Fall 2012

Course Schedule Fall 2012

Philosophy courses with an ES designation fulfill the Ethics Common Seminar requirement for junior and senior students.


Dr. Emily Esch is on sabbatical for the 2012/13 school year

Great Issues in Philosophy 121-01A, CRN # 12534 (HM)
Days 1/3/5, 9:40-10:50 am, Quad 361,  Professor Stephen Wagner

Great Issues in Philosophy 121-02A, CRN # 12535 (HM)
Days 1/3/5, 11:20 am-12:30 pm, Quad 361, Professor Stephen Wagner

Philosophy of Human Nature 123-01A, CRN # 11223 (HM)
Days 2/4/6, 9:40-10:50 am, Quad 344, Assistant Professor Erica Stonestreet 

Philosophy of Human Nature 123-02A, CRN #12785 (HM)
Days 2/4/6, 11:20 am-12:30 pm, Quad 344, Assistant Professor Erica Stonestreet

Social Philosophy 125-01A, CRN # 13165 (HM)
Days 1/3/5, 1:00-2:10 pm, Quad 353, Associate Professor Rene McGraw, OSB

Asian Philosophy 156-01A, CRN #13506 (HM)
Days 2/4/6, 9:40-10:50 am, HAB 119, Associate Professor Charles Wright

Moral Philosophy 321-0A, CRN #12784 (ES)
Days 1/3/5, 11:20 am-12:30 pm, Quad 353, Assistant Professor Erica Stonestreet

Feminist Ethics 325-01A, CRN # 13169 (ES)
Days 1/3/5, 1:00-2:10 pm, HAB 120, Associate Professor Jean Keller

Feminist Ethics  325-01A, CRN # 13170 (ES)
Days 1/3/5, 2:40-3:50 pm, HAB 120, Associate Professor Jean Keller

Medieval Philosophy 333-01A (Cross listed with THEO 329B), CRN #11584 (HM)
Days 1/3/5, 9:40-10:50 am, Quad 353, Professor Timothy Robinson

Modern Philosophy 334-01A, CRN # 10795 (HM)
Days 2/4/6, 9:40-10:50 am, Quad 254, Professor Stephen Wagner

Aesthetics of Violence/Non-Violence 356-01A (Cross listed with PCST 345A), CRN #13487 (HM)
Days 1/3/5, 11:20 am-12:30 pm, Quad 343, Associate Professor Rene McGraw, OSB

Philosophy Capstone 388-01A, CRN # 13171
Days 2/4/6, 11:20 am-12:30 pm, HAB 117, Associate Professor Charles Wright

HONR Philosophy 250 (This course open to incoming Honors students only)
Days 2/4/6, 11:20 am-12:30 pm, Associate Professor Dennis Beach, OSB

ETH 390-05A, CRN #12562 (ES)
Monday evenings, 6:00-9:00 pm, Quad 353, Professor Tony Cunningham

ETH 390-06A, CRN # 12563 (ES)
Tuesday evenings, 6:00-9:00 pm, Quad 349, Professor Tony Cunningham

ETH 390-01A, CRN # 12558 (ES)
Days 2/4/6, 11:20 am-12:30 pm, Quad 365, Professor Timothy Robinson

ETH 390-04A, CRN # 12561 (ES)
Days 2/4/6, 2:40-3:50 pm, Quad 344, Professor Timothy Robinson

Course Descriptions

Great Issues in Philosophy
Throughout the ages, several issues have been central to the quest for philosophical insight about human existence.  This course examines a number of those issues - free will vs. determinism, the making of moral judgments, the grounds for religious belief and other topics as time allows.  Through careful reading of texts and class discussion, we will critically analyze the ideas that philosophers have offered and strive to formulate our own philosophical views on these issues. 

Philosophy of Human Nature
This course is a survey designed to introduce philosophical ideas and modes of thought, with a central focus on problems arising from human nature.  We will analyze and criticize topics that fall under four major aspects of the human condition:  body, mind, soul, and society.  We will raise questions and discuss the implications of each topic for the meanings of our own lives, for how we ought to behave as individuals, and for how we should treat one another in order to build the best lives possible for ourselves.

Social Philosophy
This course will introduce students to a philosophical way of thinking through the study of power and its relationship to social groupings, through the study of the use of violence and nonviolence, through the study of authority, strength, power and civil disobedience within communities.  The course raises issues of concern both for peace studies majors as well as students interested in neither philosophy studies nor peace studies.  Texts:  Aristolte, Arendt, Gandhi, Remarque and Camus.  Daily writing; discussion; three exams and one final paper.

Asian Philosophy
We will engage in careful study of wisdom teachings from the Hindu, Buddhist, Daoist and Christian traditions.  Readings from the Hindu tradtion will include selections from the Upanisads and the Bhagavad Gita.  Buddhist teachings will be taken primarily from the Theravada scriptures, though there will be a brief introduction to the Mahayan tradition as well.  The Taosit tradition will be approached through the Lao Tzu (a.k.a. the Tao Te Ching).  The course will finish by comparing teachings from these Asian traditions with those from the Christian theologian and philosopher Meister Eckhart, a fourteenth century Dominican monk.  This course has a practice requirement that requires a minimum of two hours of contemplative practice per week in addition to class meetings.  This weekly practice will prepare students for an optional practice retreat scheduled for Saturday, December 1.

