Fall 2016 courses

Philosophy Courses

Fall 2016



                PROF. G REIHMAN

                MW 2:35 – 3:50 PM

One way of understanding philosophy is not as a set of teachings to be mastered, but as the rational attempt to formulate, understand and answer fundamental questions. This course explores some of the most basic questions, including: What is the meaning of life? What is it to be a human person, to be a self? Is human nature fundamentally good or evil? How should we live our lives?  What is happiness? What makes society just?  Is knowledge possible?  What is really real?  Is there a God? Is there such a thing as free will or has the course of our lives been determined by fate, God, or biology? (HU)




MWF 10:10 – 11:00 PM

Through reading selected texts in philosophy, from the ancient period to the modern Enlightenment and Romantic reaction, we shall introduce ourselves to some of the central epistemological, ontological, ethical, and socio-political positions developed in relation to their historical and material contexts.  A unifying theme will thus be the emergence and evolution of rational thought and its relation to belief, knowledge, and action. (HU)


PHIL 090-10                       ROBOPHILOSOPHY (4)

                                             PROF. M BICKHARD

                                             MW 12:45 – 2:00

Could robots think? What is thinking? Could robots be ethically appropriate companions, e.g., for the elderly? What are the ethical issues here? This class will focus on artificial creatures, there possibilities and impossibilities, and on the issues regarding minds and morals that are involved.


PHIL 090-11                      BLACK LIVES MATTER: AND THE FUTURE OF RACE (4)

                                            PROF. C KAUTZER

MWF 11:00 – 12:25 PM

In this seminar we examine the philosophy of race through the lens of the Black Lives Matter movement. Although studying a very contemporary political phenomenon, we will address such fundamental questions as: What is race? What is racism? How does race intersect with other identities and social relations? How can the study of race change one’s own self-understanding? The goal of this course is for students to acquire the philosophical concepts and historical knowledge necessary to critically engage contemporary debates about race and racism.


PHIL 014                          REASONING & CRITICAL THINKING (4)


TR 2:35 – 3:50 PM

Most intellectual endeavors involve reasoning.  Whether in everyday discussions about right and wrong, friendly political disagreements, ordinary explanations of natural phenomena, and short letters to editors, or in sophisticated legal debates, national political campaigns, and intricate scientific theories, reasons are constantly invoked to support or criticize claims and points of view.  This course develops skills needed to reason well, to analyze and critique others' reasoning (or lack thereof), to distinguish reasoning from mere rhetoric, and to become a savvy consumer of information. (HU)


PHIL 105                          ETHICS (4)


MW 11:00 – 12:25

Examination of right and wrong, good and bad, from classic sources such as Plato, Aristotle, Hume, Kant, Mill and Nietzsche. (HU)


PHIL 122                             PHILOSOPHY OF LAW (4)

                                               PROF. R WEISS

                                               TR 10:45 – 12:00

Analysis of the conceptual foundations of our legal system. Special attention devoted to the nature of law and legal obligation, liberty and privacy in constitutional litigation, justice and contractual obligation, theories of punishment in criminal law, and the nature and scope of responsibility in criminal law. (HU)


PHIL 123                           AESTHETICS (4)

                                              PROF. G BEARN

                                              TR 9:20 – 10:35

Theories, classical and modern, of the nature of beauty and the aesthetic experience. Practical criticism of some works of art, and examination of analogies between arts, and between art and nature. (HU)


PHIL/CLSS 131               ANCIENT PHILOSOPHY (4)

                                                PROF. R WEISS

                                                TR 9:20 – 10:35

Historical survey of selected texts and issues in the classical world, from the pre-Socratics through Aristotle, with emphasis on the origins of the western philosophical traditions in ethics, metaphysics, and epistemology. (HU)




                                              PROF. M MENDELSON

                                              TR 9:20 – 10:35

Historical survey of selected texts and issues in post-Aristotelian Greek and Roman philosophy from the fourth century B.C. to the third century A.D. Areas of focus may include epicureanism, stoicism, academic and pyrrohnian scepticism, and neoplatonism. (HU).


