TEACHING

I regularly teach undergraduate courses in the philosophy of language, epistemology, and metaphysics, and graduate papers on the nature of truth, facts, action and event individuation, the structure of action, and practical reasoning. 

 

Below is a comprehensive list of courses that I've taught. Given that I have held fixed term contracts with a number of universities, one might notice that I have taught courses outside my areas of research speciality. This comes with such territory!  A syllabus for each of the courses is available upon request.

Before I was a university lecturer, I worked a variety of jobs. Occasionally, I am still asked to consult for large professional firms. A summary of my professional experience is here.

I am currently taking on new postgraduate and graduate students in several areas of philosophical research that overlap with my own. If you have an interest in becoming a graduate student in the Philosophy Programme at the University of Waikato, see here.

 

University of Waikato

2020 **tentative**

PHILO304-20B/PHILO534-20B: Meaning, Understanding, and Truth

Language is the primary tool which humans employ to interact with other humans and, on occasion, with other non-humans, and the most vexing question in contemporary debate is not necessarily whether other humans are capable of language comprehension but whether other humans, as a member of my cohort or tribe, truly appreciates the significance of what I am saying.  We are "code-talkers" who constantly process incoming linguistic information and sort that information by friend or foe, comrade or enemy. In this war of the words, we engage in a sort of linguistic warfare.  While some engage fully out in the open, making their meanings known, others are more clandestine, preferring instead to employ guerilla-warfare tactics. This paper seeks to address the problems of linguistic warfare by exposing those who engage in morally corrupt ways and by praising those who engage openly. [DRAFT DESCRIPTION]

SOCSC3YY-20B: Work-Integrated Learning, Projects (co-teaching with Priya Kurian and TBD)

2019

PHILO204-19A: Wisdom, Language and Communication

Wisdom and language are deeply interwoven, such that one cannot theorise about one without the other. Yet, while thinking in language may yield enlightenment and wisdom, it also is the seat of pejoratives, slurs, epithets and stereotypes. This paper aims to explore debates in philosophy of language particularly with respect to various forms of speech acts.

PHIL588-19A: Foundations of Philosophical Research

This paper is an intensive seminar on the foundations of contemporary philosophy for honours and first-year graduate students that serves two principal functions. First, it serves as an introduction to the practice of philosophy, i.e., to help postgraduate and graduate students refine their argumentative, reading, writing, and discussion skills, which is necessary for a successful graduate and professional career. Second, it serves as an introduction to a specific area of philosophical interest. For this particular iteration of the PHILO588, our focus is: the nature of facts.
 

Facts are at the core of intellectual activity, a precondition for understanding, and the central product of all human endeavours. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, the debate concerning what a fact is continues unabated. There are two theories of facts that have dominated the philosophical landscape. On one hand, facts were taken to be abstract complexes of objects and properties, which have various logical and metaphysical features (cf. Armstrong 1997; Austin 1970; Clark 1975, 1976; Grossman 1976, 1983; Martin 1967; Moore 1899; Stebbing 1939; Wells 1949; Wittgenstein 1921/1974; 1969). This compositional conception contrasts with a deflationary propositional conception, which merely takes facts to be true propositions (cf. Baylis 1948; Restall 2004). Within these conceptions, various formulations have been deployed to account for negative and disjunctive facts (Armstrong 1997; Chrudzimski 2012; Field 2003; Fine 1982), counterfactuals (Kratzer 2002), causal facts (Mellor 1995; Persson 1997), and non-causal facts (Correia and Schneider 2012; Mulligan 2007), and these two accounts have been challenged by sceptical or quietist approaches to the nature of facts (Betti 2015; Rundle 1979, 1983). We will not only explore the nature of facts literature, coming to a better understanding of each of these positions, but also ask: why facts matter? Are facts valuable in virtue of being facts, or are facts merely instrumentally valuable?

2018

PHILO 204-18A: Wisdom, Language, and Communication

Someone says, "Zombies eat brains." How does language and knowledge enable us to convey thoughts about non-existent things? This paper explores major debates in epistemology and the philosophy of language.

PHILO 102-18B: Introduction to Logic

An easy introduction to formal logic comprising an explanation of key concepts such as validity and proof, and an introduction to propositional and predicate logic.

PHIL 350-18B: Recent Analytical Philosophy: Metametaphysics

This paper explores philosophical themes in the theory of reality. Metaphysics is the philosophical study of ultimate reality, and metametaphysics is the enquiry into the status of metaphysics. This paper explores the most generic and foundational features of reality and then asks of these features whether they carve nature at its joints, surgically or bluntly.

PHIL 545-18B: Aesthetics (w/ Justine Kingsbury and Liezl van Zyl)

This paper will cover a range of topics in contemporary aesthetics. The class will choose the topics. Possibilities include but are not limited to the expression of emotion in music; the arousal of emotion by music, literature and film; the aesthetic appreciation of nature; is there a single right interpretation of a work of art?; is there a plausible evolutionary explanation of our tendency to create and enjoy art?; what is a work of art, anyway?

2017

PHIL 309-17B: Ethical Theory (w/ Liezl van Zyl)

This paper is an exploration of debates in a subdiscipline of philosophy: ethical theory, the philosophic study of right and wrong conduct. The first six weeks of the paper will address problems in metaethics. We will begin with an overview of what metaethics is, what questions it seeks to address, and how philosophers of the twentieth century have attempted to resolve these debates. Our focus will be on Moorean Non-Naturalism and the Open Question Argument, Emotivism, Prescriptivism, and two forms of Subjectivism: Error Theory and Sensibility Theories. Discussion of these topics will be led by Joe Ulatowski.

The second six weeks of the paper will examine recent developments in normative theory, focusing on consequentialist, deontological and virtue-ethical responses to the question: What makes an action right? The question is considered by using throught experiments and by looking at particular issues in applied ethics, such as the morality of abortion, famine relief, and euthanasia. Discussion of these topics will be led by Liezl van Zyl.

PHIL 222-17A: Possible Worlds

This paper is an exploration of debates in philosophy's subdiscipline of metaphysics, the philosophic study of ultimate reality, including: the problem of the reality of time, the paradox of time travel, free will and determinism, personal identity through time, and the nature of self.

