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School of Humanities

Philosophy Undergraduate Course Descriptions

Spring 2022 Course Descriptions


PHI 151PHI 151

Intro to Philosophy 
Dr. Sam Bruton 
TTh 1:00-2:15 
What is real? What is it to know something? What makes me me? Do I have free will? What’s the difference between right and wrong? These are some of the classic philosophical puzzles to be explored in this class. Learn how great philosophers from the past and the best contemporary minds have answered these questions, and find out how their answers apply to real world issues we all confront daily. The class will be taught in an engaging and interactive way, and it fulfills GEC requirements. 


PHI 151PHI 171

Introduction to Philosophy 
Dr. Paula Smithka 
MW 2:30-3:45 (face-to-face), course # 4048 
Aristotle says, “For it is owing to their wonder that people both now begin and at first began to philosophize”. 
Philosophy begins in wonder. It’s about asking fundamental questions—questions like, “Does God exist?”; “What is the nature of reality?”; “Is what I perceive really the way things are?”; “What is a Self?”; “Am I the same person over time?”; “What makes an action morally right?” 
Study philosophy and unlock your mind! 


PHI 351PHI 151

Introduction to Philosophy 
Dr. Michael Dearmey 

Basic questions and theories classical and present. PHI 410/510 Classical Philosophy focusing on the Pre-Socratics, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. 


PHI 171PHI 453

Ethics and Good Living 
Dr. Ian Dunkle 
What is it to live well? This is one of the oldest and most foundational questions in philosophy, and for good reason: what could be more important than understanding how to live well?—Maybe, actually living well!—Granted. But how can we hope to live well unless we have at least some idea of what that is? 
Answering this question is hard, though, for several reasons, including these: First, it seems to be ambiguous (to live uprightly? to maximize self-interest?). Second, common answers are ambiguous; there are different senses in which something might be good for you. Third, popular opinions on the good life contradict one another (consider what your parents tell you about the importance and non-importance of pursuing a lucrative career). But where else can we get a footing on the question except in popular opinions? 
This course explores the central philosophical puzzles and controversies regarding the good life and introduces students to major accounts offered in both the history of philosophy and in contemporary value-theory. Throughout the course students will also develop skills of critical thinking and argument analysis. 


PHI 253253

Dr. Paula Smithka 
MW 9:30-10:45 (face-to-face), course #5571 
Developing good critical thinking skills is useful for clarity of reasoning and evaluating the views of others both in philosophical studies and everyday life. In Logic, you will learn the importance of having evidence or reasons to support one’s views, how to evaluate arguments for their strength and cogency, and how to construct good arguments. In addition, you will not only learn what constitutes a good/strong argument but we will examine common mistakes in reasoning. The reasoning skills that you begin to develop by taking a logic course will aid you in whatever academic or professional directions you choose to take. This course will make you a detail person! 


REL 326PHI 320

Medical Encounters: Bioethics, Pandemics, and the Public Sphere 
Dr. Ian Dunkle, Dr. Emily Stanback 
MW 11:00-12:15 
This course will focus on the bioethical questions raised by pandemics—COVID-19, but also historical pandemics. Our goal will be to explore the ethically significant sites of tension, and even breakdown, between patient and provider, as well as the public and medicine writ large. We will examine how, why, and when the goals of a physician may be at odds with the goals of the person they are treating; moments when communication is insufficient and neither party can understand one another; moments when healthcare fails to provide care, and even harms the patient. We are especially interested in the conceptual gaps, structural challenges, and biases that complicate medical encounters, and the ways that the current pandemic has called attention to the need to reexamine and possibly restructure our medical system. 
This course will be team taught by Dr. Kathryn Anthony (Communication Studies), Dr. Ian Dunkle (Philosophy), Dr. Michelle McLeese (Sociology), and Dr. Emily Stanback (English). Although this course will include lectures, including guest lectures, it will be discussion oriented. Over the course of the semester, students will learn how to assess medical sources, and will complete writing assignments in a variety of genres. 


PHI 351351

Critical Thinking 
Dr. Ian Dunkle 
MW 2:30-3:45 

How is it possible to learn what you don’t already know; how do we acquire knowledge? Sure, you could just find someone who does know and listen passively to what they say. But how will you know that they know what they’re talking about? And even if they do, is having the ability to parrot someone else’s knowledge the same as having that knowledge yourself? Acquiring knowledge seems paradoxical. 
The solution: we acquire knowledge by building on prior knowledge through logical inference. The purpose of this course is to study and master the art of advancing knowledge through inference. We will study formal logical inference, informal logical rules and fallacies, statistical inference, and causal reasoning. Unlike in a logic course, our focus will always be on applying these skills to actual questions we all care about. 
Note: Inferential skills are crucial to succeeding in standardized tests, especially the LSAT.  If you want to target the skills needed to raise your performance on those, this is the class for you. 


PHI 356 356

Dr. Sam Bruton 
TTh 9:30 – 10:45 am 
Come explore what great philosophers have thought about the difference between right and wrong, virtue and vice. This class will introduce students to the timeless philosophical theories of Aristotle, the Utilitarians, and Kant, and we will consider the strengths and weaknesses of these theories by applying them to a wide range of contemporary moral issues and ethical dilemmas. This class is required for philosophy majors. 



PHI 410/510

Classical Philosophy 
Dr. Michael Dearmey 

Classical Philosophy focusing on the Pre-Socratics, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. 


REL 320320

Tibetan Religions 
Dr. Daniel Capper 
MW 1:00-2:15PM 
Maybe you want to use your dreams for spiritual practice. Or perhaps you have close friendships with animals and want to learn about how souls may be shared across species. Alternatively, maybe you want to know about the Buddhist teachings that won the Dalai Lama a Nobel Peace Prize. Do these things in Tibetan religions class! In this course we visit the roof of the world to study a variety of spiritual forms in ways that will be appealing to students of philosophy, history, politics, international studies, psychology, ecology, or religion.  


REL 340340

Beyond the Grave: Religion and the Afterlife 
Dr. Amy Slagle 
This course explores concepts of death, dying, and the afterlife as found in the world's major religions. 





 Summer & Fall 2020 Course Descriptions

Spring 2020 Course Descriptions

Fall 2019 Course Descriptions


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