Course Descriptions - Spring 2006

Introductory Courses in Philosophy

PHILOS 101 Introduction to Philosophy - Reflections on the Human Condition, 3 credits, HU
Lec 403, MW 10:00-10:50am, MER 131
Lec 404, MW 1:00-1:50pm, ACL 120
Instructor: Robert Schwartz, tel 414-229-5216, email:

Teaching Assistants:
David Barack (DIS 609, 610, 616, 617),
Luke Cleavland (DIS 603, 604, 611, 613),
Jason Gough (DIS 607, 608, 618, 619),
R.J. Leland (DIS 601, 602, 614, 615),
Nataliya Palatnik (DIS 605, 606, 612),

The capacity to raise questions about the nature, meaning, and quality of our own lives is one of the distinctive features of human existence. In this course we will examine several such questions. The sorts of issues to be considered are: Is there any basis for belief in God? If God is good, why is there so much evil in the world? What is it to have a mind, and are humans unique in having them? Might computers really think? Is human behavior governed by the same laws of nature that hold of everything else in the physical world? Are ethical and value claims objective? How might they be justified? Is it in our best interest to be moral? Can the state justify killing those who violate its laws?

PHILOS 101, Introduction to Philosophy, 3 credits, HU
Lec 001: Selected Topics and Issues, M 6:30-9:10pm, CRT 309
Instructor: Patrick Fessenbecker, tel 414-229-4081, email
Lec 002: Selected Topics and Issues, R 6:30-9:10pm, CRT 309
Instructor: Matthew Priselac, tel 414-229-4081, email:

We will look at a representative selection of topics from the history of philosophy and current philosophical debates: ethics, social and political philosophy, the scope and nature of our knowledge of the world, the nature of the self and mind.

PHILOS 111, Informal Logic-Critical Reasoning, 3 credits, HU
Lec 001, MW 12:30 - 1:45pm, Room CRT 309
Lec 002, MW 3:30 - 4:45pm, Room CRT 309
Instructor: Karl Steldt, tel 414-229-5904/4719, email:

Aside from being a body of knowledge in its own right, logic is an instrument for acquiring understanding. As such it is not specific to any subject matter. The principles of logic are applicable to the various sciences, art, religion, law, ethics, politics, and business. For the student who works in any of the foregoing areas, the study of logic is essential.

This course is devoted to a range of topics central to logic. People make claims and defend them with reasons, which together are referred to as arguments. The first order of business is to learn to identify arguments and to recognize how their structure is indicated in ordinary discourse. Second, meaning and linguistic usage underlie the determination of truth. In this connection distinctions are drawn between different kinds of definition, and rules are laid down for constructing and evaluating definitions. A third topic is that of informal fallacies. Some arguments are good and some are bad, and fallacies are by definition bad arguments. Since these are all too often mistaken for good arguments, being able to recognize common varieties of fallacies is a useful skill. Next on the agenda is deduction. The relation between truth and validity is considered. Some immediate inferences that have traditionally been recognized are covered, along with a number of elementary forms of deductive arguments. A procedure is established for testing a certain kind of deductive argument, the categorical syllogism, for validity and invalidity. The last part of the course is devoted to a study of inductive arguments. Here the focus is on arguments by analogy, causal reasoning, and scientific explanation.

PHILOS 204, Introduction to Asian Religions, 3 credits, HU
Lec 001, TR 11:00 - 12:15, Room BOL B87
Instructor: Walter Neevel, tel 414-229-5215, email:

This course will be a historical and comparative introduction to Hindu and Buddhist religious life and thought. Special emphasis will be placed upon the development of the classical forms of these traditions within India. The Buddhist tradition will also be stressed as a missionary movement linking the various cultures of Asia and interacting with the indigenous traditions of East Asia.

PHILOS 204, Introduction to Asian Religions, 3 credits, HU
Lec 402, MW 1:00 - 1:50pm, Room END 107
Instructor: James Lewis, tel 414-229-5636/4719, email:
Teaching Assistant: Garrett Bredeson, email

Emphasis in this course will be upon the philosophy and worldviews - the nature of the universe, human destiny, the problem of evil, etc. - of several forms of Hinduism and Buddhism, though some attention will also be given to Taoism and to a few contemporary Western new religions influenced by Asian religions. From time to time, representatives of these traditions will be invited in to dialog with the class.

