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Spring Courses - 2015

Philosophy 1 Problems of Philosophy - Professor Peter Thielke
T&Th 1:15 PM -2:30PM
This course investigates central questions that persist in philosophy: the problem of skepticism; the relation between minds and bodies; the nature of intentional action; freedom of the will; moral luck and the justification for punishment; and various ethical issues.

Philosophy 4 Philosophy in Literature - Professor Stephen Erickson
Monday 7PM-9:50PM
Discussion of various aspects of the human condition, personal and social, as presented in various works of literature.

Philosophy 7 Discovery, Invention & Progress - Professor Laura Perini
M&W 1:15PM-2:30PM
An introduction to the philosophy of science and technology. This course investigates the nature of scientific rationality, how individuals and society affect objectivity, technological determinism and whether or not technological developments are value-neutral.

Philosophy 33 Social and Political Philosophy - Professor Michael Green
T&Th 1:15PM-2:30PM
Political philosophy is about the nature of the state. It tries to answer questions such as these. “Should we have a state at all?” “What is a just state or society like?” “What powers does the state have?” “Should individuals obey the state?” The course will cover historically prominent answers from Plato, Hobbes, Locke, Mill, Nozick, and Rawls that combine theories of human nature, ethics, and social life. See

Philosophy 34 Philosophy of Law - Professor Michael Green
T&Th 9:35AM-10:50 AM
Students taking this course will learn how legal philosophers analyze important but poorly understood concepts such as “law,” “obligation,” and “rights.” They will also see how different positions on the nature of the law bear on concrete questions about how to resolve specific cases or how to think of the role of judges. Finally, they will discuss specific topics in the law such as the justification of punishment and the right to privacy. See

Philosophy 35 Normative Ethics - Professor Julie Tannenbaum
M&W 1:15 PM -2:30PM
This course will focus on two ethical principles: benefit others and respect the autonomy of others.  We will consider a variety of ways in which people can be benefitted and different interpretations of what autonomy is. We then discuss problems that arise when they conflict. For example, we will examine what doctors should do when respecting a patient’s autonomy conflicts with benefitting that same patient. There are no prerequisites for this class and freshman are welcome.

Philosophy 42 - History of Modern Philosophy - Professor Peter Thielke
T&Th 9:35AM-10:50AM
This course is an introduction to the greatest thinkers in the modern period, from roughly 1650-1800, with a focus on the grand systems in metaphysics and epistemology that emerge during that time.  We start with Descartes, Spinoza and Leibniz, before turning to Locke, Berkeley, Hume and Kant.

Philosophy 43 Continental Thought - Professor Stephen Erickson
M&W 11AM-12:15PM
Beginning with a review of Kant, German idealism (Fichte through Hegel), Kierkegaard, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Foucault and Derrida will be considered.

Philosophy 47 Socrates - Professor Richard McKirahan
M&W 2:45PM-4:00PM
Socrates wrote nothing but is one of the most famous philosophers of all time. We will explore this and other Socratic paradoxes - for example his claims that he did not know anything but was wiser than anyone he had ever met; that knowledge and virtue are the same thing; that no one knowingly or willingly does wrong; that it is better to be the victim of injustice than to be unjust; that a worse person cannot harm a better one. We will also investigate his claim to be the first genuine philosopher, his importance in the subsequent history of philosophy and his iconic place in human culture.

Philosophy 81 Epistemology: Truth, Justification, Knowledge - Professor Luca Struble
T&Th 2:45PM-4:00PM
The facts seem to matter: Does the movie start at 7? Do the brakes on the school bus work? Should we teach evolution, creationism or both? But how do we know what the truth is? What makes some of our beliefs justified and others unjustified? Can we have any objective grasp on the truth?

Philosophy 185P Topics in Value Theory - Professor Julie Tannenbaum
M&W 2:45PM-4:00PM
This course will focus on moral luck and moral dilemmas. Is there such a thing as moral dilemma or is there always at least on permissible course of action? Is it a matter of luck that someone becomes a murder, and if so, can the person be blamed for what they have done? We will discuss these and other problems that arise with the phenomena of moral luck and moral dilemmas. Prerequisites: philosophy 31, 32, or 35.

Philosophy 185S Topics in Social & Political Philosophy – Professor Ann Davis
T&Th 2:45PM -4:00PM
Detailed study of a particular issue. Examples: human rights, early modern political philosophy, the historical evolution of the concept of justice, contemporary theories of justice, issues in the philosophy of law.

Philosophy 185T Philosophy of Art and Aesthetics - Professor Laura Perini
M&W 11AM-12:15PM
The focus of the course will be issues in contemporary aesthetics, which could concern specific media, such as photography or film; or focus around an important aspect of our experience with artworks, such as questions about interpretation and the roles of audience and artist in determining the meaning of artworks; or developments in art such as the intersection of art and technology and science.