The Dennes Room

Summer 2012 2nd 6wks

Undergraduate courses

2  Individual Morality & Social Justice. Carey. MTuWTh 12-2, 215 Dwinelle.

This course will be a broad introduction to some of the important issues in moral and political philosophy. We will address central questions in each of the three major subject areas of ethics. We will start with metaethics, and ask questions about the nature of morality. For example: Is there any such thing as moral truth, or are all moral statements only personally or culturally relative? Then we will discuss questions in normative ethics about the content of morality: What makes right actions right? How do our various duties relate to one another (for example, is there only one supreme duty, from which all the others can be derived)?  Finally, we will address some of the more explicitly practical questions in applied ethics. For example: What are our duties to those suffering from famine in far-off lands? Is abortion ever morally permissible? How should we treat non-human animals; for example, can we permissibly eat them?

12A  Introduction to Logic. Fusco. TuWTh 1-3:30, 30 Wheeler.

Introduction to logic, using Forbes’ Modern Logic textbook. We’ll cover propositional and predicate calculus, with an emphasis on proofs. This course counts towards fulfillment of the logic requirement for philosophy majors.

25A  Ancient Philosophy. Barnes. MTuWTh 12-2, 109 Dwinelle.

How should you live your life? In the course of trying to answer that question, Socrates unearthed a number of enduring philosophical problems. In this class we will look at some of those problems in their original context, with an eye to understanding not only what the problems are, and why they arose, but also why many of them persist. Readings will be drawn from Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, and the Stoics.

25B  Modern Philosophy. Crawford. MTuWTh 10-12, 229 Dwinelle.

This course provides a survey of some of the works of six major figures central to the development of philosophical thought in the early modern period: Descartes, Spinoza, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, and Kant. We will study their work in the areas of metaphysics and epistemology and trace the development of particular philosophical problems and insights through each figure. Some of the questions we will be considering throughout the course are: What is the mind, and what is its relation to the body? What is God? What does perception reveal, and what are its limits? What can we know through reason alone? We will consider these and other questions, and how they were approached, both within their historical contexts and as they stand on their own.

115  Political Philosophy. Grosser. TuWTh 1-3:30, 209 Dwinelle.

This introductory class will examine the works of four classical protagonists of Western political thought – Plato, Aristotle, Thomas Hobbes, and John Rawls. It is meant to provide students with a basic understanding of paradigmatic ancient, modern, and contemporary political theories: An understanding of the respective metaphysical and ontological, rationalist and contractarian approaches that essentially inform these theories; of the underlying anthropological assumptions; of the relevance and specific meaning of concepts such as justice, freedom, or power; and, most importantly, of differing argumentative strategies of justifying the existence of the state philosophically. Thus, based on a careful reading of their politico-philosophical writings, it is to be considered how Plato and Aristotle, Hobbes and Rawls aim at finding a balance that resolves the inescapable tension between (stately) authority and (individual) autonomy. Additionally, the course aims at identifying the concepts of the political that, implicitly or explicitly, organize the political theories discussed.

125  Metaphysics. Giberman. TuWTh 3:30-6, 215 Dwinelle.

This course is a survey of issues central to contemporary metaphysics. Topics covered include ontology, meta-ontology, universals, tropes, bare particulars, bundle theory, nominalism, parthood, time, persistence, personal identity, modality, causation, laws, and fundamentality. Readings mostly span from the mid twentieth century to the present.

132  Philosophy of Mind. Flanagan. TuWTh 10-12:30, 103 Moffitt.

Humans, and possibly certain other creatures, are conscious. Life would have no personal meaning, it wouldn’t matter one bit (to each of us individually, at any rate), if it were not for consciousness. But what is consciousness? Does possession of consciousness require possession of a non-physical soul or does mind = brain in which case it will eventually be explained by neuroscience? Did some deity endow us with consciousness or is consciousness just one quirky outcome of the blind force of evolution by natural selection? Does my possession of a mind equip me with a free will that allows for personal responsibility, as well as blame and praise, for my actions? If my mind is just my brain then in what sense, am I free — the brain after all is just a 3 lb. piece of tissue and biology is thought to be governed by natural laws. Indeed, some have suggested that the idea of free will is an illusion.

The course will introduce students to the main problems in the philosophy of mind: the nature of consciousness, the mind-body relation, free-will vs. determinism, the nature of personal identity. Nothing less that the meaning of life and the nature of morality rest on our understanding of our minds. No prior background in philosophy is required. Students interested in philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, medicine, religion, and law will find much to interest them.