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Fall 2015

PHIL 110-01A  Logic
MWF 1:50-2:45pm with Professor Stonestreet in Quad 343
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, and to help you see logical structure in arguments from the real world.  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 Great Issues in Philosophy (HM)
MWF 12:40-1:35pm with Professor Dennis Beach, OSB, in Quad 344
CRN #:12534
Is the way things appear to us the way they really are? If not, do we have any access to the way things really are? How? And if we don’t, how could we ever know or even suspect that the way things appear to us isn’t the way they really are? These questions have been with philosophers ever since humankind began to wonder about themselves and the world they live in. And when the questions change from “What is true about the physical nature of the world?” to “What is beauty?” “What is goodness or virtue?” or “Is there a God and can we know anything about this God?” the problem becomes yet more urgent. We will explore the relation of our knowing to the world first through a contemporary introduction to the problem, and then by looking at the stands taken by representative philosophers on the question of human knowing: Plato and Socrates, Rene Descartes, Bertrand Russell, and José Ortega y Gasset.

PHIL 123 Philosophy of Human Nature (HM)
TR 9:35-10:55am with Professor John Houston in Quad 339
CRN #: 14115 (PHIL 123-02A)
TR 11:10am-12:30pm with Professor John Houston in Quad 252
CRN #: 12785 (PHIL 123-01A)
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 Social Philosophy (HM)
MWF 10:20-11:15am with Professor Rene McGraw, OSB, in Quad 353 
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.

PHIL 153-01A Philosophy and Gender (HM) (GE)
MWF 11:30am-12:25pm with Professor Jean Keller in Quad 349
CRN #: 14444
As a field of study, philosophy has searched for thousands of years for the true, timeless, and universal answers to life’s eternal questions—such as--what is a person, what can I know, how should I live, what are the legitimate aims/goals of the state and what limits should be set on its coercive power? With the injection of feminist and gender concerns into philosophy, particularly since the 1970s, philosophy’s answers to these questions have begun to change.

In this course, we’ll  critically examine conceptions of gender, feminism, sexuality, race, and racism, then explore what new questions, problems, and insights these concerns bring to traditional branches of philosophy—ethics, theories of knowledge, theories of human nature, and political philosophy.

PHIL 156-01A Asian Philosophy (HM)
TR 8:00-9:20am with Professor Charles Wright in Quad 344
CRN #: 14445
We will engage in careful study of the philosophical thought of the Buddhist, Confucian, Daoist and Shinto traditions as well as the wisdom teachings of the Japanese martial art Aikido, which weaves these four philosophies together.  In addition to weekly practice of Aikido this course also requires one hour of contemplative practice per week outside of class meetings.

PHIL 321 Moral Philosophy (ES)
MWF 10:20-11:15am with Professor Erica Stonestreet in Quad 361
CRN #:  12784  (PHIL 321-01A)
MWF 11:30am-12:25pm with Professor Erica Stonestreet in Quad 339
CRN #:  14442  (PHIL 321-02A)
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 significant 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.​

PHIL 322 Environmental Ethics (ES)
MWF 8:00-8:55am with Professor Charles Wright in Quad 347
CRN # 13784 (PHIL 322-01A)
MWF 9:10-10:05am with Professor Charles Wright in Quad 347
CRN #: 14117 (PHIL 322-02A)
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.  When considering the question what any one person can do, the scale of many environmental problems can be overwhelming.  What can one person do about global warming?  About acid rain?  About toxic superfund sites?  This class attempts to bring ethical questions about the relationship between humans and the environment down to a human scale.  We will examine the ethical implications of choices and decisions that students already make every day and that most of you will be making in the relatively near future.  The goal of the class is to help us to realize that environmental problems are not just big issues out there caused by big organizations (governments, corporations, NGOs) and calling for big solutions of some kind.  We will see that we enact our environmental ethics with everyday habits, choices, and decisions.  If the class is successful, students will have a fuller understanding of what those habits, choices and decisions are and what they might do differently.

PHIL 325 Feminist Ethics (ES)
TR 12:45-2:05pm with Professor Jean Keller in Quad 339
CRN # 13169 (PHIL 325-01A)
TR 2:20-3:40pm with Professor Jean Keller in Quad 339
CRN #: 13170 (PHIL 325-02A)
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, to eliminating quotas limiting the number of women who could go to college, ensuring that boys’ and girls’ sports received equal funding, and activism to ensure that men and women would receive equal pay for equal work.

Despite these and other ways in which the women's movement has been predicated on the concepts of equality, individual rights, 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 fundamentally misundersand key aspects of women's lives and experiences and are inadequate to bring about the conceptual and social changes necessary to eradicate the oppresssion of women.

While feminist ethics has been developed in many different directions, in this course we will examine multiple variants of care ethics, tracing its development from a "women's" ethic of interpersonal relationships to a critical tool for examining global inequalities.

PHIL 333-01A Medieval Philosophy (HM)
Cross listed with THEO 329B
For TU credit sign up for CRN # 14627
TR 2:20-3:40pm with Professor John Houston in Quad 353
For PHIL credit sign up for CRN #: 14443
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;  and the ultimate end of human life. 

PHIL 334-01A Modern Philosophy (HM)
TR 9:35-10:55am with Professor Steve Wagner in Quad 361
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 355-01A Philosophy of Violence/Non-Violence (HM)
Cross listed with PCST 343
MWF 12:40-1:35pm with Professor Rene McGraw, OSB, in Quad 361
CRN #: 14441
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.  

HONR 350S-01A Philosophy of Knowledge (HM) (GE)
TR 11:10am-12:30pm with Professor Emily Esch in Quad 344
CRN #: 14512
What do you think you know and how do you think you know it? In this course we’ll explore the idea that acquiring knowledge is not as straightforward as it appears. We’ll be looking at the foundations of the academic experience and the different methods scholars use to support and maintain their research, including, among others, biologists, philosophers, historians, and economists.  Two topics will guide our readings and discussions: one, the relationship between power and social inequity and two, the impossibility of conducting research free of social and ethical values. This course should be of interest to all majors and especially to those interested in thinking critically about implicit assumptions underpinning the professional pursuit of knowledge.

ETHS 390-09A Ethics Common Seminar: Others (ES)
TR 2:20-3:40pm with Professor Tony Cunningham in Quad 343
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.

ETHS 390 Ethics Common Seminar: Reading for Life (ES)
Monday evenings 6:15-9:15pm with Professor Tony Cunningham in Quad 343
CRN #: 12609 (ETHS 390-12A)
Tuesday evenings 6:15-9:15pm with Professor Tony Cunningham in Quad 343
CRN #: 12566 (ETHS 390-13A)
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)
The Narrow Road to the Deep North (Richard Flanagan)