Fall 2011 Upper Division Courses


Critical Thinking (Philosophy 101) is to be taken during the student's freshman year.  It should not be delayed until late in the student's course work. 

Phil 101 (Critical Thinking) is the prerequisite for Phil 201 Human Nature;

Phil 201 (Human Nature) is the prerequisite for Phil 301 Ethics;

All 400-level Philosophy Courses have a prerequisite of 301 Ethics.

PHIL 400: Major Proseminar

Dr. Mark Alfino

W 6:00-9:00 pm

This proseminar is designed for newly declared majors. We use the seminar for a variety of purposes: to learn some important points in logic, philosophical method, and research skills, but also to acquire an overview of the profession.  However, the most important goal of the seminar is to help you develop your philosophical voice, identity, and confidence. To that end, we will look at a variety of philosophical styles and methods, as well as quite a few basic issues in philosophy.  Topics for the proseminar are chosen in consultation with the students. Students will produce a portfolio of philosophical work over the course of the semester.

This course is for Philosophy Majors only.  It is best taken in the fall of the student's junior year, although students planning to study abroad during their junior year may take the course as sophomores.

PHIL 401: History of Ancient Philosophy

Dr. David Calhoun

TR 10:50-12:05

It is often said that ancient Greece is the birthplace of western philosophy.  The primary objective of this course is to explore the writings and arguments of the major thinkers that compose this philosophical revolution.  Consequently, the course is both philosophical and historical.  It is primarily philosophical in the sense that we will be surveying major works by the most significant thinkers in ancient Greece, attempting to understand the key components of their philosophical theories and the reasoning by which they support these theories.  It is historical insofar as we will examine carefully the interrelations between the views of different thinkers and also explore the relevance of historical context to the ideas propounded by these thinkers.

The course will follow five major historical periods in ancient Greek philosophy: (1) pre-Socratic philosophy, in which a series of philosophers sought to explain the fundamental principles of reality in rational terms and to develop technical skills for succeeding in life; (2) Socrates, the central figure of ancient Greek philosophy who, although he wrote nothing, marked a decisivechange from the previous development of philosophy and significantly influenced those whofollowed: (3) Socrates' student Plato, who gradually developed his own philosophical positions in response to his teacher; (4) Plato's student Aristotle, who labored to make philosophy scientific and systematic; and (5) the post-Aristotelian philosophical schools of skepticism, Epicureanism, and Stoicism, and Neo-Platonism.

Class discussion will be a Socratically structured conversation focusing on the primary readings.  Consequently, students will be expected to shoulder a significant burden of reading the primary materials and reflecting on them before class to be fully prepared to participate.

Course grades will be based on course participation, papers, midterm exam, and a comprehensive

final exam.

This course is restricted to Majors, Minors, and Graduate students.

PHIL 410: History of Modern Philosophy

Dr. Wayne Pomerleau

MW 02:10-03:25

The two-hundred year history of modern European philosophy, from the 1630s (when Descartes' first great work was published) to the 1830s (when Hegel died), can be viewed as a struggle to achieve knowledge of reality against the challenges of skepticism.  We will study the systems of the most important Continental Rationalists (i.e., Descartes, Spinoza, and Leibniz), the most important British Empiricists (i.e., Hobbes, Locke, Berkeley, and Hume), and the most important German Idealists (i.e., Kant and Hegel) of this period on such issues as human knowledge, metaphysical substance, the mind-body relation, human freedom, reasons for believing in God, the nature of (both physical and mental) reality, causal reasoning, and the problem of evil.  Our goal is to understand these philosophical systems and the dynamic processes through which these three great "schools" of philosophy developed, as well as the serious conflicts presented by their differing world-views.

Each student in the course must critically evaluate, as well as understand, primary-source writings (in translation for the Rationalists and Idealists) of the thinkers to be studied, as well as participating regularly in class discussions.  Written course requirements will comprise a combination of papers and exams for all students taking the course for credit.  Those taking the course for graduate credit (510) will be expected to do additional advanced readings, show a more advanced level mastery of material, do directed research in secondary sources, include appropriate scholarly citations in their papers, receive instruction outside of class time, and make class presentations.

This course is appropriate for all Majors and Graduate students. Any other students wanting to take the course must have the permission of the instructor.

PHIL 417: The Christian Philosophy of C. S. Lewis

Dr. Brian Clayton

TR 01:15-02:30

C. S. Lewis is one of the most influential Christian authors of this century.  His fictional works and other writings continue to attract and affect readers. Lewis was trained as a philosopher at Oxford University, and his works reflect this training.  He was also well-read in the literature of the classical Christian tradition, and his works also reflect this tradition.

