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Philosophy & Religion | Courses

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

Spring 2012 Course Offerings

Philosophy

PHIL 105 Western Philosophy
.001
MTH 8:55AM-10:10AM Sigrist, M
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.

.002 TF 11:45AM-1:00PM Weis, L
.003 TF 2:35PM-3:50PM Weis, L
Philosophy is concerned with examining the meaning of human existence. This means that philosophy is most interested in the fundamental questions that arise when one attempts to make sense of his or her experience, for example, 'Who am I and how should I live? What is the meaning of the good, of friendship, of dignity? Is my society a just one?' Philosophy does not always answer these questions! Often, the most important feature of philosophy is that the activity of asking philosophical questions gives rise to even more questions than answers. In exploring these and other questions we will read and analyze classic texts of philosophy and literature from the Western tradition.

This course is a foundation-level course in the General Education Program, Area 2, Cluster 2: "Traditions that Shape the Western World".


PHIL 200 Introduction to Logic
.001
MTH 11:45AM-1:00PM Romanovskaya, T
Basic principles of inductive and deductive reasoning. Text and exercises supplemented by readings and discussions in history, philosophy, and applications of logic.

PHIL 211 Introduction to Asian Philosophy
.001
MTH 1:10PM-2:25PM Park, J
A thematic introduction to the Eastern philosophical tradition. Students read major classic and contemporary texts in Eastern philosophy on being, world, society, and ethics, and examine Eastern philosophers' views on the nature of self, personhood, politics, family, and gender, logics, religion, and cosmology.

PHIL 220 Moral Philosophy
.001
TF 10:20AM-11:35AM Feder, E
.003H MTH 1:10PM-2:25PM Tschemplik, A
The theories concerning the nature of goodness found in Western philosophy. The major discussion issues are traditional principles for evaluating goodness and telling right from wrong; the difference between fact and value; the justification of normative judgments; objectivity in ethics; and the relationship between moral and non-moral goodness.

.004 MW 8:10PM-9:25PM Carr, R
By nature all human beings evaluate experiences. Some experiences are good, some shameful, some praiseworthy. This evaluation is the basis of morality. How does one determine whether an experience is good or bad, harmful or beneficial? What role do reason, principles, intuition, and feeling play in the determination? How does thinking well about morality impact our decisions on vegetarianism, euthanasia, and poverty?

This course is a second-level course in the General Education Program, Curricular Area 2, Cluster 2: Traditions that Shape the Western World. 

Prerequisites for General Education credit: GOVT-105 Individual Freedom vs. Authority, HIST-115 Work and Community, JLS-110 Western Legal Tradition, PHIL-105 Western Philosophy, or RELG-105 Religious Heritage of the West.


PHIL 230 Meaning and Purpose in the Arts
.001
MTh 10:20AM-11:35AM Erfani, F
Leading theories of the nature, purpose, and meaning of artistic activities and objects examined through writings of philosophers, artists, and critics of ancient and modern times. Both Western and non-Western viewpoints are considered.

.002 TF 10:20AM-11:35AM Pathak, S
This course focuses on the interpretation of works of art through increased understanding of the artworks themselves, the lives of those who create them, and the societal influences on these artists. In addition to considering premodern, modern, and postmodern criticism of a variety of forms of literary and visual art, students will interpret the oeuvres of particular artists of interest to them. To prepare for these projects, students will study four ways in which artists create meaning in their works: mythologization, memorialization, mobilization, and universalization.

This course is a second-level course in the General Education Program, Curricular Area 1, Cluster 2: Understanding Creative Works. 

Prerequisites for General Education credit: ARTH-105 Art: The Historical Experience, COMM-105 Visual Literacy, LIT-120 Interpreting Literature, or LIT-135 Critical Approach to the Cinema.


PHIL 235 Theories of Democracy and Human Rights
.001
MTH 2:35PM-3:50PM 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 is a second-level course in the General Education Program, Curricular Area 2, Cluster 2: Western Heritage and Institutions. 

Prerequisites for General Education credit: GOVT-105 Individual Freedom vs. Authority, HIST-115 Work and Community, JLS-110 Western Legal Tradition, PHIL-105 Western Philosophy, or RELG-105 Religious Heritage of the West.


PHIL 240 Ethics in the Professions
.001
 T 5:30PM-8:00PM Leighton, K
.002 TH 8:10PM-10:40PM Leighton, K
This course provides a framework for thinking generally about ethics, and more specifically about professional ethics. In addition, it addresses ethical dilemmas that arise in the professions of government, law, business, medicine, the media, and the academy.

This course is a second-level course in the General Education Program, Curricular Area 4, Cluster 1: Social Institutions and Behavior. 

Prerequisites for General Education credit: COMM-100 Understanding Media, ECON-100 Macroeconomics, GOVT-110 Politics in the United States, or SOCY-150 Global Sociology.