PHILOS 207, Religion and Science, 3 credits, HU
Lec 001, TR 5:00 - 6:15, Room CRT 309
Instructor: David Luce, tel 414-229-4403/4719, email:

Straight thinking and sloppy thinking about religion and science. A conservative evangelical theologian who urges Christians to return to their Biblical roots (Karl Barth) turns out to be one of the straight thinkers, and an eminent philosopher and historian of science (Norwood Russell Hanson) proves himself one of the sloppiest.

And a well-known advocate of the so-called "identity" theory of the mind-body relation (J. J. C. Smart), writing on the question of survival after death and presuming a conflict between science and religion on that issue, reveals that he hasn't read the relevant literature.

Picking and choosing from the Bible exactly what one wants to believe: Creationists reject evolution but allow that the earth moves like a planet; Conservatives quote Leviticus against gay rights but ignore Isaiah's insistent call for justice. We are obliged to look at the general question of the role of authority in moral decision-making.

An entry-level course (no prerequisites). Topics and reading chosen for minimal overlap with other existing courses and maximal relevance for the pressing issues of our time.

PHILOS 211, Elementary Logic, 3 credits, HU
Lec 404, MW 10-00-10:50am, ACL 120
Lec 405, MW 12:00-12:50pm, MER 131
Lec 002, T 6:30-9:10pm, CRT 309
Lec 003, W 6:30-9:10pm, CRT 309
Instructor Lec 404, 405: Prof. Richard Tierney, tel 414-229-5217/4719, email:
Instructor Lec 002: Jason Jobes, email:
Instructor Lec 003: Joshua Hershey, email:

Teaching Assistants:
Stephanie Allen (DIS 607, 614, 615, 617), email: Courtney Morris (DIS 603, 604, 609, 611), email: Nataliya Palatnik (DIS 613), email: Justin Remhof (DIS 605, 606, 616, 618), email: John Timmers (DIS 601, 602, 608, 610), email:

The Island of Knights and Knaves is a place where only Knights and Knaves live. A Knight is a person who always tells the truth. Knaves, on the other hand, never tell the truth. Harry, who lives on the island, says: "If I am a Knight, then I'll eat my hat." Did you know that you can prove from the above information that Harry will eat his hat? Did you know: 1) Given that Sarah loves either Jim or Tom and that if she loves Jim then she loves Tom, you can prove that she loves Tom? 2) that if everyone loves a lover and there is even one lover in the world, then everyone loves everyone? Learn how to solve these and other puzzles in Philosophy 211, where we will study formal deductive logic - the science of what follows from what.

The concepts and techniques encountered in the study of deductive logic are of central importance to any analysis of argument and inference. They reflect fundamental patterns of proof found in science and mathematics, they underlie the programs that enable computers to "reason" logically, and they provide tools for characterizing the formal structures of language. This is an introductory course intended for students who have had no previous work in logic. There will be 3 exams and weekly homework assignments.

Intermediate and Advanced Courses

PHILOS 212, Modern Deductive Logic, 3 credits, HU
Lec 001, MW 9:30 - 10:45am, END 127
Instructor: Michael Liston, tel 414-229-5217/4719, email:

The task of the first logic course - Philosophy 211 - was to develop a means for evaluating deductive arguments. This task involved the use of a formal language for expressing the logical structure of English sentences and the use of various formal techniques, including truth tables and deductions, for evaluating arguments. Once an English argument was translated into the formal language, formal techniques were used to solve an apparently informal problem, i.e., the problem of finding out whether it is possible for the conclusion of the argument to be false while all its premises are true.

In Philosophy 212 we will continue this inquiry into the evaluation of deductive arguments. We will concentrate on two central areas. First, we will deal with statements and arguments that are more quantificationally complex than those studied in Philosophy 211. Second, we will address the issue of the adequacy of the formal system. Explicit definitions of validity of arguments and formal systems will be used for the investigation, via informal reasoning and proof, of what can be achieved by a deductive system. Philosophy 211 with a grade of "C" or better is a prerequisite for this class.

