Fall 2014

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

PHIL 110-01A (HM) Logic
MWF at 10:20am  in Quad 343 with Professor Erica Stonestreet
CRN # 14114

Logic was developed to make the principles of good reasoning explicit and to systematize inquiry in mathematics and the physical sciences.   This course is intended to introduce you to the basics of formal symbolic logic.  It differs from an introduction to informal logic in that it will deal mostly with symbols; it is thus more like a mathematics course than a course in critical thinking, though there will be some of both.
We will study two main approaches to reasoning: deductive and inductive.  We'll begin by learning how to transcribe arguments from English sentences into symbols.  Then, thinking deductively, we'll develop two ways of assessing the arguments: syntactically (in terms of the forms of argument) and semantically (in terms of preserving truth).  Thinking inductively, we'll discuss probability and arguments by analogy.

PHIL 121-01A (HM) Great Issues in Philosophy
TR at 12:45pm in Quad 344 with Professor Emily Esch
CRN # 12534

This writing intensive course introduces you to philosophy through the examination of some of philosophy's biggest questions.  The course may include the following topics: the relationship between the mind and body, personal identity, morality, free will, and the nature of knowledge.  In respective order, these are some of the questions which fall under each topic.  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?  In particular, do we have knowledge of the external world or is it possible that we're in some Matrix-like scenario? 

PHIL 123 (HM) Philosophy of Human Nature
123-01A MWF at 12:40pm in Quad 339 with Professor Erica Stonestreet CRN # 11223
123-02A MWF at 1:50pm in Quad 339 with Professor Erica Stonestreet CRN # 12785

What are humans like?  What is the purpose of human life?  These basic questions can be answered from different points of view, and focused on different aspects of being human.  What does it mean to be a human animal?  Are we fundamentally selfish?  How should we live?  What is the connection between body and mind, or body and soul?  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'll 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.

PHIL 123-03A (HM) Philosophy of Human Nature
TR at 9:35am in Quad 261 with Professor John Houston
CRN #: 14115

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.   

PHIL 125-01A (HM) Social Philosophy
MWF at 9:10am in Quad 339 with Jason Barrett *
CRN #: 13165

An introduction to philosophical questioning through a study of the human in society. Questions that might be treated: the meaning of society; individual and society; society and law; economy and society; work as social phenomenon; society and freedom; world of culture and society; violence and nonviolence; philosophy of power; philosophy of conflict in community; political philosophy.

* This course is listed as being taught by D. McPherson but will be taught by SJU Alumnus and Ph.D. candidate Jason Barrett

PHIL 321-01A (ES) Moral Philosophy
TR at 11:10am in Quad 361 with Professor Steve Wagner
CRN #: 12784

We will first consider some of the most prominent moral theories in the tradition of western philosophical thought, such as the views of Aristotle, John Stuart Mill and Immanuel Kant. We will analyze their views to see if they provide adequate guides for living a good life. We will then turn to a number of contemporary moral views which claim to offer variations or alternatives to the classical models-such as feminist ethics, virtue ethics, and the use of literary texts to develop moral points of view. Most of our work will be through class discussion of our readings. Our focus throughout will be to consider whether we can find guidance for our own lives in the moral views we will consider.

PHIL 322 (ES) Environmental Ethics
322-01A MWF at 8:00am in Quad 261 with Professor Charles Wright CRN # 13784
322-02A MWF at 9:10am in Quad 261 with Professor Charles Wright CRN # 14117

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?  In this class students will investigate a variety of ethical perspectives on the human relationship with nonhuman animals and the earth's living systems by studying 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.

PHIL 325 (ES) Feminist Ethics
325-01A TR at 12:45pm in Quad 339 with Professor Jean Keller CRN # 13169
325-02A TR at 2:20pm in Quad 339 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.  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.

PHIL 334-01A (HM) Modern Philosophy
TR at 9:35am in Quad 361 with Professor Steve 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.

