S 2014

SPRING 2014

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

Great Issues in Philosophy (HM) PHIL 121-01A
TR at 11:10 am in Quad 339 with Professor Emily Esch
CRN #15388
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 123-01A
MWF at 1:50 pm in Quad 344 with Professor Erica Stonestreet
CRN # 15846
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.

Philosophy of Human Nature (HM) PHIL 123
MWF at 9:10 am  in Quad 360 with Professor John Houston  CRN #15950
MWF at 10:20 am in Quad 343 with Professor John Houston  CRN #15951
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 125-01A

MWF at 11:30 am in Quad 339 with Professor David McPherson
CRN # 15847
In this course we will explore the nature and significance of community in human life. We will begin by discussing the way in which human beings are by nature communal animals. This will include discussing not only how we are naturally drawn to community but also how community makes possible our specifically human form of life (especially in virtue of language acquisition) and enables us to realize what is noblest and best about human nature. We will also consider how bad community can be corrupting. We will examine what it is for a community to be bad and what it is for a community to be good. We will discuss the nature and significance of different types of community - e.g., interpersonal friendship, family life, religious and interreligious community, racial and interracial community, local community, national community, and universal community - and consider their problems or possible problems and seek solutions to such problems. We will examine the importance of place, time, and shared values, activities, and experiences for community. We will explore some of the major challenges for community in the modern world (e.g., individualism, the 'market society', industrialization, urbanization, secularization, etc.). We will discuss the ways in which technology (e.g., phones, social media, etc.) may help and hinder genuine community. Finally, we will consider the importance of community for a well-functioning democratic society.

Moral Philosophy (ES) PHIL 321-01A
TR at 12:45 pm in Quad 347 with Professor Jean Keller
CRN #: 15393
What does living the morally good life require of us?  How can we distinguish between right and wrong actions?  Is moral thinking and are moral obligations the same for all of us, or do they vary depending on who a person is or what situation they find themselves in?  What role do friends play in living a good life? We will examine the answers to these and other questions by reading selections from Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics, Immanuel Kant's Grounding for A Metaphysics of Morals, John Stuart Mill's Utilitarianism, and an Virginia Held's The ethic of Care.  Themes to be discussed include: the role of reason and emotion, impartiality and partiality in moral deliberation; how good moral character is cultivated; what kind of life is most likely to make a person happy; gender and ethics; friendship.

Ancient Philosophy (HM) PHIL 331-01A
TR at 9:35 am in Quad 343 with Professor John Houston
CRN #: 12316
This is a first course in the history of philosophy in antiquity, covering major figures of almost an entire millennium. Special focus will be given to the works of Plato and Aristotle. The course is divided into three main periods. The first period is that of the Presocratics. Beginning with Thales of Miletus in the 6th century BC, we will examine the emergence of philosophy in the ancient western world. We will pay special attention to the answers these early philosophers gave to the following questions: what is it to be real? Is knowledge possible? If so, what are the proper objects of knowledge? Presocratic responses to these questions betrayed a rejection of conventional wisdom, and an attempt to replace it with a more informed view.  We will work hard to understand the answers they provided to these questions. Next we will turn to Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. They would not only respond to these questions, but would attempt to answer another:  what is the chief good or best life for a human being? We will examine what Plato and Aristotle held in common, as well as where they diverged when addressing these questions. In the final part of the course we will survey some of the major philosophical responses to Aristotelian philosophy that emerged in Epicureanism and Stoicism. We will especially attend to what these philosophers had to say about nature, divinity, and the best life for a human being, and how their accounts differed substantially from that of Aristotle.

Chinese Philosophy (ES) PHIL 339-01A
MWF at 9:10am in Qud 353 with Professor Charles Wright
CRN #: 15100
Through the close reading and discussion of texts foundational for Chinese civilization students will explore alternative approaches to thinking about the world, ordering social relations, and defining ethical obligations to others. The class will consider whether these alternatives can serve as a mirror with which to critically examine Western beliefs and habits of mind. We start with The Geography of Thought in which psychologist Richard Nisbett presents experimental evidence documenting the different approaches to understanding life and reality characteristic of East Asian and Western European societies. We then turn to foundational statements of the Chinese point of view as found in the moral and political teachings of the Analects of Confucius and in the writing of Mencius. Contemporary American political theorist Daniel Bell will then show how this Confucian point of view lives on in parts of East Asia and that for substantial portions of the world's population it may represent a compelling alternative to the liberal democratic tradition of the West. The class will finish by taking up the work of ancient Chinese Daoist tradition - Laozi's Tao Te Ching and the Zhuangzi. These texts will introduce us that individualism is an obstacle to wisdom and that insight into the true nature of reality cannot be achieved through logic or language.