PHILOS 217, Introduction to Metaphysics, 3 credits, HU
Lec 001, T 6:30-9:10pm, CRT 309
Instructor: Karl Steldt, tel 414-229-4395/4719

The course deals with the nature of metaphysical thinking and the issues arising from such thinking. Representative philosophers from ancient, medieval and modern philosophy are dealt with at length, e.g., Plato's Phaedo, Avicenna's identity theory and metaphysical scheme, Descartes' Meditation, and Hume's Dialogues concerning Natural Religion.

PHILOS 232: Topics in Philosophy - Minds, Brains, Machines: Our Place in the Natural World, 3 credits, HU
Lec 001, TR 2:00 - 3:15pm, Room CRT 309
Instructor: Gerhard Nuffer, tel 414-229-5903/4719, email:

Science gives us an increasingly detailed picture of the world. According to this picture, the world is at bottom physical: all there is is bits of matter arranged in various ways. How do we fit into this picture? Are we identical to our bodies, or are we essentially minds? Is the mind the same as the brain, or is it a separate kind of entity? Or is it not an entity at all but a property of something physical, such as our brain? Does having a mind require having a brain, or could a machine have a mind, too? Is perhaps the relation of the mind to the brain the same as that of a computer program to a computer running the program? Finally: does the answer to these questions matter to how we should live our lives?

PHILOS 241: Introductory Ethics, 3 credits, HU
Lec 401, MW 11:00-11:50am, BOL B56
Instructor: Julius Sensat, tel 414-229-4669, email:,
Teaching Assistant: Heather Phillips, email

We shall study three basic approaches in moral philosophy: ethical rationalism, which takes moral principles to describe an independent order of values fixed in the nature of things, the ideal-spectator approach, which takes morally wrong actions to be those an impartial sympathetic observer would disapprove of, and contractualism, according to which the correct moral principles are those which would be agreed to by all reasonable beings as a basis for their community. We shall see how the second approach leads naturally to utilitarianism, while contractualism has important sources in Immanuel Kant's moral philosophy. We shall see how the three basic approaches get reflected in theories of social and economic justice.

Ethical Issues in Health Care - Contemporary Problems, 3 credits, HU
Lec 101, M 6:00 - 8:40pm, Course held off-campus
Instructor: Kristen Tym, tel 414-456-4266/229-4719, email:

This course will provide a general overview of many of the challenging ethical issues faced in health care delivery today. We will begin the course with an introduction of ethical theories and other approaches to moral decision-making. These theories and approaches will then be applied to ethical problems currently confronting health care providers, patients and their families, and society at large. Issues we will consider include informed consent and confidentiality, futility and withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment, euthanasia and assisted suicide, assisted reproduction, genetics, allocation of scarce resources and research ethics.

This course is taught off-campus at the Milwaukee County Mental Health Complex, 9455 Watertown Plank Road, Milwaukee

PHILOS 245, Critical Thinking and the Law - Law of Contracts, 3 credits, HU
Lec 101, M 6:30-9:10 pm, Course held off-campus
Instructor: Paul Santilli, tel 414-229-4719, email

The goals of critical thinking are to instill in the student an understanding of the fundamental principles of analysis, problem solving, and construction of an argument. In order to convey these principles, students are taught how to use contract law using legal materials, including but not limited to, the language used by the legal profession and legal resources. It is through the study of law that teachers hope to impart to their students a system for analytical thinking which they may use in their every-day lives. Texts used will include Murphy, Speidel and Ayres' Studies in Contract Law, 5th Edition, and Restatement of Contracts (Second) and case law.

This course is taught off-campus at the School of Continuing Education, 161 W. Wisconsin Ave., Room 7230.

PHILOS 250, Philosophy of Religion, 3 credits, HU
Lec 401, MW 10:00 - 10:50am, Room END 107
Instructor: James Lewis, tel 414-229-5636/4719, email:
Teaching Assistant: Robb Eastman, email:

We shall analyze and discuss (a) some of the traditional arguments for the existence of God (the cosmological, teleological, and ontological arguments), (b) the so-called problem of Evil, (c) the question whether or not God's omniscience and human freedom are mutually consistent, (d) Pascal's Wager and William James, and (e) the question of human immortality.