PHIL 195                             PHILOSOPHY AND MUSIC (4)

                                                PROF. N SHCMIDT

                                                TR 10:45 – 12:00

We live in a musical age -we are surrounded by music, and one would be hard pressed to find someone who did not devote considerable time and attention listening (or thinking that they are "listening") to music. But what is "music"? What about it attracts us so? How does it do what it does? What, in fact, does it do? As we will see, these are far from simple questions, and some of the possible answers to these questions turn out, in fact, to be quite other than what one might expect. As a means of approaching these questions, we shall focus (though not exclusively) on the "history" of what is called "rock and roll," from its origin in the Mississippi Delta Blues to its introduction to mainstream American culture via the "British Invasion" of the 1960's up to the present day. As we will see, when one approaches "music" from a philosophical perspective, there is considerably more than seems to meet the ear, and "philosophy" and "music" have much more in common than one might think. (HU)


PHIL 196                             MEANING AND THE MEANING OF LIFE (4)

                                              PROF. G BEARN

                                              TR 2:35 – 3:50

In our time, when philosophers are asked about the meaning of life, they run away as fast as they can, snickering as they do. In this course, that question will be taken seriously. We’ll conduct a parallel investigation of existential and linguistic meaning by way of the writings of Wittgenstein (d. 1951) and Tolstoy (d. 1910). Wittgenstein was a philosopher who wrote about mathematics and language, yet he always seemed rather to be a poet, properly belonging somewhere else, who had somehow strayed into philosophy. Intimately moved by the arts, especially music, he lived like or as a hermit for most of his mature life, and yet even in the darkness of our times, his writings promised existential peace. Tolstoy, the well known Russian novelist, had a spiritual crisis at the age of about 30 that turned him away from his successful career as a novelist. He thence became a singular mixture of pacifism Christianity and anarchism, and his writings after this conversion were important both to Gandhi and Martin Luther King. Throughout Wittgenstein’s life he always adored the magnificent beauty of Tolstoy’s short story “The Three Hermits” and Schubert’s String Quintet in C major.


PHIL 197                             CAPITALISM AND THE PHILOSOPHY OF ECONOMICS (4)

                                              PROF. C KAUTZER

                                              MWF 1:00 – 2:00

In this course, we examine capitalism from a philosophical perspective, identifying and critically evaluating the social norms that shape production, distribution, and consumption. We begin with influential philosophies of property, labor, class, and markets in the works of Aristotle, John Locke, Adam Smith, J.S. Mill, and Karl Marx. We then relate these readings to contemporary discussions of distributive justice; commodification; the economic dimensions of gender and racial identities; environmental sustainability; and the function of debt. Throughout the course, we apply what we learn to films and current events in both classroom discussions and written assignments.


PHIL 235                             FIGURES/THEMES IN MODERN PHILOSOPHY (4)

                                              PROF. M MENDELSON

                                              TR 10:45 – 12:00

This seminar course will involve in-depth focus upon a major 17th or 18th century thinker (e.g. Descartes, Leibniz, Berkeley, Kant, etc.) or the modern treatment of a particular theme (e.g. the nature of “ideas,” the roles of experience, reason, and revelation, ethical or political theory, etc.). Content varies. Prerequisite: One HU-designated course in Philosophy at 100-level or higher. May be taken more than once for credit as topic varies. (HU)



                                                PROF. J.M. GILLROY

                                                R 1:00 – 4:00

Focusing on how philosophical argument can illuminate our understanding of such legal and policy issues as war and peace, humanitarian intervention, human rights, refugee displacement and global climate change, this course will study G.W.F. Hegel’s political philosophy. In the process, we will examine how his comprehensive argument about the evolution of the state as a means of human recognition can be transformed into a paradigm for application to international policy and legal analysis. Specifically, we will examine the changing relationship between a state’s internal and external sovereignty and how this affects, for example, the tension between non-intervention and international human rights, including the notion that the modern nation has a ‘Responsibility to Protect’. The course will also study the Philosophical Method of R.G.Collingwood as a means of translating Hegel’s philosophical system into a paradigm for contemporary policy and legal analysis. Prerequisite: One HU-designated course in Philosophy at 100-level or higher. (HU)


PHIL/COGS 250                PHILOSOPHY OF MIND (4)

                                              PROF. M BICKHARD

                                              MW 2:35 – 3:50

An exploration of the mind-body problem. Are the body and mind distinct substances (dualism); or is there only body (materialism); or only mind (idealism)? Other views to be considered include behaviorism (the view that behavior can be explained without recourse to mental states), and the view that the mind is a complex computer. Prerequisite: One HU-designated course in Philosophy at 100-level or higher. (HU)



                                                PROF. M RAPOSA

                                                MW 2:35 – 3:50

An examination of the writings of key figures in the history of American religious thought (such as Edwards, Emerson, Bushnell, Peirce, James, Royce, Dewey and the Niebuhrs). Attention will be directed both to the historical reception of these writings and to their contemporary significance. Prerequisite: One HU-designated course in Philosophy at 100-level or higher. (HU)