Students may have been attracted to enrol in the paper because of its odd title: "Possible Worlds." The title has been chosen because this paper investigates not only what time, causation, free will, and personal identity are, but also how to study them. Philosophers and science fiction writers employ thought-experiments, short stories that aim to evoke intuitive responses among readers, to carefully consider the way the world is, the way the world ought to be, or the way the world ought not to be. Throughout this paper, we will read some important work in philosophy and supplement them by reading science fiction stories and watching science fiction films. Neither familiarity nor a passing acquaintance with philosophy is presupposed; curiosity is.

PHIL 103-17A: Critical Reasoning (w/ Justine Kingsbury)

This paper is designed to help students to improve their skills in identifying, interpreting, analysing and evaluating arguments, and also in constructing good arguments of their own.

PHIL 204-17S: Language and Communication

"Caesar crossed the Rubicon." "Zombies eat brains." Language permits us to make a claim about someone who lived in the distant past or entities that don't exist. How does language enable us to convey thoughts about non-existent things or people with whom we have had no contact? This paper will explore that question, as well as serve as an introduction to perennial philosophical issues of language and communication.

2016

PHIL 102-16A: Critical Reasoning (w/ Stephanie Gibbons)

This paper is designed to help students to improve their skills in identifying, interpreting, analysing and evaluating arguments, and also in constructing good arguments of their own.

PHIL 250-16A: Knowledge & Reality (w/ Stephanie Gibbons)

This paper is designed around the two main topics of knowledge and reality. We shall be addressing two main questions: What is there? How do we know? The course will combine historical presentation of questions about knowledge and reality with contemporary approaches. There will be a particular focus on the British Empiricists Locke, Berkeley, and Hume. As part of investigating the two main questions listed above, we will consider questions such as the following:

  • What is knowledge?

  • What counts as real?

  • What sorts of things exist?

  • Can there be knowledge of anything?

  • What is the role of perception in our understanding of reality?

  • Are we justified in believing the sun will rise tomorrow?

Students will become familiar with some common philosophical problems regarding these issues, and will learn how to construct and assess arguments concerning them.

PHIL 208-16A: Understanding Science (w/ Justine Kingsbury)

It is commonly thought that some sets of beliefs (e.g. theories in nuclear physics, neuroscience and evolutionary biology) are scientific, whereas other sets of beliefs (e.g. theories of extra-sensory perception, astrology and reincarnation) are unscientific. But what is the difference between the two? Is it something about the way they were derived, and if so, what? What is it that scientists do that is different to what other groups of people do? Can we learn anything about human knowledge more generally by thinking about what is special about science? In this paper we will critically evaluate a range of answers to these questions.

PHIL 350-16B: Recent Analytical Philosophy (w/ Cathy Legg)

This paper describes the birth, development and contestation of the analytic tradition in Philosophy starting at the end of the nineteenth century and through the greater part of the twentieth century. This tradition is very much alive today. A leading theme is the way in which philosophical problems became refocussed by turning our attention to the nature of language. Key questions include: What is meaning? What is truth? What is the relationship between language and thought? What is the role of language in human life?

It is helpful to see the paper as consisting of two halves, the first six weeks and the second six weeks, which will be taught by different lecturers. The first half begins by presenting a 'received view' of language in a widely-held 'correspondence theory of truth'. It then moves to two major challenges to that received view: in the work of Ludwig Wittgenstein, and the pragmatist tradition. In the second half, we will look at further challenges to assumptions about how language reflects the nature of the world, whether our best theory of meaning is reflected in the use of language, and consider whether our semantic theory should be constructed out of material validity and incompatibility rather than reference, truth, and satisfaction.

PHIL 150-16B: Big Questions (w/ Dan Weijers)

This course will introduce you to perennial philosophical questions. At one time or another, you probably have entertained, in a rudimentary way, some fundamental philosophical problems, e.g., "why is there something rather than nothing?", "am I living the good life?", or "why be moral?" At least one objective of this class is to provide you with formal training so that you become more adept at contending with difficult, unfamiliar problems. By the end of this course, you should be able to clearly express, both orally and in writing, arguments defending your own point of view. My job is not to indoctrinate you but to educate you, and I will do that by teaching you how to argue skilfully, critically, and logically. Neither fluency in nor a passing acquaintance with the history and practice of philosophy is presupposed; curiosity is.

For each of the following courses, a syllabus is available upon request.

Metropolitan State University of Denver

PHIL 3360-001; -002; -020: Business Ethics

This course investigates the value conflicts that may arise from current circumstances of the modern business world. Designed to assist students in becoming effective business professionals, it examines four main areas of current practice in some detail: the responsibility of business in society, corporate governance, ethical decision-making, and ethical leadership. Interpretive, critical, and analytical skills will be emphasized and cultivated. Familiarity with the practice and history of philosophy is not presupposed; curiosity is.

University of Texas at El Paso

Spring 2015

PHIL 1301: Introduction to Philosophy

This course will introduce you to perennial philosophical questions. At one time or another, you probably have entertained, in a rudimentary way, some fundamental philosophical problems, e.g., "what is real?", "ought we believe that?", or "ought he do that?" At least one objective of this class is to provide you with formal training so that you become more adept at contending with difficult, unfamiliar problems. By the end of this course, you should be able to clearly express, both orally and in writing, arguments defending your own point of view. My job is not to indoctrinate you but to educate you, and I will do that by teaching you how to argue skilfully, critically, and logically. Neither fluency in nor a passing acquaintance with the history and practice of philosophy is presupposed; curiosity is.

PHIL 4352: Ethics for Security Professionals

Protecting noncombatants of a sovereign nation from harmful foreign intervention or internal revolt sometimes asks us to overlook commonly held moral principles and beliefs. For example, we might believe that we have a moral obligation to spy or to torture suspicious citizens in order to prevent harm from befalling other innocent civilians in a terrorist attack. Despite our belief that torture is morally wrong, certain background features cause us to relax our moral propensity against it. The main purpose of this course is to introduce students to moral philosophy by focusing upon applied ethical problems relevant to aspects of national and international security. Practical issues that arise in military ethics, intelligence ethics, and bioethics will predominate our conversation. Class participants will become familiar with basic normative theory and how these theories map onto common problems of national and international security (e.g., surveillance and biotechnology). Neither fluency in nor a passing acquaintance with the history and practice of philosophy is presupposed; curiosity is.