This will be a team-taught course that will examine Lewis the Christian thinker as his Christian theism and his philosophical training exhibit themselves in a wide range of his fictional, philosophical, and theological works.  We will also consider the thought and some of the writings of friends and contemporaries who influenced him significantly-e.g., J.R.R. Tolkien and G.K. Chesterton.

This course is appropriate for all students completing the core, and for all Majors, Minors, and Graduate Students.

PHIL 418: Walker Percy: Philosopher and Novelist

Dr. Brian Clayton

TR 09:25-10:40

The course will focus on the fiction and non-fiction works of Walker Percy (1916-1990). Percy is probably best known as a novelist, having written six novels, the first of which, The Moviegoer, won the National Book Award for fiction in 1962. However, even before his first novel was published, he had already written a number of essays that appeared in philosophical journals. It is likely that a number of academic philosophers would not consider Percy a professional philosopher, but the fact remains that philosophical questions concerned him throughout his life. His own view was that he would probably be best remembered for his philosophical essays, not for his novels. The philosophical questions that vexed him also played a prominent role in his novels, although they rarely are so obvious as to distract us from the story that Percy is telling us. Peter Augustine Lawler has recently made the argument that Percy is a true post-modern, to be distinguished from those who usually bear the label and are more properly understood as hyper-moderns. If Lawler is correct about this, then Percy may make an important contribution to our own attempts to work out a proper self-understanding and way of life now that modernism is seriously in question in  the West. Finally, Percy was a convert to Roman Catholicism, and thus his work is particularly appropriate for investigation at a Catholic university.

TEXT: We will read and discuss the following works by Walker Percy (listed by year of publication):

Love in the Ruins (1971)

The Message in the Bottle (1975)

Lancelot (1977)

The Second Coming (1980)

Lost in the Cosmos (1983)

The Thanatos Syndrome (1987)

We will read a couple of essays from the posthumously published Signposts in a Strange Land (1991) and from other authors (e.g., Pascal, Nietzsche) who are helpful in understanding Percy. These additional readings will be available online at the course Blackboard site.

Course Requirements: The final course grade will be based on the following components:

1. Course attendance and participation

2. Discussion board postings; short essays

This course is appropriate for all students completing the core, and for all Majors, Minors, and Graduate Students.

PHIL 421: American Philosophy

Dr. Tom Jeannot 

TR 1:15-2:30 pm

An American philosophical tradition takes up classic philosophical concerns in an original and promising way. In this course, we will focus on several major American philosophers whose importance to philosophical investigation is being rediscovered again. We will concentrate on three thinkers in particular who developed pragmatism in distinctive ways: Charles Sanders Peirce, William James, and John Dewey. Course requirements will include three reflective essays. The text is:

 Pragmatism and Classical American Philosophy: Essential Readings & Interpretive Essays 2/e, edited by John J. Stuhr (Oxford University Press, 2000)

 This course is appropriate for all students completing the core and for all Majors, Minors, and Graduate Students.

PHIL 424: Existentialism

Dr. Ted DiMaria

MWF 11:00-11:50

The existentialist movement defies simple definition, but can be characterized roughly as the attempt to philosophically understand fundamental issues concerning the meaning and structure of human existence. The existentialists tend to regard abstract, conceptual systems of metaphysics as unable to account for concrete reality of individual human beings. Thus, in place of metaphysics, the existentialists investigate human existence through themes such as the relationships between the individual and the crowd; the significance of anxiety, dread, and death; the meaning and scope of individual freedom; and the quest for meaning and direction as it relates to God and absolute values. This course will examine such themes as they are addressed by major "existentialist" thinkers: Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sartre, and Camus.

This course is appropriate for all students completing the core and for all Majors, Minors, and Graduate Students.

PHIL 425: Phenomenology

Dr. Dan Bradley

TR 9:25-10:40

This class is an introduction to the phenomenological tradition as it emerges at the beginning of the 20th century with the work of Edmund Husserl.  Phenomenology is a method for discovering truth through a careful reflection on one's lived experience and thereby giving an account of the structures and possibilities of experience itself.  In carrying out this project, phenomenology attempts a radical re-thinking of the Cartesian tradition in order to heal the dualisms of mind and body, subject and object, self and world, fact and value that the phenomenologist sees as plaguing the history of modernity.  The great clarion call of phenomenology is "Back to the things themselves."  This imperative is motivated by a deep desire to overcome our tendency to see things as merely instruments to be used for our own purposes and through this overcoming to allow the things as they are in themselves, with their own nature and value, to appear to us, thus revealing a world full of meaning to which we intimately belong.  The heart of this class is a close reading of the thought of Edmund Husserl and the ways his phenomenological thinking was adopted and transformed by Martin Heidegger, and Maurice Merleau-Ponty.  Students will be examined on the basis of short weekly writings, an in class exam, a presentation to the class of a phenomenological reflection on some lived experience, and a final paper. 

