Spring 2013 Course Descriptions


Summary Version:

Tuesday & Thursday
9:55am-11:40am - Phil 315 - Ethics for Majors (Cavanaugh)
12:45pm-2:30pm - Phil 310 - Ancient & Medieval Philosophy (Torre)
2:40pm-4:25pm - Phil 484 - Ethics: Absolutism & Consequentialism (Cavanaugh)

Monday Only
1:00pm-3:45pm - Phil 377 - War and its Effects on Society (Taylor)

Monday, Wednesday, & Friday
• 11:45am-12:50pm - Phil 402 - Phenomenology (Paris)

Complete Descriptions:

Phil 310 - Ancient & Medieval Philosophy 

Prof. Michael Torre 

TR, 12:45pm-2:30pm 

This course follows the development of Greek philosophical thought from the PreSocratics 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. [This course meets Core D1 Philosophy requirements, and the Chair of the Department will provide a Core D1 waiver for any student who has not satisfied her or his D1 requirement.] 

Phil 315 - Ethics for Majors 

Prof. Tom Cavanaugh 

TR, 9:55am-11:40am

This course will familiarize you with the principal ethical theories such as consequentialism as found in the work of Mill, deontology represented by Kant, and teleological virtue ethics delineated by Aristotle. We will attend to the central disputes among these different ethical theories. We will apply these distinct ethical theories to specific ethical issues such as physician-assisted suicide, war, and abortion. [This course meets Core D3 Ethics requirements - no special waiver is necessary.] 


Phil 377: Philosophy & Literature: War and its Effects on Society 

Prof. Jacqueline Taylor 

M, 1:00pm-3:45pm 

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, Michael Walzer, and Ami Bar-on, among others. 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 Apocalypse Now, and a documentary about the making of Apocalypse Now

In conjunction with the seminar, I will organize a week-long Fleishhacker event: Professor Christine Battersby (Reader Emerita in Philosophy, University of Warwick) will visit USF for the week, and give a lecture in the seminar. We will also attend a one-day conference, which will include an Iraq war veteran who has founded an artists’ collaborative project producing significant work, and a historian of science and medicine who examines the relations between the US government, the military, corporations, and the media.

Phil 402: Phenomenology

Prof. Jeffrey Paris

MWF, 11:45am-12:50pm

Phenomenology names a diverse set of approaches to the description of experience, and includes the influential works of Edmund Husserl (1859-1938) - whose slogan “zu den sachen selbst / to the things themselves” serves as a kind of springboard for the phenomenological movement. Other prominent figures include Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Max Scheler; and, if taken more broadly, might include those phenomenologically-influenced writers Simone de Beauvoir, John-Paul Sartre, HansGeorg Gadamer, Emmanuel Levinas, and even Jacques Derrida. 

In this course we will survey works by all of these philosophers, generating sufficient background to begin phenomenological analyses of our own. We will be guided in this latter task by the more recent applied phenomenological works of David Abram (The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-than-Human World) and H. Peter Steeves (The Things Themselves: Phenomenology and the Return to the Everyday).

Phil 484: Advanced Topics in Ethics: Absolutism & Consequentialism

Prof. Tom Cavanaugh

TR, 2:40pm-4:25pm

In this ethics seminar you will focus on the dispute between those who hold that certain acts ought never to be done, no matter what (Absolutists), and those who propose that, if the consequences are grave enough, one ought to do any act (Consequentialists). You will take part in a perennial conversation involving, on the one hand, Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, Immanuel Kant, and G.E.M. Anscombe, and, on the other, Thrasymachus, Jeremy Bentham, John Stuart Mill, and Peter Singer. We will consider famous historical cases (Hiroshima, lifeboat-cannibalism, and so on) while entertaining numerous thought-experiments - no lab coat or fees required! In this discussionoriented course you will consider texts spanning the history of philosophy, from the ancient period to recently published articles in the leading philosophical journals.


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

HON 334: 19th Century Europe

Prof. Manuel Vargas

W, 1:00pm-3:45pm

[4 units - contact mrvargas@usfca.edu]

This course will focus on a selection of major figures, works, and ideas from Europe in the nineteenth century. Authors and subjects may include: Comte, Mill, Marx, Nietzsche, Darwin, Durkheim, Shelley, Tolstoy, Austin, Beethoven and others.

SII 330-03: Philosophy, Nature, Wildness

Prof. Jeffrey Paris

F, 1:00pm-3:00pm

[1-2 units only - contact paris@usfca.edu]

“In Wildness is the Preservation of the World.” This Symposium will connect Henry David Thoreau's pithy and provocative thought with philosophical classics from the modern environmentalist tradition. These include: David Abram's The Spell of the Sensuous; Annie Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker Creek; and Gary Snyder's The Practice of the Wild. Time permitting, we will conclude the course with one post-terrestrial ecology, Kim Stanley Robinson's 2312.

SII 330-10: J.S. Mll’s Philosophy of Liberty

Prof. Ron Sundstrom

T, 4:35-6:20pm

[1-2 units only - contact rrsundstrom@usfca.edu]

J.S. Mill's On Liberty is the rare book in political philosophy that has changed the world. Its arguments effected legislation about personal liberties across many Western liberal democracies and inspired progressive social movements, such as those for suffrage, abolition, and sexual liberation. His basic ideal that persons should be granted the maximum amount of freedom consistent with the freedom of others has been adopted by liberals, libertarians, and free market conservatives. This diverse and divided group of supporters see in the implications of his theory—that persons should be free as much as possible from the constraints of the tyranny of the majority and that society should encourage a "free market place of ideas"—the conditions for any healthy, productive and profitable society. In this seminar we will closely read On Liberty and examine its arguments and narrative; we will also consider its relation to Mill’s arguments in Utilitarianism and The Subjection of Women.

SII 330-11: Nietzsche's Zarathustra

Prof. Ron Sundstrom

R, 4:35-6:20 pm

[1-2 units only - contact rrsundstrom@usfca.edu]

Friedrich Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra is dramatic, enigmatic, and thrilling. Nietzsche claimed it was his greatest work and contained all of his best ideas. Within its pages unfolds the story of Zarathustra, a “higher man” who lives upon a mountain and travels down to visit the villages and cities of men and women, encountering characters and witnessing events that illustrate Nietzsche’s central ideas: master versus slave morality, nobility, the end of absolutes (one of the ideas behind the “God is Dead” phrase), the critique of values and virtues, the Last Man and the Übermensch, ressentiment, will to power, and the eternal recurrence of the same. The whole glorious mess even ends with an ass (mule) party. What more could you ask for?