Fall 2015


Summary Version

Monday, Wednesday, and Friday

  • 11:45 a.m. - 12:50 p.m. – Phil 319: Logic (Stump)
  • 1:00 p.m. - 2:05 p.m. – Phil 405: Analytic Philosophy: Frege to Wittgenstein (Stump)
  • 10:30 a.m. – 11:35 a.m. – Phil 483: Human Rights: East and West (Kim)

Tuesday and Thursday

  • 12:45 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. – Phil 484: Absolutism and Consequentialism (Cavanaugh)
  • 9:55 a.m. -11:40 a.m. – Phil 310: Ancient and Medieval Philosophy (Torre)

Monday only

  • 1:00 p.m. – 3:45 p.m. – HON 334: Romanticism and Revolution: 19th Century Europe (Taylor)

Tuesday only

  • 2:40 p.m. - 4:25 p.m. – Phil 330: SYM: God, Evil & 3 Philosophers (Cavanaugh)
  • 4:35 p.m. – 6:20 p.m. – Phil 330: SYM: Josef Pieper, Philosopher (Torre)

Thursday only

  • 2:40 p.m. - 4:25 p.m. – Phil 330 : SYM: Reading Dante with Aristotle & Aquinas (Cavanaugh)


  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 ( 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 330 — SYM: Josef Pieper, Philosopher

Prof. Michael Torre,
T, 4:35 p.m. – 6:20 p.m.

Josef Pieper was a German philosopher of the 20th century (1904-1997). His own philosophical reflections were deeply influenced by the classical Greek philosophers Plato and Aristotle, and by the Medieval Latin philosopher Aquinas. However, his reflections also and always were attentive to the contemporary philosophers of his day and to the mental attitudes and problems of contemporary men and women. His reflections ever sought to deepen and to "bring alive" the insights and wisdom of those past philosophers: to make them "living options" for people today, who could thus come to understand and appreciate the depth of their philosophical wisdom. Pieper was thus a "contemporary Thomist," a philosopher thinking in continuity with the deepest philosophical insights and positions of Aquinas, as these were nourished by thinkers such as Plato and Aristotle, and as these were placed in dialogue with contemporary thought and culture. In this seminar, we will read some of his small books. He is perhaps best known for a work entitled Leisure: The Basis of Culture and we will begin with that work. We will then read some of his many other works, selecting from (as but one sample) works such as In Defense of Philosophy; The Cardinal Virtues; Faith, Hope, and Love; The Idea of Sin; and In Search of the Sacred. There will not be many pages assigned for each week, but this will give us the time to read him carefully and thus discuss him thoughtfully together. There will be no midterm, but some "reflective questions" (mini-papers) throughout the semester and one longer paper at the end, in lieu of a final exam.

HON 334 — Romanticism and Revolution: 19th Century Europe

Prof. Jacqueline Taylor,
M,1:00 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.

In this seminar we will examine 19th century developments in the humanistic disciplines. We will examine the development of photography and the struggle to include it among the fine arts, the novel as a response to the human condition in the 19th century (e.g., Dostoevsky, Eliot, Hardy, Shelley), the emergence of the social sciences (e.g., Marx, Freud), philosophy and its concern with individual and social reform (Nietzsche, the Mills), history (we will examine the unification of Italy), and the humanistic concerns of the natural sciences (e.g., Darwin, Perkins Marsh).

Phil 484 — Absolutism and Consequentialism

Prof. Tom Cavanaugh,
T, R, 12:45 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

The saying "fiat Justitia; ruat coelum" or "do justice, even if the heavens fall" captures the (Absolutist) claim that one must do right, no matter what. By contrast, Consequentialism finds the claim irrational: if the heavens were to fall (one's act foreseeably results in catastrophe) one's act could not be the right thing to do. Thus, we have the dispute between these two parties. In this discussion-oriented class, we will focus on the ethical 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). We will take part in this debate by considering the reasonableness of both accounts as presented by their most able advocates, including, amongst the Absolutists, philosophers such as Aristotle, Aquinas, Kant, and Gertrude Elizabeth Margaret Anscombe; and, amongst the Consequentialists: Mill, Glover, Bennett, Brandt, and Walzer. We will address ethical issues such as homicide, lying, war, torture, and extreme emergencies (ticking bomb scenarios).

Phil 330 — SYM: God, Evil & 3 Philosophers

Prof. Tom Cavanaugh,
T, 2:40 p.m. – 4:25 p.m.