Fall 2014

PHIL 1301: Introduction to Philosophy

This course will introduce you to perennial philosophical questions. At one time or another, you probably have entertained, in a rudimentary way, some fundamental philosophical problems, e.g., "what is real?", "ought we believe that?", or "ought he do that?" At least one objective of this class is to provide you with formal training so that you become more adept at contending with difficult, unfamiliar problems. By the end of this course, you should be able to clearly express, both orally and in writing, arguments defending your own point of view. My job is not to indoctrinate you but to educate you, and I will do that by teaching you how to argue skilfully, critically, and logically. Neither fluency in nor a passing acquaintance with the history and practice of philosophy is presupposed; curiosity is.

PHIL 4311: Epistemology

The aim of this course is to introduce students to philosophical issues arising in epistemology—the philosophical study of knowledge. The problems of epistemology comprise one-half of the two core areas of analytical philosophy. Think of the problems that arise for epistemology through a simple example: when someone says, “The sun is 4.5 billion years old,” what makes us count this as a piece of knowledge? If the statement is true, what justifies its truth? Is it sufficient justification that an astronomer claims it to be true? What kinds of evidence would be required to justify the proposition’s truth? If we believe that there is no way for us to justify our beliefs, then we might shrug our shoulders and admit that we don’t know how old the sun is. Finally, maybe we ought not think that propositional factual content is something we value and just choose to abandon the epistemological project altogether.

The discussions that arise in this course will enable students to become familiar with contemporary debates in epistemology, including: what knowledge is, why we value it, what its sources are, and what reasons we have for thinking those sources should serve as reliable belief-forming mechanisms. Neither fluency in nor a passing acquaintance with the history and practice of philosophy is presupposed; curiosity is.

Summer 2014

PHIL 4352: Death and the Meaning of Life

All humans are mortal, so each of us most certainly will die; humans, animals, plants, etc., cannot escape their worldly fate. Even Earth itself will be consumed by its nearest star, the Sun, which will become unstable and collapse under its own weight. Philosophers have been perplexed by and curious about whether the life one leads is meaningful. Is human life meaningful? Is there a purpose to existence? Why are we here? Is living a meaningful life possible without the existence of God? We will critically examine various attempts to answer these questions and related issues such as: Is it even possible to find the answers? Are the questions themselves meaningful? Familiarity with the practice and history of philosophy is not presupposed; curiosity is.

 

Spring 2014

PHIL 1301: Introduction to Philosophy

This course will introduce you to perennial philosophical questions. At one time or another, you probably have entertained, in a rudimentary way, some fundamental philosophical problems, e.g., "what is real?", "ought we believe that?", or "ought he do that?" At least one objective of this class is to provide you with formal training so that you become more adept at contending with difficult, unfamiliar problems. By the end of this course, you should be able to clearly express, both orally and in writing, arguments defending your own point of view. My job is not to indoctrinate you but to educate you, and I will do that by teaching you how to argue skilfully, critically, and logically. Neither fluency in nor a passing acquaintance with the history and practice of philosophy is presupposed; curiosity is.

PHIL 3317: Modern Philosophy

The aim of this course is to explore the metaphysical and epistemological issues in early modern philosophy, especially the Continental Rationalists (i.e., Descartes, Spinoza, and Leibniz) and the British Empiricists (i.e., Locke, Berkeley, and Hume). Moreover, we will also show how women philosophers contributed significantly to the early modern period, though, for one reason or another, their contributions have been unjustly overlooked. Topics will include the following: the nature and existence of God, the existence of the external world, a priori  knowledge, the analytic-synthetic distinction, the nature of space, the nature of the self, mind-body interaction, immortality, primary and secondary qualities, cause, possibility, substance, essence, and free will. Ethical questions will not figure prominently in this course. Neither fluency in nor a passing acquaintance with the history and practice of philosophy is presupposed; curiosity is.

 

Fall 2013

PHIL 4302: Metaphysics

The aim of this course is to introduce students to philosophical issues arising in metaphysics-the philosophical study of ultimate reality. The problems of metaphysics comprise one-half of the two core areas of philosophical inquiry. Through the discussions that arise in this course, students will become familiar with arguments in several central areas of metaphysics, including: existence, universals, modality, laws of nature, causation, freedom and determinism, the nature of persons, the nature of time, and whether and how persons persist through time. Neither fluency in nor a passing acquaintance with the history and practice of philosophy is presupposed; curiosity is.

PHIL 3311: Philosophy of Science

This course is an upper-level introduction to philosophical issues arising in the natural, social, and physical sciences. Therefore, we will endeavour to systematically reflect upon the nature of science in general and scientific theories in particular. As such, it is an attempt to understand the methods and goals of scientific theorising, to describe the differences between science and other intellectual activities, i.e., pseudo -sciences, to discuss whether scientific theories represent the true nature of the world, and to explore whether the best scientific theories / models are verified, confirmed, or falsified. Neither fluency in nor a passing acquaintance with the history and practice of philosophy is presupposed; curiosity is.

PHIL 4352/5352: Graduate Seminar: The Nature of Truth

This course is a focused examination of a central theme in metaphysics: the nature of truth. It seems to be a generally agreed upon assumption that a proposition is true when its content agrees with or is an accurate description of the way the world is. But that view seems to be one among many. Some have proposed that a proposition is true when it coheres well with other beliefs or when it provides us information to achieve a goal. There are other theories of truth than these more robust inflated theories, and we will take about 15 weeks to work our way through the robust and the deflated theories.

University of Wyoming

Summer 2013

PHIL 3000-04: The Meaning of Life

Is human life meaningful? Is there a purpose to existence? Why are we here? Is living a meaningful life possible without the existence of God? These are philosophical questions par excellence, yet they are overlooked by many academic philosophers. We will critically examine various attempts to answer these questions and related issues such as: Is it even possible to find the answers? Are the questions themselves meaningful?