PHILOS 253, Philosophy of the Arts, 3 credits, HU
Lec 002, MW 9:30 - 10:45am, Room CRT 109
Instructor: Michelle Mahlik, tel 414-229-5636/4719, email:

Art differs from nature in being a human creation, and as our own creation art has something to say about how we view our selves, our world, and our relationship to the world. An objective of this course is to examine philosophically the nature of art and its relation to individuals and their environment.

How do we distinguish works of art from natural objects? Is art merely an imitation of the natural world? Do works of art have intrinsic meaning, or do they have no meaning at all? Is the value of a work of art merely a matter of subjective judgment? Are there specific criteria by which to judge works of art? Are we to define art in terms of form, expressiveness, artistic intention, or social role? Is there a relationship between beauty and moral goodness?

In this course, we will consider these questions and the answers provided by a variety of philosophers and artists, both ancient and modern. Although an interest in art is recommended, this course requires no previous experience in art or philosophy.

PHILOS 303, Theory of Knowledge, 3 credits, U/G
Lec 001, MW 11:00 - 12:15, CRT 309
Instructor: Edward Hinchman, tel 414-229-4669/4719, email:,

This course will focus on belief, judgment, and truth, as well as knowledge. It will address issues that fall into three groups: (a) What are the natures of believing and judging as psychological acts or states? (b) What norms govern believing and judging, and how do they work? Can you, or a 'part' of you, believe merely at will? If not, why not? If so, how does motivated believing work? (c) What, more generally, are the natures of these norms? How do epistemic norms differ from practical norms? Do believing and judging aim at knowledge or at truth? How is that like and unlike aiming at autonomy or the good? What, anyway, are knowledge and truth?

PHILOS 341, Modern Ethical Theories, 3 credits, U/G
Lec 001, MW 2:00 - 3:15pm, Room CRT 309
Instructor: Andrea Westlund, tel 414-229-4395/4719, email:,

This course will treat a range of issues in contemporary ethics and the theory of practical reason. Its main focus will be on normative ethics or, in other words, on theories about how we should live. What makes an act right or wrong? What sort of person should one strive to be? How do moral requirements bear on our more personal commitments, and how should conflicts between different types of obligation be resolved? We will spend some time on each of the main types of normative theory, including contemporary versions of utilitarianism, Kantianism, and virtue ethics. In each case we will begin by exploring the historical precursors to these more contemporary approaches. Likely readings include selections by Christine Korsgaard (paired with Kant), J. J. C. Smart and Bernard Williams (paired with J.S. Mill), and Philippa Foot (paired with Aristotle).

PHILOS 350, Intro to the Comparative Study of Religion, 3 credits, U/G
Lec 001, TR 3:30 - 4:45pm, CRT 309
Instructor: Walter Neevel, tel 414-229-5215, email:

This course is the basic theoretical requirement for the interdepartmental B.A. Major in the Comparative Study of Religion. As such, its central concern will be to provide a solid theoretical basis for an academic humanistic or anthropological approach that will be both critical and fair, an approach that will not only be valid within a public university but also be adequate for an appreciation of the many dimensions of human religious experience and expression.

We will explore the nature of religion and its significance for human life and culture; the problem of defining "religion"; the foundational role of symbols and symbolic activity in the construction of human "reality;" the structure and dynamics of religious "worlds" or symbolic universes, and the problems involved in understanding and interpreting, classifying and comparing, these different religious "worlds" and their various dimensions of "Transcendence" or "Ultimacy". We will also analyze and critique the major disciplinary approaches or methods that have been employed in the study of religion.

PHILOS 351, Philosophy of Mind, 3 credits, U/G
Lec 001, TR 9:30 - 10:45am, CRT 309
Instructor: Gerhard Nuffer, tel 414-229-5903/4719, email:

How are mental phenomena, such as perceiving, remembering, thinking, and intending, related to the physical goings-on in our brain and to our behavior? After an overview of the standard answers to this question, we will focus on physicalism, that is, the view that mental phenomena are nothing over and above physical phenomena. This view is often claimed to be unable to account for the conscious character of certain mental states. We will ask why, exactly, consciousness is supposed to be a problem for physicalist views of the mind, and how physicalism might attempt to solve it. Readings will include articles by Block, Chalmers, Churchland, Davidson, Dennett, Dretske, Fodor, Jackson, Kim, Lewis, Nagel, Putnam, and Shoemaker.