PHIL 241 Bioethics
.001
TTH 6:45PM-8:00PM Valdes, E
.002 MTH 4:00PM-5:15PM Valdes, E
The current conditions of existence dramatically marked by biotechnological advances have brought an ample spectrum of moral problems which, at least apparently, traditional ethics has not been able to resolve efficiently. In this fashion, bioethics constitutes not only a new theoretical perspective to deliberate on complex moral scenarios arisen by virtue of scientific and technological empowerment but also a set of procedural guidelines to make decisions in a completely new ethical arena. However, bioethics is not exempt from criticism and the real scope of its principles and their applicability is nowadays profusely discussed. In this course, students will learn the most current topics of bioethics as well as the main elements of its most updated discussion. Students will also be able to analyze and deliberate, in a critical way, on important bioethical issues still unresolved.

 

PHIL 301/601 Modern Philosophy: Bacon to Hegel
.001
 MTH 2:35PM-3:50PM Stam, J
Study of major early modern philosophical texts and ideas from Bacon through Kant, including the relation of these texts to the scientific revolution and other historical developments of seventeenth and eighteenth century Europe.

Prerequisite for PHIL-301: PHIL-105 Western Philosophy or permission of instructor. Note: PHIL-300 is recommended, but not required.


PHIL 316/616 Feminist Philosophy
.001
  T 5:30PM-8:00PM Oliver, A
Explores some of the challenges posed by feminist philosophers to traditional constructions of subjectivity through interrogation of one or more areas of philosophical thought: ethics, political theory, epistemology, philosophy of mind, philosophy of science, or philosophy of language.

Prerequisite for PHIL-316: two courses in philosophy.


PHIL 318/618 Chinese Philosophy
.001
M 5:30PM-8:00PM Park, J
Through close readings of primary texts in three major ancient Chinese philosophical traditions, Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism, this course explores Chinese understandings of human nature, language, transcendentality, politics, and ethics.

Prerequisite for PHIL-318: one course in philosophy.


PHIL 355/655 Philosophy of Religion
.001
W 8:10PM-10:40PM Greenberg, G
Leading contemporary movements in the philosophy of religion.

Prerequisite for PHIL-355: one introductory course in philosophy or religion.


PHIL 386/686 The State from Aristotle to Foucault
.001
 TH 5:30PM-8:00PM Reiman, J
In this course, we will explore and evaluate ancient, modern, liberal and critical theories of the nature and role of the state. The current plan is to read Aristotle's Politics, Hobbes's Leviathan, Rawls's Political Liberalism, Engels's The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State, as well as writings by and about Foucault's notion of "governmentality." 

Prerequisite for PHIL-386: PHIL-105 Western Philosophy or permission of instructor.


PHIL 386/686 Medieval Philosophy
.002
MTH 4:00PM-5:15PM Tschemplik, A
In this course we will examine the confluence of Greco-Roman philosophy and Christian theology. Boethius, Augustine, Anselm and Aquinas are some of the thinkers whose work we will read closely. Topics to be discussed include: Being and Essence, Nominalism, Evil, and Proofs for the Existence of God. 

Prerequisite for PHIL-386: PHIL-105 Western Philosophy or permission of instructor.

PHIL 386/686 Reading/Writing The United States
.003
W 11:45AM-2:25PM Flax, J
Using a combination of novels, films, historical documents like the US constitution, and writings by authors as varied as the pragmatists John Rawls and Toni Morrison, we will track the ongoing contested processes of interpretation and meaning construction that engender the founding and reconstituting of the "imagined community" (B. Anderson) called "The United States." 

Prerequisite for PHIL-386: PHIL-105 Western Philosophy or permission of instructor.

PHIL 391/691 Internship in Philosophy
Feder, E
An internship provides the opportunity to test the claim that philosophy and religious studies are the kinds of disciplines that teach transferable skills such as critical reading, analytical problem-solving and clear and careful writing. These skills are desirable, since many research institutes, non-profit organizations, think tanks and legal and business organizations—all of which Washington supports in abundance—are in search of individuals with such skills. All students enrolled in internships in philosophy and religion will meet as a group and individually with the instructor throughout the semester.

Prerequisite: permission of instructor and department chair.


PHIL 392/692 Cooperative Education Field Experience
Feder, E

Prerequisite: permission of department chair and Cooperative Education office.

PHIL-480 Senior Seminar: Bias
.001
W 2:35PM-5:15PM Weis, L
In this capstone seminar we will explore the notion of bias, examining why and how bias is conceived as a philosophical problem, epistemologically and ethically.  We will investigate and consider solutions to the so-called 'bias paradox,' assessing the relationship between bias and critical judgment.  Student work will culminate in the development of independent research and writing projects.

Prerequisite: senior philosophy majors.


PHIL 486 Colloquium of Philosophy: Philosophy, Rhetoric, and Performative Speech
.001
  January 25 and February 8-29
W 8:10PM-10:40PM McKiernan, A
This colloquium will explore the role of rhetoric in Western Philosophy from Plato to Judith Butler. We will read Plato's Gorgias and Phaedrus, excerpts from Aristotle's Rhetoric, excerpts from Vico's On the Study Methods of Our Time, and excerpts from Judith Butler's Excitable Speech: A Politics of the Performative. The colloquium will consider the following questions: What is the relationship between rhetoric and dialectic? Does rhetoric aim to communicate truth? What is the value of learning how to lead souls by means of speech? Are subjects formed through speech? Can speech injure? What is the relationship between humor and rhetoric? We will make use of contemporary political speeches and satire (The Daily Show, The Colbert Report) to discuss these questions.