20th Century Continental Philosophy (HM) PHIL 341-01A
TR at 11:10am in Quad 457 with Professor Rene McGraw, OSB
CRN #: 15955
Being and Time of Martin Heidegger will be the sole text which we use in the course.  Martin Heidegger (1889 - 1976) shaped the way that Continental Philosophy in Europe has thought about Being and Truth and Time and Freedom and Guilt and Responsibility.  Perhaps no other philosopher has so shifted the way that I see the world and my place in it.  Two exams, daily writing, one final paper. 

Philosophy of Religion (TU) PHIL 346-01A
MWF at 10:20am in Quad 457 with Professor Rene McGraw, OSB
CRN #: 15953
Human life longs for meaning.  We sometimes invent meaning in order to carry on in our daily lives.  But even more often we find that meaning in family and friends and work and sometimes in God and faith.  We talk about religious experience and the meaning it might give to our lives.  The focus of the course will be on religious experience and desire - their reality and reliability for the believer and non-believer or, on the contrary, their chimerical character for the non-believer and more cautious believer.  We will also look at this religious experience and desire from the perspective of theological thinking.  Requirements:  two tests; daily writing; one final paper.

Philosophy of Mind (HM) PHIL 367-01A
Wednesdays at 6:15pm in Quad 349 with Professor Emily Esch
CRN #: 15952
This course explores a number of issues of interest to contemporary philosophers of mind and cognitive scientists.  These include:  the nature of consciousness and how we should study it, the relationship between the mind, the body, and the world, psychopathology and what it can teach us about how we think, the problem of personal identity, the relevance of language to thought and the implications for how we should understand animal minds, and, finally, how to determine whether a machine can think.  In addition to being a general introduction to these topics, this course is designed with a particular interdisciplinary aim:  to examine how the empirical work of cognitive science informs the theories of contemporary philosophers.

Philosophy Capstone PHIL 388-01A
Mondays at 6:15pm in Quad 361 with Dennis Beach, OSB
CRN #: 15952
This course will use as its core text Martha Nussbaum's Upheavals of Thought: The Intelligence of Emotions (Cambridge: CUP, 2001). In this work, Nussbaum argues for a philosophical view of the emotions as value judgments about people we love and about events that we do not control but that we deem important for our own well-being. Her thesis is a revision of the "neo-Stoic" perspective, but the importance and value she ascribes to emotion is nothing like Stoic apathy. The view of the emotions that she develops has normative implications and she argues that appreciation of literature, music and the arts which attune our emotional intelligence forms an essential element of our moral education as human beings. The Philosophy Capstone requires Senior Philosophy majors to cultivate and demonstrate the ability to work independently on philosophical texts, to integrate a variety of resources and materials into their studies, and to present, discuss and write about these ideas and material for and with peers and mentors.

Adoption, Ethics & the Family (ES) ETH390
MWF at 12:40 pm in Quad 343 with Jean Keller
CRN # 15151
MWF at 1:50 pm in Quad 343 with Jean Keller
CRN # 14780
Nearly 6 out of 10 Americans have a personal experience with adoption-meaning that they, a family member, or a close friend were either adopted, adopted a child, or placed a child for adoption (Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute).  This widespread and increasingly accepted social practice nonetheless raises a number of ethical questions.  Should adoptees have the legal right to access their original birth records, or should such records be sealed, as a way to protect the privacy of birthmothers? Is international adoption a benevolent practice that serves the best interests of children, or an exploitative practice in which privileged (usually white) first world persons selfishly satisfy their desire to have children? Why are so many African American children in foster care and do present day social policies in the U.S. serve the well-being of these children or perpetuate a history of U.S. racism?
This course will address these questions and more. Rather than understanding adoption as "good" or "bad", adoption will be examined as a complex and multifaceted social practice informed by deeply entrenched systems of power, privilege, and disadvantage.  Using adoption as our lens, we will investigate some of the legacies of gender inequality, racism, and global inequality and how they structure the modern day family.  Adoption will be studied from a range of personal, theoretical, historical, and ethical perspectives, highlighting the voices of adoptees, but also addressing the perspectives of birthmothers, adoptive parents and adoption researchers. 

