Course Descriptions




PHIL 1000 – Origins of Philosophy
1:30-3:35 T, Th

Do we perceive the world as it is? Or do we construct it with our minds? Can we be morally responsible for what is largely due to chance? Are there any objective moral truths? Can we ever have knowledge? If so, when? Come explore some of the puzzles, paradoxes, and problems that have occupied philosophers both past and present while sharpening your critical thinking skills in this introductory level course.

PHIL 2600- Logic
9:20-10:45 MWF

In this elementary introduction to informal and symbolic logic, students will develop their skills for evaluating and constructing arguments. Topics covered include propositional logic (truth-tables and natural deduction), predicate logic, argument analysis, inductive and causal reasoning, and informal fallacies. If you are considering law school, this class is excellent preparation for the LSAT.

PHIL 3030 – Modern Philosophy
12:30-1:55 MWF

The scientific revolution, colonialism, the "Glorious Revolution"--How did philosophy evolve in the midst of, and interact with, these events? This course traces, critically and thematically, the development of European philosophy from the 17th to the 18th century. We will study the works of René Descartes (1596-1650), Margaret Cavendish (1623-1673), John Locke (1632-1704), Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716), Mary Astell (1666-1731), David Hume (1711-1776), and Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797), among others. Topics to be covered include (1) the conception of the self as subject of consciousness; (2) the person as moral and political category; (3) equality between men and women in the state and within the family; (4) European philosophy's encounter with other cultures; and (5) knowledge as representation. Our main objectives are to understand the changes in philosophy that characterize its "modern" phase and the issues that would make it the target of various contemporary critiques, and to begin a critical reflection on this "modern" way of understanding ourselves.

Prerequisite: UCOR2500 or equivalent. Students who have not taken PHIL3010 or PHIL3020 may still take this course. Please contact the Philosophy Department if you have difficulty registering.

PHIL 4440 – Topics in Feminist Philosophy
3:45-5:50 T, Th

What is the nature of gender, sexuality, race, power, and oppression? What values and visions should guide feminist resistance and struggle in the 21st century? By reflecting on these questions, we will become familiar with the diverse modes of feminist theory and feminist activism at work today. Feminist theory has always developed out of feminist practice, as part of activism on concrete issues significant to women’s lives: taking leadership positions in racial justice movements, advocating for women’s enfranchisement or education, bearing and raising children, advocating for survivors of sexual or domestic violence, fighting against street violence and police violence against gay, lesbian, trans and queer people, or working to get more women and girls involved in art, politics, and culture. Feminist theory has developed out of concrete problems, and so we will take up these theories in relation to the histories out of which they came, and think about how they apply to current concrete problems.

PHIL 4300 – Advanced Logic
10:55-12:20 MWF

This course will introduce students to the concepts and techniques of modal logic, the logic of possibility and necessity.  We will take as our framework the possible worlds semantics developed over the last half-century in which necessity is defined as truth in all possible worlds and possibility as truth in some.  A variety of different modal logics will be studied, each of which will be characterized in terms of the ‘accessibility’ relations existing between such possible worlds.  Among the systems we’ll study are deontic logic (the logic of obligation and permissibility) and tense logic (the logic of time).  We’ll also use the framework of possible worlds semantics to investigate counterfactuals and their logic.  Standard accounts take counterfactual conditionals like ‘If Lincoln hadn’t been elected President, the American Civil War would not have occurred’ to be true just in case the closest possible worlds in which Lincoln isn’t elected are worlds in which there is no war.  But how are we to understand this closeness relation?  We will explore a variety of options.  Counterfactuals lie at the foundation of our reasoning about a wide range of different phenomena.  Causation in philosophy, science, and the law, for example, is often understood in terms of counterfactual dependence.  Meaning and information are also sometimes defined in terms of counterfactuals.  We will explore these and other applications.  Finally, we will consider the metaphysical presuppositions of modal logic.  Are possible worlds convenient fictions or worlds every bit as real as our own?  Is modality a fundamental feature of the world or is it grounded in something more basic? 

PHIL: 2600: Introduction to Logic is a prerequisite of this course, but this prerequisite will be waived if students have a background in mathematics or computer science.  Check with instructor.  

PHIL4850 – Major Figure: Nietzsche
10:15-12:20 T, Th

Friedrich Niezsche (1844-1900), German philosopher and poet, is one of the most original and influential thinkers of his time. We will explore how his thought gives rise to a new “postmodern” view of the world, and critically evaluate the philosophical, aesthetic, literary, historical, psychological, and ecological dimensions of his thought