Course Descriptions - Fall 2008

Philosophy 101, Introduction to Philosophy: Selected Topics & Issues (HU)
LEC 406, MW 10:00-10:50am, MER 131
LEC 407, MW 1:00-1:50pm, PHY 137
Instructor: Aaron Schiller
Enrollment in one of the large lectures requires enrollment in a discussion section.

This course is an introduction to Western philosophy along two different dimensions: history and topic. Most broadly, the course will be structured about three historical periods: Ancient, Modern, and Contemporary. Within each of these periods, we will focus on three main topics: What is the nature of reality? What is knowledge and how can we attain it? And, What is the best way to live? These questions have been asked since the beginning of philosophy, and, as we will see, the answers given to them have depended on the historical situations of the answerers. This raises the question: In what way are our answers to these questions a result of our historical situation? By the end of the term, students will have a good grounding in the basic periods and topics of Western philosophy, as well an appreciation of the work of the philosopher. Students need not have any background in philosophy to do well in this course.

Philosophy 101, Introduction to Philosophy: Selected Topics & Issues (HU)
LEC 001, M 6:30-9:10pm, CRT 309
LEC 003, T 6:30-9:10pm, CRT 309
LEC 004, W 6:30-9:10pm, CRT 309
Instructors: TBA

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.

Philosophy 111, Informal Logic: Critical Reasoning (HU)
LEC 001, MW 9:30-10:45am, CRT 309
LEC 002, MW 12:30-1:45pm, CRT 309
Instructor: Daniel Corbett,

For us social creatures, language is like the air we breathe. It is our accomplice in almost everything we do. We describe, name, praise, blame, criticize, compel, command, apologize, rationalize, encourage, plot, evade, lie, cheat, humiliate, glorify, question, discover, think, insult, offend; the list goes on. Most importantly for the purposes of this class, we argue. Argument is the giving of reasons to justify a conclusion and each activity on the above list will often start up, or start from, an argument.

Informal logic is the study of argument as it occurs in our everyday lives and languages. In this class we will examine various features of arguments: their telltale signs (how to spot them), their construction (how to build them), commonly made mistakes in argumentation (informal fallacies), the properties of arguments (ways an argument can be good or bad) and their uses (why bother arguing?). In addition to learning these things about arguments, students will gain practical facility in working with arguments drawn from ordinary, scientific, religious and political contexts.

Philosophy 111, Informal Logic: Critical Reasoning (HU)
LEC 004, M 5:30-8:10pm, BOL B87
Instructor: Matt Knachel

Logic is reason turned inward: it is the systematic study of correct and incorrect reasoning. As discursive creatures, we humans make assertions and back them up with reasons-we construct arguments. Since this activity is central to all fields of study, the tools that logic develops for identifying and analyzing good and bad arguments are universally applicable; anyone can benefit from a study of logic by becoming a more self-aware reasoner.

It is possible to approach the study of logic more or less formally. A more formal approach to the subject abstracts from natural language and deploys sophisticated mathematical tools in the analysis arguments. This course takes a less formal approach, focusing more on ordinary-language arguments found in everyday reasoning, and giving only a small taste of more formal techniques.

Philosophy 204, Introduction to Asian Religions (HU)
LEC 402, MW 11:00-11:50, END 103
Instructor: Chad Van Schoelandt,
Enrollment in the large lecture (LEC 402) Philosophy 204 requires enrollment in a small discussion section.

This course will examine the central themes of major movements in East Asian philosophical thought. We will focus on dualistic and non-dualistic forms of Hinduism, Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism, the principles of Confucianism, the teachings of Taoism, as well as other topics of interest. Recurring themes will be the nature of ultimate reality, the difference between appearance and reality, the idea of the "good" life, and the role of reason in human life. The intent of this course is to acquaint the student with these topics as well as to assist the student in formulating independent opinions and beliefs about these issues. No philosophical background is necessary.

Philosophy 207, Religion and Science (HU)
LEC 001, TR 5:00-6:15pm, CRT 309
Instructor: David Luce,

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.

Philosophy 211, Elementary Logic (HU)
LEC 403, MW 10:00-10:50am, LUB N146
LEC 404, MW 12:00-12:50am, MER 131
LEC 001, M 6:30-9:10pm CRT 303
LEC 002, R 6:30-9:10pm CRT 309
Instructor (403/404): Michael Liston,
Instructor (001/002): TBA
Enrollment in one of the large lectures (LEC 403/404) also requires enrollment in a corresponding discussion section.