Food, Sex and the Good Life (ES) ETH390
MWF at 12:40pm in Quad 353 with David McPherson
CRN # 15858
MWF at 1:50 pm in Quad 341 with David McPherson
CRN # 14781
In this course we will reflect ethically upon two powerful desires that human beings have in common with other animals: the desire for food and sexual desire. We will explore the distinctive ways that these desires are understood and pursued within our human form of life as rational, linguistic, meaning-seeking animals. We will especially consider how these desires are shaped by linguistically-constituted meanings such that they can be seen as part of a normatively higher, more worthwhile, more meaningful way of life; in short, as part of 'the good life'.
In regard to food, we will examine issues such as: the distinction between fine dining and plain eating; the role of food as the locus of human community and connection to the natural world; the importance of viewing eating as an agricultural act; the connection between eating and environmental and animal ethics; the problems of the food industry and modern eating practices; the nature and significance of virtues related to eating such as temperance, gratitude, reverence, humility, etc. and practices such as fasting and feasting; and the possibility of regarding eating as a 'spiritual exercise'.  
In regard to sex, we will examine issues such as: the distinction between sex as a communion between persons and plain sex (or erotic love vs. lust) and what is ethically at stake in it; 'traditional' vs. 'liberal' sexual ethics; the nature of chastity and whether it is a virtue today; the problems of our 'sexualized' culture; the wrongness of sexual objectification and use and its relationship to the concept of a person; and the ethical issues surrounding pornography, casual sex (i.e., 'hooking up'), promiscuity, marriage and family life, etc. 
Possible readings include selections from: Leon Kass's The Hungry Soul: Eating and the Perfecting of Our Nature; The Ethics of Food, ed. Gregory E. Pence; Wendell Berry's The Art of the Commonplace; Norman Wirzba's Food and Faith; Sex and Ethics: Sexuality, Virtue, and the Good Life, ed. Raja Halwani; Karol Wojtyla's Love and Responsibility; Roger Scruton's Sexual Desire: A Philosophical Analysis; Simon Blackburn's Lust; and The Philosophy of Sex, ed. Alan Soble.

Business Ethics (ES) ETH390
Tuesday/Thursday at 11:10 am in Quad 344 with Erica Stonestreet
CRN # 15590
Tuesday/Thursday at 12:45 pm in Quad 343 with Erica Stonestreet
CRN # 14775
This is an ethics course with a business focus.  We will look at a number of important ethical issues that arise in the business world. Such issues include corporations' social responsibilities, the rights and responsibilities of employees, the ethics of marketing, environmental responsibility and global issues. We will also discuss the meaning and value that people find in work. At the beginning of the course we'll cover several ethical frameworks that contemporary philosophers and ethicists look to for insight in handling particular ethical problems; throughout the course we will discuss whether such frameworks shed light on the particular business ethics issues that we address, and if so, how.

Reading for Life (ES) HONR390-01A
Participation is restricted to Honors students
Monday evenings at 6:15 pm in Quad 349 with Tony Cunningham
CRN # 15472
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)

Environmental Ethics ETH390
MWF at 9:10 am in Quad 446 with visiting Professor Gerhard Zecha
CRN # 16150
MWF at 11:10 am in Quad 446 with visiting Professor Gerhard Zecha
CRN # 16151
This course investigates a variety of ethical issues that arise from consideration of the relation between humans and the non-human natural world (i.e., the environment, animals, land, ecosystems, wilderness areas). This course will introduce students to the basic concepts of environmental ethics, to specific ethical issues associated with environmental policy, and to philosophical theorizing about the environment.