Courses

Note: not all classes listed below are actually being offered the current academic year. Check the schedule of classes for the most up to date schedule of current and future classes.

Fall 2017

  • PHIL 100: Science, Faith and Rationality

    This seminar will introduce the student to the study of philosophy through a consideration of various epistemic and metaphysical issues surrounding science and religion. What distinguishes scientific inquiry from other areas of inquiry: Its subject matter, its method of inquiry, or perhaps both? How does scientific belief differ from religious belief, in particular? Is the scientist committed to substantive metaphysical assumptions? If so, what role do these assumptions play in scientific investigation and how do they differ from religious dogma (if they do)? Our exploration of these questions will involve the consideration of both classic and contemporary philosophical texts. 6 credit; Argument and Inquiry Seminar, Writing Requirement; offered Fall 2017 · Jason A Decker
  • PHIL 100: Utopias

    What would a perfect society look like? What ideals would it implement? What social evils would it eliminate? This course explores some famous philosophical and literary utopias, such as Plato's Republic, Thomas More's Utopia, Francis Bacon's New Atlantis, Ursula Le Guin's The Dispossessed, and others. We will also consider some nightmarish counterparts of utopias, dystopias. One of the projects in this course is a public performance, such as a speech or a short play.  6 credit; Argument and Inquiry Seminar, Writing Requirement; offered Fall 2017 · Anna Moltchanova
  • PHIL 113: The Individual and the Political Community

    Are human beings radically individual and atomic by nature, political animals, or something else? However we answer that question, what difference does it make for our understanding of the ways in which larger political communities come into existence and are maintained? In this course we will explore these questions through the work of three foundational political theorists: Plato, Hobbes, and Rousseau.

    6 credit; Humanistic Inquiry, International Studies; offered Fall 2017, Winter 2018 · Allison E Murphy
  • PHIL 213: Ethics

    How should we live? This is the fundamental question for the study of ethics. This course looks at classic and contemporary answers to the fundamental question from Socrates to Kant to modern day thinkers. Along the way, we consider slightly (but only slightly) more tractable questions such as: What reason is there to be moral? Is there such a thing as moral knowledge (and if so, how do we get it)? What are the fundamental principles of right and wrong (if there are any at all)? Is morality objective?

    6 credit; Humanistic Inquiry, Writing Requirement, International Studies; offered Fall 2017 · Claire M Griffin
  • PHIL 215: Alienation, Authenticity, and Irony: Selfhood in the Modern World

    Who am I? What kind of world do I live in? What kind of life is possible or desirable for me? While these questions have been part of philosophy since its inception, there may be particular epistemic and ethical dilemmas of knowing ourselves as modern and post-modern subjects. Both theoretical and practical challenges to self-knowledge have emerged in the course of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Psychoanalysis, sociology, and evolutionary science have made us question whether there is an essential self to be known and, if so, whether we could have access to it. Historical events, including the world wars and the increased industrialization, bureaucratization, and secularization of western societies have made reckoning with finitude and alienation central to any project of self-knowledge. In this course we will consider the challenges to self-knowledge posed by life in the modern world, and ‘authenticity’ and ‘irony’ as two prominent responses to this fundamental self-estrangement.

    6 credit; Humanistic Inquiry, Writing Requirement; offered Fall 2017 · Claire M Griffin
  • PHIL 270: Ancient Philosophy: The Good Life

    This course will center on a close reading of two texts, Plato’s Republic and Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, both of which address what is arguably the core concern in the ancient ethical tradition: the relationship between the morally good life and the happy life. In keeping with the ancient tendency to resist a sharp divide between the private and political spheres, we will examine the significance of Plato and Aristotle’s reflections on the good human life both for the individual and for the broader community.

    6 credit; Humanistic Inquiry, Writing Requirement, International Studies; offered Fall 2017 · Allison E Murphy
  • PHIL 318: Buddhist Studies India Program: Buddhist Philosophy

    This course introduces students to major trends in Buddhist philosophy as it developed in India from the time of the Buddha until the 11th century CE. The course emphasizes the relationships between philosophical reasoning and the meditation practices encountered in the Buddhist Meditation Traditions course. With this in mind, the course is organized into three units covering the Indian philosophical foundations for the Theravāda, Zen, and Tibetan Vajrayāna traditions. While paying attention first and foremost to philosophical arguments and their evolution, we also examine the ways in which metaphysics, epistemology and ethics inform one another in each tradition.

