Recent Offerings

Fall 2013

PHIL 1105. Critical Thinking (3) (W), Multiple sections taught a various times. Dr. Jayne Tristan, Professor William Jarrett, Professor Reginald Raymer

Fundamental skills of clear thinking that will help people reason better during communication, problem-solving, and design, particularly as these integrate scientific/engineering with social needs and values. The course will focus on clarifying goals, identifying constraints, and generating and evaluating ideas or solutions.

PHIL 2101. Introduction to Philosophy (3), M, W, F 11:00 - 11:50. Dr. Mark Sanders

Exploration of some of the basic problems that have shaped the history of philosophy (truth, knowledge, justice, beauty, etc.) and remain relevant to students today on personal and professional levels. Readings will range from classical to contemporary texts by a variety of philosophers representing diverse perspectives on these problems. Please see the descriptions in Banner attached to each section to appreciate the different ways this course will be taught every semester. Crosslisted as PHIL 2102, but does not fulfill the general education writing goal. Students can receive credit for either PHIL 2101 or PHIL 2102, but not both.

PHIL 2102. Introduction to Philosophy (3) (W), Multiple sections taught a various times. Dr. Eddy Souffrant, Dr. Trevor Pearce, Professor William Jarrett, Professor Beth Mason

Exploration of some of the basic problems that have shaped the history of philosophy (truth, knowledge, justice, beauty, etc.) and remain relevant to students today on personal and professional levels. Readings will range from classical to contemporary texts by a variety of philosophers representing diverse perspectives on these problems. Please see the descriptions in Banner attached to each section to appreciate the different ways this course will be taught every semester. Makes substantial use of writing as a tool for learning. Crosslisted as PHIL 2101, but fulfills the general education writing goal. Students can receive credit for either PHIL 2101 or PHIL 2102, but not both.

PHIL 2105. Deductive Logic (3), Multiple sections taught at various times. Dr. Dan Boisvert, Dr. Tina Talsma, Professor Sean Riley

Principles of deductive logic, both classical and symbolic, with emphasis on the use of formal logic in analysis of ordinary language discourse

PHIL 3130. American Philosophy (3), M & W 3:30 - 4:45. Dr. Mark Sanders

This class will analyze the question of what constitutes American Philosophy, examining the interaction between America and philosophy, and exploring some of the characteristics that may help contribute to the characterization of American Philosophy including: individualism, community, practicality, fallibility, and meliorism. The course will critically examine the narrative of American philosophy, focusing on pragmatism, America’s distinctive contribution to philosophy, and assess the role that American philosophy has, can, and should play concerning social and cultural issues in America.

PHIL 3230. Health Care Ethics (3), T & R 2:00 -3:15. Professor Reginald Raymer

Major ethical dilemmas within medical science and biology are examined to assist students to identify, analyze, and decide ethical issues in such a way that they can defend their positions to themselves and others. Issues include reproductive and genetic technology, death and dying, patient rights, and justice in distribution of healthcare benefits and burdens.

PHIL 3240. Ethics Bowl (3) (O,W), M & W 12:30 - 1:45. Professor Beth Mason

Students prepare for and participate in the Mid-Atlantic Regional Ethics Bowl competition. Students intensively research cases (developed by the Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl), and work both collaboratively and individually on written case analyses. Significant amounts of in-class time scrimmaging and working on public-speaking and oral communication skills.

PHIL 3390. Philosophy & Pop Culture (3), T & R 3:30 - 4:45. Dr. Robin James

This course examines the ways philosophy and popular culture intersect and overlap. We will use pop culture to examine philosophical questions and concepts, and use philosophy to examine pop culture products and practices. We will spend the first half of the semester philosophically considering the origin and contemporary manifestations of high/low and serious/pop culture hierarchies. The second half of the semester will focus on philosophical problems emerging in contemporary US pop culture. We will treat pop culture as a lab in which philosophical ideas, questions, and problems emerge. In other words: instead of applying philosophy to pop culture (as though pop culture easily and neatly fit into the terms of philosophical analysis), we’re going to use pop culture to complicate and push philosophical concepts/texts/etc. We’re doing philosophy through pop culture. We will consider questions such as: What is popular (or “pop”) culture? How is it different from folk/vernacular traditions, from “fine art,” or from “culture” in general? Is the concept of pop culture tied to historically, socially, epistemically, and materially specific contexts? Are the concepts of “pop culture” that we get from critiques of industrial capitalism still valid, now that capitalism is more financial/informational/social rather than industrial? How can popular culture be philosophical? Can pop culture—films, music, video games, sports, etc.—provide or generate innovative philosophical insights? How can pop culture do more than just illustrate, in a simplified way, supposedly more complicated philosophical ideas? We ill focus on some specific forms or media of pop culture: music, film, digital/social media, and sports.

