Course Offerings

Fall 2021

See complete information about these courses in the course offerings database. For more information about a specific course, including course type, schedule and location, click on its title.

Introduction to Moral and Political Philosophy

PHIL 104 - Taylor, Erin P.

The course provides a broad historical survey of moral and political philosophy. Students read selections from the work of a number of great women and men from the ancient to the contemporary period, dealing with questions of ethics and moral and political philosophy. We consider how philosophy can be way of life and how we can pursue wisdom through careful argumentation and analysis of the foundations of our beliefs about the world, morality, human nature, good and evil, government and society, justice, and equality.

Introduction to Theories of Knowledge and Reality

PHIL 105 - Kang, Li

An introduction to philosophy, covering the following puzzles and questions: Do we really know anything? What is time like? Is time travel possible? What are selves? Does God exist? Do we have free will? Students see how these big questions are pursued in both Western and Eastern traditions and how they impact everyday life. The main goal of this course is to develop rigorous and disciplined methods of thinking and writing. Emphasis is especially placed on developing the abilities to extract, present, explain, and evaluate positions and arguments.

Introduction to Logic

PHIL 170 - Gregory, Paul A.

The study of argumentation and modern formal logic. This course explores the basic principles of deductive and inductive reasoning. Students learn to symbolize and evaluate natural language arguments. Topics covered include sentential and quantificational logic.

Seminar in Ethics and Value Theory

PHIL 196A - Zapata, Fernando (Fernando)

A consideration of selected issues in philosophy. May be repeated for degree credit if the topics are different.

Fall 2021, PHIL 196A-01: First-Year Seminar: Free Markets, Private Property, and Economic Justice (3). Prerequisite: First-year class standing only.  We will consider philosophical questions surrounding the value of free markets and the justification of private property rights, along with other economic rights and liberties, in the history of liberal thought. Liberal political philosophy takes liberty to have fundamental importance as a political value, and some individual liberties as basic to live as free persons (for example, liberty of conscience and freedom to choose one's occupation). However, liberal thinkers disagree on whether economic liberties, such as extensive rights of private ownership of land and scarce resources, and laissez-faire freedom of contract, are basic or secondary. Liberal philosophers, such as Locke, Smith, and Mill, have competing views on the nature and scope of economic rights and liberties, and the government's role in regulating markets, on this basis. As private property rights within a system of free markets lead to situations of gross material inequality and poverty, we will think about how these institutions can conflict with claims of social or economic justice. (HU) Zapata.

 

Religion and Existentialism

PHIL 214 - Kosky, Jeffrey L.

A consideration of the accounts of human existence (faith and doubt; death and being-in-the-world; anxiety, boredom, and hope; sin and evil; etc.) elaborated by philosophers, theologians, and literary figures in the 19th and 20th centuries. The central figures considered are Søren Kierkegaard and Friedrich Nietzsche. Attention is paid to their significance for future philosophers, theologians, artists, and literary figures, and consideration may also be paid to forerunners in earlier centuries.

Philosophy of Law

PHIL 252 - Bell, Melina C.

An examination of topics in the philosophy of law, such as the concepts of a law and of a legal system; Natural Law theory; legal positivist and legal realist theories of law; the nature of the relationship between law, morality, and religion; civil disobedience; rights in the U.S. Constitution; freedom of speech and pornography; abortion and the right to privacy; punishment and the death penalty; and different forms of legal liability. Readings include United States Supreme Court opinions.

Metaphysics: Existence and Reality

PHIL 274 - Kang, Li

Metaphysics concerns the most general questions about existence and reality. Discussions include spacetime, material objects, persons, abstract objects, and fictional objects. The course covers the general debate between realism and idealism, and also examines how metaphysics is developed in different traditions, especially contemporary analytic philosophy and Buddhist philosophy.

Philosophy of Biology

PHIL 282 - Cooper, Gregory J. (Greg)

An examination of philosophical issues raised by biology, with an emphasis on current evolutionary theory. Topics include the structure of the theory of evolution by natural selection, an examination of the concepts of fitness and adaptation, the role of teleological explanation in biology, reductionism, the nature of biological species, individuality, levels of selection, and sociobiology.

Seminar in Ethics and Value Theory

PHIL 296A - Dudley, William C. (Will)

A consideration of selected issues in philosophy. May be repeated for degree credit if the topics are different.

Fall 2021, PHIL 296A-01: Seminar in Ethics and Value Theory: Philosophy of Education (3). Students compete ferociously for the opportunity to pay large sums of money for the privilege of attending Washington and Lee University. The value of the educational experience they receive is usually taken to be self-evident. Less obvious, however, is the nature of education itself. What is education? Which purposes can and should it serve? Which curricular and extra-curricular programs best accomplish those purposes? These questions about the nature of education are essential to philosophy, and also to the history and future of W&L. Since the time of Plato and Aristotle philosophers have sought to determine the educational practices most conducive to human wisdom and flourishing. American liberal arts colleges offer a distinctive form of educational experience, and thus a distinctive response to this philosophical challenge. Students will read and discuss classic texts in the philosophy of education in close conjunction with materials concerning the emergence and present practices of liberal arts colleges in America. Special attention will be paid to W&L, and students will be encouraged to reflect upon their own educational goals and choices in light of the philosophical works that they read. (HU) Dudley.
 

