Course Descriptions – Summer 2011

Philosophy 101, Introduction to Philosophy: Reflections on the Human Condition (HU)

LEC 231, Online Web
Instructor: Edward Hinchman,
6 Weeks – 6/13/11 – 7/23/11

This course is an introduction to Western Philosophy. Students need not have any background in philosophy, or any plans for further study. The course has three broad aims:

  1. to introduce students to the tradition of philosophical argument in the West via primary texts,
  2. to teach students how in general to make and evaluate philosophical arguments,
  3. to demonstrate to any student who cares to participate actively how exciting and even fun philosophy can be.

Since philosophy is simply informed public reflection on what we're up to as we try to do and believe what we ought to do and believe – as Socrates put it, "What we are talking about is how one should live" – I hope that by the end of the term the third aim of the course will have taken priority over the other two.

Philosophy 111, Informal Logic: Critical Reasoning (HU)

LEC 251, Online Web
Instructor: Matthew Knachel,
6 Weeks – 6/27/11 – 8/6/11

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 of 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 211, Elementary Logic (HU)

LEC 311, MWR 10:00 – 12:21pm, CRT 119
Instructor: Matthew Knachel,
LEC 311 meets for 6 weeks – 5/31/11 – 7/9/11

LEC 372, TR 6:00 – 9:18pm CRT 119
Instructor: TBA
LEC 372 meets for 6 weeks – 7/11/11 – 8/20/11

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.

Philosophy 232, Topics in Philosophy: Existentialism (HU)

LEC 271, Online Web
Instructor: Elizabeth Silverstein,
6 Weeks – 7/11/11 – 8/20/11

Common Existentialist themes include: the tension between the individual and the "public" (including alienation from self and others); an emphasis on the worldly or "situated" character of human thought and reason; a fascination with the experiences of anxiety, death, and nihilism; the rejection of science (and above all, causal explanation) as an adequate framework for understanding human beings; and the introduction of "authenticity" as the norm of self-identity, tied to the project of self-definition through freedom, choice, and commitment. The course will investigate these themes through engagement with the works of major figures in Existentialist thought.

Philos 243: Moral Problems, (HU)

Lec 211, 212, & 213 are worth one credit each. You do not have to enroll for all three sections.

Lec 211: Abortion, Online Web
Instructor: Miren Boehm,
3 Weeks 5/31/11–6/18/11
243-211 Abortion: What would it mean for abortion to be morally wrong? What is the moral status of the fetus? Does it have a right to life? What is the concept of a person? What does it mean to have a right to one’s body? What does feminist theory say about abortion? What does religion have to say about the ethics of abortion? In this course we will address these and other difficult philosophical questions.
Lec 212: Euthanasia, Online Web
Instructor: Miren Boehm,
3 Weeks 5/31/11–6/18/11
243-212 Euthanasia: Why would there be anything morally wrong with assisting someone in ending her life of when she is suffering and wants to end her life? What is death? What is a person? What is personal dignity? What is ordinary as opposed to extraordinary medical treatment? What is the moral difference between killing and letting die? In this course we will address these and other difficult philosophical questions.
Lec 213: Global Issues & Globalization, Online Web
Instructor: Miren Boehm,
3 Weeks 5/31/11–6/18/11
243-213 Global Issues & Globalization: This course raises some fundamental questions regarding the nature of our relation to the less fortunate and to the victims of discrimination. It raises questions about our individual obligations to others and our collective obligations to others. We shall examine and question our conceptual, moral schemas, starting with our distinction between obligation and charity. We discuss the topics of the distribution of responsibilities in a world swamped in suffering, the population problem, the problem of gender inequalities across the world, and the rights of individuals in the global community.

Philosophy 244, Ethical Issues in Health Care: Contemporary Problems (HU)

LEC 231, Online Web
Instructor: Kris Tym,
6 Weeks – 6/13/11 – 7/23/11

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.