Location: Bowdoin / Philosophy / Courses


Spring 2014

  • The College Catalogue has a class finder tool to search for courses by title, instructor, department, and more.
  • Login to Blackboard. Instructional materials are available on a course-by-course basis.
PHIL 1320. Moral Problems.
Lawrence Simon.

Our society is riven by deep and troubling moral controversies. Examines some of these controversies in the context of current arguments and leading theoretical positions. Possible topics include abortion, physician-assisted suicide, capital punishment, sexuality, the justifiability of terrorism, and the justice of war.

PHIL 2112. Modern Philosophy.
Matthew Stuart.

A survey of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century European philosophy, focusing on discussions of the ultimate nature of reality and our knowledge of it. Topics include the nature of the mind and its relation to the body, the existence of God, and the free will problem. Readings from Descartes, Locke, Hume, Kant, and others.

PHIL 2160. Heidegger.
Nathan Rothschild.

An introduction to the thought of Martin Heidegger centered on a careful reading of Heidegger’s Being and Time. Focus is on unpacking Heidegger’s rich account of human being as finite sense making. Topics include the relation of mind to world, the notion of different ways of being, the view that understanding the being of an entity is understanding what is possible for that entity, “being-towards-death,” and the viability of interpreting this last notion as the collapse of a way of life.

PHIL 2233. Intermediate Logic.
Scott Sehon.

Investigates several philosophically important results of modern logic, including Gödel’s incompleteness theorems, the Church-Turing Theorem (that there is no decision procedure for quantificational validity), and Tarski’s theorem (the indefinability of truth for formal languages). Also includes an introduction to modal logic, the logic of necessity and possibility.

PHIL 2360. The Moral Mind: Ancient and Modern Perspectives.
Nathan Rothschild.

Moral Psychology is a sub-field of philosophy that examines human psychology with an eye towards its implications for, and possible dependence upon, ethical theory. Perhaps its central question is, “what constitutes the agent that has the potential to be virtuous?” In pursuit of this question we explore the following topics: ethical naturalism, psychic conflict, virtue as psychic unity, whether reason can motivate action, the existence of character and the claim that all desire is for the good.

PHIL 2410. Philosophy of Mind.
Scott Sehon.

We see ourselves as rational agents: we have beliefs, desires, intentions, wishes, hopes, etc. We also have the ability to perform actions, seemingly in light of these beliefs, desires, and intentions. Is our conception of ourselves as rational agents consistent with our scientific conception of human beings as biological organisms? Can there be a science of the mind and, if so, what is its status relative to other sciences? What is the relationship between mind and body? How do our mental states come to be about things in the world? How do we know our own minds, or whether other people even have minds? Readings primarily from contemporary sources.

PHIL 3392. Advanced Topics in Environmental Philosophy.
Lawrence Simon.

Examines philosophical, moral, political, and policy questions regarding various environmental issues. Possible topics include the ethics of climate change policy, our obligations to future generations, benefit-cost analysis vs. the precautionary principle as a decision-making instrument, and the relationship between justice and sustainability.

PHIL 3450. Ryle and Dennett.
Matthew Stuart.

Begins with The Concept of Mind (1949), Gilbert Ryle’s most important book. In lucid prose, and with a lively sense of humor, Ryle offers penetrating analyses about knowledge, emotion, will, sensation and imagination. Daniel Dennett was one of Ryle’s brilliant students at Oxford, and is among the most entertaining, accessible, and provocative philosophers working today. Unlike Ryle, Dennett is marvelously well informed about recent developments in cognitive science, computer science, and evolutionary biology, and uses this knowledge in the service of his philosophy. We’ll read his new book, Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking (2013), as well as some earlier work.