Spring 2013

PHIL 2345-01: Natural Resource Ethics

The study of environmental ethics is the study of what kind of moral obligations we have toward the natural environment, if any. The aim of this class is to introduce students to the study of normative ethics and show how it maps onto applied practical problems arising from our interaction with the natural world. Part of this will be a discussion of anthropocentric versus biocentric or ecocentric ethical views towards the environment. Moral questions we will consider include: Do humans have a moral imperative to protect the environment from harm they cause directly? Are humans obligated to prevent harm from befalling future generations? Ought the consequences of our actions be the only element that affect our moral theorising? Answers to these (and other related) questions will likely effect macro-economic and political policy, as well as short- and long-term business plans. So, our class will also consider how matters of morality influence or fail to influence ethical problems arising in business, economics, and politics.

PHIL 4440/5440-01: Graduate Seminar: Philosophy of Mind

Consider the following argument: Part of figuring out what to do is understanding that it is we who are doing it. The `we', or `I', which is figuring out what to do, is the self. So, forms of practical inference are at least partly derived from the structure or features of the self. Since the concept of self has a prominent place in practical reasoning, it's wise to know what it is. This course will explore the philosophical terrain associated with problems of the self. We will begin with Hegel's conception of the self. This will put us in a position from which we can move about the philosophical topography. We will contend with the following questions: What am I? Mental events? Sounds? Where am I? Might I be pinpointed by finding the red dot (you are here) in the world? Is the subject and source of the self found in one's own activities?

Fall 2012

Introduction to Philosophy

PHIL 3140-01: Philosophy of Science

This course is an upper-level introduction to the major issues in one of the central areas of philosophical research, namely, the philosophy of science. It can best be characterised as a systematic reflection on the nature of science in general and of particular scientific theories. As such, it is an attempt to understand the methods and goals of scientific theorising, to describe the differences between science and other intellectual activities, and to inquire into the relationship between the various scientific disciplines. Neither fluency in nor a passing acquaintance with the history and practice of philosophy is presupposed; curiosity is.

 

Summer 2012

PHIL 3000-04: Philosophy of Race

Writing in 1903 W.E.B. DuBois prophesied, \the problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the colour line." Indeed, during the Twentieth Century, the problem of the colour line manifested itself in a variety of ways. Think here of the treatment of minorities in the American South during the Twentieth Century. The problem of the colour line is a moral problem that assumes a clear and coherent distinction between races. According to this assumption, there is universal set of criteria that dictate how we are to distinguish between races. Although much philosophical ink has been spilled over the morality of the colour line, by comparison relatively little discussion has taken place on the colour line itself. We should not go on ignoring such an important metaphysical issue. This course will address the philosophical concept of `race'. In particular, we will explore four related questions: (1) the normative question (`should we eliminate or conserve racial distinctions?'), (2) the ontological question (`is race real?'), (3) the conceptual question (`what is the ordinary or folk concept of race?'), and (4) the methodological question (`how should we identify the race concept?'). Not only will we read philosophical, biological, and anthropological accounts of race but also we will engage in a bottom-up analysis by reading and listening to the voices that were most affected by the problem of the colour line.

University of Mississippi

Spring 2012

PHIL 101-05: Introduction to Philosophy

This course will introduce you to perennial philosophical questions. At one time or another, you probably have entertained, in a rudimentary way, some fundamental philosophical problems, e.g., "is that real?" or "ought he do that?" At least one objective of this class is to provide you with formal training so that you become more adept at contending with difficult, unfamiliar problems. By the end of this course, you should be able to clearly express, both orally and in writing, arguments defending your own point of view. My job is not to indoctrinate you but to educate you, and I will do that by teaching you how to argue skilfully, critically, and logically. Neither fluency in nor a passing acquaintance with the history and practice of philosophy is presupposed; curiosity is.

PHIL 611-01: Graduate Seminar: Metaphysics

While theoretical reasoning concludes in belief, practical reasoning concludes in action. Some recent work in practical reasoning has been organised around the following implicit argument: The forms of practical inferences depend on the structure or features of action because practical reasoning is figuring out what to do, and to do is to act. This argument raises the question: "What does it take to be an action?" There are at least four possible responses. First, it could be that actions ought to be understood as stepwise progression toward a termination point. Call this the 'calculative approach'. Second, actions could be owned or authored. Third, action could be understood to have a location in a practice. And, finally, on a fourth view, action must involve the evaluation of one's reasons. This seminar will be an in-depth examination of the calculative approach. We will begin by showing that the fundamental insight of instrumentalism|the view that all reasons for action are means-end reasons|is its underlying psychologistic foundation. Given the relative success of the antipsychologistic turn Frege and Husserl conferred upon work in theoretical reasoning, we should anticipate a similar turn in practical reasoning. If practical reasoning is to be a sustainable research project, it must embrace that formulating the underlying view psychologistically - as a thesis about mental operations and the mental states involved in them - results in weak and unsustainable theories of rationality, period.

Fall 2011

PHIL 101-04, -08: Introduction to Philosophy

This course will introduce you to perennial philosophical questions. At one time or another, you have probably entertained, in a somewhat rudimentary way, some of these perplexing problems. At least one objective of this class is to provide you with formal training so that you become more adept at contending with difficult, unfamiliar problems. By the end of this course, you should be able to clearly express, both orally and in writing, arguments defending your own point of view. My job is not to indoctrinate you but to educate you, and I will do that by teaching you how to argue skilfully, critically, and logically. Neither fluency in nor a passing acquaintance with the history and practice of philosophy is presupposed; curiosity is.

PHIL 103-01: Symbolic Logic

Logic is the philosophic study of correct reasoning, and it may be subdivided into formal (symbolic) and informal logic. Whereas formal logic identifies and evaluates the symbolism underlying the arguments of ordinary language, informal logic’s concern is arguments in ordinary discourse. The purpose of this class is to explore both dimensions of logical reasoning. Much of our focus for the first 2/3rds  of the semester will be informal logic, and the last 1/3rd of the semester will be formal logic. Unlike the natural and social sciences as well as other courses in the humanities, this course is not about learning concepts and regurgitating them on a formal assessment; instead, the primary objective of this course is to equip you with skills you may use to effectively identify, analyse, and evaluate arguments. To put it more bluntly: my job is not to teach you what  to think but how  to think more effectively. Neither fluency in nor a passing acquaintance with the history and practice of philosophy is presupposed; curiosity is.