PHIL 3410. Knowledge & Reality (3), T 5:00 - 8:45. Dr. Dan Boisvert

An examination of interrelated issues concerning belief, justification, knowledge, and existence and the implications of these for broader philosophical issues. "Narrower" issues may include: What is the source of our beliefs? How do these sources affect our determinations of what fundamentally exists and what those things are like? How do our assumptions about what exists affect the objects and methods of knowing? When do beliefs become knowledge? Are there some things about the world that we cannot know about? Broader issues may include: What kind of thing is a mind or a self? How does such a thing fit into a natural world? What can non-human animals or computers tell us about intelligence? In what sense can collective entities engage in intentional behavior?

PHIL 3430. Mind, Cognition, and Behavior (3), M & W 11:00 - 12:15. Dr. Marvin Croy

An exploration of epistemological, metaphysical, and ethical questions concerning the mind. The main focus is on the possibility of integrating classic philosophical perspectives with contemporary research in cognitive science. Topics include: the descriptive/normative relation, the connection between philosophy and science, the plausibility of the mind and/or brain as a computational, symbol-manipulating system, including cases in which ethical consequences emerge from this orientation, and other topics such as consciousness, free will and determinism, logic and language, emotion and reasoning, and rationality.

PHIL 3810. Social and Political Philosophy (3), M & W 12:30 - 1:45. Dr. Eddy Souffrant

Examination of basic concepts involved in understanding the nature and structure of political and social formations. Issues may include topics such as justice, human rights, the nature of political power, and the relations between individuals and political/social institutions. Readings from historical and/or contemporary sources, and may include figures such as Plato, Hobbes, Marx, Rawls, Arendt, Foucault and Butler.

PHIL 3990. Mixed Race Theory (3), W 3:30 - 8:15. Dr. Robin James

Mixed Race Theory is inquiry into insights to be gained from persons who have had the mixed race experience within what Ron Sundstrom and others have called the “black white binary” or the common twofold conception in American society, culture, and institutional structures that (1) there are things called human races, and that (2) there are primarily only two. Historically, this experience has been painted in terms of tragedy, with the “tragic mulatto” -- or the person torn between what are understood as two diametrically opposed biological states, worldviews, and value systems -- operating as the primary vehicle through which human racial mixedness has been processed, resulting, arguably in a reification of the concept of the positive value of monoracial identity and monoracial experiences. But the actual experiences of mixed race persons in America, when examined through a philosophical lens, can be understood to reveal lessons about the human experience that are much more nuanced and complex than the figure of the “tragic mulatto” can admit. Some of these lessons are the heavily cultural character of human racial identity, the absurdity of the concept of human racial categories, and the hypocrisy of racial discrimination. In this course, students will read a variety of texts that examine the mixed race experience in America and a variety of works by mixed race persons (particularly mixed race philosophers) in an effort to come to grips with some of these lessons, and to become more racially sensitive human beings in the process.

PHIL 4050, Sec. 003. Foucault (3), M & W 9:30 - 10:45. Dr. Gordon Hull

From the early 1960s until his death in 1984, Michel Foucault was one of the most innovative and influential figures in French philosophy. Known most fundamentally for the thesis that our most basic categories of thought are inescapably the products of their social and institutional environments, Foucault wrote about such topics as the emergence of a clinical understanding of insanity, the change in punishment theory from the dungeon to intensive surveillance; the emergence of power as a force for fostering life and managing populations; the emergence of “sexuality” as a marker of identity; and the transformation of economic thought from classical, laissez faire liberalism to the intensely interventionist theory of today’s neoliberalism. Not surprisingly, given the range of his thought, Foucault’s influence today extends into such diverse fields as philosophy, sociology, criminal justice, literary theory, and queer and feminist theory. In this course, we will read a number of Foucault’s most important works, with attention to the kinds of questions they enable us to ask as well as some prominent criticisms of his work History/Genealogy category.