The problem of evil begins with the perennial question: “Why do bad things happen to good people?” This is, of course, a vexing question. Moreover, it seems well-grounded in our experience. For we observe (and sometimes ourselves suffer from) evil due to natural disasters (tsunamis, volcanoes, and earthquakes) as well as inhumane treatment at the hands of others or moral evil (slavery, genocide, famine caused by humans). While vexing, the problem of evil becomes even more troubling when God enters into our consideration. For, if there is an all knowing, all loving, all powerful God, why do bad things happen to good people? How can God permit evil? We will reflect on this question by reading the works of three thinkers in particular: Saint Augustine, Saint Boethius, and Saint Thomas Aquinas.

Phil 330 — SYM: Reading Dante with Aristotle & Aquinas

Prof. Tom Cavanaugh,
R, 2:40 p.m. – 4:25 p.m.

Dante Alighieri wrote a poem he initially entitled la Commedia or, The Comedy. In it he recounts his travels from Hell to Heaven as a journey of the human soul from misery to happiness. He hopes by recounting his own journey to enable his reader also to move from a state of sorrow to one of joy. Within a few decades of its publication, the poem so enchanted its readership that it came to be called La Divina Commedia, or The Divine Comedy because it was both about our relationship to God and was itself judged to be divine, in the sense of excellent. In this symposium we will read Dante’s Comedy relying occasionally on readings contributed by the Philosopher, Aristotle (whom Dante names, “the master of those who know,”) and the Theologian, St. Thomas Aquinas, who in the clarity of his thought, according to Dante, “reflects the splendor of God’s rays.”

Phil 319 — Logic

Prof. David Stump,
M W F, 11:45 a.m. – 12:50 p.m.

Logic is the core of all reasoning. This course will emphasize contemporary symbolic logic, the most rigorous and powerful logic there is. We will study deductive logical systems and learn truthtables and proofs in both 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 405 — Analytic Philosophy: Frege to Wittgenstein

Prof. David Stump,
M W F, 1:00 p.m. – 2:05 p.m.

This course is a historical and critical introduction to the analytic tradition in philosophy, the dominant philosophical movement in the 20th century. Analytic philosophers brought new tools of linguistic analysis and modern logic to traditional philosophy with the aim of making genuine progress — solving (or dissolving) intractable philosophical problems. After studying some leading examples of analytic methods by Frege, Russell, Moore, Carnap and Wittgenstein, we will consider some internal critiques of analytic philosophy, including that of Wittgenstein himself.

Phil 483 — Human Rights: East and West

Prof. David Kim,
M W F, 10:30 a.m. – 11:35 a.m.

This seminar explores a practical world puzzle: The human rights system is globally enforced (e.g. “just wars” and embargos), yet it is conceptually based in Western liberalism, the philosophy of a very small statistical minority in the world. This class will take up an aspect of the puzzle. We will examine in a philosophically comparative fashion the viability of rights discourse and the exercise of rights practices in East Asia (primarily Northeast but to some extent Southeast Asian contexts). To root our discussion, we will compare Western liberalism and Confucianism (which is important for Northeast Asia), and as time permits, Buddhism (which is important for Southeast Asia). To further ground our project, special attention will be paid to rights related to gender inequality and, as time permits, the plight of migrant workers.

This focus on East Asian cultural sensibilities and scholarly humanistic traditions offers alternative viewpoints on the current rights system that are not apparent in intra-Western critiques of liberalism, like those found in Western critical theory, Euro-theoretic forms of postcolonial studies, and Euro-theoretic forms of transnational feminism. And by grounding our discussion in gender rights, we will not only be addressing a significant human rights issue in itself, but also draw attention to the complexity of the cultural framings or social imaginaries that shape our understandings of gender and national belonging. Moreover, we will be exploring Confucianism’s (and Buddhism’s) ability to engage in compelling ways with dominant frameworks of international affairs as a part of their being living traditions of the 21st century. The seminar will begin with a comparison of the Ferguson protests and the Umbrella Revolution in Hong Kong, which occurred simultaneously last Fall.

Phil 310 — Ancient and Medieval Philosophy

Prof. Michael Torre,
T R, 9:55 a.m. – 11:40 a.m.

The Greeks invented Western Philosophy and it reached its zenith in Plato and Aristotle. After the Romans conquered Greece, they “translated” philosophy into Latin. Late Classical figures, both pagan and Christian, developed it further, and it was the mainstay of Medieval Philosophy: Jewish, Christian, and Muslim. We will be looking at this 2000 year history almost exclusively through some of its major figures, with particular attention being given to Plato and Aristotle (and Aquinas for the Medieval period). We will examine many of its central methods, themes, issues and arguments, discussing and evaluating them with each other and writing various essays on them: reflective, analytic, and evaluative in nature. [Required Foundational Course.]