 

University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Summer 2011

PHIL 499-01: Brandom's Making It Explicit

This course will be a focused reading of Robert Brandom's Making It Explicit and an extensive study of the historical and conceptual dimensions of analytic pragmatism. No familiarity with the works of Robert Brandom or analytic pragmatism is presupposed; patience and nearly unquenchable curiosity is.

Spring 2011

PHIL 330-01: Computers and Culture

Pictures of me now and pictures of me in 1985 seemingly reveal that I may be two distinct persons. The 1985 me is comparatively smaller, many years younger, and contains fewer memories than the me now does. The question is, despite all of these differences, am I the same person now as I was then? Call this the problem of personal identity over time. One can easily see how the problem of personal identity over time affects our views of responsibility. The advent of social networking has added a spatial dimension to these vexing philosophical problems. The question is not necessarily what am I? or do I persist through time? but where am I? or do I persist through virtual space? The aim of this course is to address the metaphysical and moral problems arising from social networking. Neither fluency in nor a passing acquaintance with philosophy is presupposed; curiosity is.

HON 102H-1001: Honours: Critical Reasoning

Logic is the philosophic study of correct reasoning, which may be divided into formal (symbolic) and informal logic. Informal logic is the study of arguments in natural or ordinary language, and it is the focus of this class. Unlike the natural and social sciences as well as other courses in the humanities, this course is not about learning concepts and regurgitating them on a formal assessment; instead, the primary objective of this course is to equip you with skills you may use to effectively identify, analyse, and evaluate an argument. To put it bluntly: my job is not to teach you what to think but how to think more effectively. Neither fluency in nor a passing acquaintance with the history and practice of philosophy is presupposed; curiosity is.

Fall 2010

PHIL 102-003: Critical Reasoning

Logic is the philosophic study of correct reasoning, which may be divided into formal (symbolic) and informal logic. Informal logic is the study of arguments in natural or ordinary language, and it is the focus of this class. Unlike the natural and social sciences as well as other courses in the humanities, this course is not about learning concepts and regurgitating them on a formal assessment; instead, the primary objective of this course is to equip you with skills you may use to effectively identify, analyse, and evaluate an argument. To put it bluntly: my job is not to teach you what to think but how to think more effectively. Neither fluency in nor a passing acquaintance with the history and practice of philosophy is presupposed; curiosity is.

HON 102-001: Honours: Critical Reasoning

Logic is the philosophic study of correct reasoning, which may be divided into formal (symbolic) and informal logic. Informal logic is the study of arguments in natural or ordinary language, and it is the focus of this class. Unlike the natural and social sciences as well as other courses in the humanities, this course is not about learning concepts and regurgitating them on a formal assessment; instead, the primary objective of this course is to equip you with skills you may use to effectively identify, analyse, and evaluate an argument. To put it bluntly: my job is not to teach you what to think but how to think more effectively. Neither fluency in nor a passing acquaintance with the history and practice of philosophy is presupposed; curiosity is.

Summer 2010

PHIL 499-001: Philosophy of Ludwig Wittgenstein

The aim of this directed study is an in-depth examination of Ludwig Wittgenstein's philosophical work. Wittgenstein has been enormously influential in many arenas as identified by the variations on the phrase "what Wittgenstein has taught us" have become a motif of recent philosophical writing. Despite his overwhelming influence, Wittgenstein is an enigma. There is little agreement on what his views were. Some interpreters have suggested Wittgenstein's work may be neatly divided between an early and late period, e.g., Elizabeth Anscombe, A.J. Ayer, Max Black, Norman Malcolm, or Bertrand Russell. Other interpreters have argued that Wittgenstein's work is a continuous organic whole, e.g., O.K. Bouwsma, Robert Fogelin, P.M.S. Hacker, Jaako and Merrill Hintikka, D.W. Phillips, and Rush Rhees. Dale Jacquette has suggested Wittgenstein's work may be divided into three different periods: early, middle, and late. Recently, a school of interpreters, sometimes known as the Harvard Wittgensteinians or New Wittgensteinians, (inuenced by Rogers Albritton, Stanley Cavell, and Burton Dreben), have focused on the philosophical method employed by Wittgenstein. Given these various interpretations, we will take a close look for ourselves and attempt to make Wittgenstein's notoriously difficult texts readable.

Spring 2010

PHIL 102-017: Critical Reasoning

Logic is the philosophic study of correct reasoning, which may be divided into formal (symbolic) and informal logic. Informal logic is the study of arguments in natural or ordinary language, and it is the focus of this class. Unlike the natural and social sciences as well as other courses in the humanities, this course is not about learning concepts and regurgitating them on a formal assessment; instead, the primary objective of this course is to equip you with skills you may use to effectively identify, analyse, and evaluate an argument. To put it bluntly: my job is not to teach you what to think but how to think more effectively. Neither fluency in nor a passing acquaintance with the history and practice of philosophy is presupposed; curiosity is.

HON 102-001: Honours: Critical Reasoning

Logic is the philosophic study of correct reasoning, which may be divided into formal (symbolic) and informal logic. Informal logic is the study of arguments in natural or ordinary language, and it is the focus of this class. Unlike the natural and social sciences as well as other courses in the humanities, this course is not about learning concepts and regurgitating them on a formal assessment; instead, the primary objective of this course is to equip you with skills you may use to effectively identify, analyse, and evaluate an argument. To put it bluntly: my job is not to teach you what to think but how to think more effectively. Neither fluency in nor a passing acquaintance with the history and practice of philosophy is presupposed; curiosity is.

Fall 2010

PHIL 102-016: Critical Reasoning

Logic is the philosophic study of correct reasoning, which may be divided into formal (symbolic) and informal logic. Informal logic is the study of arguments in natural or ordinary language, and it is the focus of this class. Unlike the natural and social sciences as well as other courses in the humanities, this course is not about learning concepts and regurgitating them on a formal assessment; instead, the primary objective of this course is to equip you with skills you may use to effectively identify, analyse, and evaluate an argument. To put it bluntly: my job is not to teach you what to think but how to think more effectively. Neither fluency in nor a passing acquaintance with the history and practice of philosophy is presupposed; curiosity is.

