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Philosophy & Religion | Courses

For current class offerings, times, and additional information, visit the Office of the Registrar.

Spring 2014 Course Offerings


PHIL 105 Western Philosophy
MTh 11:45AM-1:00PM Ferrari, M
.002 MTh 2:35PM-3:50PM De Saint-Felix, C
.003 TF 8:55AM-10:10AM Sigrist, M
.004 TF 2:35PM-3:50PM De Saint-Felix, C
.005 TF 4:00PM-5:15PM Bassiri, C
This course is a historical introduction to the Western philosophical tradition. Students closely examine classic and contemporary texts on the nature of reality, truth, morality, goodness, and justice; the possibility of knowledge; faith, reason, and the existence of God; and the issue of freedom and determinism.

This course meets the General Education requirement for Foundation Area 2: "Traditions that Shape the Western World."

PHIL 200 Introduction to Logic
TF 11:45AM-1:00PM Stam, J
Basic principles of formal deductive logic, both Aristotelian (syllogistics) and modern (propositional and predicate calculus), with some attention to informal logic also. Text and exercises supplemented by discussions on history, applications, and critical appraisal of different logical systems. This is the course recommended for pre-law students by Law School Admissions Deans.

PHIL 220 Moral Philosophy
TF 11:45AM-1:00PM Feder, E
.002 TF 4:00PM-5:15PM Carr, R
.003 MW 8:10PM-9:25PM Ferrari, M
This course investigates the question of what it means to live a moral life. Examining major works in Western philosophy, issues discussed include moral goodness and evil, the nature of justice and rights, the relationship between morality and self-interest, the justification of moral judgments, relativism versus objective truth, the role of pleasure in the good life, and the meaning of character and virtue.

This course meets the General Education requirement for Foundation Area 2: "Traditions that Shape the Western World."

PHIL 230 Meaning and Purpose in the Arts
MTh 8:55AM-10:10AM Marquis, J
.002 MTh 10:20AM-11:35AM Marquis, J
.003 MTh 4:00PM-5:15PM Marquis, J
The purpose of this course is to develop a critical, philosophical understanding of art. Although we will discuss traditional questions in aesthetics, such as "What is art?" and "What makes something beautiful?" we will use these questions to focus our attention on how art functions and what art does in a larger cultural context. Thus, in addition to the "what is art?" question, we will ask what calling an object art does to that object's relations with culture, politics, and other objects. We will discuss how art can be politically effective and how politics influences the production and consumption of art and, in so doing, we will explore the communal function of art. A central theme of this course is how artistic creation and experience can be important to living an excellent life.

This course meets the General Education requirement for Foundation Area 1: "The Creative Arts."

PHIL 235 Theories of Democracy and Human Rights
MTh 11:45AM-1:00PM Erfani, F
.002 TTh 8:10PM-9:25PM Cooke, E
This course analyzes traditional Western theories of democracy and rights, both separately and in relation to each other, as well as contemporary approaches such as Habermasian, post-modern, feminist, and critical race theory. It also considers the East-West debate on human rights.

This course meets the General Education requirement for Foundation Area 2: "Traditions that Shape the Western World."

PHIL 241 Bioethics
TTh 5:20PM-6:35PM Valdes, E
.002 TTh 6:45PM-8:00PM Valdes, E
The current conditions of existence, dramatically influenced by biotechnological advances, have brought a broad spectrum of moral problems which traditional ethics has not been able to satisfactorily deal with. In this fashion, bioethics constitutes not only a new theoretical perspective to deliberate on complex moral scenarios arisen by virtue of biomedical and biotechnological empowerment but also and very especially it implies a set of procedural rules to guide decision-making in a completely new moral arena. However, bioethics has not been exempt from criticism and both the epistemological and methodological scope of its principles is still profusely discussed. In this course, students will learn the main elements o the origins, foundations, and problems of bioethics as well as be able to deliberate, in a critical and impartial way, on still unresolved, controversial bioethical issues.

PHIL 380 Colloquium: The Wave
W January 22 and 29, and February 5 8:10PM-10:40PM; Sa February 1 1:00PM-6:00PM
Feder, E
This semester we will focus on "The Wave," a pedagogical experiment intended to promote appreciation for the ease with which one may come to participate in moral wrong.

Prerequisite: one course in philosophy.

PHIL 396 Wittgenstein's Philosophy
F 11:45AM-2:25PM Harre, R
Wittgenstein was the originator of three main strands in modern philosophy, each aimed at eliminating confusion and paradox in our thinking: the search for logical form, the analysis of language, and the identification of deep assumptions. Profoundly self-critical, he continued to develop and refine his insights throughout his life. After a survey of his remarkable life and the Viennese world of his youth, this course briefly touches on his early work (Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus) as a prelude to study of his later philosophy in the Philosophical Investigations and On Certainty. Though Wittgenstein was equally absorbed by the problems of mathematics, the course concentrates on those that have a strong psychological import. Topics include meaning, rule following, understanding the minds of others, mental concepts like thinking and expecting, the nature of perception and the role of color worlds, and the role of hidden presuppositions in shaping our thoughts and actions.

PHIL 411/611 Kant
Th 5:30PM-8:00PM Tschemplik, A; Reiman, J
The class is dedicated to a close reading of all three of Kant's Critiques.

Prerequisite for PHIL-411: PHIL 105 or permission of instructor.

PHIL 414/614 American Philosophy
T 5:30PM-8:00PM Carr, R
From the time of the Civil War to the outbreak of WWII, three American philosophers made original entries into the encyclopedia of philosophy. The entries come under the heading "Pragmatism," a theory of meaning that accounts for the ways in which thinking enters into experience and experience determines the truth of our concepts and beliefs. Charles Peirce (1839-1914), William James (1842-1910), and John Dewey (1859-1952) are the classical pragmatists and their works are the subject of this course. Some consideration will be given to Alain Locke, a little heralded pragmatist of this period who was the intellectual spokesman of the Harlem Renaissance, and neo-pragmatism.