Seminar in Ethics and Value Theory

PHIL 296B - Quinonez, Omar (Omar)

A consideration of selected issues in philosophy. May be repeated for degree credit if the topics are different.

Fall 2021, PHIL 296B-01: Seminar in Ethics and Value Theory: Daily Ethics of Social Trust (3). This seminar looks at the effects of our daily behavior on social trust. What makes someone trustworthy in the eyes of others? How do political leaders and institutions build trust? By what mechanisms do we lose trust in our friends, communities, and values? We will consider social trust in relation to some of today's most pressing ethical, existential, and political issues. These include the role of reputation and social recognition, the social dynamics of belief in science and experts, the moral demands of hospitality, and the ways in which unfair economic practices and discrimination impair social trust. I hope that by the end of the term we will all have a better understanding of how our modern daily lives are capable of upsetting trust in our fellow citizens, institutions and values, and the global community at large. (HU) Quinonez.

Kant

PHIL 310 - Goldberg, Nathaniel J.

A close reading of the Critique of Pure Reason , Kant's most important work in metaphysics and epistemology and one of the most influential philosophical works ever written.

Seminar in Environmental Ethics

PHIL 365 - Cooper, Gregory J. (Greg)

This course examines selected topics in environmental ethics. Topics may vary from year to year, and include the proper meanings and goals of environmentalism; the goals and methods of conservation biology; major environmental issues in current political debates; and balancing the ethical concerns of environmental justice and our responsibilities to future generations. This course may be taken only one for degree credit.

Fall 2021, PHIL 365-01: Seminar in Environmental Ethics: Values: Environmental Ethics and Agriculture (3). Following a critical assessment of the dominant agricultural paradigm - industrial agriculture - we explore more ecologically informed alternatives such as regenerative agriculture and conservation agriculture. The course places special emphasis on climate change, examining issues such as the role of animals in agriculture and the potential for agricultural practices to sequester carbon in the soil. (HU) Cooper.

Philosophy of Language

PHIL 372 - Goldberg, Nathaniel J.

A survey of central topics in the field, including some or all of the following: reference, meaning, truth, analyticity, speech acts, pragmatics, verificationism, indeterminacy, innateness, metaphor, and development of language in the species and in the individual.

Directed Individual Study

PHIL 403 - Cooper, Gregory J. (Greg)

May be repeated for degree credit if the topics are different.

Senior Thesis

PHIL 473 - Goldberg, Nathaniel J.

Senior thesis.

Honors Thesis

PHIL 493 - Gregory, Paul A.

Honors Thesis. Students must petition the department via the listed instructor. While awaiting a decision, the student must ensure a full credit load not including PHIL 493. The department honors program is outlined at https://www.wlu.edu/philosophy-department/about-the-department/about-the-major-and-the-minor/honors-program .

Spring 2021

See complete information about these courses in the course offerings database. For more information about a specific course, including course type, schedule and location, click on its title.

Medicine, Research, and Poverty

PHIL 247 - Taylor, Erin P.

This seminar introduces students to central ethical issues in the provision of medical care and the conduct of medical research in the context of poverty. Specific topics include medical research on prisoners and the indigent; ancillary care obligations in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs); meeting the standard of care in LMICs; access to essential medicines; allocation of scarce medical resources; and compensated donation for organs or tissues.

Philosophy and Science Fiction

PHIL 272 - Goldberg, Nathaniel J.

Discussion of one or more major works in science fiction and in philosophy that explore related themes.

An Investigation of Self

PHIL 284 - Kang, Li

The purpose of this course is to examine self and its relations to cognition and behavior through the lens of philosophy and science. By getting informed by recent psychological studies and learning how self is theorized in different philosophical traditions, we develop a comprehensive understanding of self and explore how this understanding can impact our everyday life.We will be engaging with views and texts from various cultures and traditions, including psychology and science.

Seminar in Ethics and Value Theory

PHIL 296 - Weissman, Jeremy L.

A consideration of selected issues in philosophy. May be repeated for degree credit if the topics are different.

Spring 2021, PHIL 296-01: Seminar in Ethics and Value Theory: Ethics and Emerging Technologies (3).  By some accounts, technology is the defining aspect of modern society that shapes how we experience the world. At the same time, technology is accelerating at a pace that challenges our ability to take stock of the ethical issues at hand. In this seminar, we take a critical look at a number of cutting-edge technologies that are still largely on the horizon and attempt to decipher the ethical issues they present and how such problems might be mitigated. Some emerging technologies we critically analyze include artificial intelligence, human enhancement, virtual reality, surveillance technologies, synthetic biology, self-driving cars, and killer robots. (HU) Weissman.?

Winter 2021

See complete information about these courses in the course offerings database. For more information about a specific course, including course type, schedule and location, click on its title.

