Please update your web browser or disable Compatibility View.

Spring 2017

PHIL 121-01A Great Issues in Philosophy (HM)
Tuesday/Thursday
11:10am-12:30pm in Quad 361 with Professor Steve Wagner
CRN # 15388
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. 

PHIL 121-02A Great Issues in Philosophy (HM)
Monday/Wednesday/Friday
10:20-11:15am in Quad 361 with Professor Joseph Desjardins
CRN # 16668
This course will trace four of the "great issues" of philosophy through a survey of western philosophy.  We will enter into a conversation with some of the greatest minds in human history to examine questions of Ethics (How should I live my life?), Social Justice (How ought we live together in community?), Epistemology (How do we distinguish knowledge from mere opinion?), and Metaphysics (what is the nature of human beings? Is it rational to believe in a God?). 

We'll begin with Plato and consider what his philosophy (and, more briefly, Socrates and Aristotle) thought about these four great issues.  We'll then consider how Thomas Aquinas' natural law philosophy integrated Greek philosophy with Christianity to provide a philosophical and religious perspective on these four issues.  Next, by reading Hobbes, Descartes and Hume, we will examine how these issues were answered with the rise of science in the modern period.   We'll end the semester by reading some contemporary philosophers who address one or more of these issues.

PHIL 123 Philosophy of Human Nature (HM)
Tuesday/Thursday
123-01A at 9:35-10:55am in Quad 344 with Professor John Houston
CRN # 15846
123-02A at 12:45-2:05pm in Quad 339 with Professor John Houston
CRN # 15950
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 150-01A Philosophy in Literature (HM)
Monday/Wednesday/Friday
11:30am - 12:25pm in Quad 353 with Professor Rene McGraw, OSB
CRN # 16665
In Literature, people find a strong sense of the source of philosophy.  Like Amahl in Menotti's Amahl and the Night Visitors with each novel or short story or poem that we read, we can say with Amahl as he sings to his mother, "Do you see what I see?" and once we see something that we had not seen before or something we had not cared to look at ourselves, we can begin questioning, "What does all this mean?"  "What does it tell us about the world in which we live?"  "Who are we?  What is the world?  What is truth and freedom?"  Since college days Literature and philosophy have been dual passions in my soul.  This course gives me a chance to explore them-with Homer, with Emily Dickinson, with Tolstoy and Chekhov, with contemporary short stories.  Most of the literature, with the exception of Homer's Iliad will be on-line.  Requirements:  3 exams, daily writing, final paper. 

PHIL 321-01A Moral Philosophy (ES)
Tuesday/Thursday
9:35am-10:55am in Quad 361 with Professor Steve Wagner
CRN # 16743
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 331-01A Ancient Philosophy (HM)
Tuesday/Thursday
2:20pm-3:40pm in Quad 339 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.

PHIL 339-01A Chinese Philosophy (HM)
Tuesday/Thursday
8:00am-9:20am in Quad 353 with Professor Charles Wright
RN # 16959
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.

PHIL 365-01A Metaphysics (HM)
Monday/Wednesday/Friday
10:20am-11:15am in Quad 353 with Professor Rene McGraw
CRN # 16957
The defining moment for most philosophers is their response to the question, "What is the meaning of Being?"  Some philosophers will claim that the question is all important.  Others will say that the question is nonsense.  This year we will look at the text of Aristotle's Metaphysics and Heidegger's Introduction to Metaphysics to explore the question of the meaning of Being according to two thinkers who feel the question is central to the life of the philosopher. Two exams. One major paper.  

PHIL 388-01A Philosophy Capstone
Tuesday/Thursday
9:35am-10:55am in Quad 342 with Professor Dennis Beach
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 philosophically that emotions are value judgments-judgments about ourselves, about people important to us, and about events that we do not control but deem important for our own well-being. Her thesis is a revision of the Stoic perspective (she calls it "Neo-Stoic"), 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: she argues that appreciation of literature 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. Presentation on Scholarship and Creativity Day will be an integral element of this course.

