Course Descriptions - Summer 2009

PHILOS 101  Introduction to Philosophy: Selected Topics and Issues (HU)
LEC 311, MWR 5:30pm – 7:43pm, CRT 309
Instructor: Daniel Corbett, corbettd@uwm.edu
6 Weeks – 5/26/09 – 7/4/09

In this class, we will survey answers to a number of great and lasting philosophical questions, including "What is justice?"; “What justifies the authority of the government to interfere with the lives and freedoms of individuals?"; “Is there such a thing as human nature?”; "Is there a God and if so, why is there evil in the world?”; "Is the human mind a natural part of the physical world or is it something supernatural (a soul that survives after death)?"; "Does the idea of survival after death even make sense?"; "Can we ever have genuine knowledge of the reality we live in, or are we stuck in a state of ignorance and opinion?" Readings will be drawn from major texts throughout the history of philosophy, including Plato's Republic, John Stuart Mill's On Liberty and Rene Descartes' Meditations.

PHILOS 111 Informal Logic: Critical Reasoning (HU)
LEC 311,  MWR 2:00pm – 4:13pm, CRT 309
Instructor: Daniel Corbett, corbettd@uwm.edu
6 Weeks – 5/26/09 – 7/4/09

For us social creatures, language is like the air we breathe. It is our accomplice in almost everything we do. Using language, we describe, name, praise, blame, criticize, compel, command, apologize, rationalize, encourage, plot, lie, humiliate, glorify, question, 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.

PHILOS 211 Elementary Logic (HU)
LEC 311, MWR 1:30 – 3:43pm, room: TBA
Instructor: Richard Tierney, rtierney@uwm.edu
LEC 311 meets for 6 weeks – 5/26/09 – 7/4/09

LEC 372, TR 6:00 – 9:18pm, CRT 309
Instructor: Michael Liston, mnliston@uwm.edu
LEC 372 meets for 6 weeks – 7/6/09 – 8/15/09

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.