Course Offerings

Winter 2023

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 - Lamb, Matthew

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.

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 - 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.

Introduction to Logic

PHIL 170 - Goldberg, Nathaniel 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.

Heidegger and Being in the World

PHIL 218 - Kosky, Jeffrey L.

Same as REL 218. An exploration of the work of Martin Heidegger and the development of its themes in select philosophers, literary artists, and/or film makers. A close reading of the magisterial account of being in the world in Being and Time is followed by careful study of representative essays from his later work. After our reading of Heidegger, we consider the literary, cinematic, and/or philosophical work of major 20th- and 21st-century figures who let us reflect on the possibilities and/or problems that his account of being in the world poses for ethical, religious, and existential concern. Special attention this year is paid to the films of Terrence Malick.

Philosophy of Race

PHIL 253 - Sun, Angela M.

In this course, students will explore philosophical questions about race and ethnicity. Possible topics include the experiences of racism targeting members of different racial groups, colonialism, the concept of "whiteness," the value of diversity, epistemic issues surrounding stereotypes and profiling, metaphysical questions about the nature of race, hate speech, and resistance to racial oppression. 

Poverty, Equity and Empathy

PHIL 262 - Pickett, Howard Y.

Same as POV 262. What role, if any, should the increasingly common, yet contested, concepts of "equity" and "empathy" play in understanding and addressing poverty and inequality in ways that respect the dignity of every person? This course asks students to define, examine, and evaluate both concepts as tools for working toward a more just world. Students will apply the concepts to an inequity or inequality important to them. 

Epistemology: Knowledge and Doubt

PHIL 278 - Gregory, Paul A.

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: Care and Concern in Philosophy

PHIL 296C - Quinonez, Omar

This class will pay close attention to the experience of care and concern. The German philosopher Martin Heidegger believed care to be the most fundamental of human moods in that it entirely colors how we see our lives and world. Throughout the term, we will look at key aspects of this mood, including its psychological basis and its intimate role in facilitating meaning at the individual, interpersonal, and social levels. What makes something matter to us? What does it mean to be concerned for our future plans? What is the best way to care for our loved ones or the planet? Do our societies reflect our caring character? In our discussions, we will pay particularly close attention to the meaning of “care of the self,” concern for our bodies, our public spaces, and the responsibilities to care for others, including strangers. By the term’s end, we will have a reasonable grasp of how and why care and concern lie at the very basis of all meaning and purpose.

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.

Decision Theory

PHIL 371 - Sun, Angela M.

In this course, students will explore ways that rational decision making both by individuals and groups has been modeled in philosophy, political science, economics, and other social sciences. Potential topics include the notion of credence or subjective probability, expected utility theory, game theory, voting systems, risk, time discounting of goods, representation theorems, the Dutch Book theorem, and debates between causal and evidential decision theorists. In addition to learning the formal methods of decision theory, students will explore debates in contemporary decision theory.

Seminar in History of Philosophy or Major Figures: John Dewey

PHIL 395E - Zapata, Fernando R.

In this seminar, we will study the later essays of John Dewey, America's leading public intellectual and social critic in the early twentieth century. Dewey, as a pragmatist, attempts to work out how social and political issues can best be engaged philosophically, addressing, for example, the nature and purpose of public education, the uses of scientific power, and democratic politics, all within modern capitalist societies. Philosophical thinking, for Dewey, begins in the struggles and hopes of people, not just the Western canon. We will consider Dewey's essays on public affairs in his day that prove relevant today.  

Directed Individual Study: Advanced Logic

PHIL 403A - Gregory, Paul A.

Honors Thesis

PHIL 493 - Gregory, Paul A.

Honors Thesis. The department honors program is outlined at https://www.wlu.edu/philosophy-department/about-the -department/about-the-major-and-the-minor/honors-pr ogram .

Fall 2022

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 - Sun, Angela M.

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.

Ancient Greek Philosophy

PHIL 110 - Goldberg, Nathaniel J.

An examination of the metaphysics of the pre-Socratic philosophers, especially the Milesians, Pythagoras, Xenophanes, Heraclitus, Parmenides, Zeno of Elea, and the Atomists, and the ethics and political philosophy of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Topics include the origin and nature of the kosmos , the nature and existence of the god(s), the trial and execution of Socrates, theories of virtue, the nature of knowledge and truth, justice and the ideal state, the nature of eudaimonia (happiness, flourishing), and the possibility of akrasia (weakness of the will).

Introduction to Logic

PHIL 170 - Goldberg, Nathaniel 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.

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.

Religion and Existentialism

PHIL 214 - Kosky, Jeffrey L.

Same as REL 214. 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.

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.

Contemporary Ethical Theory

PHIL 240 - Lamb, Matthew

An in-depth exploration of central questions in contemporary normative ethical theory, including the following: Which features of actions are morally important to determining their rightness (e.g., their motive, their intrinsic nature, their consequences)? What is the relation between moral values and personal values (e.g., those deriving from personal commitments and relationships)? How demanding is morality? How can we evaluate competing theories of normative ethics? Students consider these and related issues by examining contemporary philosophical defenses of consequentialism, deontology, virtue ethics, and contractualism.

Intermediate Logic

PHIL 270 - Gregory, Paul A.

Seminar: Ethics and Value Theory: Philosophy of Education

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

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.

Seminar: Ethics and Value Theory: American Philosophy and Rac

PHIL 296B - Zapata, Fernando R.

In this seminar, we will study works from American thinkers on ideas about race and the moral, social, and political problems flowing from the social and historical construction of American racial identities, for example, human chattel slavery, Jim Crow practices, and residential and school racial segregation, the legacy of which shapes and is embedded in traditions, social institutions, and the culture of daily life. We will cover philosophical approaches to topics such as racial justice, reparations and policies to redress racial social and political inequalities, the racial organization of labor, and the history and future of racial categories in the United States.

Seminar in Ethics and Value Theory: Care and Concern in Philosophy

PHIL 296C - Quinonez, Omar

This class will pay close attention to the experience of care and concern. The German philosopher Martin Heidegger believed care to be the most fundamental of human moods in that it entirely colors how we see our lives and world. Throughout the term, we will look at key aspects of this mood, including its psychological basis and its intimate role in facilitating meaning at the individual, interpersonal, and social levels. What makes something matter to us? What does it mean to be concerned for our future plans? What is the best way to care for our loved ones or the planet? Do our societies reflect our caring character? In our discussions, we will pay particularly close attention to the meaning of “care of the self,” concern for our bodies, our public spaces, and the responsibilities to care for others, including strangers. By the term’s end, we will have a reasonable grasp of how and why care and concern lie at the very basis of all meaning and purpose.

Medical Ethics

PHIL 346 - Lamb, Matthew

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.

Honors Thesis

PHIL 493 - Gregory, Paul A.

Honors Thesis. The department honors program is outlined at https://www.wlu.edu/philosophy-department/about-the -department/about-the-major-and-the-minor/honors-pr ogram .

Spring 2022

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 & POVERTY

PHIL 247 - Taylor, Erin P.

SEM:AUTHORITY

PHIL 296A - Zapata, Fernando R.

SEM:DECADENCE AND DECAY

PHIL 297A - Quinonez, Omar