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.

Philosophy 215, Belief, Knowledge, and Truth: An Introduction to the Theory
of Knowledge (HU)
LEC 001, T 5:30-8:10pm, MER 315
Instructor: Matt Knachel

Whad'ya know? With apologies to Michael Feldman, most of us might feel confident in replying, "Quite a bit, actually." For instance, I know I have hands, that 2 and 2 is 4, that there are other people in the world besides myself, that killing them would be wrong, that the barns I see along I-94 aren't cunningly constructed facsimiles, and that I'm not currently naked and submerged in purple goop, with a metal cord sticking out of my brainstem-a human battery on an energy farm in a nightmarish dystopia ruled by evil machines.

I claim to know all these things, but what would I say to someone who challenged my claims? Such skeptics can be very clever. Answering them requires us systematically to examine the concept of knowledge. What exactly are we claiming when we claim to know something? Can knowledge be analyzed into separate components? What are the different sources of knowledge, and how reliable are they? How do we justify our claims, and how do they justify each other? What are the limits of our knowledge? What is it reasonable for us to doubt? In this course we will address such questions.

Philosophy 217, Introduction to Metaphysics (HU)
LEC 001, TR 11:00am-12:15pm, EMS E159
Instructor: Matt Knachel

Is there a God? What's He (She?) like? Long white beard, six-pack abs, vengeful, omni-benevolent? Could He create a boulder so heavy even He couldn't lift it? Will we meet Him in the afterlife? Do we have souls that survive the death of our bodies? How could that be? Also, are we free, or are our actions determined-by God, or the laws of physics? Is time real? Is anything? If so, why is there something rather than nothing? Oh, and just what the heck is metaphysics, anyway?

These are all metaphysical questions, and in this course we will attempt to get to the bottom these types of puzzles. We will fail. But in so doing, we will come to have a greater understanding of the wide range of possible approaches to such questions, refine our reading, writing and thinking skills, and-if all goes well-discover and nurture within ourselves that sense of wonder that engenders a love of wisdom, philosophy.

Philosophy 232, Topics in Philosophy: Philosophical Aspects of Socialism (HU)
LEC 001, MW 11:00am-12:15pm, CRT 309
Instructor: Dennis Casper,

This course is intended to introduce the student to some perspectives on and assessments of socialism: its definition; various models of socialism both tried and untried, and what it might still promise with respect to a range of fundamental human concerns and practices including freedom, equality, democracy, community, efficiency, religion, science and technology, art and culture; and what new avenues for socialist practice and new conceptions of the socialist project should be considered in the light of the socialist experience of the twentieth century and the current capitalist context. After a brief look at some early forms of socialism, the first half of the course will concentrate on a survey of the philosophy of Karl Marx, the dominant thinker in the socialist tradition, outlining his analysis and critique of capitalism and his understanding of such concepts as class, human nature, alienation, freedom, social and historical change, among others. The second half will focus on contemporary discussions of the topics mentioned above.

Philosophy 241, Introductory Ethics (HU)
LEC 401, MW 11:00-11:50am; BOL B56
Instructor: Julius Sensat,
Enrollment in Philosophy 241 also requires enrolling in a corresponding discussion section.

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.

Philosophy 243, Moral Problems (HU)
LEC 001: Abortion, TR 9:30-10:45am, CRT 309 (9/2-10/4)
LEC 002: Capital Punishment, TR 9:30-10:45am, CRT 309 (10/6-11/8)
LEC 003: Animals and the Environment, TR 9:30-10:45am, CRT 309 (11/10-12/11)
Instructor: Miren Boehm
Note: LEC 001, 002, & 003 are worth one credit each. You do not have to enroll for all three sections.

We start this course by discussing ethical theories in general, which are important in and of themselves, but also provide a general background for the issues we shall examine: abortion, capital punishment, and the moral status of animals and the environment. Our goal in this course is to become acquainted with the complex factors and arguments that make these moral problems so difficult to resolve. By the end of the course we might not have arrived at the "Right" answer, but our understanding of the problems will hopefully have deepened.

243-001 Abortion
What are the different moral factors to consider in deciding whether abortion is morally permissible? Granted that a fetus is biologically human, is it a person? And if it is a person, does the right over one's body override the right to life? Who or what can have rights?

243-002 Capital Punishment
Does justice demand capital punishment? Is justice "eye for an eye"? Is capital punishment necessary as a deterrent? Even if capital punishment is right and necessary, can we endorse it as a society?