    Prerequisites: Acceptance into the Carleton-Antioch Program required 7-8 credit; Does not fulfill a curricular exploration requirement; offered Fall 2017 · Arthur P McKeown
  • PHIL 398: Comps Proposal

    This is the first part of the philosophy comps sequence.  It is a five-week independent study to be enrolled in at the end of the Fall term Senior Year (or the year you will be compsing). The purpose is to give you the chance to do more reading on your comps topics and to start doing a bit of writing. By the last day of classes of Fall Term, you will turn in an official comps proposal (approximately 1500 words). The proposal will (a) articulate the main philosophical problem or puzzle that will be addressed in your comps; (b) describe some of the main moves that have been made in the relevant literature; and (c) include a bibliography.

    3 credit; S/CR/NC; Does not fulfill a curricular exploration requirement; offered Fall 2017 · Jason A Decker

Winter 2018

  • PHIL 113: The Individual and the Political Community

    Are human beings radically individual and atomic by nature, political animals, or something else? However we answer that question, what difference does it make for our understanding of the ways in which larger political communities come into existence and are maintained? In this course we will explore these questions through the work of three foundational political theorists: Plato, Hobbes, and Rousseau.

    6 credit; Humanistic Inquiry, International Studies; offered Fall 2017, Winter 2018 · Allison E Murphy
  • PHIL 120: Philosophy of Sex

    Sex is a pervasive feature of our individual lives and of contemporary political debate, yet has until recently has rarely been subject to sustained philosophical scrutiny. In this course we will investigate the ethical, political, and conceptual issues surrounding sex, critically reflecting on our own assumptions about sexed bodies, sexual pleasure, sexual conduct, and sexual and gender identities. What is sex? How do others identify us and how do we come to identify ourselves as sexual beings along the intersecting axes of gender, race, class, orientation, and ability? Can sex and pleasure become sites for personal liberation or ethical existence with others? We will take an intersectional approach to a variety of issues, including consent, casual sex, sexual objectification and commodification, sexual violence, normative medical and legal discourse about sex, gender, and reproduction, and the struggle for political recognition by sexual and gender minorities.

    6 credit; Humanistic Inquiry, Writing Requirement, Intercultural Domestic Studies; offered Winter 2018, Spring 2018 · Claire M Griffin
  • PHIL 210: Logic

    The study of formal logic has obvious and direct applicability to a wide variety of disciplines (including mathematics, computer science, linguistics, philosophy, cognitive science, and many others). Indeed, the study of formal logic helps us to develop the tools and know-how to think more clearly about arguments and logical relationships in general; and arguments and logical relationships form the backbone of any rational inquiry. In this course we will focus on propositional logic and predicate logic, and look at the relationship that these have to ordinary language and thought. 6 credit; Formal or Statistical Reasoning; offered Winter 2018 · Jason A Decker
  • PHIL 225: Philosophy of Mind

    What is the relationship between the mind and the brain? Are they identical? Or is there mental "stuff" in addition to physical stuff? Or perhaps some physical stuff has irreducibly mental properties? These, and related questions, are explored by philosophers under the heading of "the mind-body problem." In this course, we will start with these questions, looking at classical and contemporary defenses of both materialism and dualism. This investigation will lead us to other important questions such as: What is the nature of mental representation, what is consciousness, and could a robot have conscious states and mental representations? 6 credit; Humanistic Inquiry, Writing Requirement; offered Winter 2018 · Jason A Decker
  • PHIL 226: Love and Friendship

    This course will consider various philosophical views on the nature of love and friendship. It will focus on both the history of philosophical thinking about these notions from Plato and Aristotle to the twentieth century and a variety of contemporary views on the meaning of love and friendship that derive their insight from the most recent studies of emotion, agency, action, rationality, moral value, and motivation. We will also look at the variations in the understanding of love and friendship among the members of the same culture and across cultures. 6 credit; Humanistic Inquiry, Writing Requirement, Quantitative Reasoning Encounter; offered Winter 2018 · Anna Moltchanova
  • PHIL 272: Early Modern Philosophy

    The era of Modern Philosophy is characterized in part by the foundational importance of epistemological questions, including especially questions about the very possibility of knowledge. In this course we will read works from four authors who are all members of the Modern tradition in some sense, but whose widely differing epistemological frameworks lead them to propose radically different answers to these questions: Descartes, Hume, Kant, and Pascal.

