Fall 2013

* Courses with an (ES) count for Ethics Common Seminar Requirement

Great Issues in Philosophy (HM) PHIL 121
TR at 12:45 pm with Professor Emily Esch CRN #12534
TR at 2:20 pm with Professor Emily Esch CRN # 12535

This writing intensive and discussion based course introduces you to philosophy through the examination of some of philosophy's biggest questions. The course explores questions like: Is the mind an immaterial soul or is it identical to the brain?  What makes it possible that you are the same person now as you were ten years ago, given that all sorts of facts about you have changed?  What makes an action right or wrong, or a person good or bad?  What does it mean to act freely?  What are the reasons for thinking that we actually aren't free agents?  What is knowledge and do we have any? How can suffering in the world be reconciled with the existence of God? In addition to introducing these questions, the course focuses on developing critical thinking skills and dispositions.

Philosophy of Human Nature (HM) PHIL 123
MWF at 9:10 am with Professor John Houston CRN #11223
MWF at 10:20 am with Professor John Houston CRN #12785

No subject has occupied western philosophy more than that of human nature. And none is more controversial.  This is not surprising, since who and what we think we are will determine a great deal about how we understand the world and our place in it.  If we wish to pursue happiness, we would do well to first have an idea of what we are, from whence we came, and to what end our existence is directed. Some say God, others oblivion.  What do you say?  In this course we will read selections on the philosophy of human nature from classical, Christian, and contemporary sources.  Special attention will be given to human rationality, sexuality, and mortality. Finally, we will seek to develop a view concerning the prospect of discovering (or creating) ultimate meaning and purpose for our lives.  

Social Philosophy (HM) PHIL 125
MWF at 12:40 pm with Professor Rene McGraw, OSB
CRN # 13165

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.

Philosophy in Literature (HM) PHIL 150
TR at 9:235 am with Visiting Professor David McPherson
CRN # 13939

An introduction to philosophical questioning through a study of literature. Readings will serve as an avenue for exploring questions of ethics, good and evil, the meaning of life, the tension and relation between concrete and spiritual  "realities," etc. Readings may include such writers as Fyodor Dostoevsky, Albert Camus, Flannery O'Connor and others.

Moral Philosophy (ES) PHIL 321
MWF at 11:30 am with Visiting Professor David McPherson CRN # 12784
MWF at 1:50 pm with Visiting Professor David McPherson CRN # 13789

As a course in moral philosophy, our purpose will be to reflect philosophically upon the question: 'How ought we to live?' Although each of us already embodies some answer to this question in our lives, our task will be to develop our own answer more fully by entering into conversation with some of the greatest minds of the past that have sought to answer this very question and whose answers have had a tremendous influence within Western society. In particular, we will focus on the four classical theories of moral philosophy, namely, virtue ethics, natural law, deontology, and utilitarianism, through the writings of Aristotle, Aquinas, Hobbes, Hume, Kant, Mill, and Nietzsche. We will also consider some non-Western approaches to ethics with Dostoevsky (Russian Orthodox) and the Dalai Lama (Buddhism). At the completion of this course students should develop the ability to think philosophically about moral issues by comparing and contrasting the various moral theories studied as well as by formulating, criticizing, and defending one's own position and considering its practical implications.

Environmental Ethics (ES) PHIL 322
MWF at 8:00 am with Professor Charles Wright
CRN # 13784

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, modern humans have begun to reconsider their relationship with the biosphere. From one perspective, such rethinking is simply a matter of self-interest. Modern humans 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 examine the origins of the problem of environmental ethics in the philosophical thought of the European enlightenment. Following this review we will study the work of pioneering thinkers who seek to radically revise traditional human-centered conceptions of morality and who offer a vision of a human life rooted in ethical consideration for all living beings.

Feminist Ethics (ES) PHIL 325
TR at 12:45 pm with Professor Jean Keller CRN # 13169
TR at 2:20 pm with Professor Jean Keller CRN #13170

The U.S. women's movement is deeply indebted to the values of western liberalism.  The Declaration of Independence's assertion that "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal" provided feminists with the intellectual grounds to argue that women, too, should be equal, thereby allowing them to argue for and, after 70 years of struggle, to win the right to vote. In the 1960s and 70s, the concept of equal rights fueled feminist activism with regard to a range of diverse issues-from ending gender segregated job ads, eliminating quotas limiting the number of women who could go to college, ensuring that boys' and girls' sports received equal funding, activism to ensure that men and women would receive for equal pay for equal work, and working to end violence against women.