Prerequisite for PHIL-414: one introductory course in philosophy.

PHIL 416/616 Feminist Philosophy
T 2:35PM-5:15PM Oliver, A
Posing questions about what we can know, how we perceive, and how we experience our bodies and interactions with the world is arguably a central preoccupation of philosophy. Canonical works such as the Confessions of Augustine and Rousseau, Descartes' vivid first-person account of his quest for certainty, Merleau-Ponty's phenomenological investigation of embodied experience, and Sartre's existentialist study of "the gaze" have historically placed narrative investigation of the nature of human experience at the center of the philosophical project. One way to understand the distinctive contribution of feminist philosophers and theorists of the late twentieth century is to see that body of work as telling another side of the story, one that radically recasts conceptions of embodiment, identity, ethics, and the body politic. This course focuses on feminist approaches to enduring philosophical questions, to which is added the larger question of difference not limited to that of gender or sex.

Prerequisite for PHIL-416: two courses in philosophy.

PHIL 417/617 Race and Philosophy
W 11:45AM-2:25PM Feder, E
An introduction to the emerging area of critical race theory in philosophy. The course examines the development of "race" as an object of philosophy beginning in the early modern period, explores the way in which analysis of race has brought philosophy into public conversation, and the ways that philosophers have treated race and racism.

Prerequisite for PHIL-417: PHIL-105 or permission of instructor.

PHIL 419/619 Contemporary Buddhist Philosophy
M 5:30PM-8:00PM Park, J
Is Buddhist philosophy still relevant to us in the twenty-first century? This course focuses on contemporary Buddhist philosophy, examining the nature of Buddhism's interactions with the contemporary intellectual environments. Buddhism's engagement with society in engaged Buddhism, Buddhism's engagement with science in contemplative studies, and Buddhism's engagement with Western ethical theories are major themes that the class will explore.

Prerequisite for PHIL-419: one course in philosophy.

PHIL 485/685 Selected Topics in Philosophy
.001 Existentialism
M 8:10PM-10:40PM Erfani, F
This course focuses on 19th and 20th century existentialism, with a particular emphasis on the role of imagination in creating one's identity. We will read philosophical works by Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Sartre, Heidegger and de Beauvoir, as well as literary works by Camus, Dostoyevsky, and also Sartre.

PHIL 525 Modern Moral Philosophy
T 5:30PM-8:00PM Berry, E
.002 T 8:10PM-10:40PM Valdes, E
Surveys a contemporary moral issue of the instructor's choosing and explores how philosophers have worked to understand and address this issue.

Prerequisite: PHIL-220 or permission of instructor.

PHIL 702 Human Rights: The Philosophical Questions
W 5:30PM-8:00PM Bergoffen, B
Appeals to human rights assume that we have a clear understanding of what these rights are, who deserves them, and why we have a moral obligation to enforce them. Using the resources of continental philosophy, critical legal theory, and political theory, and examining the concrete issues of genocidal rape, refugees, and nationalism/sovereignty, we will explore these assumptions to determine the extent to which human rights instruments are or can be effective instruments of justice.


RELG 105 Religious Heritage of the West
TF 1:10PM-2:25PM Schaefer, M
The exploration of the religious traditions that help to shape the Western world. The course covers the Ancient Near Eastern and Greco-Roman roots of Western religion. Jewish tradition from ancient Israelite religion to modern movements in Judaism. Christianity as emergent Jewish movement to dominant Western religion. Influence of Islam in medieval Europe and the contemporary world. Exploration of American based religions: Mormonism, Unitarianism, Christian Science, and American Civil Religion.

This course meets the General Education requirement for Foundation Area 2: "Traditions that Shape the Western World."

RELG 185 Forms of the Sacred
MTh 10:20AM-11:35AM Berry, E
Introduces methods of studying religion and places religious traditions in comparative relief. Surveys the basic features of the major religions of Asia--including Hinduism, Taoism, Confucianism, and Shinto--and explores how these traditions shape Asian cultures and societies. Includes study of both the sacred texts and the lived experiences of these traditions.

This course meets the General Education requirement for Foundation Area 3: "The Global and Cross-Cultural Experience."

RELG 210 Non-Western Religious Traditions
TF 8:55AM-10:10AM Oliver, M
Examines the categorical and theoretical assumptions of "religion" and "non-Western" when applied to the philosophical, ethical, and spiritual traditions of Asia and India. Using the Silk Road as a conceptual center, this course examines religious traditions in both their culture of origin as well as what happens when religions migrate to other lands. The course concludes with an examination of how religious traditions respond to modernity.

This course meets the General Education requirement for Foundation Area 3: "The Global and Cross-Cultural Experience."

RELG 330 Approaches to Studying Religion: Inventing Modernity
TF 10:20AM-11:35AM Oliver, M
What does it mean to study religion? This course examines how the academic study of religion developed simultaneously with the modern invention of "religion" as an object of study. We will explore this binary evolution and its relationship to various methodological or disciplinary tools, including anthropology, economics, legal theory, philosophy, psychology, sociology, and theology. Students can expect to conduct a rigorous research project employing a specific theoretical tool while asking questions about the nature of religion itself.

RELG 470/670 Islam
F 2:35PM-5:15PM Oliver, M
Beginning with the historical contexts of the Qur'an and the Prophet Muhammad, this course explores the many theological, philosophical, mystical, and social interpretations of Islam. Students will examine claims about the normative understanding of the tradition from both internal and external perspectives, including those of the contemporary era.