    6 credit; Humanistic Inquiry, Writing Requirement, International Studies; offered Winter 2018 · Allison E Murphy
  • PHIL 399: Senior Thesis

    The planning, preparation, and completion of a philosophical paper under the direction of a member of the department and as part of a seminar group. 6 credit; Does not fulfill a curricular exploration requirement; offered Winter 2018 · Anna Moltchanova

Spring 2018

  • PHIL 120: Philosophy of Sex

    Sex is a pervasive feature of our individual lives and of contemporary political debate, yet has until recently has rarely been subject to sustained philosophical scrutiny. In this course we will investigate the ethical, political, and conceptual issues surrounding sex, critically reflecting on our own assumptions about sexed bodies, sexual pleasure, sexual conduct, and sexual and gender identities. What is sex? How do others identify us and how do we come to identify ourselves as sexual beings along the intersecting axes of gender, race, class, orientation, and ability? Can sex and pleasure become sites for personal liberation or ethical existence with others? We will take an intersectional approach to a variety of issues, including consent, casual sex, sexual objectification and commodification, sexual violence, normative medical and legal discourse about sex, gender, and reproduction, and the struggle for political recognition by sexual and gender minorities.

    6 credit; Humanistic Inquiry, Writing Requirement, Intercultural Domestic Studies; offered Winter 2018, Spring 2018 · Claire M Griffin
  • PHIL 214: Ecology, Ethics, and Economics

    In this course we will explore the hypothesis that the current ecological crisis is, at least in part, the product of an economic system that champions continual growth (hence ever increasing levels of production and consumption) and that the economic system is in turn supported by a specific set of materialist values. The course thus takes a holistic and interdisciplinary approach to its subject, and will include readings from across the disciplines of environmental science, economics, and ethics.

    6 credit; Social Inquiry, International Studies; offered Spring 2018 · Allison E Murphy
  • PHIL 216: Nietzsche and Foucault: History, Truth, and Power

    Friedrich Nietzsche is famous for his scathing criticisms of both conventional morality and academic philosophy. He developed a mode of historical research, genealogy, which takes a perspective “beyond good and evil” in order to expose our moral ideals (including altruism, personal responsibility, and equality) as the products of contingent historical formations and struggles for power. Michel Foucault, writing in the second half of the twentieth century, submitted the values of ‘normal’ and ‘pathological’ (in diverse areas of the human sciences including mental illness, criminology, and sexuality) to a genealogical method modeled on that of Nietzsche. This course will be devoted to a comparative reading of Nietzsche and Foucault’s genealogical works and the relation of these to their larger philosophical systems. Our guiding questions will be: What is the nature of power? What is the nature and value of truth? What bearing do the histories of our normative and scientific claims have on their truth-value? What is the status, in all of this, of the critical perspective of the genealogist? Where do the insights of Nietzsche and Foucault leave us in our own attempts to lead meaningful lives?

    6 credit; Humanistic Inquiry, Writing Requirement; offered Spring 2018 · Claire M Griffin
  • PHIL 221: Philosophy of Law

    This course provides students with an opportunity to engage actively in a discussion of theoretical questions about law. We will consider the nature of law as it is presented by natural law theory, legal positivism and legal realism. Then we will deal with responsibility and punishment, and challenges to the idea of the primacy of individual rights from legal paternalism and moralism. We will next inquire into the explanations of why individuals should obey the law, and conditions under which civil disobedience is justified. Finally, we will discuss issues raised by feminist legal theory and some theories of minority rights. 6 credit; Humanistic Inquiry, Writing Requirement, Intercultural Domestic Studies; offered Spring 2018 · Anna Moltchanova
  • PHIL 246: Probability: The Very Guide of Life?

    Bishop Butler and David Hume claimed that “probability is the very guide of life.” But what exactly is probability and what---if any!---kind of guidance does it give us? In this course, we will look at (i) competing philosophical interpretations of probability, including frequentist, Bayesian, and best-system theories, (ii) recent work in cognitive science on probabilistic reasoning, (iii) uses of probability in formal epistemology, decision theory, and science, and (iv) paradoxes and puzzles of probability.

    6 credit; Humanistic Inquiry, Writing Requirement, Quantitative Reasoning Encounter; offered Spring 2018 · Jason A Decker
  • PHIL 303: Bias, Belief, Community, Emotion

    What is important to individuals, how they see themselves and others, and the kind of projects they pursue are shaped by traditional and moral frameworks they didn’t choose. Individual selves are encumbered by their social environments and, in this sense, always ‘biased’, but some forms of bias are pernicious because they produce patterns of inter and intra-group domination and oppression. We will explore various forms of intersubjectivity and its asymmetries through readings in social ontology and social epistemology that theorize the construction of group and individual beliefs and identities in the context of the social world they engender.

    Prerequisites: One Previous Philosophy course or instructor permission 6 credit; Humanistic Inquiry, Writing Requirement, Intercultural Domestic Studies, Quantitative Reasoning Encounter; offered Spring 2018 · Anna Moltchanova
  • PHIL 400: Integrative Exercise

    A colloquium in which seniors defend their senior theses and discuss the senior theses of others. 3 credit; S/NC; offered Spring 2018