Location: Bowdoin / Philosophy / Courses / Spring 2012


Spring 2012

112. Modern Philosophy
Matthew Stuart M 10:30 - 11:25, W 10:30 - 11:25, F 10:30 - 11:25
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.

145. Truth and Morality: One, Many, or None?
Scott Sehon M 11:30 - 12:55, W 11:30 - 12:55
If we disagree about whether or not the earth is flat, or whether Obama was born in Kenya, it seems that we are disagreeing about something to which there is a single true answer; we can’t all be right. On the other hand, when we contemplate the complexity of cultural diversity and worldviews in different times and places, it might seem implausible that there is a true moral view that applies to everyone at all times. Investigates whether there is moral truth: whether there are objective moral truths that hold for everyone, whether moral truth is somehow relative to particular cultures or whether there is no such thing as truth or morality. Readings from mostly contemporary sources.

211. Existentialism
Megs Gendreau T 2:30 - 3:55, TH 2:30 - 3:55
An examination of key works of the Existentialist tradition, with a focus on questions of moral responsibility and selfhood. Readings will include the work of 19th and 20th Century figures from the German and French traditions (including Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Heidegger, Sartre, de Beauvoir, and Fanon). Some attention will be given to later writers whose work was influenced by this tradition.

229. Philosophy in the Twentieth Century
Matthew Stuart T 11:30 - 12:55, TH 11:30 - 12:55
An examination of some key figures and works in the development of analytic philosophy. Particular attention is given to theory about the nature of physical reality and our perceptual knowledge of it, and to questions about the nature and function of language. Readings from Bertrand Russell, G. E. Moore, W. V. O. Quine, Gilbert Ryle, and others.

233. Intermediate Logic
Scott Sehon M 1:00 - 2:25, W 1:00 - 2:25
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.

241. Philosophy of Law
Sarah Conly T 1:00 - 2:25, TH 1:00 - 2:25
An introduction to legal theory. Central questions include: What is law? What is the relationship of law to morality? What is the nature of judicial reasoning? Particular legal issues include the nature and status of privacy rights (e.g., contraception, abortion, and the right to die); the legitimacy of restrictions on speech and expression (e.g., pornography, hate speech); the nature of equality rights (e.g., race and gender); and the right to liberty (e.g., homosexuality).

252. Global Justice
Megs Gendreau M 8:00 - 9:25, W 8:00 - 9:25
Investigates questions concerning the distribution of both goods and harms at the global scale, as well as issues in international human rights. Special attention will be given to environmental issues that have international import, including global climate change, waste disposal, and resource scarcity. Readings will be taken largely from contemporary sources, and students will be expected to investigate and discuss a number of case studies from the 20th and 21st Centuries.

325. Utilitarianism and Its Critics
Sarah Conly M 2:30 - 3:55, W 2:30 - 3:55
How should we decide what to do? Utilitarianism is the view that the right act is the act that produces the greatest happiness of the greatest number—an appealing view in many respects, since we do want to be happy. However, it doesn’t give much respect to the value of the individual or the value of liberty. Utilitarians argue that happiness is so desirable that it is worth sacrificing these other things. Examines the arguments in the debate between those who value only the maximization of happiness and those who think happiness must sometimes take second place to other things.