Despite these and other ways in which the women's movement has been predicated on the concepts of equality, individual rights, impartiality, autonomy, freedom, and fairness embedded in the justice tradition of western liberalism, in the past 30 years the field of feminist ethics has increasingly challenged the basic premises of this tradition.  Feminist ethicists have argued that the conceptual tools of this tradition are inadequate to bring about the fundamental conceptual and social changes necessary to eradicate the oppression of women.

In this course, we'll first familiarize ourselves with the basic presuppositions of feminist thought and the premises of the liberal justice tradition.  Then we'll engage and critically examine a range of feminist ethical perspectives that fundamentally challenge and provide alternatives to this tradition.  These feminist ethical approaches include: multiculturalism, care ethics and the dependency critique, global feminist concerns, and masculinity itself.  As we'll see, while there are a few common presuppositions to these feminist ethical theories, they are also marked by conflict and disagreement, allowing us to develop a rich and complex understanding of the state of feminist thinking today.

Medieval Philosophy (HM) PHIL 333 {cross listed to THEO 329B}
TR at 12:45 pm with Professor John Houston
CRN # 11584

What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?  What does such a question have to do with this course?  The answer to both of these questions is "Much!"  Medieval philosophy was characterized by the development of Greek philosophical thought and its synthesis with the principle doctrines of Christianity.  This synthesis was not always a happy one.  There is surprising variability between the philosophers who undertook this project.  We will study major figures from several continents, spanning over one thousand years, who attempted to offer a systematic account of the relation of philosophy to Christian doctrine.  If you have ever sought a systematic and sustained treatment of the relation between faith and reason, this is your course.  Our journey begins with Augustine, from whom eventually emerge both the monastic and scholastic philosophical traditions of the Middle Ages.  Boethius, Anselm, and Aquinas will receive the lion's share of the remaining time in the course.  We will give special attention to what each of these figures has to say about the relation of faith and reason; arguments for the existence of God; the nature and 'knowability' of God; the problem of universals; and the ultimate end of human life. 

Modern Philosophy (HM) PHIL 334
TR at 9:35 am with Professor Stephen Wagner
CRN # 10795

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 .

Philosophy of Violence/Non-Violence (HM) PHIL 355 {cross listed to PCST 343}
MWF at 10:20 am with Professor Rene McGraw, OSB
CRN # 13787

Classical and modern philosophy did not, in general, make the subject of violence and nonviolence an explicit theme of research.  Contemporary philosophers have begun to investigate the structure of violence and nonviolence on both an ethical and metaphysical level.  The first two thirds of the course will concentrate on the way that violence in the contemporary world is related to our love affair with technology.  The last third of the course will shift focus:  forgotten very often is our relationship to the other person, especially if the person is poor or the nation is of a different race or religion - an outsider.  At the heart of the first part of the course will be a long essay by Martin Heidegger, entitled Question Concerning Technology.  Surrounding that main text will be a magazine article by James Der Derian, which gives an overview of the philosophical terrain. The final third of the course will use Emmanuel Levinas' text Totality and Infinity to examine the place of the outsider, the Other and its implications for violence and non-violence.  Two exams.  One long paper.  Daily writing of a paragraph.  

PHIL 368B-01A Economics, Philosophy and Method (HM)
MWF at 10:20 am with Professor Dan Finn
CRN # 13785

An inquiry into the philosophy of social science and the methodology of economics. A survey of philosophical debates concerning what makes a "good" explanation in natural science and social science, and an examination of the debates within the history of economics concerning the requirements for good explanations of economic events. Prerequisite: Two courses in economics or two courses in philosophy.

HONR 350P-01A Souls, Selves & Persons (HM)
TR at 11:10 am with Professor Emily Esch
CRN # 13877

What am I? This question will be explored through the study of three periods marked by a change in scientific paradigms: the scientific revolution of the sixteenth and seventeenth century, the publication of Charles Darwin's Origin of Species in the nineteenth century and the rise of cognitive science in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. We'll read philosophers, scientists, historians, and novelists, as well as explore pieces by performance and visual artists. By the end of the course, you should have a basic understanding of different metaphysical views about human nature - from the claim that humans are fundamentally autonomous and independent to the view that human nature derives from the unique social bonds that we form. We will study various accounts of the relationship between the mind and the body, especially dualism and materialism, and how these theories are shaped by various philosophical and scientific commitments. In studying these topics, you will learn to recognize in past debates a reflection of contemporary struggles over human nature and our place in the natural world. No prerequisites.  (This course fulfills Major/Minor requirements)