Introduction to Theories of Knowledge and Reality

PHIL 105 - Kang, Li

An introduction to philosophy, covering the following puzzles and questions: Do we really know anything? What is time like? Is time travel possible? What are selves? Does God exist? Do we have free will? Students see how these big questions are pursued in both Western and Eastern traditions and how they impact everyday life. The main goal of this course is to develop rigorous and disciplined methods of thinking and writing. Emphasis is especially placed on developing the abilities to extract, present, explain, and evaluate positions and arguments.

Modern European Philosophy: Descartes to Hume

PHIL 120 - Goldberg, Nathaniel J.

An examination of some of the metaphysics, epistemology, and philosophy of religion of the European Enlightenment, including views of the rationalists Rene Descartes, Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia, and Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz; and the empiricists Catharine Cockburn, John Locke, and David Hume. Topics include skepticism about the external world, mind-body dualism, the existence and nature of God, theories of substance, personal identity, and causation.

Ethics and the Environment

PHIL 150 - Cooper, Gregory J. (Greg)

This course is a philosophical exploration of one's responsibilities to the natural world. It has three main objectives: first, to provide an understanding of different dominant ethical theories and their application to animals, plants, and ecosystems; second, to provide an understanding of major environmental issues in current political debates, such as climate change, species preservation, and sustainable development; and third, to facilitate the development of a student's own ethic towards the environment.

Introduction to Logic

PHIL 170 - McGonigal, Andrew J.

The study of argumentation and modern formal logic. This course explores the basic principles of deductive and inductive reasoning. Students learn to symbolize and evaluate natural language arguments. Topics covered include sentential and quantificational logic.

Buddhist Philosophy

PHIL 223 - Kang, Li

An introduction to Buddhist philosophy. We focus on the philosophical articulation and defense of Buddhism, and reflect on issues in metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of mind, and ethics. We cover the development of major schools in both Indian and Chinese Buddhism, including Abhidharma, Madhyamaka, Yogacara, Tiantai, Huayan, and Chan/Zen. We see how different traditions can be mutually informing. We also discuss the relevance of Buddhist philosophy to Western philosophy as well as empirical research.

Social Inequality and Fair Opportunity

PHIL 242 - Bell, Melina C.

An exploration of the different range of opportunities available to various social groups, including racial, ethnic and sexual minorities, women, and the poor. Topics include how to define fair equality of opportunity; the social mechanisms that play a role in expanding and limiting opportunity; legal and group-initiated strategies aimed at effecting fair equality of opportunity and the theoretical foundations of these strategies; as well as an analysis of the concepts of equality, merit and citizenship, and their value to individuals and society.

Feminist Social and Political Philosophy

PHIL 244 - Bell, Melina C.

This course critically examines the gender norms that pervade our identities, govern our everyday behavior, and organize our social life. Questions addressed may include: What is gender? In what ways does it affect the quality of women's and men's lives? Is gender difference natural? Is it valuable? Can it contribute to, or interfere with, human flourishing? Can a gendered society be just? What can any of us do to promote good relations among women and men?

Epistemology: Knowledge and Doubt

PHIL 278 - Goldberg, Nathaniel J.

An examination of the basic problems in epistemology with an emphasis on contemporary discussions. Topics include skepticism, knowledge, justification (foundationalism, coherentism, reliabilism), relativism, and rationality.

Seminar in Ethics and Value Theory

PHIL 296A - Weissman, Jeremy L.

A consideration of selected issues in philosophy. May be repeated for degree credit if the topics are different.

Winter 2021, PHIL 296A-01: Seminar: Ethics of International Relations (3). As we enter an increasingly globalized society, few things have characterized modern political conflicts more than the proper role of the individual nation upon the world stage. We attempt to decipher just what that role ought to be. Some of the ethical questions we consider include: When can we justly go to war? When is a humanitarian or environmental intervention warranted? What are our duties to less-industrialized nations in the name of global economic justice? What are our duties towards immigrants? (HU) Weissman.

Medical Ethics

PHIL 346 - Taylor, Erin P.

An examination of the issues arising out of the human impact of modern biomedical research and practice. Specific issues are selected from among the following: abortion, contraception, death and dying, experimentation/research, genetics, in vitro fertilization, intellectual and developmental disabilities, public health/community medicine, science/technology, transplantation and patients' rights.

Legal Ethics

PHIL 348 - Cooper, Gregory J. (Greg)

An examination of the issues associated with lawyers' roles in society and their impact upon and obligations to the client, the court, and the legal profession. The course also addresses questions of the role and function of law and the adversary system.

Senior Thesis

PHIL 473 - Goldberg, Nathaniel J.

Senior thesis.

Honors Thesis

PHIL 493 - Goldberg, Nathaniel J.

Honors Thesis. Students must petition the department via the listed instructor. While awaiting a decision, the student must ensure a full credit load not including PHIL 493. The department honors program is outlined at https://www.wlu.edu/philosophy-department/about-the-department/about-the-major-and-the-minor/honors-program .