243-003 Animals and the Environment
Are animals capable of suffering? And if so, is their suffering relevant, or should we take it into consideration? Do animals have rights? Who or what can have rights? Do we have any obligations towards the environment? Does having obligations towards X entail that X has rights?

Philosophy 244, Ethical Issues in Health Care: Contemporary Problems (HU)
LEC 101, R 6:00-8:40pm*
Instructor: Kristin Tym,

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.

Philosophy 245, Critical Thinking and the Law: Law of Torts (HU)
LEC 101, M 6:30-9:10pm*
Instructor: Paul Santilli,

The goals of critical legal thinking are to instill in the student an understanding of the fundamental principles of legal analysis, problem solving and construction of an argument. In order to convey these principles in this class, students are taught the law of torts (why I get to sue you when you hit me with your car). Materials we will use to learn the law and critical thinking include legal cases (text) and jury instructions. 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.
*This course is taught off-campus at the School of Continuing Education,161 W. Wisconsin Ave, Room 7230.

Philosophy 250, Philosophy of Religion (HU)
LEC 401, MW 12:00-12:50pm, END 103
Instructor: William Bristow,
Enrollment in LEC 403 requires enrolling in a corresponding discussion section.

Major questions we will address in this course are: What is our concept of God? Can the proposition that God exists be proved on the basis of unaided reason? Or does reason in fact support atheism? What is religious faith? Must one have religious faith in order to be moral? Or, alternatively, is there an irresolvable tension between the demands of morality and the demands of religious faith? Is the existence of evil compatible with the existence of an all-powerful, benevolent creator God?

Philosophy 303, Theory of Knowledge
LEC 001, TR -11:00am-12:15pm, CRT 309
Instructor: Edward Hinchman,
Prereq: jr. st.; Philos 101 (P), 201 (P), or 215 (P)

This course covers the background to contemporary epistemology. We'll read the works, all written in the past 50 years and most written in the past 20, that set the framework for much current work in the field. At the end of the term, you should be able to pick up the latest philosophy journals and read many of the articles in epistemology with understanding. Topics covered include self-deception, skepticism, testimony, and the natures of truth, knowledge and belief.

Philosophy 317, Metaphysics
LEC 001, MW 3:30-4:45pm, CRT 309
Instructor: Fabrizio Mondadori,
Prereq: jr st & 3 cr in philos

In this course we shall raise, discuss, and attempt to answer, the following (inter-related) questions: (1) whether or not it is possible to change the past (and what is meant by the claim that it can, or cannot, be changed); and (2) whether or not the effect can precede its cause, i.e., whether or not there can be such a thing as backward causation. We shall read texts by Aristotle, St. Thomas, Michael Dummett and David Lewis.

Philosophy 341, Modern Ethical Theories
LEC 001, MW 2:00-3:15pm, CRT 309
Instructor: Blain Neufeld
Prereq: jr st & 3 cr in philos

This is a course in contemporary normative ethics. We will explore the four approaches to ethical thinking dominant in contemporary philosophy: virtue ethics, consequentialism, Kantian ethics, and contractualism. 'Virtue ethics' refers to those normative ethical theories that take considerations of 'character' as fundamental to ethical evaluation. Consequentialism takes the establishment of certain outcomes - namely, the production or maximization of 'good' (e.g. 'welfare'), and the prevention or minimization of 'bad' - to determine whether actions, rules, or policies are morally right or wrong. Kantian ethics understands morality to consist in those rules that autonomous agents could rationally will for all on the basis of 'pure practical reason.' Contractualism refers to those normative ethical theories that understand morality to consist in principles that mediate relations of mutual respect between free and equal persons. Our discussion of all four moral views will involve some preliminary readings from historical sources, and more extensive consideration of the arguments of contemporary authors.

Philosophy 349, Great Moral Philosophers: Aristotle and Kant on Choice and Agency
LEC 001, TR 12:30-1:45pm, CRT 309
Instructor: Carla Bagnoli,
Prereq: jr st & 3 cr in philos

Arguably, Kant and Aristotle are the greatest moral philosophers of western tradition. This course focuses on their conceptions of agency and deliberation, and their legacy in contemporary ethics. Kant's ethical theory promises a systematic and universalistic conception of morality grounded on reason. Because of its generality and abstractness, however, some have objected that Kant's model of practical reasoning cannot account for the variety and importance of particular attachments, loyalties and special relations. On the contrary, Aristotle's ethics is sensitive to the various tonalities of concrete situations, and makes sense of the agents' relations with their community. But it is at risk of discounting the role of reason in moral education. Contemporary ethical debates are deeply influenced both by Kant's and Aristotle's ethics, and some philosophers have attempted to reassess moral their legacy by taking these two accounts of ethics as complementary, rather than as mutually exclusive.