This course is appropriate for all students completing the core and for all Majors and Minors.

PHIL 426: Existential Psychology

William F. Ryan, S.J.

MWF 1:10-02:00

The aim of this course is to identify and study the basic elements of the philosophy of Sigmund Freud (1856-1939),  and of the Existential philosophies of Karl Jaspers (1883-1969), Viktor Frankl (1905-1998), and Eric Voegelin (1901-1985), as well as some of the principles of their psychologies. The term "Existence"  originates with Karl Jaspers. "Existentialism" is usually incorrectly identified with J-P Sartre and Martin Heidegger. Correctly described, Existentialism is a movement in late 19th-century philosophy and 20th-century philosophy which is principally concerned with the values of individuals and communities.


Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, with his deterministic philosophy and psychology sets the context for the study of Existential Psychology. Jaspers was a medical doctor, a psychiatrist, and a philosopher. Frankl was a medical doctor, a psychiatrist, and a philosopher. Voegelin was a professor of law at the University of Vienna and the author of the five-volume philosophy of history, Order and History . "Existence" for Jaspers, Frankl, and Voegelin means the person inasmuch as the person is the source of responsible free choices. We will  start with one major work of Freud, and then take up one major work of Jaspers and Frankl, and finally one work of Voegelin. We will study these philosophers and psychologist with a view to clarify what all of them mean when they speak of the person, and especially when the three Existentialists speak of the person's authenticity and the psychological aberrations that can afflict this person and a community.

The course is intended for students who have an interest in the contemporary Existentialist philosophy and psychology as represented by three of the major Existentialist thinkers. The requirements are:  written in-class twenty minute tests on each work studied; an assigned 1500 word essay on an assigned topic; a written one hour mid-term examination on Karl Jaspers and a written final exam on Viktor Frankl and Eric Voegelin . Instead of the 1500 word essay, a student may give a class presentation on a major topic from the philosophers studied. The 526 students will both give a presentation and write the 1500 word essay.


Sigmund Freud, Five Lectures on Psycho-analysis

This course is appropriate for all students completing the core, for all Majors, Minors and Graduate Students.

PHIL 433: Philosophy of Psychology

Dr. Richard McClelland

MWF 09:00-09:50

Systematic philosophical investigation of primary psychological phenomena such as the nature of mental representations (including self-representations), emotions, intentions, intuitions, attitudes and moods; and inquiry into some aspects of moral psychology such as self-deception, weakness of will and related phenomena.   If time permits, consideration will also be given to some philosophical aspects of psycho-pathology and to such disorders as narcissistic personality disorders, borderline disorders, autism, acquired sociopathy, and alexithymia, and what these show about the workings of the normal mind.

This course is open to all students finishing the core, and to all Majors and Minors.

PHIL 434: Chinese Philosophy

Dr. John Wagner     

TR 01:15-02:30

This course introduces students to three Chinese schools of thought: Confucianism, Taoism, and Chan (Zen) Buddhism. We will read and discuss two resourceful thinkers in ancient Chine" Mencius and Chuang Tzu. The former, a dynamic disputer, is famous for his rigorous unrelenting defense of Confucian teaching and his creative development of Confucianism. The latter, a provocative critic of his contemporaries, is admired for his ability to present Taoism through his imaginative and animated parables. We will also explore Chan (Zen) Buddhism by reading Toward a Philosophy of Zen Buddhism by Toshihiko Izutsu. The book discusses the experience of satori, ego and egolessness, sense and nonsense, koan practice, and the influence of Zen on arts. In addition to studying the three schools, the course will also attempt to compare the Eastern thinkers' views with Western philosophers' on relevant issues. The course will take the format of combining lecture, discussion and presentation. Students will learn different perspectives of looking at the world and various ways of reflecting on human experience. The course will help participants acquire a sense of world philosophy and be aware of what Francis Bacon called "idols" in our tradition.

This course is appropriate for all students completing the core and for all Majors,

Minors, and Graduate Students.

