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Department of Philosophy


Aesthetics - PHI 3800

Traditionally, “aesthetics” has referred to, and still refers to, the philosophy of art and of beauty. A better definition is this: “aesthetics” is the philosophical exploration of the sensuous aspects of experiences. Through consideration of theories of philosophers and members of the art community from the time of Plato to the present, we will examine questions which have to do with (1) definition – questions such as: What is aesthetics? What is an aesthetic experience? What is an aesthetic attitude? What is an aesthetic object? What is art? What is beauty? – (2) creation and re-creation – questions such as: What is the role of creativity in making and judging art? What is the difference between a fake, a forgery, a copy, and a reproduction? – (3) meaning – questions such as: How do works of art convey meaning? Can a work of art have more than one meaning? – (4) judgment – questions such as: What do and should art critics do? What is a critical art review? Is one opinion just as
good as another? – and (5) social and ethical context – questions such as: Can art be
immoral? Can art be racist? Should some art be censored?

Environmental Ethics - PHI 3930

Environmental Ethics is the study of how we approach making decisions about our actions and inactions, both direct and indirect, with respect to the natural world. Our general values drive our environmental ethical beliefs, judgments, decisions, and actions. Essentially, this course will not be an “applied ethics” course but rather an exploration of how one’s values commitments lead to various perspectives, attitudes, and behaviors toward nature. In this course, we will examine: relevant metaphysical considerations; ethical theory, value theory, and environmental ethical theory; intrinsic value approaches to environmental ethics; instrumental value approaches to environmental ethics; and a few select environmental
ethical issues.

Introduction to Philosophy - PHI 2010

This course is an introductory survey of the tradition and themes of western philosophy. It will include (1) an introduction to critical thinking and correct reasoning, and (2) a survey of perennial problems throughout the history of western metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics.

Metaphysics - PHI 4500

Metaphysics addresses those topics at the absolute core of reality; the deepest questions philosophy addresses are metaphysical questions. This course is a survey of traditional western metaphysics, approached from the perspective of the individual human being. The majority of our time will be spent on lecture, but ample time each meeting will be set aside for your questions and discussion of the topic. Areas and problems to be addressed include: The way we organize the world (ontological classification): the meaning of “ontology,” categorization by such terms as “a priori,” “necessity,” and “analyticity,” modes of existence, universals and properties; The way we understand ourselves (the person): personal identity, immortality, the mind-body problem, the nature of mind; The way we understand the world (the nature of experience): the structure of experience, causality, freedom of will and determinism, access to and articulation of reality/theories of truth, realism and antirealism,
the natural and the supernatural.

Philosophy of Education - EDF 7545

Every educational leader, to appropriately bear that title, must have a firm and deep grasp of her or his most basic beliefs about the nature of education and the nature of the life of an educator. Without this grasp, she or he is flying blind, without a clear sense of direction and without a clear sense of her/his motivations. Without goals, educational reform is urposeless;
change for the sheer sake of change is irrational. We have to know where we wish to go, and we have to know why. This course is meant to provide the infrastructure for articulation of those most basic beliefs about education and educators. The course is divided into five parts: (1) an introduction, (2) a treatment of the skills and educational theories of critical reasoning, (3) a survey of the basic issues in values theory and ethical theory, (4) an examination of values thinking as applied to addressing questions regarding the proper goals of education, the proper means of evaluation, and the teaching of values in the classroom, and (5), an exploration of professional ethics in both the abstract and the concrete.

Philosophy of Film - PHI 3930

Philosophy of Film is a course in the aesthetics of film. The course is divided into four parts: (1) film aesthetics, focusing on aesthetics vocabulary and an examination of the aesthetic components of film; (2) film as art, focusing on art theory and the film artist; (3) film form, focusing on the mechanics and aesthetics of film form, on film genre, and on the evolution of film and film theory; (4) film criticism, focusing on feminist criticism, censorship, and critical film reviews.