PHILOSOPHY 216. (3) PHILOSOPHY OF POLITICAL ECONOMY. Under what circumstances is a government legitimate? For example, must a government guarantee rights? When is it politically appropriate to use authorized coercion in the service of the state? This course explores the intersection of political and economic theory as applied to the nature and functioning of contemporary states. The course focuses on contemporary work in political economy, which might include rights theory, democratic theory, public choice theory, theory of constitutions and more. Prerequisite: none. Offered: the fall of even numbered years.
PHILOSOPHY 305. (3) CONTEMPORARY PHILOSOPHY. Can there be two distinct material objects in the same place at the same time? How do words get their meanings and refer to the world? What are colors, and where are they located? What is consciousness, and what sorts of beings possess it? What does it mean to know anything, and how does that differ from being certain about things? What is the most just way to organize society? This course engages relatively recent work on these and similarly pressing questions. Typically the course content is shaped by student interest. Prerequisite: Rhetoric 102. Offered: fall semester of odd-numbered years.
PHILOSOPHY 217. (3) PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION. The tenets of various religions and the phenomenon of religion itself raise deep philosophical questions: Can God’s existence be proven? Why does God allow suffering? How central are humans to creation? What gives rise to religious experience? As an investigation of foundational questions in metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics, this course will appeal to believers and nonbelievers alike. Prerequisite: none. Offered: spring semester of odd-numbered years.
PHILOSOPHY 312. (3) PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE. Modern science employs uniquely effective methods for obtaining knowledge of the natural world. This course explores the philosophical foundations of science: What does it mean for evidence to confirm a theory? For a theory to explain a phenomenon? What constitutes a scientific theory in the first place? Does the nature of science change through history? In this course students reflect on how science works and why it works so well. Prerequisite: Rhetoric 102. Offered: fall semester of even-numbered years.
PHILOSOPHY 218. (3) PHILOSOPHY OF ART. What makes art “art”? Indeed, can “art” be defined at all? What is the difference between various types of art—a piece of music versus a sculpture, say? What is beauty? Are judgments regarding artworks and beauty subjective or objective? Is art important and valuable? Should the state support art and artists? What is the relation between art and morality? Should art ever be censored? Can you imagine a case where you would respond in the affirmative and, say, picket in front of a museum? In this course we’ll think about questions such as these—questions that will appeal to artist and non-artist alike. Prerequisite: none. Offered: most spring semesters. PHILOSOPHY 304. (3) NINETEENTH-CENTURY PHILOSOPHY. Is the world a fundamentally rational place? What is our role in such a world and how might we change it? Such questions are engaged in this course, which focuses on the thought of Hegel and Marx. The remainder of the course considers the views of philosophers such as Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Mill. Prerequisite: Rhetoric 102. Offered: fall semester of even-numbered years.
PHILOSOPHY 313. (3) SCIENCE AND RELIGION. Does the Big Bang entail creation from nothing? Are rational beings central to the development of the universe or the evolution of life? Is any purpose evident in that development or evolution? Do explanations involving intelligent design conflict with those by natural selection? Questions like these motivate this course, which will appeal to students interested in religion, science, or any of the numerous philosophical questions to which these subjects give rise. Prerequisite: Rhetoric 102. Offered: fall semester of odd-numbered years. PHILOSOPHY 314. (3) ETHICS. Are all actions self-interested? Is altruism possible? How to explain human nature? Is it fixed and constant? Or might human nature change across time? Just how and why do others matter? (Or do they?) Is morality founded in reason or emotion? What are the virtues? What is happiness? How should I live my life? This course addresses these and other basic questions—questions at once both fun and challenging—in philosophical ethics. Prerequisite: Rhetoric 102. Offered: fall semester.