PHILOS 358, Action, Will, and Freedom, 3 credits, HU
Lec 001, MW 9:30 - 10:45am, CRT 309
Instructor: Susan Hahn, tel 414-229-5215, email:

On contemporary views about freedom and free will. The issues we will address will include, among others: Is Determinism compatible with free will? What notion of agent-causation is necessary for free will? Can human actions be fully explained and understood in purely causal terms alongside other natural phenomena, or is a special account needed? What account of human psychology is necessary for free action? To what extent are we culpable for the involuntary aspects of our voluntary actions? What is the significance of free will? That is, is free will worth wanting in the first place? Readings from Strawson, Frankfurt, Wolf, Chisholm, Kane, Watson, and others.

PHILOS 431, History of Medieval Philosophy, 3 credits, U/G
Lec 001, TR 12:30 - 1:45pm, CRT 309
Instructor: Fabrizio Mondadori, tel 414-229-5904/4719

In this course we shall study, both critically and historically, the writings of such philosophers as St. Augustine, St. Anselm, Siger of Brabant, St. Thomas, Duns Scotus, William of Ockham, Avicenna, and Algazali. We shall discuss, among others, such topics as the existence of God, the extent of God's power, the eternity of the world, free will and determinism, the distinction between essence and accident, the nature of individuality, the nature of possibility, and causation.

PHILOS 432: History of Modern Philosophy, 3 credits, U/G
Lec 001, TR 2:00 - 3:15pm, CRT 209
Instructor: Margaret Atherton, tel 414-229-4736/4719, email:

During the 17th and 18th centuries (also called the Early Modern period) there arose in Europe an astonishingly rich community of philosophers. This community developed new answers and new questions about the nature of the physical world and about human knowledge of the physical world. If, for example, the world consists of matter in motion, then what are the red of the tulip and the scent of the rose? Are we built to know the world or is the world hidden from us? These new approaches to the natural world led in turn to new questions and new answers about human nature, what humans are like, how they know themselves and others and about their place within the natural world. Is my essential nature open to me or am I aware of things I can do but not what I am? Is there anything more to me than the ideas I am aware of passing through my mind? How is my nature related to the nature of the physical world? Am I a part of the physical world or do I operate on it from a special vantage point? We will build a roadmap through this rich terrain by concentrating on a few important and representative thinkers from among the philosophers working at the time in order to be able to explore their ideas in some detail. We will be reading selections from Rene Descartes, Benedict de Spinoza, John Locke and David Hume.

PHILOS 435: Existentialism, 3 credits, U/G
Lec 001, TR 11:00 - 12:15, CRT 309
Instructor: Michelle Mahlik, tel 414-229-5636/4719, email:

This course will center on analysis of the thought of thinkers such as Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sartre, and Merleau-Ponty. Also, Husserl's phenomenological method will be discussed along with its influence on the existentialist movement.

PHILOS 516, Language and Meaning, 3 credits, U/G
Lec 001, MW 2:00 - 3:15pm, CRT 607
Instructor: Michael Liston, tel 414-229-5217/4719, email:

Philosophical issues of the semantics, syntax and pragmatics of language; relations between philosophy of language and metaphysics, epistemology and philosophy of science.

PHILOS 532: Philosophical Problems - Probability, 3 credits, U/G
Lec 001, MW 11:00 - 12:15, CRT 607
Instructor: Stephen Leeds, tel 414-229-5903/4719, email:

The notion of probability plays a role in many areas of contemporary philosophy - in metaphysics (probabilistic theories of causation) in epistemology (Bayesian and other probabilistic accounts of how our knowledge grows - and also shrinks) and decision theory, just to name a few. The goal of the course is to explore some of the uses to which probabilistic ideas are put; it would also be interesting to read some of the literature on what chances are, whether we have degrees of belief, etc. We might also delve into some areas loosely connected with probability, such as game theory.