PHIL-486 Colloquium of Philosophy: Winter Colloquium
.001L
Online course, runs January 2-13
Feder, E
In this online colloquium we will read Nietzsche's Genealogy of Morality. We will then put Nietzsche's analysis to work to test the relevance of his intervention into "moral thinking" both historical and contemporary. 


PHIL 498 Honors Project in Philosophy
Oliver, A

Prerequisite: permission of department and University Honors Director.


PHIL 525 Modern Moral Problems
.001
T 1:10PM-3:50PM Feder, E
Investigation of moral philosophers' attempts to analyze specific moral problems (e.g., abortion, euthanasia, pornography, surrogate parenting, capital punishment, economic justice, affirmative action, research with human subjects, genetic research, government secrecy and deception) and to formulate general principles for ethical analysis of social policies and professional ethics.

Prerequisite: PHIL-220 or permission of instructor.

PHIL-693 Global Ethics
.001
W 5:30PM-8:00PM Bergoffen, D
The integrative seminar for the M.A. in Ethics, Peace, and Global Affairs. This course, in taking a critical look at the role of ethics in international relations, will consider such questions as: Is the idea of global ethics a utopian fantasy? If not, what distinguishes global ethical obligations/responsibilities from other types of ethical obligations/responsibilities? Does respect for cultural differences entail an ethical commitment to cultural relativism? What is the relationship between economic practices/theories and social justice? Completion and presentation of a major integrative research paper is required.


PHIL 797 Master's Thesis Seminar

Prerequisite: permission of department chair.

Religion

RELG 105 Religious Heritage of the West
.001
TF 1:10PM-2:25PM Schaefer, M
The contribution of religion to Western civilization. An exploration of the religions that have formed the foundations of Western civilization, including: Greco-Roman and other Ancient Pagan Traditions, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Unitarianism, Mormonism, and American Civil Religion. Where possible, primary source texts, including the scriptures of the religions, will be used.

This course is a foundation-level course in the General Education Program, Curricular Area 2, Cluster 2: Traditions that Shape the Western World.


RELG 185 Forms of the Sacred
.002
TF 8:55AM-10:10AM Oliver, M
.003 TF 4:00PM-5:15PM Oliver, M
An introduction to the method of studying the history of religions. A brief survey of primal religions and Judaism, Christianity, and Islam provides a basis for comparative analysis of the major Eastern religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Chinese religion, and Shinto.

This course is a foundation-level course in the General Education Program, Curricular Area 3, Cluster 2: Global and Multicultural Perspectives.


RELG 210 Non-Western Religious Traditions
.001
TF 11:45AM-1:00PM Oliver, M
How non-Western religious traditions function as systems of symbols, how they interact with both indigenous religious traditions and external religious traditions such as Islam and Christianity, and how they respond to modernization and imperialism.

This course is a second-level course in the General Education Program, Curricular Area 3, Cluster 2: Global and Multicultural Perspectives.

Prerequisites for General Education credit: ANTH-110 Culture: The Human Mirror, LIT-150 Third-World Literature, RELG-185 Forms of the Sacred, SIS-140 Cross-Cultural Communication, and SOCY-110 Views from the Third World.

 

RELG-220 Religious Thought
.001
M 8:10PM-10:40PM Greenberg, G
Religion and religion's role in life. Beginning with modern approaches to the study of religion, this course examines religious ways of defining the human situation, the quest for salvation, wholeness, and trascendence, and the problem of speaking about the divine within the terms of modern culture.

Prerequisite for General Education credit: GOVT-105, HSIT-115, JLS-110, PHIL-105, or RELG-105.

RELG 373/673 Hinduism
.001
 TF 2:35PM-3:50PM Pathak, S
This introduction to Hinduism focuses on four phases in the development of this vibrant religious tradition: (1) the internalization of yajna (sacrifice) during the Vedic period, (2) the realization of dharma (righteousness) during the classical period, (3) the diversification of bhakti (devotion) during the medieval period, and (4) the reconsideration of varna (class) during the modern period. Central to the study of each phase will be close readings of selections from its main mythological and philosophical texts, which will be considered in light of lived religious practices.


RELG 391 Internship in Philosophy
 W 8:10PM-10:40PM Feder, E
An internship provides the opportunity to test the claim that philosophy and religious studies are the kinds of disciplines that teach transferable skills such as critical reading, analytical problem-solving and clear and careful writing. These skills are desirable, since many research institutes, non-profit organizations, think tanks and legal and business organizations—all of which Washington supports in abundance—are in search of individuals with such skills. All students enrolled in internships in philosophy and religion will meet as a group and individually with the instructor throughout the semester.

Prerequisite: permission of instructor and department chair.


RELG 498 Honors Project in Religion
(Open only to students in the University Honors Program.)

Prerequisite: permission of department chair and university honors director.