Spring 2019

Courses taught by CSB/SJU philosophers Spring 2019:

PHIL 121-01A Great Issues in Philosophy (HM)
9:35-10:55am 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 Great Issues in Philosophy (HM)
Section 121-02A
Tuesday/Thursday from 12:45-2:05pm in Quad 339 with Professor John Houston
CRN # 17508
Section 121-03A
Tuesday/Thursday from 2:20-3:40pm in Quad 339 with Professor John Houston
CRN # 17509

There are perennial philosophical questions that every generation of human beings must confront. In this course we will be considering some of them while drawing on the historical framework of Western philosophy. These include, but are not limited to: What is knowledge, and how do we “know” when we have it? Are there moral facts? Do human beings have free will? Does God exist? What does it mean “to believe in God”? What is death, and what are its implications for our lives? What is the meaning of life—and while we are at it, what is the meaning of that question in the first place?  We will ponder these and other questions as we boldly go where all others have gone before us.

PHIL 123-01A Philosophy of Human Nature (HM)
1:50-2:45am 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 role of reason in defining humanity?

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. 

​Using a textbook that contains sources from "classic" European philosophy as well as ​from outside that tradition, 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 155-01A Philosophy of Race & Ethnicity (HM)
11:10am-12:30pm in Quad 344 with Professor Emily Esch
CRN # 17507

This course explores philosophical questions surrounding race and ethnicity. The course will examine both the historical evolution of racial concepts and contemporary debates around topics like racial disparities in wealth, immigration policies, and barriers to political participation. Questions to be explored might include: Is race biological or is it a social construct? What does it mean to have a racial identity? How has race and ethnicity influenced how we understand citizenship on the United States? What moral obligations might we have to rectify past wrongs?

PHIL 321 Moral Philosophy (ES)
Section 321-01A
Monday/Wednesday/Friday from 10:20-11:15a.m. in Quad 344 with Professor Erica Stonestreet
CRN # 16743
Section 321-02A
Monday/Wednesday/Friday from 11:30a.m.-12:25p.m in Quad 344 with Professor Erica Stonestreet
CRN # 17501

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 325 Feminist Ethics (ES)
Section 325-01A
Tuesday/Thursday from 12:45-2:05p.m. in Quad 349 with Professor Jean Keller
CRN # 17505
Section 325-02A
Tuesday/Thursday from 2:20-3:40p.m. in Quad 349 with Professor Jean Keller
CRN # 17506

Ethical theory asks: what are the ethical norms, rules, and values we need to abide by to live together in cooperative, mutually beneficial, and fair social arrangements?

Feminist ethical theory extends and challenges this long tradition, by bringing an explicit concern with gender, intersectionality, and the elimination of social injustice into the field of ethics.

In this course, we’ll examine multiple perspectives on feminist ethics: maternal ethics, care ethics, theories of privilege and oppression, intersectionality, and post-colonial feminist ethics.  We will use these theories to evaluate a current ethical issue—Family Detention/Separation at the US/Mexican Border (specific topic subject to change).  Student research and ethical reflection on this issue will be developed and assessed through creation of two podcasts and a final essay.

PHIL 333-01A Ancient Philosophy (HM)
9:35-10:55am in Quad 365 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)
11:10am-12:30am in Quad 254 with Professor Charles Wright
RN # 17504

Through the close reading and discussion of texts central to the history of Chinese philosophy and religion this class shall introduce students to ideas that have shaped the cultures and civilizations not just of China, but of Korea and Japan as well.  Some of these ideas are:

education should be the pursuit of moral self –improvement in the service of family and community;

cultivating mindfulness and detaching oneself from cravings for worldly success are necessary for authentic and enduring happiness;

attachment to an individual self is an obstruction to true understanding of oneself and clear moral vision;

the true nature of reality and the source of existence cannot be comprehended through logic or language.

We’ll finish the class by reading the work of a contemporary American philosopher who examines how these ancient teachings point the way to happier, more authentic lives for citizens of the modern world.

PHIL 346-01A  Philosophy of Religion (TU)
10:20-11:15am in Quad 343 with Professor Rene McGraw, OSB
CRN # 17740

PHIL 365-01A Metaphysics (HM)
12:40am-1:35pm in Quad 353 with Professor Rene McGraw
CRN # 17503

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
9:35am-10:55am in Quad 347 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 materials for and with peers and mentors. Presentation on Scholarship and Creativity Day will be an integral and required element of this course.

ETHS 390 Ethics Common Seminar (ES) 
Democracy, Freedom and Inequality

390-01A from 9:10-10:05am in Quad 353 with Professor Charles Wright
CRN # 17339
390-02A from 10:20-11:15am in Quad 353 with Professor Charles Wright
CRN # 17338

We will first study the Second Treatise of Government by John Locke, a major philosophical source for the institutional order and political culture of the United States.  Then we turn to Crisis of the Middle Class Constitution, a contemporary inquiry into the historical uniqueness of the United States’ constitution, when compared with the many republican constitutions in history, which also shows how growing economic inequality in the U.S. threatens to destabilize the institutional order of the U.S.  We then shift from heavy duty political history and theory to contemporary analyses of the role that gender, class and racial inequality play in the political and economic order of the U.S.  In Reshaping the Work-Family Debate, legal scholar Joan Williams examines how gendered workplace norms harm both men’s and women’s well-being. Strangers in their Own Land, by sociologist Arlie Hochschild, explores how conservative working-class white people now feel themselves to be excluded from the American mainstream.  And theologian Eddie Glaude Jr., in his book Democracy in Black, reflects on how racial disparities still distort American political culture.

ETHS 390-06A Ethics Common Seminar (ES)
Visions of the Good Life
11:10am-12:30pm in Quad 361 with Professor Steve Wagner
CRN # 17228

This course will look at some of the most prominent moral views in the tradition of western philosophical thought. Our goal will be to consider whether these views provide adequate guides for living a good life. We will look at aspects of the moral theories of Plato, Aristotle, Thomas Hobbes, John Stuart Mill, Immanuel Kant, and Albert Camus. We will also investigate a number of views which claim to offer variations or alternative to these classical models, such as feminist thought and virtue ethics. We will use a number of literary texts in our attempt to gain moral insight, reading The Stranger, The Immoralist, The Remains of the Day, Their Eyes Were Watching God and The Plague. As we consider whether we can find guidance for our own lives in these readings, our focus throughout will be to develop in ourselves the ability to make good moral judgments. 

ETHS 390 Ethics Common Seminar (ES)

390-08A at 12:45pm-2:05pm in Quad 361 with Professor Tony Cunningham
CRN # 15591
390-09A at 2:20pm-3:40pm in Quad 361 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 390-011A Ethics Common Seminar (ES)
Reading for Life
Tuesday evenings

6:15pm-9:15pm in Quad 344 with Professor Tony Cunningham
CRN # 17071

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)