Readings include: Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, Kant's Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals, Critique of Practical Reason, and Doctrine of Virtue, B. Williams' Moral Luck, C. Korsgaard's, Creating the Kingdom of Ends, B. Herman's, The Practice of Moral Judgment.

Philosophy 351, Philosophy of Mind
LEC 001, MW 5:00-6:15pm, CRT 309
Instructor: Aaron Schiller
Prereq: jr st & 3cr in philos

Philosophy of Mind is concerned with the nature of mind and thought. Some of its questions are: What is the mind? How does it fit into the rest of the universe? How can one tell that another has a mind? What is it to think? Could a machine think? When one thinks, what is it that one is thinking? How does thought relate to perception and action? Though we will begin by reading some foundational texts in the history of Western philosophy, the majority of our time will be spent reading contemporary philosophers. By the end of the term, students will have solid foundation in one of the most fundamental areas of philosophy.

Philosophy 430, History of Ancient Philosophy
LEC 001, MW 12:30-1:45pm, BOL B40
Instructor: Fabrizio Mondadori,
Prereq: jr st & 3cr in philos

In the thought of Ancient Greece we uncover a remarkable phenomenon. The Ancient Greeks, starting from an essentially myth-making way of understanding the world and the human place in it, as found in the work of Homer and Hesiod, developed their ideas to a culmination in a theory of the natural world and of human nature and human contact put forward by Aristotle, which dominated human thinking for many hundreds of years and is still said to capture human "common sense" beliefs about the world. How did this transition come about? We will look at the changing questions asked by the Pre-Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, in order to understand how their ideas and theories about the natural world and human nature resulted in the development of natural science, ethics and metaphysics.

Philosophy 516, Language and Meaning
LEC 001, MW 5:00-6:15pm, CRT 607
Instructor: John Koethe,
Prereq: jr st, & Philos 101(P) or 432(P)
Linguistics, crosslisted course.

"What is truth?" said jesting Pilate, and would not stay for an answer.

Philosophy of Language is one of the most central areas of philosophy. It is, in a sense, both the place where traditional metaphysical concerns about reality, thought and objectivity have come to roost in the twentieth century, and the area which has had the deepest influence on disciplines outside of philosophy - having, for example, helped shape the methodology of such sciences as psychology and sociology, and provided much of the impetus behind fashionable current trends in literary studies. The reason for its importance lies in the extreme generality of the question it addresses: What is the nature of representation and reference? What is the nature of truth? The sort of approach one takes to these questions is often virtually definitive of one's general intellectual temperament.

This course will examine various current theories of reference, truth and meaning. The readings will include works by Locke, Frege, Russell, Kripke, Tarski, Davidson and Quine.

Philosophy 532, Philosophical Problems: Collective Agency
LEC 001, R 6:30-9:10pm, CRT 607
Instructor: Luca Ferrero,
Prereq: jr st & 3 cr in philos

Many of the things we do, we do together with other agents: from the simple case of 'walking together' to the joint agency in long-term partnerships, corporations, and institutions. This joint agency appears to be different from the collective effects of the mere combinations of individual actions in traffic, markets, or crowds. What specific kinds of intentions and actions are required for joint agency? Is joint agency reducible to the individual minds and wills of the participants or should we literally speak of a collective agent with its own mind and will? In joint agency, who is the proper subject of the attributions of rationality, intentionality, accountability, and responsibility? And how are these attributions to be apportioned, if at all, between the participants of the collective action? Does joint agency require some radical departures from the traditional accounts of agency, which have been originally developed to deal with individual agency? Readings from contemporary analytic philosophers. Topics covered in this course are of interest for anyone who wants to understand the nature of collective phenomena not only in ethics and political philosophy, but also in epistemology and in the philosophy of mind.

Philosophy 554, Special Topics in the History of Modern Philosophy: Kant's Theoretical Philosophy
LEC 001, MW 3:30-4:45pm, CRT 607
Instructor: William Bristow,
Prereq: jr st, 3 cr philos; & Philos 432 (R); or cons instr.