ETHS 390 Ethics Common Seminar (ES) 
Democracy, Freedom and Inequality
Monday/Wednesday/Friday

390-01A at 8:00am-8:55am in Quad 353 with Professor Charles Wright
CRN # 17029
390-02A at 9:10am-10:05am in Quad 353 with Professor Charles Wright
CRN # 17030
In the United States today, most citizens tend to take for granted that liberty and equal treatment are fundamental parts of a just society.  But if asked what, exactly, these core values amount to, or how they are embedded in a representative democratic system, many citizens would have difficulty providing clear and informed answers.  The purpose of this class is to provide young citizens with an introduction to two sets of ideas articulated in the Western tradition of political philosophy and foundational for the American Republic.  The first is the nature of the freedoms and equality thought to be essential for a good human life.  The second is the supposition that the task of a liberal democratic republic is to protect these values.  Equipped with this philosophical knowledge, the class will then discuss the work of authors who document the ethical challenges and social harms created by consumer society, economic inequality, and the persisting legacy of racial discrimination in the United States.

ETHS 390-04A Ethics Common Seminar (ES) 
Business Ethics
Monday/Wednesday
1:50pm-3:10pm in Quad 361 with Professor Joe Desjardins
CRN # 17031
This course will trace four of the "great issues" of philosophy through a survey of western philosophy.  We will enter into a conversation with some of the greatest minds in human history to examine questions of Ethics (How should I live my life?), Social Justice (How ought we live together in community?), Epistemology (How do we distinguish knowledge from mere opinion?), and Metaphysics (what is the nature of human beings? Is it rational to believe in a God?). 

We'll begin with Plato and consider what his philosophy (and, more briefly, Socrates and Aristotle) thought about these four great issues.  We'll then consider how Thomas Aquinas' natural law philosophy integrated Greek philosophy with Christianity to provide a philosophical and religious perspective on these four issues.  Next, by reading Hobbes, Descartes and Hume, we will examine how these issues were answered with the rise of science in the modern period.   We'll end the semester by reading some contemporary philosophers who address one or more of these issues.

ETHS 390 Ethics Common Seminar (ES)
Others
Tuesday/Thursday

390-08A at 12:45pm-2:05pm in Quad 365 with Professor Tony Cunningham
CRN # 15591
390-12A at 2:20pm-3:40pm in Quad 365 with Professor Tony Cunningham
CRN # 14775
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 (ES)
Ethics in Everyday Life
Tuesday/Thursday

390-09A at 12:45pm-2:05pm in Quad 343 with Professor Jean Keller
CRN # 15151
390-11A at 2:20pm-3:40pm in Quad 343 with Professor Jean Keller
CRN # 14780
Students face a variety of ethical challenges in their daily lives. Finding the right balance between one's obligations to self and to others in one's friendships, romantic life, work life, and family life are one set of ethical concerns.   Daily news headlines, that highlight challenging and seemingly intractable social problems, bring our attention to another.  In this course we'll address ethical issues in everyday life, ranging from the ethics of interpersonal relationships to our obligations as informed citizens with regard to the pressing social problems of our day. We'll study contemporary moral theories (virtue ethics, care ethics, deontology) and debates within moral theory and use this theoretical understanding to engage problems posed by students' own lives and by news headlines.

HONR 390-01A Ethics Common Seminar (ES)
Reading for Life
Tuesdays

6:15pm-9:15pm in Quad 344 with Professor Tony Cunningham
CRN # 16456
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)
The Remains of the Day (Kazuo Ishiguro)
Beloved (Toni Morrison)
How To Be Good (Nick Hornby)
Glengarry Glen Ross (David Mamet)
Cold Mountain (Charles Frazier)   
A Constellation of Vital Phenomena (Anthony Marra)