PHIL 439: Christian Metaphysics

Dr. Michael Tkacz

MWF 11:00-11:50

Christianity is not just a set of religious customs, but a comprehensive worldview that functions as the source of a certain way of life.  The intellectual articulation of this worldview is the task of Christian metaphysics.  This course will systematically set out such a Christian worldview based on the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas and modern Neo-Thomistic philosophers.  The course is divided into three parts:  [1] The Metaphysics of Nature which studies the principles of created being and the necessity of divine being as its source, [2] The Metaphysics of Being which studies being in its most generic characteristics, and [3] The Metaphysics of God which studies the nature of divine being as far as it can be understood by human beings.  Among the topics to be considered are:  act and potency, causality and chance, the cosmological argument, substance and accident, necessity and contingency, ontological participation, transcendentals, the analogy of being, divine simplicity, and the incarnation.

This course is appropriate for all students completing the core and for all Majors and Minors.

PHIL 440: Theory of Knowledge

Dr. Quanhua Liu

TR 2:40-3:55

Aristotle says, "All men by nature desire knowledge." However, what is knowledge? Is knowledge possible? How do we get knowledge? To answer these questions, Theory of Knowledge or Epistemology studies the origins, the nature, the extent (limit), the presuppositions, the justification, and the veracity of knowledge. This course will help students familiarize themselves with contemporary approaches to the epistemological questions and debates. The course work aims at helping students acquired the philosophical skills necessary to do more advanced work. The contents of the course consists of three parts. We will first study issues concerning the nature of knowledge and justification, including the analysis of knowledge, internalism and externalism, and foundationalism and coherentism. Then we will discuss issues arising from skepticism concerning the extent of our knowledge, including the problem of induction and epistemological contextualism. Finally, we will investigate into issues regarding epistemic value and naturalism. The course will combine lectures and discussions. Students will be asked to write two papers and take two tests.

This course is appropriate for all students completing the core, and for all Majors and Minors.

PHIL 441: Symbolic Logic

Dr. Debby Hutchins

MWF 01:10-02:00

This is a beginning course in symbolic logic. Its purpose is to give students a rigorous and comprehensive introduction to the concepts and techniques of modern logic.  Topics may include validity, soundness and truth tables as well as the propositional, predicate, and modal calculi. This course is appropriate for all students completing the core and for all Majors, Minors,


PHIL 447: Wisdom

Dr. Mark Alfino

TR 12:45-2:00 pm

The course investigates the nature of wisdom by studying thinkers and texts from a variety of traditions and disciplines.  We look at contemporary psychological and anthropological accounts of wisdom as well as ancient thought from Greek, Hellenistic, Indic, and Chinese philosophical cultures.  The goal of the course is for students to develop their own account of wisdom on the basis of our philosophical, historical, and scientific study of the topic.

This course is appropriate for all students completing the core and for Majors and Minors.

PHIL 455: Health Care Ethics

Dr. Rose Mary Volbrecht

Section 1: T 9:25-12:15 (Nursing Students Only)

Section 2: TR 2:40-3:55 (Open to all Students)

This course will survey a range of ethical issues pertaining to the health care professions.  After examining some introductory material concerning philosophical ethics, we will proceed into three main sections of material.  Section One will examine professional obligations, the doctor-patient relationship, and the role of nurses.  Section Two will examine end of life care, and will focus on the issues of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide.  Section Three will focus on ethical issues concerning human reproduction, including the abortion controversy. 

The purposes of the course are to increase awareness of the ethical issues that arise in the health care professions, to increase awareness of the ethical concepts and theories that are relevant to analysis of these problems, and to increase the student's ability to participate in rigorous thought and discussion concerning these issues. 

SECTION ONE of this course is for Nursing Students only.

SECTION TWO of this course is appropriate for all students completing the core, and for all Majors and Minors.

PHIL 458/ENVS 350: Environmental Ethics

Dr. Brian Henning

Section 1: MWF 10:00-10:50

Section 2: MWF 11:00-11:50

As concern over the well-being of the planet spreads, people frequently find themselves in conflict over how to balance conservation with the use of natural resources, visions for our common future, and the wisdom of development.  Such conflict stems in important ways from varying understandings of values and responsibilities, of what is good and right. Environmental ethics is concerned with examining a wide range of intellectual efforts to address the problem of our obligations to what we call "nature" as well as its inhabitants, e.g. animals and other human and non-human beings.  This course is designated to provide a fairly comprehensive overview of the key philosophical issues and arguments within the growing field of environmental ethics.

This course is open to all students completing the core, and for all Majors, Minors and

Environmental Ethics Majors.