"The Critique of Pure Reason" by Immanuel Kant is certainly one of the most important works in the area of epistemology and metaphysics in the history of Western Philosophy. In this course we study the work carefully. Some of the main questions that are addressed in the work are: How is rational (or a priori) knowledge possible? How is empirical knowledge possible? What is the nature of space and of time? How do we know (if we do) that the natural world is causally ordered? If nature is causally ordered, how is human freedom possible? -- We will read the Critique itself, of course, but also selections from secondary works.

Philosophy 681, Seminar in Advanced Topics: Topics in Literary Aesthetics
SEM 001, T 3:30-6:10pm, CRT 607
Instructor: Edward Hinchman,
Prereq: sr st & 12 cr in philos at 300-level or above; or grad st.

This course will cover the following topics, among perhaps others: metaphor, fiction, narrative, and the novel. Here are some questions we'll ask: How is it possible to learn from fiction? How can a fiction give the reader reason to believe, or the ability to discern, anything new and interesting about the non-fictional world? We'll look at the work of several authors who have not only claimed such cognitive power for their fictions but offered some reflections on the nature of the knowledge thereby generated. How should we compare such knowledge to the knowledge generated by philosophy? And how, more fundamentally, can understanding a fiction help us to act? We'll consider the views that human action is in general mediated by a grasp of fictions - of what we might call narratives of selfhood - and that the concept of a human life cannot be otherwise understood. One claim that will structure our inquiry comes from Milan Kundera and can be expressed in a complicated sentence. In reading a novel, Kundera argued, we seek to understand the novelist's act of seeking to understand metaphors coined as characters themselves in the act of seeking, through coining metaphors, to understand themselves. How could interpreting the self-inquiry of people who don't exist itself amount to a genuine form of inquiry?

Philosophy 685, Senior Capstone Research Seminar: Moral Knowledge - Aristotelian Themes in Contemporary Ethics
SEM 001, R 3:30-6:10pm, CRT 607
Instructor: Carla Bagnoli,
Prereq: sr st; declared Philos major; or cons instr.
Undergraduates only.

Ethics is concerned with questions about the good life. According to Aristotle, arguably the greatest philosopher of the Western tradition, to lead a good life we need to know what to aim at, like the archer who intends to strike his target. Our target is happiness, but how do we know what goals and tasks are appropriate to us and worthwhile? How do we learn to be good? Is there only one way to be good, and only one grand venue to Happiness? Is Happiness a solitary achievement or social and interpersonal one? Do others help us to be good? Aristotle addresses these questions and provides a powerful account of moral knowledge, which is a viable option in contemporary debates on moral epistemology. This seminar focuses on some issues that arise in the Aristotelian account such as the role of emotions in practical reasoning, the kind of habituation necessary for excellence in character, the role of friendship for self-understanding and self-awareness, and the indeterminacy of ethics. Readings include Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics and a significant selection of Neo-Aristotelian contemporary philosophers.

Philosophy 756, Seminar in Major Movements in Philosophical Thought: Pragmatism
SEM 002, T 2:00-3:15pm, CRT 607 and R 4:00-5:15pm CRT 466
Instructor: Robert Schwarz,
Prereq: grad st; cons instr

Recently there has been an enormous resurgence of interest in Pragmatism, not only in philosophy, but in political science, sociology, cultural studies, and many other areas of intellectual pursuit. This seminar will examine main themes, problems, and trends in Pragmatism. It will focus on the writings of Peirce, James, and Dewey. The implications of their ideas to current controversies concerning truth, knowledge, relativism, and inquiry will be explored. Questions will also be raised about the goals and methods of philosophy.

Philosophy 758, Seminar in Major Philosophers: Political Philosophy of John Rawls
SEM 001, MW 2:00-3:15pm, CRT 607
Instructor: Julius Sensat,
Prereq: grad st; cons instr

Rawls is widely regarded as the most important political philosopher of the 20th century. His two main contributions are his theory of justice as fairness and his conception of political liberalism. The seminar will critically examine these two doctrines. Our main textual focus will be two of his last published works: Justice as Fairness: A Restatement and The Law of Peoples, though we shall refer to his other writings as needed. We shall also examine some of the secondary literature.

Philosophy 790, Advanced Topics in Philosophy: Graduate Student Writing Workshop
SEM 001, T 11:00am-1:40pm, CRT 607
Instructor: Daniel Corbett,
Prereq: grad st; cons instr

In this workshop, graduate students will present their work in progress and receive peer comments on their work and writing. Students will have the opportunity to hone their presentation skills, sharpen their writing and develop their philosophical ideas.