HON 102-001: Honours: Critical Reasoning

Logic is the philosophic study of correct reasoning, which may be divided into formal (symbolic) and informal logic. Informal logic is the study of arguments in natural or ordinary language, and it is the focus of this class. Unlike the natural and social sciences as well as other courses in the humanities, this course is not about learning concepts and regurgitating them on a formal assessment; instead, the primary objective of this course is to equip you with skills you may use to effectively identify, analyse, and evaluate an argument. To put it bluntly: my job is not to teach you what to think but how to think more effectively. Neither fluency in nor a passing acquaintance with the history and practice of philosophy is presupposed; curiosity is.

University of Wyoming

Summer 2009

PHIL 3000-06: Neuroethics

Moral psychology is the study of morality in its psychological dimensions. It is conceived of as the study of normative demands on action in general, and moral demands on action in particular. Philosophers studying moral psychology have transformed the subdiscipline recently from one employing traditional a priori methods of analysis to one using sophisticated empirical neuroscientific and social scientific methods. This transformation has been accelerated by advances in neuroimaging (fMRIs). The aim of this course is to investigate human functioning in a moral context, and eventually ask how empirical results will impact the debate in ethical theory. First, we will explore moral psychology as it has been studied using more traditional a priori methods of analysis. Then, we will attend to the development of empirical work in moral psychology, particularly with an eye toward neuroscientific approaches. No knowledge of the practice or history of philosophy (or psychology) is presupposed; curiosity is.

Spring 2009

PHIL 1000-01: Introduction to Philosophy

This course will introduce students to perennial philosophical questions, such as: "Why be moral?", "What is ultimate reality?", "What is knowledge?", "What is the mind?", "Is the mind distinct from the body?" and "Does God exist?" At one time or another, we probably have considered, in a somewhat rudimentary way, one or more of these questions or some variant thereof. At least one objective of this class is to provide formative training for the student to address these fundamental philosophical questions. The student should be able to clearly express, both verbally and compositionally, arguments of her own opinions and points of view about these difficult fundamental philosophical problems by the end of this course. Neither fluency in nor a passing acquaintance with the history and practice of philosophy is presupposed; curiosity is.

PHIL 4000/5000-01: Graduate Seminar: Experimental Philosophy

Philosophers have employed thought experiments either to undermine well-entrenched theoretical positions or to provide support for their own theoretical position. These thought experiments have had fashionable names, such as: Jackson's "Monochrome Mary," Putnam's "Twin Earth Chronicles," Goodman's "Grue," Searle's "Chinese Room," Wittgestein's "the Beetle in the Box," "the Ship of Theseus," Frege's "Logical Aliens," or - perhaps the most famous one of them all - Plato's "Allegory of the Cave." A philosophically dangerous moment usually follows a philosopher's telling of these tales. They claim, \what any person would say is x," or "what we would claim is y," filling in his/her favourite outcome for x or y; these are empirically testable claims. Some philosophers have tested these claims using the accepted empirical methods of the social sciences, e.g., surveys. What their data have shown is surprising. Ordinary folks' intuitions and the philosopher's intuitions do not always coincide. In fact ordinary intuitions - if we can even call them "intuitions" - seem very different than any of us had anticipated. This course will explore (i) the nature and significance of ordinary intuitions and thought experiments in philosophy, (ii) the experimental literature in philosophy, and (iii) the future of an "experimental philosophy" in a eld dominated by a priori investigations. Neither fluency in nor a passing acquaintance with experimental philosophy is presupposed; curiosity is.

Fall 2008

PHIL 1200-01: Intellectual Community in Philosophy

Practical questions we have of the world lead quite easily to more abstract philosophical questions. For example it is not too far an intellectual leap from “what is the universe composed of ?” to “what is the basic stuff of the universe?” to “what is stuff ?” to “does stuff exist independent of me?” Philosophers tend to focus on the latter abstract questions. When philosophers ask these fundamental questions, they are not necessarily interested in the lexical meaning of “stuff,” “universe,” or “existence.” Though the meaning of a philosophically pregnant word can be a useful guide in a concept’s proper understanding, a theory developed in response to abstract questions provides a framework we may use to solve practical questions. We will investigate some perennial problems of philosophy in this course. This course should equip the student with the ability to engage in a more sophisticated analysis of philosophical issues. The student should be able to think more clearly and to write more articulately about complex unfamiliar issues by the end of this class. Since thinking, reading, and writing are crucial to succeed in any discipline, taking a philosophy course -- like this one -- will help the student succeed in other disciplines and the student’s chosen profession. Neither fluency in nor a passing acquaintance with the history and practice of philosophy is presupposed; curiosity is.

Weber State University

Spring 2008

PHIL 1000 (33417; 33426): Introduction to Philosophy

This course will introduce the student to perennial philosophical questions. Philosophy, throughout history, has asked fundamental questions such as: “Why be moral?”, “What is ultimate reality?”, and “What is knowledge?” The study of philosophy, and the primary aim of this course, is to equip the student with the ability to engage in a more sophisticated analysis of philosophical issues. Thinking, reading, and writing about complex unfamiliar issues develop the critical thinking skills necessary to succeed in any discipline. Neither fluency in nor a passing acquaintance with the history and practice of philosophy is presupposed; curiosity is.

PHIL 1250 (33428): Critical Reasoning

Logic is the philosophic study of correct reasoning. We may subdivide logic into formal and informal logic. Formal logic analyses and evaluates the formal characteristics of an argument by replacing assertoric content with notation variables, much like algebra or calculus in mathematics. Informal logic, on the other hand, analyses and evaluates arguments generally. The aim of informal logic is to identify, to analyse, and to evaluate a set of statements to determine whether it is a good example of correct reasoning. This course will introduce you to informal logic, i.e., Critical Thinking. The primary objective of this course is to equip you with the skills to effectively evaluate any argument you may encounter. Neither fluency in nor a passing acquaintance with the history and practice of philosophy is presupposed; curiosity is.

