Department of Philosophy


PHIL 302: Medieval Christian Philosophy 

This course focuses on the medieval debate over universals; that is, whether universal words such as “animal” or “beautiful” or “justice” mean something beyond the material world (Augustine), something identical with the material world (Aquinas), or something wholly artificial and utilitarian (Ockham).  Along the way, we will note how the nature of evil is tied to this question and the importance of this question to the rise of universities in Europe.  At the end of the course, we will discuss the postmodern novel The Name of the Rose in order to understand a contemporary view of the medieval debate over universals.  







Phil 320: Philosophy of Science 

 This course is an introduction to contemporary philosophy of science. We will focus on the following questions: What is (distinctive about) scientific knowledge? What makes something a law of nature? Does science help us know about the world as it really is (do atoms actually exist)? Do we make progress in science, and how should we understand radical theory change or scientific revolutions? What is the relationship between the different branches of science (is everything just physics)? Do scientists have special moral and social responsibilities? To think through these questions, we'll sample foundational works in the philosophy of science from the past century and consider case studies from particular sciences along the way. 







PHIL 329 Bioethics: 

This course serves as an advanced introduction to ethical reasoning about issues in the biomedical context.  The course will be structured as follows.  The first half of the course will involve an introduction to moral reasoning, fundamental moral principles, and the basic moral theories grounding ethical decision making.   By the end of this section, students will have co-created an ethical decision-making framework.  In the second half of the course, we will apply moral reasoning to the following range of topics: paternalism and patient autonomy, truth-telling and confidentiality, informed consent, genetic therapy and enhancement technology, human research, abortion, euthanasia, gender-based care, and justice in healthcare. As an applied ethics course, the goal is to develop the ability to operationalize ethical reasoning in the biomedical context.  There will, therefore, be an emphasis on performing ethical analyses of contemporary case studies throughout the second half of the course by means of the previously created ethical decision-making framework.   The culminating assignment of the course will be a group project focused on providing an ethics analysis of an actual case with a community health partner.  








PHIL 336: Liberalism 

This semester we will be talking about political theories of liberalism or, in other words, what politics looks like if we start from the assumption that human beings are naturally free.  Our conversations will be framed around some of the basic questions that arise in liberalism: How can political authority be legitimate if we are born free from such authority? What limits on authority are necessary, given our freedom? What can political communities legitimately ask of their individual members, and what can individual members legitimately ask of their political communities? How valuable, and how dangerous, is individuality?  We will examine John Locke's conception of property rights, J. G. Fichte's reflections on the French Revolution, Immanuel Kant's doctrine of right, and 20th and 21st century debates about liberalism and the nature of freedom.  







PHIL 338: Enlightenment & Revolution 

Evaluates the nature of political revolutions by examining the political thought preceding the French Revolution. Specific attention is paid to the meaning of revolution as a means of political change and the role of justification of violence. 








PHIL 396: Theory of Knowledge: Philosophy and Psychology 

In this theory of knowledge course, we will ask questions about the philosophical foundations of psychology and topics such as: What do people mean by “consciousness” and “mind”?  What is the relation between consciousness and mind, on the one hand, and the body and brain, on the other?  What are sensation, perception, emotion, knowledge, imagination, and memory, and can they be fully explained by appealing to the body?  We will read texts by philosophical psychologists such as Aristotle, Leibniz, Husserl, Merleau-Ponty, Gibson, Nagel, Chalmers, and others.  Throughout the course, we will reflect on and discuss methodological issues in 21st c. psychology and related fields such as psychiatry and the cognitive sciences.