PHIL 336 19th Century European Philosophy- Marx (HM)
MWF at 9:10am in Quad 361 with Professor Rene McGraw, OSB
CRN #: 14118

With the fall of the Berlin Wall and the even greater fall of the Soviet Union and its replacement by some form of capitalist market system, the death knell for Marxism was ringing across the country.  But as Mark Twain said, "The report of my death was an exaggeration."  Marx remains a germinal thinker in the nineteenth century.  His philosophy remains alive in the twenty-first century and is increasingly important as both capitalism and socialism are associated with corruption.  To where do we go?  Perhaps a good place to start is going back to the seminal texts:  for Marx the text we will use is the Grundrisse (the title of the translation continues to use the German title).  How does Marx see the meaning of human community?  What does truth mean to him?  Where do money and capital fit into his understanding of the world?  How does political life relate to philosophical life?  Two exams.  Daily writing.  One longer paper.

PHIL 356-01A (HM) Aesthetics of Violence/Non-Violence
cross listed with PCST 345A
TR at 12:45pm in Quad 361 with Professor Rene McGraw, OSB
CRN #: 14119

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 [which awakens a feeling 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 Mikel Dufrenne'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. 

HONR 350P-01A (HM) Souls, Selves & Persons
TR at 11:10am in Quad 344 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.

GEND 380-01A (HM) Approaches to Gender Theory
MWF at 12:40pm in Quad 343 with Professor Jean Keller
CRN #: 13514

Approaches to Gender Theory provides an overview of contemporary theoretical perspectives on gender studies, including feminist theory, GLBT/queer theory, theory of men's studies, and transnational feminisms.  Students will be required to critically examine these diverse theoretical approaches to gender studies and to analyze key disputes within the field. Students of philosophy will learn how contemporary philosophers have contributed to the field of gender studies, often by utilizing resources within the philosophical tradition. Gender Studies students will develop a framework that will allow them to identify, examine, and see the relations among the diverse theoretical approaches to gender studies encountered in Gender Studies courses.

ETHS390-09A (ES) Ethics Common Seminar
TR at 2:20pm in Quad 343 with Professor Tony Cunningham
CRN #: 14218

We share our lives by both necessity and design with others.  Born utterly dependent, we rely entirely upon the care and kindness of others for our very survival.  Even when we no longer depend upon others to feed, clothe, and protect us, we must figure out what sorts of responsibilities we bear to others and what responsibilities they have to us.  Some people may seem relatively distant, bound to us only in the basic sense that we share in some common humanity.  Others can seem so important to us that we might not wish to go on without them.  In this course we'll examine the responsibilities we bear to each other in various respects-as human beings, as friends, as family, as brothers and sisters in common causes.  We'll also look at the ways in which people turn their backs on others and misuse them in cruel and oppressive ways.  Using sources drawn from philosophy, literature, history, memoir, and the social sciences, we'll put our minds to what we owe others and what others owe us.

ETHS390-11A (ES) Ethics Common Seminar
Good, Evil & the Limitations of Human Nature
Mondays at 6:15pm in Quad 361 with Professor John Houston
CRN #: 14220

All of us are familiar with the terms "good" and "evil". Furthermore, we have all at some time used these terms in reference to persons or their actions. This phenomenon is the focal point of this class. In this course we will seek to address a variety of questions related to good and evil. Some of these questions include: What are the conceptual origins of our judgments about good and evil? Can we objectively say of some actions or persons that they are good or evil?-Or do terms like good and evil merely serve as expressions of our individual preferences? In virtue of what do we describe people as good or evil? Are some people born evil and others good, or do they become so? If they become so, how does this happen? Philosophers, Psychologists, and famous literary personalities have grappled with these questions. We will draw upon their resources to reflect on these questions and attempt to articulate our own answers to them. In this course students will be required to read, think, write, attend class, and contribute to thoughtful dialogue.

ETHS390 (ES) Ethics Common Seminar
Reading for Life
390-12A Mondays at 6:15pm in Quad 353 with Tony Cunningham CRN #: 12609
390-13A Tuesdays at 6:15pm in Quad 353 with Tony Cunningham CRN #: 12566

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. 
Our readings will include:  
The Crucible (Arthur Miller)
Ransom (David Malouf)
The Remains of the Day (Kazuo Ishiguro)
Beloved (Toni Morrison)
Hecuba (Euripides)
How To Be Good  (Nick Hornby)
Glengarry Glen Ross (David Mamet)
Cold Mountain (Charles Frazier)