Spring 2015

PHIL 121-01A Great Issues in Philosophy (HM)
MWF 10:20-11:15am with Professor Steve Wagner in Quad 361
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 123 Philosophy of Human Nature (HM) 
MWF 12:40-1:35pm with Professor Erica Stonestreet in Quad 344
CRN #: 15950 (PHIL 123-02A)
MWF 1:50-2:45pm with Professor Erica Stonestreet in Quad 344
CRN #: 15846 (PHIL 123-01A)
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?  What is a soul?  How can human life be meaningful?  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 three major aspects of the human condition: body, mind, and spirit.  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 150-01A Social Philosophy (HM)
TR 11:10am-12:30pm with Professor Rene McGraw, OSB in Quad 343
CRN #: 15847
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 156-01A Asian Philosophy (HM)
TR 8:00-9:20am with Professor Charles Wright in Quad 353
CRN #: 16357
We will engage in careful study of wisdom teachings from the Hindu, Buddhist, Daoist and Shinto traditions.   In the Hindu tradition we will read the Bhagavad Gita.  Buddhist teachings will be taken primarily from the Theravada scriptures, though there will be a brief introduction to the Mahayana tradition as well.  The Taoist tradition will be approached through the Lao Tzu (a.k.a. the Tao Te Ching).  We'll read an introduction to Shinto beliefs and then finish the class with a text that illustrates how the philosophy of the martial art Aikido weaves insights from all four of these traditions together.  This course has a practical component requiring a minimum of one hour of meditation practice per week in addition to class meetings. 

PHIL 321-01A Moral Philosophy (ES)
MWF 9:10-10:05am with Professor Steve Wagner in Quad 361
CRN #: 15393
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 322-01A Environmental Ethics (ES)
MWF 8:00-8:55am with Professor Charles Wright in Quad 353
CRN #: 16356
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) This course carries a Gender Designation (GE)
Tuesday evenings with Jason Barrett in Quad 349
CRN #: 16418 (PHIL 325-01A)
Monday evenings with Jason Barrett in Quad 353
CRN #: 16477 (PHIL 325-02A)
This course will examine how women's experiences and philosophical reflection on those experiences offer important and necessary perspectives in the field of moral and ethical thinking. Topics will include the nature of feminism, freedom and oppression; the role of care, trust, autonomy, reason and emotion in the moral life, and a consideration of how feminism has come to challenge basic premises and conceptual tools of traditional approaches to ethics and moral reasoning (e.g., the Western liberal democracy, etc.) The course will also explore social/ethical issues stemming from the intersection of gender with race, ethnicity, culture, class, sexuality.

PHIL 331-01A Ancient Philosophy (HM)
TR 12:45-2:05pm with Professor John Houston in Quad 349
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
MWF 10:20-11:15am with Professor Charles Wright in Quad 349
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.

PHIL 365-01A  Metaphysics
TR 9:35-10:55am with Professor Rene McGraw, OSB in Quad 353
CRN #:16358
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 only 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 thinker. Two exams. One major paper. 

HONR 230G-01A  Philosophy  of Music
TR 11:10am-12:30pm with Professor Erica Stonestreet and Brian Campbell in Quad 353
CRN #: 16315
Philosophy of Music will help students reflect more deeply on their experiences of music.  Most people experience music on a basic level of emotion and are left with an overall impression; those educated in music are able to more readily recognize forms, musical references, and context in more detail.  But few of either group has thought systematically about what music is, whether music possesses meaning, and, if so, how that meaning is conveyed or expressed. These are central issues in the philosophy of music and will be central issues in our course. We will begin by giving some attention to the history of musical aesthetics to develop a context for the questions that will be broached, but the greatest emphasis will on exploring the questions in the context of our world today. The course will present divergent philosophical theories that will be considered with respect to a wide range of music including Western "classical" music, music of non-Western cultures, and the popular music many of us enjoy.

PHIL 388-01A Philosophy Capstone
TR 2:20-3:40pm with Professor Emily Esch in Quad 347
CRN #: 15952
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. This year's capstone focuses on the topic, knowing thyself. We will read three books: Robert Nozick's The Examined Life, Lorraine Code's What Can She Know? and Hilary Kornblith's On Reflection.

HONR 250S-01A Philosophy & Gender (HM)
TR 2:20-3:40pm with Professor Jean Keller in Quad 349
CRN #: 16316  (this course restricted to Honors students)
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 examine and debate definitions 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.

ETHS 390 Ethics Common Seminar (ES)
Ethics in Everyday Life
MWF 12:40-1:35pm with Professor Jean Keller in Quad 339
CRN #: 15151 (ETHS 390-01A)
MWF 1:50-2:45pm with Professor Jean Keller in Quad 339
CRN #: 14780 (ETHS 390-04A)
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.\

ETHS 390-09A EThics Common Seminar (ES)
TR 2:20-3:40pm with Professor Tony Cunningham in Quad 353
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)
Good, Evil & the Limitations of Human Nature
Monday evenings 6:15-9:15pm with Professor John Houston in Quad 365
CRN #: 14778 (ETHS 390-10A)
Wednesday evening 6:15-9:15pm with Professor John Houston in Quad 361
CRN #: 16157 (ETHS 390-13A)
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 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.

ETHS 390-12A Ethics Common Seminar (ES)
Reading for Life
Tuesday evenings 6:15-9:15pm with Professor Tony Cunningham in Quad 353
CRN #: 15591
HONR 390C-01A
Reading for Life (this course restricted to Honors students)

Monday evenings 6:15-9:15pm with Professor Tony Cunningham in Quad 353
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)
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)