PHILOS 532: Philosophical Problems - Kant's Critique of Judgment and Contemporary Analysis, 3 credits, U/G
Lec 001, MW 12:30 - 1:45pm, CRT 607
Instructor: Susan Hahn, tel 414-229-5215-4719, email:

A close reading of Kant's Critique of the Power of Judgment, aimed to draw out the contrast, connection, and interrelationships between reflective and noncognitive (preconceptual) forms of judgment. We will begin with some preliminary background in the first critique on the conditions on knowledge that make judgments epistemologically significant. This will inform our analysis of Kant's discovery of a very different kind of form of noncognitive judgments in the third critique, the deduction of such judgments, and whether this signals a departure from the conditions on knowledge in the first critique. Time permitting, we will explore the contemporary relevance of Kant's aesthetics. Out of the eighteenth-century dialogue concerning the objectivity and subjectivity of beauty, grew a more contemporary debate about whether beauty is a matter of feeling or form. In this connection, we'll look at the relevance of Kant's formalism to modern formalists, such as, Clive Bell's idea of "significant form," Roger Fry on form in the visual arts, and Hanslick on form in music.

PHILOS 681: Seminar in Advanced Topics - Wittgenstein, 3 credits, U/G
Sem 001, M 3:30 - 6:10pm, CRT 607
Instructor: John Koethe, tel 414-229-5216/4719, email:

Ludwig Wittgenstein's writings have been one of the dominant influences on the evolution of philosophy in the twentieth century. Though his work addresses issues in the philosophy of language, it has wide-ranging implications for such areas as philosophy of mind, philosophy of science, epistemology and metaphysics. He developed, in different periods, two different and in many ways opposing views of language, the first presented in the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus of 1921, and the second in the posthumously published Philosophical Investigations (1953) and related writings. We will look at aspects of both of these views, reading Wittgenstein's own work as well as a variety of secondary sources.

PHILOS 685: Capstone Senior Seminar - The Problem of Universals in the Middle Ages, 3 credits, U/G
Sem 001, W 3:30 - 6:10pm, CRT 607
Instructor: Fabrizio Mondadori, tel 414-229-5904/4719

A so-called general term - e.g., "horse", "red" -typically applies to a number of particular things: and the things to which it applies are typically (and not implausibly) said to have something in common. Less typically, what they are said to have in common is a so-called universal --- e.g., horsehood, redness, --which the general term is taken to refer to. The problem of universals arises when we raise the question (1) of what "have in common" means here, and (2) of what kind of entity a universal is. The problem has been discussed with unparalleled subtlety by the Schoolmen - prominent among them, Abelard, Duns Scotus, and Ockham. This course will be devoted to an analysis of their answers (as well as those of Porphyry and Boethius) to questions (1) and (2) above.

PHILOS 712, Fundamentals of Formal Logic, 3 credits, G
Lec 001, MW 9:30 - 10:45am, END 127
Instructor: Michael Liston, tel 414-229-5217/4719, email:

The task of the first logic course - Philosophy 211 - was to develop a means for evaluating deductive arguments. This task involved the use of a formal language for expressing the logical structure of English sentences and the use of various formal techniques, including truth tables and deductions, for evaluating arguments. Once an English argument was translated into the formal language, formal techniques were used to solve an apparently informal problem, i.e., the problem of finding out whether it is possible for the conclusion of the argument to be false while all its premises are true.

PHILOS 758: Seminar in Major Movements in Philosophical Thought - Continental Philosophy Workshop, 3 credits, G
Sem 001, R 2:15 - 5:10, CRT 607
Instructor: Susan Hahn, tel 414-229-5215/4719, email:

Workshop in Continental Philosophy for graduate students working in the area, extending from 18th-20th century continental, from Kant through Nietzsche up to 20th century figures. Designed to give advanced as well as first year graduate students a chance to present work in progress to a friendly, informal group consisting of their peers, get some invaluable experience in public speaking, and the opportunity to take feedback back into revising and polishing writing samples and thesis chapters. Hopefully, a few continental scholars from the area can be persuaded to visit the workshop during the term.