Science and Human Values (PHIL 161)

Taught most spring semesters.

Modern science has taught us surprising new things and modern technology has given us extraordinary new abilities. This course is devoted to the critical study of moral problems that have been raised or affected by this newfound information and these newfound abilities. Potential topics include euthanasia, pharmaceutical enhancement, genetic engineering, the moral status of animals, climate change, and artificial intelligence.

Logical Thought (PHIL 170)

Taught most fall semesters.

This course cultivates sound reasoning. Students will learn to see the structure of claims and arguments and to use those structures in developing strong arguments and exposing shoddy ones. We learn to evaluate arguments on the strength of their reasoning rather than on the force of their associations and buzzwords.

Philosophy of Quantum Mechanics (PHIL 222)

Usually taught every other year.

Physicists have come up with a set of mathematical rules that allow us to predict quantum mechanical phenomena with remarkable accuracy, but our understanding of what that formalism means is quite limited. It is because this formalism is so difficult to interpret that you have heard extraordinary claims like, "how physical systems behave depends on whether or not anyone is observing them" and "it is possible for cats to be both dead and alive." In this class we learn the quantum mechanical formalism and then investigate various interpretations of that formalism and the philosophical issues at stake.

Metaphysics (PHIL 272)

Usually taught every other year.

Metaphysics is the study of what the world is like. In each of the three main sections of this class—on objects, on persons, and on possible worlds—we identify a series of assumptions that we take for granted about everyday aspects of our world, and examine the various ways in which those assumptions have been questioned by metaphysicians. Along the way we encounter questions about the nature of properties, causation, explanation, and laws of nature, as well as meta-metaphysical questions like: What makes metaphysical inquiry different from scientific inquiry? Can philosophical reasoning ever overturn common sense? And under what sorts of conditions do we consider a metaphysical dispute settled?

Time (PHIL 350-TM)

Usually taught every other year.

Does time flow? What is the difference between the future and the past? Is time travel possible? This course surveys the major topics in the philosophy of time from Augustine's Confessions and the Leibniz- Clarke correspondence to relativity theory. Along the way we take up philosophical issues regarding the relevance of intuition, the nature of causation, determinism, and freedom, and the relationship between science and philosophy.

Public Philosophy (PHIL 350-PB)

Usually taught every other year.

In this course we  take up the question of what it means to investigate a philosophical question in a way that is accessible to a broad audience. Students develop their own philosophical project in an academically rigorous way and then find a way to present that project outside the classroom. Along the way we investigate the question of what counts as philosophy and why.