Moral Philosophy
The questions of ethics -- of how to live and what to do -- are continually confronting us in public and private life.  Philosophical ethics tries to organize ethical experience, presenting theories of good and bad, right and wrong to help guide us.  In this course we will use classical Western philosophical texts from ancient times to the last few decades to study different approaches to the classic questions of ethics.  The theories we'll discuss include virtue, Kantian, utilitarian, and care ethics.  We'll examine the different ways each framework can contribute to arriving at answers to ethical questions, noting strengths and weaknesses, with an eye to understanding how these theories might guide us in our own ethical decision making.

Feminist Ethics 
Daily headlines bring to our attention a whole host of challenging and seemingly intractable social problems.  How, in the face of such challenges, are we to plan out and live our lives?  What are our responsibilities, as individuals and communities, to engage and try to resolve such problems?  And how do such moral obligations stack up against our desire to pursue our own passions and careers and to care for our family and friends?  In this course, we'll use moral theory to engage problems posed by the news, literature, and students own lives as a means to address pressing contemporary ethicial concerns.

Medieval Philosophy
The history of medieval philosophy is a story whose chapters range over 1000 years and take place throughout Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa.  In order to explore medieval ideas in some depth, we will focus on selected episodes in that story, examining a sample of major thinkers between Augustine and Aquinas.  Our themes include the adaptation of Greek philosophy by medieval thinkers, the integration of philosophic thought with religious belief, evolution in the institutional settings of philosophic inquiry, and the diversity of philosophic methods.  If you want to learn how to be a real scholastic, this may be your only chance.

Modern Philosophy
We will look at the writings of some of the most important philosophers of the 17th and 18th centuries.  We will start with Descartes' investigation of the Rationalist foundations of human knowledge, and then look at the response of the Empiricists to the Cartesian project. We will then look at Kant's attempt to reconcile the two traditions.  The course will involve careful, critical examination of the central texts of these philosophers.  The writing for the course will involve two major papers and a number of short analytical papers of the assigned readings.

Aesthetics of Violence/Non-Violence
Philosophers have long been impressed by the way that the fine arts can reach people directly, often in a way that much intellectual speculation never achieves.  A painting like Goya's 3 mai 1808 touches a person in ways that no amount of speculation about it can match.  A description of the death of Prince Andrew makes a person question war in Tolstoy's great novel.  The World War I English and Welsh poets touch a nerve of horror at the sadness and waste of war.  Why?  What is it that can make a great work of art move us?  What makes a great work of art in the first place?  What of "message" artistic pieces?  We will use Mike Dufreene's book, The Phenomenology of Aesthetic Experience as a basic text, along with Martin Heidegger's essay, The Origin of the Work of Art.  Two exams.  One longer paper.

Philosophy Capstone
The impact of industrial human civilization on the earth's living systems is enormous and still growing.  Until about fifty years ago few people gave much thought to the matter.  Now, however, in the face of global warming, collapsing ecosystems, species extinctions, dead zones, toxic waste sites, and a variety of other ecological ills, citizens of developed nations have begun to reconsider their relationship with the biosphere.  From one perspective, such rethinking is simply a matter of self-interest.  People understand better now that our own health depends on having healthy living systems around us.  But is there more to it than self-interest?  This class will introduce students to the question of the ethical dimensions of our relationship to animals and living systems.  We will first review the contributions of modern Western philosophers like Descartes, Bacon, Galileo, Locke and others to the historical and cultural transformations that resulted in the expulsion of nonhuman forms of life from the domain of moral consideration.  Following this review of the historical and philosophical origin of the problem of environmental ethics, we will turn to the work of pioneering thinkers who seek to radically revise traditional human-centered conceptions of morality and who offer a vision of human life rooted in ethical consideration for all living beings.

HONR 250 Great Issues in Philosophy (enrollment open to incoming Honors students only)
Of all the things than we can and should know, which are the most important? Is truth found in this world or is it somehow beyond the here and now? How do we know that what we are learning is true and not just one particular spin on what's important? In one way or another, these foundational questions have fascinated and perplexed men and women in every age. We will explore these questions through the following philosophical works: Plato's Meno and at least one other dialogue from ancient Athens, the Christian-existentialist philosopher Søren Kierkegaard's Philosophical Fragments, and a reflection on the relation between knowing and living by the Spanish thinker, José Ortega y Gasset.

Reading for Life (Ethics Common Seminar)
Everyone loves a good story.  Great stories can provide us with far more than mere recreation.  Stories can provide us with rich character portraits that can reveal the subtleties and nuances of what it means to live well and responsibly.  In this course we'll use novels and films to address Socrates' most basic ethical questions, "How should one live?" and "What sort of person should I be?"  We'll do so by attending to all the concrete, particular details of real life and fictional characters thoroughly embroiled in the "business of living."  Reading well offers the possibility of vicarious experience and ultimately, ethical insight.  Some diligent, careful, thoughtful attention on our part this semester can help us hone the ability to think about Socrates' questions.  Our readings may include some of the following:  The Crucible (Arthur Miller), How To Be Good (Nick Hornby), The Remains of the Day (Kazuo Ishiguro), Beloved (Toni Morrison), Crosssing to Safety (Wallace Stegner), Their Eyes Were Watching God (Zora Neale Hurston) and Cold Mountain (Charles Frzazier).

Ethics: Problems & Soltuions (Ethics Common Seminar)
In this course we try to assess the merits and demerits of competing ethical theories, examine arguments about the objectivity or subjectivity of ethical judgments, and discuss some controversial issues with social and political consequences.