.01 Contemporary Philosophy of Religion: Problem of Evil

Jonathan Kvanvig MH 107 W 2:30-5:30

This course will focus on the problem of evil, especially on issues connected with the inductive version of the problem. We will focus on several issues and authors: skeptical theism, the hiddenness of God, Peter van Inwagen’s new book on the problem of evil, and, if time permits, Eleonore Stump’s new material as well.

PHI 5365.01 Philosophy of Language: Pragmatics of Knowledge Ascriptions and Semantics for Epistemic Possibility

Trent Dougherty MH 107 M 2:30-5:30

This class will begin with a consideration of the appropriateness of utterances of the form "S knows that p, but it might be that q" (where q manifestly entails ~p). These kinds of utterances have been dubbed "Concessive Knowledge Attributions." They are a great case study for a fascinating aspect of normativity of language pioneered by Austin, Searle, and, H.P. Grice. It will happily turn out that this issue is tied to another fascinating aspect of language: modal auxiliaries, epistemic in particular. So the class will be an excellent case study in the interaction of the pragmatic and semantic aspects of language.