PHIL 3550 (33938): Philosophy of Eastern Religion

This course will introduce students to the origins, doctrines, and sacred practices of East Asian Religions. Our focus will be Confucianism, Taoism, Hinduism, and Zen Buddhism. (If there is time, we will explore Jainism, Sikhism, and Shintoism.) One could spend a very long time studying the origins, doctrines, or sacred practices of any one of these religions. So, our class will have a more narrowly conceived focal point. We will explore the philosophical doctrines of the self and of morality in Eastern religions.

Moral theorists have assumed that the “psychological unity of mankind,” that all people think alike, is true. If all people think alike, then the moral theory any one of us generates applies universally. But what many have found is that the moral theories of Eastern religions differ significantly from those moral theories that predominate in the West, i.e., utilitarianism, deontological ethics, or virtue ethics. Our goal will be to show that deliberation about morality and moral action is uniquely situated within a very specific framework informed by history, tradition, language, and - more importantly - religion. From this perspective, we should regard morality and moral cognition as simply another item on the long list of things shaped by culture. We should be able to find adequate support for this claim in the facts of cognitive pluralism; the diverse ways in which people think; and the developmental, cultural, technological, and institutional factors that contribute to that diversity.

 

Fall 2007

PHIL 1000 (23169; 23173): Introduction to Philosophy

This course will introduce the student to perennial philosophical questions. Philosophy, throughout history, has asked fundamental questions such as: “Why be moral?”, “What is ultimate reality?”, and “What is knowledge?” The study of philosophy, and the primary aim of this course, is to equip the student with the ability to engage in a more sophisticated analysis of philosophical issues. Thinking, reading, and writing about complex unfamiliar issues develop the critical thinking skills necessary to succeed in any discipline. Neither fluency in nor a passing acquaintance with the history and practice of philosophy is presupposed; curiosity is.

PHIL 1250 (23177): Critical Reasoning

Logic is the philosophic study of correct reasoning. We may subdivide logic into formal and informal logic. Formal logic analyses and evaluates the formal characteristics of an argument by replacing assertoric content with notation variables, much like algebra or calculus in mathematics. Informal logic, on the other hand, analyses and evaluates arguments generally. The aim of informal logic is to identify, to analyse, and to evaluate a set of statements to determine whether it is a good example of correct reasoning. This course will introduce you to informal logic, i.e., Critical Thinking. The primary objective of this course is to equip you with the skills to effectively evaluate any argument you may encounter. Neither fluency in nor a passing acquaintance with the history and practice of philosophy is presupposed; curiosity is.

PHIL 3150 (23191): Existentialism

The works of existentialism are sometimes criticised, often praised, but seldom read. This course attempts to remedy this problem. Our goal will be to explore the main currents of existentialism, e.g., angst, absurdity, authenticity, moral nihilism, perspectivism, etc.  Existentialism’s fundamental concern is the expression of a variety of views on the nature and significance of human existence.  Existentialism focuses on radical views of the freedom of choice and action.  In contrast to contemporary analytic philosophy, existentialism stresses the importance of the individual and how the individual must engage existence in a purely subjective manner.  Existentialism views human existence not in terms of a spectator sport but in terms of each of us as actors.  To act is to live authentically.  To react or to live passively is to live in-authentically.

 

Our investigation will show how Nietzsche, though popularly understood as the paradigmatic figure of existentialism, is not an existentialist at all.  We will weave our way through the literature by reading excerpts from existentialism’s most prominent contributors and contrast these works with Nietzsche’s own work.  Besides Nietzsche, we will read excerpts from Beckett, Camus, deBeauvoir, Dostoevsky, Heidegger, Heller, Hesse, Jaspers, Kierkegaard, Marcell, Miller, and Tillich (to name a few).

Spring 2007

PHIL 1000 (31901; 31902): Introduction to Philosophy

This course will introduce the student to perennial philosophical questions. Philosophy, throughout history, has asked fundamental questions such as: “Why be moral?”, “What is ultimate reality?”, and “What is knowledge?” The study of philosophy, and the primary aim of this course, is to equip the student with the ability to engage in a more sophisticated analysis of philosophical issues. Thinking, reading, and writing about complex unfamiliar issues develop the critical thinking skills necessary to succeed in any discipline. Neither fluency in nor a passing acquaintance with the history and practice of philosophy is presupposed; curiosity is.

 

PHIL 1250 (31903): Critical Reasoning

Logic is the philosophic study of correct reasoning. We may subdivide logic into formal and informal logic. Formal logic analyses and evaluates the formal characteristics of an argument by replacing assertoric content with notation variables, much like algebra or calculus in mathematics. Informal logic, on the other hand, analyses and evaluates arguments generally. The aim of informal logic is to identify, to analyse, and to evaluate a set of statements to determine whether it is a good example of correct reasoning. This course will introduce you to informal logic, i.e., Critical Thinking. The primary objective of this course is to equip you with the skills to effectively evaluate any argument you may encounter. Neither fluency in nor a passing acquaintance with the history and practice of philosophy is presupposed; curiosity is.

PHIL 3500 (31904): Philosophy of Western Religion

There is something about human nature that triggers our interest in questions about the meaning of life, immortality, the existence of a non-corporeal soul, and the existence of divine entities, e.g., God(s), angels, and saints. We are compelled to ask, “is there life after death?,” “is there a God or Gods?,” and “if there is a God or Gods and that God is omni-benevolent, then why is there so much evil in the world?”

The aim of this course is to introduce you to some of the major philosophical problems in Western religion. The course will consist in four parts. First, we will examine the divine attributes of God, i.e., the nature of God, and a puzzle that arises from one of the traditional attributes: God’s omnipotence. Then, we will survey the arguments for the existence of God. Our survey will include the ontological, teleological, and cosmological arguments for God’s existence. (If there is time and interest, then we will also cover non-evidentialist accounts of God’s existence.) Third, we will review the problem of evil. Basically: why do pain, suffering, injustice, deformity, and catastrophe occur if God is omni-benevolent, omniscient, omnipotent, and omni-present? Finally, we will close the semester by discussing human destiny. Is life after death possible?