PHIL 465: Philosophy of Religion

Fr. Tim Clancy

MWF 10:00-10:50

In this class we shall study different approaches to God and the nature of religious experience, language and practice. We shall approach the question historically looking at the ongoing arguments over whether and how to prove the existence of God, issues over the very nature of the idea of God, as well as over what attributes can or cannot be applied to God. We shall also be considering questions of how belief in God squares with the reality of evil in the world. 

A crucial question running throughout the course is that of the nature of the religious orientation to reality and how it relates to scientific, moral and aesthetic orientations. Are religious beliefs like scientific explanations but at a more ultimate level? Or are they more like moral exhortations? Or are they closer to poetic metaphor? I shall be arguing that rather than any of these, religion is about presence, reconnecting to reality as a whole.


Short but difficult readings

A reflection paper on the history of one=s own idea of God

Four of five papers on assigned topics (5 pages)

Participation in the classroomBminimally, attendance!!


Each paper will count for 20 % of your grade. Participation will count for another 20% (the first reflection paper will count towards your participation grade.)


Philosophy of Religion, a reader put together by me.

This course is appropriate for all students taking the core, and also for all Majors, Minors and Graduate Students.

PHIL 466: Philosophy of God

Fr. Bernard Tyrrell

TR 02:40-03:55

The course asks basic questions about the existence and nature of God, the relationship between the philosophy of God and science, the meaning of divine providence, the problem of evil, the relationship between faith and reason and other issues. The course will consist in historical, philosophical/theological and dialectical components.

The course requirements include a number of two page papers on the readings, a 6-page paper and class presentation of the position of one major thinker who deals with some issue covered in this course. Thinkers include Plotinus, Anselm, Nietzsche, Marx, Freud, Jung, Edith Stein, Simone de Beauvoir, and Sartre. The grade for the course will be determined on the basis of the requirements just mentioned, plus 3 Quizzes, class attendance and participation in class discussions. There will not be any exams. I see students by appointment at one of the parlors in Jesuit House

This course is open to all students.

Philosophy 467: Faith and Reason

Dr. Doug Kries

Section 01: TR 1:15-2:30

Section 02: TR 2:40-3:55

That faith and reason are either completely unrelated to each other or related only in conflict with each other seems to have become one of the commonplaces of the age.  In the Christian theistic tradition, this view has been held by only a minority of those who have reflected on the matter; the majority view has been that faith and reason can be, should be, and are integrated.  This Christian heritage of "faith seeking reason" offers an alternative to both the secular and the fideistic separation of the life of reason from the life of faith.  This course will use this heritage as it investigates philosophically the relation between the life of faith and the life of reason.  Among the topics studied will be the following:  the classical theistic conception of God; objections to the tradition's majority position on the faith and reason relationship; classical and contemporary objections to theism, such as those based on the experience of evil and suffering; and, classical and contemporary arguments for the existence of God, especially arguments drawn from the mathematical and physical sciences. On eight class days during the semester, the regular class meeting MAY be canceled and both sections will meet together from 7:00-9:00 p.m. for a group lecture. Students who sign up for this course should plan their schedules so that their Tuesday and Thursday evenings are generally free so that they can attend these evening sessions.

This course is open to all students finishing the core, and to all Majors and Minors.

PHIL 470: Philosophy of Law

Dr. John Shuford

Section 1 - M 6:00-9:00

Section 2 - W 3:00-6:00

This course introduces advanced undergraduates to the study of philosophy of law and the related fields of legal theory and jurisprudence.  This orientation grounds our subject matter and calls forth those who might pursue studies in law or related fields as well as those who have interest in the concept of law and its meaning and role in our society.   We engage classic texts, contemporary legal scholarship (including natural law, positivist, pragmatist, feminist, postmodern, and critical race theory), acclaimed films, dramatic literature, social commentary, thought experiments, and simulated bar exam question scenarios.  Students need not have background in the study of law to take this course.  However, the reading load is significant (and often technical), my expectations are high, and the University attendance policy is in full effect for this course.

This course is appropriate for all students completing the core and for all Majors and Minors.

PHIL 478: Philosophy of Technology

Dr. Kirk Besmer

TR 02:40-03:55

There is no denying that technology is a pervasive feature of contemporary life. How did it get to be this way? Do people determine technology, or is it the other way around? Should we place limits on technology? Indeed, can we? How do we respond rationally and responsibly to the demands placed on us by our technological culture? These are some of the questions we will try to answer as we submit technology to philosophical analysis. In this class, we will not only read key philosophic texts on the question of technology, we will also do some philosophizing on our own about technology. The course is discussion oriented, so robust student participation on a daily basis is required. Grading will be based largely on the student's written work.

This course is appropriate for all students completing the core and for all Majors and Minors.