Course Descriptions: Fall 2014

Summary Version

Tuesday & Thursday

12:45pm - 2:30pm - Phil 319: Logic (Spencer)
9:55am - 11:40am - Phil 380: Special Topic: Free Will (Vargas)

Monday, Wednesday, and Friday

10:30am - 11:35am - Phil 484: Topics in Ethics (Paris)

Monday Only

11:45am - 3:25pm - Phil 377: Philosophy and Literature (Taylor)

Course Descriptions: Fall 2014 - Download PDF



  1. Since the Department course offerings will no longer be tagged with the Area Distribution markers MEAP, Value, and History, all students should work directly with their advisor to develop an overall individual curriculum that both covers representative issues in philosophy and meets your specific philosophical interests.
  2. If you have not been contacted this semester by your Philosophy Advisor, please contact the Department Chair Prof. Ron Sundstrom ( to ensure you are properly assigned and advised.
  3. As always, Philosophy Majors and Minors should avoid taking any philosophy courses other than the ones listed here.


Complete Descriptions

Phil 310

Ancient & Medieval Philosophy Prof. Michael Torre,
MWF 9:15am - 10:20am

This course follows the development of Greek philosophical thought from the Pre-Socratics through the Hellenistic thinkers and then tracks these lines of thought to medieval times. Because of the central importance of their ideas, the writings of Plato and Aristotle will be given special attention.

* Required Foundational Course. This course also meets Core 01 Philosophy requirements, and the Chair of the Department will provide a Core 01 waiver for any student who has not already satisfied her or his 01 requirement.

Phil 319 - Logic

Prof. Quayshawn Spencer,
TR 12:45pm - 2:30pm

This course emphasizes contemporary symbolic logic. We will study deductive logical systems and learn how to evaluate arguments with both truth-tables and proofs in propositional and predicate logic. We will also learn how to translate ordinary language arguments into a formal symbolic language and back again.

* Required Foundational course

Phil 377 - Philosophy and Literature

Prof. Jacqueline Taylor, jtayl
M 11:45am - 3:25pm

This seminar examines how philosophers, novelists, poets, and artists have treated war and its effects on society. We will .consider war in relation to important social issues, including class, gender, race and ethnicity. We will question why it is that some people (and animals and the environment) are so powerfully affected or destroyed by war, while others can remain largely unaware of a war their own country is waging. We will think about the extent of human resilience, and the importance of reparation. We will read both historical and contemporary philosophers, including Hume, Kant, Burke, Condorcet, and work by contemporary philosophers, psychoanalysts, social psychologists and historians. We will read novels and poetry by Jane Austen, Rumer Godden, Joseph Conrad, Chinua Achebe, Lloyd Jones, Wilfred Owen, and others; and watch several films including the classic Battle of Algiers. We will attend an afternoon conference; speakers are Prof. Emilio Mazza, an expert on Hume and the aesthetic concept of the sublime, and Drew Cameron, an Iraq war veteran and founder of Combat Paper, an artists' collaborative project producing significant work.

Phil 380 - Special Topic: Free Will

Prof. Manuel Vargas,
TR 9:55am - 11:40am

This is a seminar on free will and the various philosophical challenges it presents. The focus will be on contemporary approaches to the problem, including views that hold that we lack free will. Among the topics that will be our focus: whether free will is fundamentally mysterious, whether it requires supernatural powers, whether it is required for punishment and moral responsibility, and whether any of the various sciences show that we lack free will. After consideration of some of contemporary classics, the course will consider recent "revisionist" approaches to free will-i.e., approaches that claim to argue that free will is something different than we ordinarily suppose.

Phil 484 - Environmental Ethics

Prof. Jeffrey Paris,
MWF 10:30am - 11:35am

In this seminar we will read and discuss a number of recent contributions to Environmental Ethics, and consider issues including climate change, animal ethics, and environmental futures. Selected primary texts may include: David Abram's Becoming Animal (2010); J. Baird Callicott's Thinking Like a Planet (2014); Stephen Gardiner's A Perfect Moral Storm (2013); Mark Rowlands' Can Animals Be Moral (2013); and Jonathan Porritt's The World We Made (2013). Students will be responsible for a research paper covering one or more areas of environmental ethics. Additional book recommendations from expected participants are welcome at any time.


Non-PHIL Courses (potentially) available for Philosophy Elective Credit

Priority registration for the following courses goes to students enrolled in the Honors Program in the Humanities. However, if space is available after the initial registration period, these may be taken - with permission of the instructor - for elective credit toward your Philosophy major or minor. Contact the instructor immediately to place your name on an informal wait list.


Hon 334 - Romanticism and Revolution: 19th Century Europe

Prof. Manuel Vargas,
R 12:45pm - 3:30pm

The 19th century was a period of extraordinary transformation in society, literature, arts, science, and philosophy. The seminar studies this period through the major works of such figures as Diderot, Goethe, Shelley, James, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Darwin, Spencer, Comte, Mill, Hegel, and Nietzsche. Students will read awesome fat books that are famous and the titles of which will invariably impress other people. Among the themes that may figure in the course: romanticism, the social consequences of the Darwinian revolution, feminism, and attempts to understand human freedom.