Fall 2006

PHIL 1000 (22160; 22206; 22222): Introduction to Philosophy

This course will introduce the student to perennial philosophical questions. Philosophy, throughout history, has asked fundamental questions such as: “Why be moral?”, “What is ultimate reality?”, and “What is knowledge?” The study of philosophy, and the primary aim of this course, is to equip the student with the ability to engage in a more sophisticated analysis of philosophical issues. Thinking, reading, and writing about complex unfamiliar issues develop the critical thinking skills necessary to succeed in any discipline. Neither fluency in nor a passing acquaintance with the history and practice of philosophy is presupposed; curiosity is.

PHIL 1250 (22216): Critical Reasoning

Logic is the philosophic study of correct reasoning. We may subdivide logic into formal and informal logic. Formal logic analyses and evaluates the formal characteristics of an argument by replacing assertoric content with notation variables, much like algebra or calculus in mathematics. Informal logic, on the other hand, analyses and evaluates arguments generally. The aim of informal logic is to identify, to analyse, and to evaluate a set of statements to determine whether it is a good example of correct reasoning. This course will introduce you to informal logic, i.e., Critical Thinking. The primary objective of this course is to equip you with the skills to effectively evaluate any argument you may encounter. Neither fluency in nor a passing acquaintance with the history and practice of philosophy is presupposed; curiosity is.

Methodist College

Summer 2005

PHIL 411-21: Moral Philosophy and Contemporary Ethical Problems

The aim of this course is to introduce students to moral philosophy and to apply it to contemporary ethical issues, particularly the problems arising from war and (what has been termed) family values. The course will consist of two parts. Part I will examine several ethical theories. We will read selections from Aristotle, John Stuart Mill, Immanuel Kant, and James Rachels. Part II will apply these theories to issues in war and family values. Through this course, the student will learn about the complexity of the philosophical problems that affect our lives in the 21st century.

PHI 212-01: Symbolic Logic

Logic is the philosophic study of correct reasoning. Correct reasoning is important not only for philosophy but also for everyday communication. If a person wants to communicate the importance or the correctness of a point to a colleague, friend, or stranger and the person's argument lacks the three fundamental features of logic: clarity, consistency, or coherence, then the listener will not find the person's argument persuasive or compelling. The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the study of logic, especially correct forms of reasoning with a particular emphasis on first-order logic, informal fallacies, truth conditions, and translation from ordinary language into symbolic language. This course is good preparation for advanced study in philosophy, law, business, science, and medicine. No familiarity with philosophy or any of its history is required for success in this course.

PHI 211-01: Introduction to Philosophy

This course will introduce the student to perennial philosophical questions through three different texts by superlative philosophers, Rene Descartes, John Stuart Mill, and Plato. Philosophy, throughout history, has asked fundamental questions such as: What is ultimate reality? Is knowledge possible? Why be moral? At one time or another, we probably have considered, in a somewhat rudimentary way, one or more of these questions or some variant thereof. The study of philosophy, and the primary aim of this course, is to equip the student with the ability to engage in a more sophisticated analysis of philosophical issues. Thinking, reflecting, and writing about complex unfamiliar issues permits us to develop the critical thinking skills necessary to succeed in any discipline. Neither fluency in nor passing acquaintance with the history and practice of philosophy is presupposed; curiosity is.

 

Summer 2004

PHI 212-01: Symbolic Logic

Logic is the philosophic study of correct reasoning. Correct reasoning is important not only for philosophy but also for everyday communication. If a person wants to communicate the importance or the correctness of a point to a colleague, friend, or stranger and the person's argument lacks the three fundamental features of logic: clarity, consistency, or coherence, then the listener will not find the person's argument persuasive or compelling. The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the study of logic, especially correct forms of reasoning with a particular emphasis on first-order logic, informal fallacies, truth conditions, and translation from ordinary language into symbolic language. This course is good preparation for advanced study in philosophy, law, business, science, and medicine. No familiarity with philosophy or any of its history is required for success in this course.

PHI 211-01: Introduction to Philosophy

This course will introduce the student to perennial philosophical questions through three different texts by superlative philosophers, Rene Descartes, John Stuart Mill, and Plato. Philosophy, throughout history, has asked fundamental questions such as: What is ultimate reality? Is knowledge possible? Why be moral? At one time or another, we probably have considered, in a somewhat rudimentary way, one or more of these questions or some variant thereof. The study of philosophy, and the primary aim of this course, is to equip the student with the ability to engage in a more sophisticated analysis of philosophical issues. Thinking, reflecting, and writing about complex unfamiliar issues permits us to develop the critical thinking skills necessary to succeed in any discipline. Neither fluency in nor passing acquaintance with the history and practice of philosophy is presupposed; curiosity is.

Summer 2003

PHI 212-01: Symbolic Logic

Logic is the philosophic study of correct reasoning. Correct reasoning is important not only for philosophy but also for everyday communication. If a person wants to communicate the importance or the correctness of a point to a colleague, friend, or stranger and the person's argument lacks the three fundamental features of logic: clarity, consistency, or coherence, then the listener will not find the person's argument persuasive or compelling. The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the study of logic, especially correct forms of reasoning with a particular emphasis on first-order logic, informal fallacies, truth conditions, and translation from ordinary language into symbolic language. This course is good preparation for advanced study in philosophy, law, business, science, and medicine. No familiarity with philosophy or any of its history is required for success in this course.

PHI 211-01: Introduction to Philosophy

This course will introduce the student to perennial philosophical questions through three different texts by superlative philosophers, Rene Descartes, John Stuart Mill, and Plato. Philosophy, throughout history, has asked fundamental questions such as: What is ultimate reality? Is knowledge possible? Why be moral? At one time or another, we probably have considered, in a somewhat rudimentary way, one or more of these questions or some variant thereof. The study of philosophy, and the primary aim of this course, is to equip the student with the ability to engage in a more sophisticated analysis of philosophical issues. Thinking, reflecting, and writing about complex unfamiliar issues permits us to develop the critical thinking skills necessary to succeed in any discipline. Neither fluency in nor passing acquaintance with the history and practice of philosophy is presupposed; curiosity is.